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The Nebraska State Patrol Light Armored Vehicle LAV 150
The Nebraska State Patrol Light Armored Vehicle LAV 150. It's one of the military items that
Rep. Hank Johnson has proposed to prohibit the Pentagon from passing along to local and state police.
Loading up local police forces with military hardware has crept into the spotlight as a consequence of the reaction to the slaying of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Not that the federal program doing that is new or has gone unnoticed by people whose political views have brought them into direct and sometimes violent contact with the police over the years. As a result of that public attention, there's a move in Congress to chop or reform the program, known as 1033 for the section of the defense budget authorization it was originally part of. As reported previously, Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia plans to introduce reform legislation on 1033 when the August recess is over.

Just one problem: The program has considerable Democratic support and opposition to reducing its budget. That became apparent two months ago when Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida could only muster 62 votes, including his own, for cutting funding and limiting what kind of hardware could be transferred from the Pentagon to local police agencies. Democrats opposed Grayson on the move by a 3-1 margin. And the majority included 35 members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Jennifer Bendery, Ryan Grim and Zach Carter report:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a leading voice for progressives, says it’s time to reassess the way the program is carried out, not end it altogether.

“The Leader supports examining the overall federal effort of giving military-type equipment to local police departments,” said a Pelosi spokeswoman. “Cutting off all funding—like the Grayson amendment—is a blunt instrument, but oversight and appropriate scale of funding for such programs need to be examined.”
But Grayson's legislation wouldn't have cut off all funding for the Pentagon program—instead, it would have banned funding for a specific set of heavy-duty gear, including grenade launchers, toxicological agents and drones, all of which may legally be transferred to police departments under current law.

And it's the same story with Johnson's legislation. It would not eliminate transfers of all the flat-panel monitors, kneepads, communications and similar gear from 1033. Instead, the Pentagon would no longer be allowed to provide local law enforcement with: automatic weapons not generally recognized as particularly suitable for law enforcement purposes, including those that are .50 caliber or greater; tactical vehicles, including highly mobile multi-wheeled vehicles, armored vehicles, and mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles; armored drones; aircraft; flash-bang or stun grenades; and silencers.

Although the hurdles to getting this modest legislation passed are high, there is some sense of movement in the matter. Unnamed congressional aides say support will grow for Johnson's proposal or similar legislation. Getting there will require amplifying the voices of the likes of Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen, who says that wartime weapons are inappropriate for use "against our own citizens when there is civil unrest and civil protest. Even if it got to the point where it did where they are breaking some glass, that's no reason to come with the amount of force and appearance that was brought by the police in Ferguson."

Indeed, it's not. But we can expect repeats of situations like Ferguson's and against protesters elsewhere as long as police are armed and uniformed like soldiers and act akin to invading armies instead of community protectors. To reiterate what I've said before, it will take more than a change in hardware to fix the police. But de-militarizing local law enforcement would be a good start. Please show your support for Rep. Johnson's proposal.

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Comment Preferences

  •  There's Money Involved (21+ / 0-)

    Of course it will be hard to reverse the militarization of the police because there's money in it.

    That's yet another reason I support Lawrence Lessig's Mayday PAC. Until we get rid of the big money in politics every good thing we want to do will be an uphill battle.

    •  what money? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The stuff is military surplus and is given to the cops for free. The military corporations already got their money years ago. It doesn't matter to them if the Pentagon just buries the stuff or dumps it into the ocean.  (shrug)

      In the end, reality always wins.

      by Lenny Flank on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:17:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The NYT links says some of the stuff is (11+ / 0-)

        indeed military surplus given to the police "for free" while in other cases federal grant money is available to buy this shit, presumably brand new from the manufacturers.

        Unfortunately, no breakdown was given as to quantify either supply route, so it's not clear how big of a revenue source this is for the corporations that make these products.

        Somewhat, however, I suspect that it is not negligible.

        •  Grants from Homeland Security to local... (15+ / 0-)

          ...police agencies since these were initiated: $34 billion.

          Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

          by Meteor Blades on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:45:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Even before then. Where i grew up the local she... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy, glitterscale

            Even before then. Where i grew up the local sherrif bought a couple of fully equip'd APC's to use on drug raids. If the didn't answer the door or shot back he would run it THRU the house and pick up the bodies later.

          •  Its all about the money. Why else would (7+ / 0-)

            Democratic Party 'progressives' vote against Grayson's reasonable proposal.  'Defense' lobbyists have found a new way to get funding, and they are surely working Congress to keep it so. Where does the funding come from,  which lobbying firms benefit from the continued funding, and who
            are key Dems to we need to focus on to change this?

            Hope all get the chance to read the ACLU released a report in June:

            June 2014_WAR COMES HOME_The Excessive Militarization of American Policing  pdf

            To scale back the militarization of police, it is important todocument how law enforcement agencies have stockpiled their arsenals. Law enforcement agencies have become
            equipped to carry out these SWAT missions in part by
            federal programs such as the Department of Defense’s 1033
            Program, the Department of Homeland Security’s grants
            to local law enforcement agencies, and the Department of
            Justice’s Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant
            (JAG) Program, each of which is examined in this report.

            Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

            by divineorder on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:26:55 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  More, HT To Evening Blues (3+ / 0-)
              Defense Industry Donations and the Alan Grayson Police Militarization Amendment
              By Tim Starks    Posted at 3:07 p.m. on Aug. 15, 2014
              With images of heavily armed police confronting protesters in Ferguson, Mo., sparking a national debate about police militarization, a campaign finance research organization has released a study showing how much defense industry money House members got before a June 19 vote that rejected Rep. Alan Grayson’s amendment to block military equipment transfers to local law enforcement. The organization, MapLight, found that those who voted against it got 73 percent more in defense industry donations than those who voted in favor.

              But there are probably bigger reasons for the vote going the way it did. And the issue could come up again in Congress — Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, D-Mich., promised Friday to review the program before his committee’s fiscal 2015 defense policy bill comes to the floor; Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., has put forward new legislation; and others are calling for hearings. So it’s worth reviewing the motivations for those votes.

              It’s not as if campaign donations can’t sway a vote, or make a lawmaker more inclined to support a certain industry. But the so-called 1033 program that Grayson, D-Fla., was going after sends excess military surplus to local police, which means that in most cases, the defense contractors who originally supplied the equipment to the Pentagon had little direct stake in the outcome.

              MapLight, however, cited an American Civil Liberties Union report that the 1033 program is providing new equipment in 36 percent of the cases.

              Move Single Payer Forward? Join 18,000 Doctors of PNHP and 185,000 member National Nurses United

              by divineorder on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:32:28 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Yes, I believe its money BUT (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Liberal Thinking

                how did we even get to this point??

                In my humble opinion:

                Back when I was a teenager the police had their nice police car, they had a sidearm (typically a revolver - I was a teenager a long time ago), and a locked shotgun in the patrol car. The police were nice people who used to come to our school and speak about the law, drugs, and other policey type stuff. We kids knew them all by name.

                My town was a hunting type town and when we kids turned 16 we could get a small game license - my dad bought me my first .22. Of course the NRA, being a safety type org that promoted target shooting and safety classes as opposed to the jack booted organization it turned out to be, had to certify my handling of said .22.

                As I got older I "graduated" to a nice bolt action deer rifle - didn't have a pistol, nor did I really want one. My Dad had a lever action and we spent some really nice days hunting together. I don't hunt anymore but I do have his old Marlin.

                Several times we would run into the nice policeman in the woods who was also hunting. "Hi officer, see anything?".

                The only cop shows on TV and the movies were benign cops who were out to get the real bad guys and were protective of innocent civilians (even black ones back then). They were the good guys. They only shot when they had to and expressed remorse at having done so.

                That was then:

                Today we see the cops as aggressive, pseudo military types who can take down whole city blocks with their tactical weapons.

                We see cops kill with impunity on TV and the movies (only 007 had a license to kill at one time). Shoot 'em up, blow up a building or two, and they just go to work the next day - no problemo. Fiction emulating fact.

                Instead of a "hunting" rifle we see "hunters" with gear more suited to staving off an attacking force - not just a deer for meat. Also the NRA types aren't the bespectacled teenager with a .22 but folks screaming about the 2nd amendment and something about pouring blood on trees. Even walking down a street and going to a store they have the right to carry weapons that would intimidate my friend the cop from the past. Hell they scare me!!! Some are armed better than I was in Viet Nam.

                I would speculate that as the civilian population has armed itself to the teeth and the portrayal of killing as something that has to be done for "Democracy", there has been a counter arms race to keep the local police armed better than the populace and they believe themselves to be, as Judge Dread would say, "I AM the LAW!". Add to that some of today's police are ex-military who have been in battle and killed (I know a few myself - either cops or security guards).

                Am I defending the actions taken by police today - absolutely not!! It is certainly over the top and most of the time unnecessary.

                I honestly believe our culture is becoming centered around making sure "we" are the BIG kid on the block and one way to do that is to have the biggest "gun". Listen to even our politicians throw around vague and not so vague threats. Are today's movies and TV shows contributing?? I'm not a psychologist so my opinion doesn't matter but watching a shoot 'em up where the authority figure can pick up a machine gun and spray the area with bullets killing everyone in the path and then go on like nothing happened - I start to wonder. BTW I love "revenge" movies.

                I do feel it is time for a serious discussion disarming both sides - the protectors and the protected. I doubt anyone will but the constant escalation of weaponry hasn't worked in other countries.


                Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. Frank Zappa

                by Da Rock on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 03:17:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

        •  Not Just Initial Cost (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Roadbed Guy, Liberal Thinking

          What about the cost to maintain this hardware, and when it ultimately wears out then what?  The departments are going to come to the tax payers to replace what they once had with equal capability even if it was massive overkill.

          •  (Fortunately!) most police departments (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Liberal Thinking

            probably don't put all that much wear and tear on this stuff (places like Ferguson an obvious exception, of course!!).

