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“We’re Building a Domestic Army” – Marine Corps Colonel Peter Martino Before Concord, NH Town Council

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By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

And what makes Martino think that? Well, the Concord PD applied for and proposes to accept a $258,000 Federal grant for a Bearcat, which stands for “Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck”; in other words, an armored personnel carrier. Here’s the video of Col. Martino:

Here are the key paragraphs:

[MARTINO 1:25] What’s happening here is that we’re building a domestic military because it’s unlawful or unconstitutional to use American troops on American soil. So what we’re doing, is we’re building a military. 

My best friend, who’s a SWAT officer in Nashua, who came to Iraq with me to train the Iraqi police, sent me an email with a picture of him in the media on the streets of Watertown, MA wearing the exact same combat gear that we had in Iraq, only it was a different color. And the way we do things in the military, it’s called task organization: You take a command, and then you attach units to it in order to accomplish the mission. What’s happening is that Homeland Security is pre-staging gear, equipment, consistent: What they’re trying to do us use standardized vehicles, standardized equipment. I saw a picture in the Boston Globe during the Marathon Bombing where there was a state police officer– Actually, there were two officers. They both had identical helmets, flak jackets, weapons, everything I wore in Iraq, only it was all blue. The officer on one side had a big patch on his back that said “MASSACHUSETTS STATE POLICE.” Another officer next to him, his patch said “BOSTON POLICE.” 

And so what we’re doing here, and let’s not kid about it, we’re building a domestic army and we’re shrinking the military because the government is afraid of its own citizens. The last time more than ten terrorists were in the same place at one time was September 11, and all these vehicles in the world wouldn’t have prevented it, nor would it have helped anybody. So, I don’t know where we’re going to use this many vehicles and this many troops; Concord is just one little cog in the wheel. We’re building an Army over here and I can’t believe that people aren’t seeing it. Is everybody blind?

It’s the standardization that’s the tell, to someone looking at what’s happening to the police through Martino’s eyes.* Using his “task organization” terminology, “units” can now be attached, all over the country, to missions, in identical fashion, because the materiel for each unit is increasingly identical, rather like plug-and-play. The tendency, encouraged by the DHS and Federal grant money, is for all police “units” across the country to become interchangeable — the only differences being uniform patches and the jurisdiction stenciled on the flak jackets.

Of course, in a real military, there would to be a command structure of some sort to pass along the orders that embody the mission from whoever’s in charge these days down to the units; my candidate — tinfoil hat time! — for such a structure would be the DHS, which emerged from the shadows a little during Occupy and did so much to help big-city Democratic mayors plus Mayor-for-Life Bloomberg to suppress the movement:

As the federal and local governments and law enforcement agencies engaged in a concerted, coordinated crackdown to evict Occupy protests from public spaces in the last months of 2011, DHS officials shared and coordinated strategies. For instance, the DHS District Commander in Detroit directly communicated with a law enforcement official who was “tasked with coming up with an exit strategy for us.” After writing that he had heard in the news that encampments were “broken up in California and Georgia,” the DHS District Commander continued, “What is the plan for the Occupy Detroit group in Grand Circus Park? I have been reporting daily and sending it up.”

Sounds like a command structure to me. (For more information on DHS, and especially its “fusion centers,” see this study from SourceWatch. Note that there’s also a Bearcat just up the road from Concord in Manchester (so Jeebus, can’t they save a few bucks and just share?)). Ditto Keene.

* * *

The outcome for now? Concord postponed the purchase. So, let me tease a few implications:

First, hilariously, Concord Police Chief John Duval used a “strange bedfellows” rationale in his grant application for the Bearcat:

“[On] the domestic front [like the Eastern Front?], the threat is real and here. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges,” Duval wrote in his application, which was obtained by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. 

If these groups weren’t unified before, they certainly have become moreso in opposition to the Bearcat, in much the same way that there are “strange bedfellows” on Fourth Amendment issues at the Federal level, like Wyden and Amash.

