Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Police as an occupying army

"It’s better to be over-prepared," smirked Jim Porter of the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Illinois in response to questions about wildly disproportionate use of force. Dutifully regurgitating pre-digested soundbites Porter insisted that the most important consideration for the raiders is to be prepared for what they "reasonably expect might happen." And since their indoctrination describes the public as an undifferentiated mass of menace, and their role as subduing any potential resistance, rather than protecting property rights, their default setting is "overkill."

This obsession with "force protection" – or, as it is commonly called, "officer safety" – is the primary driver behind the 124 SWAT raids that occur, on average, every day in the United States. These are not "paramilitary" raids; they are fully realized military operations carried out with financial support from Washington and material assistance from the Pentagon. The only significant difference between counter-insurgency operations overseas and the ones conducted domestically is the fact that military personnel operate under more restrictive rules of engagement than police officers.

The SWAT concept itself could be considered a domestic variant of the "Counter-terror teams" assembled by the CIA as part of the murderous "Phoenix Program" in Vietnam. Amid mounting – and overdue, but welcome -- public antipathy toward police militarization, the Homeland Security apparatus has ramped up its longstanding campaign to collect information on activists and commentators who promote "anti-police" attitudes – another homefront adaptation of counter-insurgency methods.

In 2008, total government spending on "police protection" was $76 billion – nearly half of all "criminal justice"-related expenditures. In the following year the Obama administration poured additional billions of dollars into the Justice Department’s Byrne Memorial Grant program. That program is one of the chief federal funding arteries for "local" police departments – and perhaps the most significant tool the Feds have employed to mobilize police departments and sheriff’s offices in the "war on drugs."

The foregoing happened before the most recent push to provide every police agency with surplus war-fighting vehicles – even if their officers patrol tiny rural villages in which crime is all but nonexistent.

Original report here




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