            And about replacement (due to obsolescence, I suppose, based on the sentence just above), chances are that the Pentagon will not be out of business in the foreseeable future, and more surplus materials will be available as needed.

             But about the maintenance costs, yeah, that's a good point.   I imagine that if nothing else, personnel continually needs to be trained to use it (no matter how poorly), you need to fill up the gas tank to take the tank out to show off at the county fair, or whatever . . .

      •  We Pay for It, Then They Give It to the Police (14+ / 0-)

        It's not free to us, the taxpayers. And the people that sell it to the military no doubt have lobbyists to see that the military keeps buying it.

        Thanks for asking that so that I could straighten it out for you.

      •  but how much (9+ / 0-)

        Does it cost the police to maintain/store/operate/train with this stuff for questionable utility?  For all the Republican states that said that the free Medicaid money would cost them too much money, this program seems like an actual boondoggle.

        •  Excellent point, but this of course presumes... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberal Thinking

          (A) that their professed motive for refusing Medicaid expansion is their actual motive;
          (B) that they care about intellectual / moral consistency;
          (C) that they adhere to any principles beyond winning, serving their corporate constituency, and harming liberals / Democrats.
          All three seem pretty dubious to me.
          And though this could thus be useful grounds on which to demonstrate their arrant hypocrisies, even that presumes a media that would even tell, let alone highlight, these truths.
          That too seems dubious to me.

      •  Damn it matters to me! Kill the Pentagon's Budget (3+ / 0-)

        The Pentagon's Gift is a Regift from We the People, walk it all the way back, people, please. The source maybe news to your neighbors, as it was news to me. Time to channel Thoreau again.

        We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

        by nuclear winter solstice on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:44:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Lessig's Mayday PAC is a great idea. But ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      ... it has a very high probability that political money - that could go to Democrats - will be squandered. (I contributed, mind you, because the cause is so good. See Lessig's Ted talk on the campaign funding process.)

      All but the most reform-minded incumbents will not abide campaign contribution reform. Period. Most challengers will, of course. And even the incumbent reformers will waffle when faced with legislation that will cure what Prof. Lessig correctly describes as political evil.

      2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:39:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe (0+ / 0-)

        I'm sure there are some that like the current system because they profit from it. But it also imprisons them, and I would think they might want to be free.

        Also, it can't be pleasant spending 70% of your time dialing for dollars.

        I think if you got them all in a room and told them they could free themselves of this curse you'd get a majority to sign up. You'd just have to cut them off from their handlers for a few hours, so that they could detox.

        So, I think a majority would sign on. The rest could be sent away, quietly.

  •  because people make $$ off the status quo (10+ / 0-)

    Not people like you. Important people.

  •  Years ago on a visit to Mexicali, Baja California, (18+ / 0-)

    I saw a troop carrier (admittedly lower tech that the one you picture) full of federales.  I thanked what ever powers be that we did not have such in our streets.  Even more so when our host's Volkswagen Thing was stopped at a check point in Chiapas and we were searched for possible weapons for the rebels in the mountains (how do you hide anything in a Thing?) Some of the soldiers were shorter than their weapons and looked about twelve years old.

    Well, we have come to being a third-world (or developing world as we now say) oligarchy protected by thugs. I don't doubt that sometimes such weapons may be necessary, but only under the direst situations such as nuclear war or invasion of foreign armies.  America I hardly know ya!

  •  I'd like to see an add-on to the legislation, (17+ / 0-)

    providing funding for uniform cameras and dashboard cameras.  And making their use mandatory in order to receive the other aid.

    Anyone arguing that there's no difference between the parties is a fucking moron who can simply go to hell. -- kos

    by Its the Supreme Court Stupid on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:13:50 AM PDT

  •  One possible reason resistance is high (17+ / 0-)

    No one has asked the key question. Is this gear truly surplus or a hidden budget items purchased by lobbyists from Defense Contractors via the DoD  to keep " jobs" in key congressional districts?

    What if we aren't going the  "swords to plowshares" route anymore to keep the companies going that make all this stuff.

    BTW, there is a tremendous amount of highly profitable consumables that have to be refreshed such as ammunition .  Should we believe that local budgets will handle this even when "surplus" equipment wears out like MRAPs , Tanks etc which have a surprisingly low mileage threshold before requiring complete factory overhauls?

    Stuff looks brand spanking new to me. Follow the money


    “ Success has a great tendency to conceal and throw a veil over the evil of men. ” — Demosthenes

    by Dburn on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:14:22 AM PDT

  •  Pelosi Is Wrong (11+ / 0-)

    Leader Pelosi is wrong on this issue. We need to end this, and that doesn't go far enough. The police need to take all this equipment, and the camo that goes with it, and donate it all to the National Guard.

    And that doesn't go far enough, either. We need a concerted program to restore democracy. This is all part of the Bush dictatorship, and we need to roll it all back. It's dangerous to the country.

    That means trimming back the intelligence community to something reasonably related to our security needs. It means cutting military spending back to something resembling what other countries do. It means rounding up the people responsible for torture, indefinite detentions, and other abuse, and putting them on trial.

