Tuesday, January 30, 2007

From Local Police to Occupying Army, or LESO: The Greater of Many Evils

Well, it sure ain't an RV: This "Peacekeeper" Armored Personnel Carrier is listed by the Charleston, S.C. Police Department as a "Patrol Vehicle."

There are Peacekeepers deployed in US cities, but they're not under UN command.

They're armored personnel carriers supplied to “local” police agencies for little or no cost through the Pentagon's Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO), established in 1995 as part of the Defense Logistics Agency.

Since that time, the LESO has made huge amounts of military hardware – from boots to helmets to ammo to helicopters and the “Peacekeeper” APCs -- available to local and state police agencies, often at little or no cost.

If you're interested in watching the Pentagon's promotional video for the LESO's campaign to militarize “local” police, go to this page maintained by the DLA. At the bottom of the links you'll find one leading to “LESO Get With The Program Video.” Follow that link, and -- assuming you can withstand the barrage of really obnoxious whitebread canned pseudo-funk PSA music -- you will have the entire program explained to you.

Fred Baille, a boileplate-spewing spokesdrone for the DLA's Distribution Realization Policy Directorate (a suitably Soviet title for a police state agency), explains that through the LESO program, local” law enforcement agencies can receive “excess” military gear of practically any description “as if they were a DoD organization.”

What this means, in practical and tangible terms, is that your local police has the same access to military hardware as any branch of the armed services. In everything but brand name, they're domestic appendages of the Pentagon.

The “Get With The Program” video demonstrates how easy it is for police agencies to snag the swag: Simply call up the LESO website, fill out a form “justifying” the order, and send it in. And getting “surplus” Pentagon equipment is depicted as a civic-minded thing to do, since getting the federally subsidized military gear actually helps keep taxes low.

Not discussed in the video are hidden costs of that subsidy. The monetary costs are borne by taxpayers nation-wide. But a much larger price is paid when communities no longer control their own police agencies.

When local police are supported by local tax funds, they are locally accountable. When those police are materially and financially supported by Washington – to any extent – the locus of control and accountability shifts there. That is the principle recognized in the Supreme Court's 1942 Wickard v. Filburn decision.

The Bush Regime is trying to expand that principle in the case of Joshua Wolf, a videoblogger imprisoned on federal contempt charges last fall for refusing to surrender videotape sought by federal prosecutors.

The Feds claimed that Wolf's video contained footage of an attack by rioters on a San Francisco Police Department squad car during a July 2005 protest. Wolf maintained that he didn't have the footage sought by prosecutors – which allegedly showed the squad car being put on fire – and that under California's shield law, he didn't have to surrender the tape. The Feds countered that because the SFPD receives federal subsidies (for counter-narcotics and “homeland security” efforts, among other things), the damaged squad car is federal property, and so the matter belongs in federal court, where California's shield law doesn't apply.

That claim has yet to be resolved in the courts, but given that claims of this sort have been consistently vindicated since, oh, about 1937, the suspense isn't exactly killing me.

Which leaves us here:

Any police agency that receives so much as a particle of federal aid is no longer a local police force. It is, in principle, a federal army of occupation.

Yes, most policemen (including those seen in LESO's promotional video) are decent and honorable people who honestly believe that they are serving and protecting their communities. But the people who fund and control them are neither decent, nor honorable, and at a time of their choosing they can execute Order 66 (if you'll pardon the allusion) and turn that army against us.

For decades, since the Kennedy administration unveiled its Freedom From War program for UN-administered “general and complete disarmament,” many observers have wondered when the blue helmets of the UN “Peace Force” would be dispatched to disarm Americans and put down patriotic resistance. It's not impossible that such a scenario could eventually be played out, however unlikely it is at present.

People who focus on the UN as the source of the immediate threat, however, are preoccupied with the wrong threat vector.

Please visit our daily news page The Right Source -- and stay tuned for both Pro Libertate: the e-zine, and my forthcoming book From Republic to Reich: How The Imperial Executive Swallowed the Bill of Rights.


Fred said...

PDs and and their local governments can't resisit taking advantage of programs like these. They get more stuff, and stay within budget. It's a way of saying, "Look what we got, boss. And it didn't cost US a dime."

The equipment angle is merely the most visible product of these deals. What goes unnoticed are the many cops who are working in certain postions within their community only because of a grant from the Federals to the PD, or to the state, who in turn hands out the candy at a press conference, e.g. check-points, DARE, GREAT, Community Police, School Resource Officers.

This dangerous game has been going on for many years. Now it appears there haven't been enough takers, or there is so much more equipment there has to be an ad campaign to unload it- or both.

Could it be 7277 before our very eyes?

BTW, stay tuned for a Bill authorizing maintenance personnel for all the old junk that breaks down. It's like the grants mentioned above; Feds start you off with the cash for the cop, then you are on your own after a few years. Scream loud enough and then they rush to help with yet another bag of somebody elses money to keep it going.

Fred said...

The appearance of an armored vehicle does raise eye brows, as it should.

Like SWAT teams, they have a time and place to be used. They are not something to be used with any regularity or controlled by those who can't even control themselves. This is particularly the case in areas that have a severe violent crime problem.

Specifically I'm referring to a legitimate hostage rescue effort or a rescue operation of someone who is injured, yet still within site of an armed maniac. If the person must be rescued there is no way to get to them without creating more victims. Hand held shields and standard vehicles are insufficient protection from rifle fire. An armored vehicle can allow paramedics to be driven right up to them and drag them into the vehicle so they can be treated.

They can also be used to allow cops to get closer to a location occupied by bandits in need of incarceration, but who have kept the cops- and neighborhood- at bay because of the armament they possess.

Yes, these vehicles can be used for evil, as witnessed in Waco. But since violent, planned crimes are becoming more common (another issue) there will be a need for cops to protect themselves and others from gun fire.

A fortune could be made if someone could manufacture an affordable device that can be used as a substitute.

The cops deal with the symptoms a sick society exhibits. Many of the problems are created. We know that.

Repairing society is the real battle.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grigg,
this is a great blog you have. I just found it thanks to LewRockwell.com.
I took the time to read through your stuff here and I'm very impressed with the effort and detail present in your writings.
Quite often I find stuff at lew rockwell that is written by hyperventilating, hair on fire Libertarian types. You know... the world is ending... the black helicopters are coming.

Keep fighting the good fight for liberty!


The Owner said...

It'd make a good news story if someone could pretend to be part of a local police force and have an APC delivered to their house.

Of course they'd probably be put in prison shortly after the gov figured out they were duped.

I heard we aren't selling spare F-14 parts to Iran anymore (probably part of the run up to war with them). I wonder if the Iranians could get some of our surplus hardware through this program and a local US buyer/PD they've bribed? That'd also make a great news story: "Iran Buys Surplus US Arms Despite Weapons Ban"

Hey, it could happen.

Anonymous said...

Charleston went through Hurrican Hugo, where a M113 would have been very useful. They are nice vehicles for disaster response, they (unlike police cars) are bullet-resistant, and they have low ground pressure and excellent off-road characteristics. The government is offing the A2 models for FEPP (firefighting) and LESO. I can see why the cops would prefer them in a barricade situation, and Aberdeen made some nice firefighting versions. Tracks beat wheels for not getting stuck.
When the revolution comes you can still take them out with an EFP, so cheer up!