Difference between revisions of "Federal Army in Disguise"

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Federal Army in Disguise
AEN NEWS March 24, 1994, Linda Thompson
Copyright (c) 1994 AEN News.  All Rights Reserved.   WASHINGTON

     Washington, D.C. (AEN) -- In testimony before the House Armed
Services committee on Tuesday, Department of Justice officials and Pentagon
officials touted the advantages of equipping local law enforcement with
military equipment and advanced weaponry.
     As always, they claimed this would "save the nation millions of dollars
annually" (but of course, just how that would manifest itself is surely unclear,
unless we are to presume that by having a national gestapo, they will be able
to effectively lock up or kill anyone who even appears to be a "trouble maker"
and this new, efficient approach to law enforcement would be less expensive.
It worked for Hitler, anyways.)
     The euphemism being used is "dual-use technology," claiming that
allowing law enforcement to also buy and use military equipment (the
"dual-use" of equipment) will "save thousands of defense industry jobs
threatened by shrinking budgets."
     David G. Boyd of the Justice Department's National Institute of Justice
said that the nation's police "are still equipped much as was Wyatt Earp in the
late 19th century,"   He said "dual-use technology, such as devices that can
track suspects and others that can stop cars and avoid high-speed chases,
could save hundreds of lives and millions of dollars."  Note the part about
devices that can "stop cars."  EMP ring any bells with anybody?
     Dr. Anita K. Jones, director of defense research and engineering at the
Pentagon, said "dual-use technology" could include sensors that improve night
vision or help police "see" through walls, velocity-adjusting weapons, personal
stealth and lightweight body armor and computer simulation for training.
She showed the lawmakers binoculars that have a built-in display that can
show the faces of people in police archives and a night vision device that can
locate suspects by detecting body heat.  She didn't mention that "Dual use"
technology can also include MP5 submachine guns, M60 machine guns,
tanks, combat engineer vehicles, armed Cobra attack helicopters, laser
weapons, and a whole host of chemical and biological weapons.
     And here's where the Department of Justice came up with one of those
hysteria-inducing non-sequiters.  By way of example,  David G. Boyd said
that New York City was recently ordered by a court to pay $100 million to
the family of a child killed during a high-speed chase, 50 times what the
National Institute of Justice is budgeted each year to address that issue.
     Now, apparently, the police department to which he referred either
doesn't have a lot of common sense or can't drive, yet these are the people
DOJ wants to give military weapons, right?  Sure, makes a lot of sense.  And
of course, no one bothers to consider whether any of this is Constitutional or
even desirable.  Do we want "money savings" and "job creation" at the
expense of having armed military gestapo on each corner?
     Last June, Attorney General Janet Reno solicited military assistance in
federal law enforcement when she wrote the secretary of defense seeking
"help" in crime-fighting technology.  DOD and DOJ are in the process of
completing a formal agreement on long-term cooperation.
     Another euphemism for giving military equipment to federal law
enforcement is calling this the "technology transfer program."
     Boyd said that the "technology transfer program" has produced a
prototype device that can apply a nontoxic sticky foam from a distance of 30
to 50 feet to make it nearly impossible for a suspect to move, and a rear seat
airbag to safely restrain uncooperative prisoners in police cars.
     More than 90 percent of the 17,000 law enforcement agencies in the
country employ 30 or fewer sworn officers.  By these numbers, it would
appear there isn't much of a crime emergency in most of the country, and that
most of the country's police departments have no need for the weaponry or
technology.  And even if they did, it would not be Constitutional or legal for
them to possess them.  This isn't Nazi Germany, yet.