    We don't have much time on this. If we haven't made solid progress on this before the end of the Obama Administration we will have passed the point of no return.

    Nancy Pelosi needs to get on board with the movement to restore democracy. Statements like this go in the opposite direction.

    •  We haven't made progress on this front in year 6 (4+ / 0-)

      of this presidency.  There' s no reason to expect progress in years 7 or 8, esp. when GOP is poised to gain seats this fall.

      I'm still, BTW, trying to figure out how Dems have gained electorally by generally going along w/ the National Security State for the past 13 years.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:34:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Dems gained electorally" because ... politics. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Liberal Thinking

        Political money and lobbying influence beats progressive will until the heat on the given issue gets too high.

        This issue is a nit in the great scope of public policy making, much of which is stalemated these days, even the imperative issues. And lobbyists exploit those nits very well.

        2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

        by TRPChicago on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:43:48 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  one can possibly give a legitimate reason why (8+ / 0-)

    cops in large cities may possibly have a future need for pseudo-military stuff like armored cars, in the unlikely event of riots or patriot-militia-coups or mass terrorist attacks or whatever.

    But I sure as hell can't think of a reason why some two-bit cop in Podunk, Illinois, who spends all his time writing traffic tickets and busting underage kids in the park, needs any of that stuff.

    It's all based on the insanely paranoid idea that "the terrists" are out to get us oh noez.

    Sadly, we as a nation lost our fucking minds after 9-11, and we still have not yet returned to sanity.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:16:25 AM PDT

  •  If you want to see what your county (7+ / 0-)

    has been taking home from the military surplus store, you can find it all here:

    (interesting use of GitHub also!)

    I was pleased to see that in my county they've mostly scooped up useful stuff, like chainsaws and tools.

    Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

    by elfling on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:16:57 AM PDT

  •  Irony (7+ / 0-)

    The one actual example of what could at least plausibly be described as the beginnings of a police state and republicans support it unanimously.  

    Maybe irony is the wrong word.

    Maybe it's thatentirepoliticalpartyisfillediwithmorons.

    •  Orwellian Evil (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Irony has the connotation that they didn't intend to create a police state, that they were, in fact, trying to do the opposite.

      So, yes, "irony" is the wrong word, I think. It implies that they actually care about what they purport to care about--the Constitution, individual rights, etc.

      This is more a reality leak, the revelation beyond their words of what they actually stand for. It's what you should expect from the party of the stubbornly stupid and the willfully ignorant, once you pull back the curtain.

    •  Note entirely true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      barleystraw, divineorder

      This is one area where there's alignment with the opinion-makers of the right. There's been a lot of rumbling against police militarization on RW sites (I read them so you don't have to). Red State has come out strongly against the actions in Ferguson.  Even though conservatives are seen as "law and order" types, they also bristle under state encroachment on liberties, so it makes sense. Anyway, this is an excellent issue for both sides to get together on. I think something will actually come of what's been going on in Missouri.

  •  The military hardware is only part (18+ / 0-)

    of the problem, training is another issue.

    Meet Col. Jack Jones. He's the guy who trained the Albuquerque PD.

    Jack Jones, a retired Army colonel, was granted sole authority by the LEA over the training curriculum given to all of New Mexico’s new recruits.  He says the old model was too restrictive with the use of deadly force.

    “Evil has come to the state of New Mexico. Evil has come to the Southwest. Evil has come to the United States,” Jones said to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

    He and others like him have conflated the roles of the military and the police. This is a dangerous and toxic development for a democracy.

    … the NSA takes significant care to prevent any abuses and that there is a substantial oversight system in place,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California), said August 23.

    by mosesfreeman on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:19:03 AM PDT

  •  I'm Guessing The Gun Manufacturers Also Have A (9+ / 0-)

    monetary incentive to militarize the police - the more weapons sold, the more money they make too.

    •  They arm everyone which is why there is (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Eric Nelson

      seriously high number of armed citizens.

      I voted Tuesday, May 6, 2014 because it is my right, my responsibility and because my parents moved from Alabama to Ohio to vote. Unfortunately, the republicons want to turn Ohio into Alabama.

      by a2nite on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:30:44 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Teabaggers and Libertarians may come to realize (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Liberal Thinking, KJG52, Gorette

    that the government which they so despise will not limit use of these weapons to black people. Their own slogans say they should rebel. Big government! Taxes! Tyranny! But they are such chickencruds and authoritarians in their guts, and the images of black people being beaten down so damned appealing, that they're probably torn. So much for them to fear. Which way to turn? ...back to Ayn Rand's novels for guidance.

    Sunday mornings are more beautiful without Meet the Press.

    by deben on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:22:39 AM PDT

  •  the MIC turns everything to shit/ eom (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Gorette

    you can shit on my face but that doesn't mean I have to lick my lips

    by red rabbit on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:25:25 AM PDT

    •  Yes, I've been thinking about Ike's warning a lot. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mzinformed, minorityusa

      I was a kid when his motorcade drove through my neighborhood on the way to the airport in Cleveland and saw him. He KNEW and he was RIGHT.

