Bullets and rumors

Is it time to ask: What’s Homeland Security up to?

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Remember when President Obama said, “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”

FactCheck.org declares that you should not take this statement out of context, because they say Obama is not planning a Gestapo-like “Civilian National Security Force.” They allege that he meant it as a call for doubling the Peace Corps, creating a volunteer network and increasing the size of the Foreign Service. Are there facts that may call into question this assertion by FactCheck.org? Does a National Security Force equate to a volunteer network as suggested by FactCheck.org?

Following the statement by presidential candidate Barack Obama about his Civilian National Security Force, Rep. Paul Broun, in an Associated Press interview, said he feared that then President-elect Obama would establish a security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship. He said, “It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he’s the one who proposed this National Security Force.”

Well, in the last few months Homeland Security, in a puzzling unexplained development, has been busy stocking up on massive quantities of ammunition (reportedly 1.6 billion rounds). This has been an accumulation by repeated periodic purchases. A most puzzling aspect of this is that many of these rounds are hollow point and have been banned by international law and prohibited from use in war. It would seem nonsensical and uneconomical to use hollow points for target practice.

According to an Investors Business Daily publication, other government agencies such as the Social Security Administration are also purchasing several million rounds of bullets. A calculation by IBD says this quantity of ammunition is enough to arm the equivalent of a 24-year Iraq War. The lack of transparency and explanation about the need for such acquisitions certainly has contributed to conspiracy theories similar to that expressed by the congressman.

With all this ammunition, it is useless without a means to discharge it. The DHS has also attempted concealment of the purchase of 7,000 assault weapons, and has again censored information about its $1.5 million no-bid contract with Remington. Normally this would be required to be done in an open, full, and competitive bidding process. What is the emergency that compels them to avoid this legal bidding process? After all, the only legitimate reason for redacting such information is if it is believed to create a national security problem or if it is authorized by Congress.

What is the reason for the DHS to purchase and own drones? We can understand the value of drones in surveillance on our southern border and in fighting a war in foreign countries. However, Congress recently asked the Defense Department for clarification of their use in surveillance of American citizens at home. And furthermore, could the president order the use of drones in killing Americans on American soil as he has done recently on foreign soil?

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden wanted to know the answer to this question and turned to Attorney General Eric Holder for an answer. Holder’s answer was, “It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

Not satisfied with that answer Rand Paul turned to his 13-hour filibuster to force the issue. The question is, why did it take 13 hours to finally receive a more definitive answer to Rand Paul’s question? The publicity garnered by Sen. Paul’s filibuster forced Eric Holder to finally send the senator a letter assuring him that the president cannot use drones to kill Americans on U.S. soil. An interesting side note is that the Air Force has now announced they are scrubbing all past and future references to its drone strikes anywhere in the world. Why?

The most recent purchase by DHS, that has been made public, is 2,700 light-armored mine resistant vehicles. These are versions similar to what might be used by the military in Afghanistan, but retrofitted for service on the streets of the United States.

In search for answers to some of these questions about DHS acquisitions, perhaps an unclassified report issued in 2009 by the Office of Intelligence and Analysis: Extremism and Radicalization Branch would be helpful. However, the report oddly warned that although the contents were unclassified, it was for law enforcement use only and was not to be released by the media or shared without approval from DHS! The title of the report is “Rightwing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment.”

In an interview with the secretary of Homeland Security, Wolf Blitzer asked Janet Napolitano if domestic terrorism werer more of a threat than al-Qaida. She said, “That’s difficult to say because both risks are with us…” I have read the report and her statement to Blitzer serves as a clue to the significance of its contents.

What can we deduce from all of these comments and DHS purchases?

I recently saw an interview with a retired military officer who said, “Where I came from, we would call all these DHS purchases weapons of war.” He continued, “Who is the DHS at or soon to be at war with?”

An accumulation of information without any explanation like this commonly leads to conspiracy theories. The only explanation that I can find for all these purchases is that there may be an “unusual and compelling emergency.” What is the “unusual and compelling emergency?”

More transparency, which the president promised us, would be helpful in explaining the need for the purchase of all these “weapons of war.”


Lester Still is a resident of Kalispell.

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