Events last month in Ferguson, Missouri (read my detailed thoughts here) forced Americans to confront the frightening reality that many of of the nation’s police departments have been quietly, but consistently, militarizing over the past couple of decades. It’s one thing to intellectually understand that this has happened, it’s quite another to see cops deploy tanks and point sniper rifles at peacefully protesting U.S. citizens.
Just as disturbing as the scenes themselves, is the fact that this has been happening for so long under the 1033 transfer program with only muted criticism. The program was originated in the late 1990’s under the National Defense Authorization Act of 1997 (recall that the NDAA is also being used to allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens without trial), and it allows for the transfer of excess Department of Defense equipment to domestic police. In other words, it has been public policy for almost two decades to militarize the police.
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I’ve covered the militarization of the domestic police force on several occasions on this website. For those of you who need a refresher, I suggest reading the following:
Video of the Day – Thuggish Militarized Police Terrorize and SWAT Team Iowa Family.
Moving along to the subject of today’s absurdity, the tiny city of Washington, Iowa with a population of 7,000 and 11 police officers, will be receiving a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. Yes, they will be employing one of these in the field:
These things normally cost $500,000, but will be given to Washington, Iowa for free under a Defense Department program that gives surplus military equipment to domestic law enforcement.
Matthew Byrd writes in the Daily Iowan that:
Sometimes the news is just so drearily awful that you have to sit back and almost appreciate the pure comedy induced by it.
Take this item from Washington, Iowa, where the local police have recently acquired an MRAP vehicle (short for Mine Resistance Ambush Protected) through a Defense Department program that donates excess vehicles originally produced for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to local police departments across the United States, including other Iowa towns such as Mason City and Storm Lake.
The MRAP weighs an impressive 49,000 pounds, stands 10-feet tall, and possesses a whopping six-wheel drive. Originally designed to resist landmines and IEDs, it sure seems like the MRAP will come in handy for the notorious war zone otherwise known as Washington County, Iowa.
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High ranking generals and admirals earn their stars. They earn their stripes. Then, they earn their cash. New research by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) found 70% of the 108 three-and-four star generals and admirals who retired between 2009 and 2011 took jobs with defense contractor or consultants. In at least a few cases, the retirees have continued to advise the Department of Defense while on the payroll of defense contractors, suggesting the Pentagon may not always be receiving unbiased counsel.
A Boston Globe investigation revealed the number of retired three-and-four star generals and admirals moving into lucrative defense industry jobs rose from less than 50% between 1994 and 1998 to a stratospheric 80% between 2004 and 2008.
– From Strategic Maneuvers: The Revolving Door from the Pentagon to the Private Sector, a report by CREW
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has just released a fantastic new report on the revolving door between the Pentagon and the private sector, which raises serious concerns not only about ethics and corruption within the defense sector, but also raises issues of national security if retired generals are merely acting as mercenaries once they retire. Meanwhile, these are the folks we are supposed to allow to read all of our emails and communications without warrants??
When I first figured out the gigantic ponzi scheme, theft and fraud within the financial system, centered around the Federal Reserve system and the TBTF banks, as well as the revolving door between the SEC, Treasury Department, etc and Wall Street firms, I never imagined the same thing goes on in virtually every sector of our corrupt crony capitalist economy…including the military.
One of the prime examples of the dangers of this activity outlined in the report revolves around Lt. Gen. Robert Dail. He retired from the Army in January 2009 and by March 2009 had become the president of Supreme Group USA. Supreme Foodservice had been paid at least $6.8 billion to provide food to U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, but then the Pentagon accused it of overcharging by hundreds of millions of dollars. Despite this, the contact was renewed during Lt. Gen. Dail’s time there and in June 2012, the company was actually awarded an additional $1.5 billion contract to ease the transition to a new vendor.
Absolutely incredible. Other key findings in the report are:
- Retired generals can make more than their yearly military pay by serving on corporate boards
- Contractors have increased spending on lobbying for 40 percent in the last five years
- The U.S. government paid the top five defense contractors $113 billion in 2011
- As of early 2012, 68 percent of lobbyists for the top five defense contractors had prior public sector experience
- Pentagon rules prohibiting the revolving door are riddled with loopholes
The entire report can be found here.