      "Let me be clear here: Pointing a gun at an innocent person is an act of violence and provocation." ~ Charles Blow

      by Gorette on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:59:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For the sake of argument, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, Gorette, divineorder

    I am a rather beefy ten-year-old boy. Dad has given me a wonderful shiny new Tonka truck- one with lots of bells and whistles and the neighborhood kids have nothing like it.

    Then Mom pipes up that the gift is inappropriate for me or my age group because I've lorded it over my siblings and threatened them with it and now Dad has to take the truck away from me after I've been playing with it enthusiastically for days on end.
    That's not going to be easy and you are going to make me angry and petulant.

    Yeah. Something like that. I wonder what a petulant police force might be like.

    Better petulant than overly lethal.

    Lead with Love. Forgive as a reflex.

    by Gentle Giant on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:26:01 AM PDT

  •  If gun control in this country is hard (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TRPChicago, Gorette, Egalitare

    Then controlling the big guns will be harder.

    We've got freedom and security all mixed up with lethality.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:28:11 AM PDT

  •  One more example how the "Democratic" (7+ / 0-)

    Party has come to oppose democracy. With HRC, we can expect more of this.

    Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism go hand in glove. It's all about domination culture. Dominate with money. Dominate with exuberant, even fictitious "National Security." Dominate with Defense. Hell, dominate the environment we depend upon for survival.

    There is no democracy with domination culture. In fact, there's no future in it.

    How do you connect the Democratic Party with democracy when people are more afraid of the even worse alternative form of dominating culture than they are of definitive confrontation with their own Party and government in general? You don't.

    So it's more domination culture neoliberalism and neoconservatism ahead, then.

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:29:04 AM PDT

  •  Congress (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mosesfreeman, Gorette

    isn't really worried about having any of those weapons directed at them, so what's the big deal. Another problem of the little people they aren't concerned with.

    I don't know what's worse, the getting older or the getting wiser. -- G. Callen.

    by OLinda on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:31:27 AM PDT

  •  Check the districts where these things are made. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    divineorder, GreatLakeSailor

    Parts and assemblies from, I'll wager (without knowing the full scope) from darn near everywhere.

    And "re-using" military equipment sounds like such a money-saving program, not to mention security-conscious in the event the Rooskies ever invade Nantucket. (A few years ago, the sheriff there - now deposed - bought a horde of very heavy armaments ... because he could. Grants, you know, from Homeland Security, I think.)

    (That actually should be, "invade Nantucket" again. See the 1966 movie The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming, based on Nathaniel Benchley's better-then-the-movie book, The Off Islanders. Benchley denied it was based on Nantucket characters, probably because he lived there. The reactions of local law enforcement, particularly the assistant police chief played "big" by Jonathan Winters, were amusing, but nowadays ... have a ring of truth.)

    2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

    by TRPChicago on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:32:53 AM PDT

  •  The military industrial complex on steroids! (5+ / 0-)

    During the Clinton era, munitions manufacturers were hurting - no wars, fewer sales.
    Under BushCo, we started two wars that meant lots and lots of guns, tanks, ammo, etc. Military manufacturers (and Bush Cheney and their cronies) got very, very rich.
    But then, with the wars winding down we suddenly have all that stuff! Hey! Let's give it to police departments without  caring if they needed any of it or even knew how to use it.
    The blame for all this rests with the war mongers.
    And shame on ANY Democrat who supports the militarization of the police.

    Isn’t it ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray. ~ Rachel Carson, Silent Spring ~

    by MA Liberal on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:34:36 AM PDT

    •  Yes, and giving this crap away lets them refresh (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      equipment that is even more lethal, supplying fresh billions to war contractors and their lobbyists who certainly do not have to work very hard, except when trying to explain, perhaps, why the billions already spent on some very expensive equipment simply doesn't work.

      "Let me be clear here: Pointing a gun at an innocent person is an act of violence and provocation." ~ Charles Blow

      by Gorette on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:04:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "it would have banned funding for a specific set" (6+ / 0-)

    "of heavy-duty gear, including grenade launchers, toxicological agents and drones, all of which may legally be transferred to police departments under current law."

    And whatever is not expressly forbidden is bound to happen. I remember a day when it wasn't actually illegal for American company to sell biologicals including anthrax, to Iraq, either. Some big loopholes needed closing.

    Congressional Record: September 20, 2002 (Senate) Page S8987-S8998
      Let me read that again:

           It is hard to believe that, during most of the 1980s,
         America knowingly permitted the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission
         to import bacterial cultures that might be used to build
         biological weapons. But it happened.

    So as far as arming the police, let's go with what Senator Byrd said about arming Saddam :
    America's past stumbles, while embarrassing, are not an argument for inaction in the future.

    We are all pupils in the eyes of God.

    by nuclear winter solstice on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:37:30 AM PDT

  •  When lawbreakers and rioters have access to (0+ / 0-)

    Finnish grenades and Russian assault rifles, I can understand why the police have this sort of equipment.

    It's not the police tools themselves that are the problem, it's how they're used.

  •  Easier and Faster Route: (3+ / 0-)

    Check out the database in this diary. Pimping a little for good reasons.

    If your town or county is on the participants' list, organize and get the town or county to drop out.

    In the meantime your local FOIA laws and departmental annual reports will allow you to determine what has been given in past years (not sure how far back records ae kept).

    It might be harder to get the locals to give up their goodies from the past, but all police and sheriffs' offices are under control of a board or council, that is, local electeds.

    Cops may not lsten. They will.

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:41:30 AM PDT

  •  It's the mindset (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    not the equipment.  I think the equipment needs to be retained by police because of the likes of Clive Bundy and right wing militias who certainly have assault and other heavy weapons.  But using SWAT teams to serve drug warrants is stupid.

  •  Don't know that all of that stuff is bad. (0+ / 0-)

    Armored vehicles (not tanks or mobile howitzers) could be useful in some dangerous situations.
    Stun grenades? Maybe.

    An additional problem is T-R-A-I-N-I-N-G.

    Not only do we provide a military warehouse stocked with some items that have no place in a police department and send items to small departments that could only be useful to forces in places like New York and Chicago, we don't provide adequate training for when to deploy and when not to deploy.  Not just for cops, but as Ferguson makes clear, for police chiefs.

    Military gear doesn't inflame anybody if it's sitting back in the warehouse waiting for an appropriate use.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:44:25 AM PDT

    •  But having it empowers the best trained officers. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      divineorder, GreatLakeSailor

      Does local law enforcement need tank-type military vehicles for their empowerment?

      2014 is HERE. Build up the Senate. Win back the House : 17 seats. Plus!

      by TRPChicago on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:49:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "tank-type" is a loaded word. (0+ / 0-)

        Tanks? No.
        Self-propelled howitzers? Certainly not.

        Armored personnel carriers?
        I can easily imagine Chicago erupting into violence in which armored vehicles would be useful for transporting officers to a hot spot and providing cover.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:07:40 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  On the plus side, Saginaw County, (7+ / 0-)

    one of the ones John Oliver made fun of on his show, is dumping their MRAP.

    The day after a national news show highlighted the Saginaw County Sheriff's Mine-Resistant Ambush Proof (MRAP) vehicle during coverage of citizen-police clashes in Ferguson, Missouri, Sheriff Bill Federspiel confirmed that plans had already been laid for the vehicle to leave the county for good.
  •  fear (4+ / 0-)

    The fear that Bush created is very profitable to campaign contributors--follow the money.

    Actions speak louder than petitions.

    by melvynny on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:47:40 AM PDT

  •  Who are we supposed to vote for? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette, GreatLakeSailor

    We have a problem now in this country where there is nobody to vote for in most districts if you believe in certain values such as opposing militarization of the police.

    I hope people will take this into consideration when they talk about using Ferguson as an opportunity to "get out the vote." What are people supposed to do, vote for politicians who don't share their views and instead support sending more and more military weapons to police departments? That seems to be the only option in most districts, regardless of whether you vote for the Democrat or the Republican.

    So, the underlying problem here is that our government no longer represents the people -- even to the extent that there's not a real opposition party to vote for if you disagree with the current policies which are leading in the direction of a fascist police state.

    Not sure what the answer is, but the problem is clear, and it's a very serious problem which is undoubtedly undermining the credibility and electoral chances of Democrats. People aren't going to bother to come out and vote for politicians who don't represent their views on key moral issues of our time.

    The most serious problem in American politics today is that people with wrong ideas are uncompromising, and people with good ideas are submissive and unwilling to fight. Change that, and we might have a real democracy again.

    by Eric Stetson on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:48:18 AM PDT

    •  It's because of our plutocracy. Money is real (0+ / 0-)

      problem and on local level, lack of knowledge about issues and candidates(no decent local news where I live in FL) and people's attitudes of discouragement, feeling it makes little difference, "they're all bums," the attitude my dad had back in the 50's and 60's.

      "Let me be clear here: Pointing a gun at an innocent person is an act of violence and provocation." ~ Charles Blow

      by Gorette on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:15:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Democratic Leadership on this is again (3+ / 0-)

    Bogus, MIA-- to use a military term.

    the "reassessment" of or "study" of the Pentagon program by Pelosi or whomever in congress will end up a zero. I can say this based on her and numerous other congressional democrats vote against Grayson's amendment in June.

    some might say, "yeah but Ferguson changed things". Nope. people said that after the Sandy Hook massacre of little kids, but we still didn't get the obvious legislation we need from Congress regarding gun control.

    Again, ALL of this proves special interests (corporations) rule our nation, not us, not congress.

    At the end of the day, Eisenhower's warning in the 1950's regarding the rise of the MIC turned out to be true. Congress allowed this to happen over the decades, they allowed it to be now what is an intractable crisis-- similar to other ones which are destroying our nation.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:49:03 AM PDT

    •  Yeah, I had a good laugh with this one: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), a leading voice for progressives
      Sure, she's not the run-of-the-mill NeoLib, NeoCon, Warmongering, Economic Royalist, Right Wing Democrat (sure she's no Jim Matheson or Ron Barber), but a leading!? voice for progressives???

      Or maybe they meant leading voice as in leading progressives into a cul-de-sac lest our pesky little notions of justice and democracy become a bug in the ointment of the money machine.

      I'll go with number "B" - the cul-de-sac.

      The only reason the 1% are rich is because the 99% agree they are.

      by GreatLakeSailor on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 10:42:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Probably not, but any way to bring a suit (0+ / 0-)

    because this federal program was done without approval by the people? Yeah, yeah, I know. I'm not totally naive folks, just wondering if there are any grounds.

    In my next lifetime I'll be a lawyer. ;>)

    "Let me be clear here: Pointing a gun at an innocent person is an act of violence and provocation." ~ Charles Blow

    by Gorette on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 07:50:08 AM PDT

  •  Nancy, It's time for a blunt instrument (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  like any serious reform- forget it as long as the (0+ / 0-)

    left keeps giving those 1000 think tank coordinated radio stations a free speech free ride

    This is a list of 76 universities for Rush Limbaugh that endorse global warming denial, racism, sexism, and GOP lies by broadcasting sports on over 170 Limbaugh radio stations.

    by certainot on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:02:53 AM PDT

  •  Our revolutionary war was an uphill fight, too (0+ / 0-)

    Change the charter of corporations to serve the public interest BEFORE fiduciary concerns. 100% of Republicans and HALF the Dems are AGAINST We The People. We need TRUE Progressives, NOT Republican-Lite Dems - like Hillary, Pelosi, Feinstein...

    by RTIII on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:26:56 AM PDT

  •  People in local communities (0+ / 0-)

    ...could also use some assistance in figuring out how to assess what their own police force has and how to get rid of it.  This battle could be fought from the top down AND from the bottom up.

    Are you a Green who has difficulty telling Democrats and Republicans apart? Well, I have difficulty telling Greens and Maoists apart.

    by Subversive on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:35:00 AM PDT

  •  50 Caliber Machine Guns (0+ / 0-)

    are included in this program?  Does anyone have the faintest idea what one of those weapons will do to a crowd and what it can do to a human body?  This program is insane.  The first time some PD opens up on a crowd with a 50 Cal, will be the end of this program and what ever party promotes the continuation of this program.

  •  HAHAHAHAH (0+ / 0-)

    The De-Militarization will be an uphill battle?  

    Well, no shit!  Primarily because the Repubs, the Democrats and their statist enablers like the Kos-Kids support them blindly.

    But don't worry, us Libertarians will continue to lead the fight (like we did on Marriage Equality, Marijuana Legalization, and Cronyism while you called us crazy!).

    Plus, I think you are all being a little hard of The One.  

    With a dead American journalist in Iraq and a dead black teen in Missouri, it is pretty rude to ask the President to skip tee time with Billionaire Bankers on the Vineyard.

    Fucking Clowns.

  •  I can't help but think of Bibi's (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kathy Scheidel

    phrase when talking about I/P actions "Mowing the lawn". Are we looking at the same thing here in its infancy?

    ALL of our institutions have been hollowed out by the greed ethos. There are none left with heart intact or souls for that matter. So the zombie is all around us - me

    by glitterscale on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:54:17 AM PDT

  •  I am thinking that asking congress (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kathy Scheidel

    to do anything that the citizenry wants is just like spitting into the wind any more. I think our whole premise of "more and better" is a loser if we don't reform the whole dang thing. And we cannot do that on one leg only.

    ALL of our institutions have been hollowed out by the greed ethos. There are none left with heart intact or souls for that matter. So the zombie is all around us - me

    by glitterscale on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 08:59:51 AM PDT

  •  Time for Pelosi to retire? (0+ / 0-)

    - Impeachment is off the table
    - Chained CPI is not a cut
    - "Embrace the suck"
    - Militarized police is a-ok?

    I'm done

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 09:01:28 AM PDT

  •  Duuuuuude! (0+ / 0-)

    Duuuuude!  Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuude!  Check it!  Duuuuuuuude!

  •  Military hand-me-downs... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    should be given to the National Guard, not police departments...
    Who btw, are not even properly trained to use the equipment.
    Further, in these 'tough economic times', the fiscal sleight of hand utilized by local law enforcement to acquire the equipment directly from manufacturers should be exposed.
    Citizens should be given the opportunity to decide if they want their state and local ta dollars to go toward military equipment or schools and other public services.

    "These 'Yet To Be' United States" --James Baldwin-- -6.75, -5.78

    by kevinbr38 on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 09:14:06 AM PDT

  •  As saying goes (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    when your main tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  •  It's not just equipment, it's exercises and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    role-playing that are disturbing. There was a joint training exercise in the Bay Area a few years ago that scared a lot of folks. I forget how many agencies were involved but they had a lot of police/HS/etc maybe even CIA involved. There were "realistic training exercises" staged at Alameda Point involving lots of explosions and smoke, involvement of Oakland police officers with a documented history of aggressive behavior, short notice or total lack of notification of residents and local government. A lot of people were really scared by the commotion, and their state of mind was not improved by the scarce information coming out at the time.

    Time to get informed about this stuff!

     Protest to Oakland City Council about Urban Shield, 2013

  •  And (D) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (0+ / 0-)

    has already publicly stated his support for the program.

    Of course he'll put some "controls" in place.. IE: Whip up some ineffective Policies & Procedures, do some check-box style "Audits"... and voila...

    Problem solved.

    But the results won't change.

    Harry Reid (and I imagine his fellow D leaders) support the same kind of "reform" as Diane Feinstein does for the NSA.

    In other words: Blow some smoke, generate a blizzard of paperwork to confuse & distract, and continue business as usual.

    Waking Up Yet?

    The 1% are Purists: They only support Candidates that Deliver Results They Can Bank On. Don't they know they should compromise? /sarcasm

    by Johnathan Ivan on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 09:24:43 AM PDT

  •  Why? (0+ / 0-)

    Didn't our POTUS extend and amend the Patriot Act?   Didn't this Admin foster the supply of military weapons to local police forces?

    The local police are not doing this on their own.  They are being encouraged by the Feds.

    Wake up as to who is driving this?

    Yet you decry?

    "When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, And the women come out to cut up what remains, Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains An' go to your Gawd like a soldier." Rudyard Kipling

    by EdMass on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 09:35:19 AM PDT

  •  Appropriate appropriations (0+ / 0-)

    I was a bit stunned to learn that Ferguson PD haven't dash cam recorders in their cars and only some had been issued tazers, but they are fully stocked with military hardware. Stunned but not shocked.

  •  voters, note - extra gear costs $ to maintain /nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eric Nelson

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "If we appear to seek the unattainable, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable." (@eState4Column5)

    by annieli on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 09:50:47 AM PDT

  •  the pentagon WANTS militarization. they're expecti (0+ / 0-)

    They're expecting major social unrest in the next decade.  Whether from drought or food/water shortages or what-have-you, the Pentagon and military are expecting major social unrest.  

    They WANT established local authorities to be able to crack down on protestors and rioters and the average citizen that suddenly doesn't have basic necessities anymore.

    "Stories about bacon should be uplifting" - Oberon

    by bnasley on Wed Aug 20, 2014 at 12:11:12 PM PDT

  •  Criticism of the decades long efforts (0+ / 0-)

    to Militarize "our" LEO Does belong to "our" lawmakers in both state and federal houses. It was their collective approval over the past 30+ years, after-all to systematically and incrementally diminish Our rights and extend rights of LEO - they passed the bills
    They approved the bills signed into law(s)-they approved the funding to purchase this crap.
    This is not a partisan blame-both Democrats and Republicans...did this together, in unison-against the peoples will, even back then.
    Time to hold them accountable imo-and demand answers...
    There is no "ok"..this was tried and it Is a Miserable and Deadly Failure.
    This is all on Governors, State Legislators and "our" US Congress.
    They can't deny what they have wrought upon us all over the past 3 decades...the question is: Will they be accountable and Own the consequences to the people who Trusted Them to work for Us? ?If they won't (and they can) then I believe we'll have our answer(s).
    Then the question and responsibility will be on the electorate to hire those who have the fkg Will to serve this country!

  •  Issa/GOP should be thrilled - Real oversight (0+ / 0-)

    Rep. Hank Johnson's Bill (excerpt from above posted link | pdf)

    4 ‘‘(d) ANNUAL CERTIFICATION ACCOUNTING FOR TRANSFERRED PROPERTY.—For each fiscal year, the Secretary shall submit to Congress certification in writing that each Federal or State agency to which the Secretary has transferred property under this section has provided to the Secretary documentation accounting for all personal property, including arms and ammunition, that the Secretary has transferred to the agency.

    If the Secretary can not provide such certification for an agency, the Secretary may not transfer additional property to that agency under this section.

    15 ‘‘(e) REPORT ON SURPLUS PROPERTY.—Before making any property available for transfer under this section, the Secretary shall submit to Congress a description of the property to be transferred together with a certification that the transfer of the property would not violate this section or any other provision of law.

     - emphasis added

    Oversight to cut out the "waste, fraud and abuse" - amirite?

    Republicn Bill: H.R. 313: Government Spending Accountability Act of 2013

    House GOP Releases Bill To Cut Spending By $60 Billion even threatening a govt. shutdown, (which they did do)

    This is a really good move by Representative Hank Johnson. Also good politically. Throw the transparency, accountability, big spending narratives right back @ the GOP on this, and it makes good sense too.

    Thx MB

  •  "Militarization" of the Police (0+ / 0-)

    People, the police have had these weapons for many years. You just don't see them, because they aren't needed most of the time.  But when thugs start looting stores and throwing things at the officers, they need to protect themselves. The media loves to flash them all over the screen because they ARE so rarely seen that they make great footage.

    Firefighters don't need all the stuff on their big trucks most of the time either. In fact, they respond to more medical calls than fire calls. But when they do actually have a house fire, they need that truck.

    Calm down and breathe...

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