Second, Martino mentions the Boston Marathon, so let’s try to look at those events through his eyes. If we do that, we’ll see less an over-reaction than a dry run, and you don’t even have to put on a tinfoil hat and debate LIHOP and MIHOP. ESPN (of all places):

[I]n recent years, the Boston Marathon has become a training ground for state and local officials to develop their response to a large-scale catastrophe, whether man-made (like terrorism) or natural (like an extreme heat wave). In 2008, Richard Serino, then the head of the Boston Emergency Medical Service, told counterterrorism expert Arnold Bogis that his agency treated the marathon as a “planned disaster” — a relatively controlled environment where terror fighters would have the “opportunity to test some things you would never want to test in a real disaster.” At that time, Boston and Massachusetts emergency management and public health officials already were using the marathon to coordinate disaster plans with the Boston Athletic Association, which organizes the race, and to try out new technologies, such as a barcode scanner to help locate injured runners.

Indeed, the marathon turned into something of an anti-cataclysm laboratory as local agencies cooperated with tech companies and research facilities, bringing an impressive array of hardware to defend the event from disaster. At the 2009 marathon, the City of Boston first used an “enhanced situational awareness” system developed by Raytheon, the $23 billion defense electronics giant headquartered in Waltham, Mass. The project, called Athena, integrated video, mapping and tracking software across the city’s police, fire and port security departments into one set of information that any public safety official could access.

In 2012, the marathon deployed the Next-Generation Incident Command System, a sort of real-time virtual whiteboard developed by the Lincoln Laboratory, a federally funded research center at MIT. NICS not only displays the marathon route and the location of water and aid stations and plots the movements of the vehicles that lead and trail the race, it also shows packs of runners, who now wear microtransmitters. Any first responder can mark the map to report an incident, call for help or warn emergency vehicles about traffic.

So it would seem quite natural, in the case of pressure cooker bombs at the Marathon finish line, that “pre-staged” gear and equipment would be deployed, and the command structure for our budding Domestic Military would be tested; that would be a natural, incremental extension of existing bureaucratic processes and personal networks. Hence what Martino and his best friend saw.*

Third, just because the police departments have weaponry more suitable for Iraq than “the land of the free” doesn’t guarantee them victory in domestic armed conflict, any more than putting a piano in a school room guarantees that the students will learn music. Here’s an instructive, current video from Cairo:

Note that original reports said that protesters pushed the armored personnel vehicle off the bridge, whereas its drivers actually drove it off the bridge, in reverse (!), but the point remains: Materiel alone does not bring victory. In fact, we already know this from Iraq and Afghanistan, where a heavily armored, petroleum-dependent, road-bound, and above all and in every way corrupt military lost both wars to lightly armed fighters using, among other things, improvised explosive devices. There’s no reason to think that a Domestic Military would do any better, vicious and brutal though testing that scenario would be. It’s one thing to beat up non-violent protesters; it’s quite another thing to rule an entire continent by force of arms, which is what the powers that be seem to be stumbling toward.

So, “Concord Strong.” Here’s video of the entire Concord Town Council meeting: part one and part two.

NOTE * If you want to stay “blind” on Boston, read a “progressive” Obama supporter.

NOTE To say that the police are militarized is not the same as saying they’re becoming a Domestic Military, although the two claims are obviously related.

Appendix I

The Maui, HI police department has a Bearcat, too. Here are are some of the tasks proposed for it:

5 Reasons the “Bearcat” Will Prove More Useful Than You Think

5. Doubles as a garlic shrimp food truck on the weekends.

4. When the Martians get here, we’ll be covered.

3. Will be used to enforce “No Horseplay” rules at public pools.

2. Covered with flowers, pretty girls, and a dancing Taguma, should be a real show stopper at the Maui County Fair Parade.

1. Will make it much easier to do a big donut run.

True in Concord, too, that last point.

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61 comments

  1. Hugh

    As Hannah Arendt remarked in Origins of Totalitarianism:

    “If the totalitarian conqueror conducts himself everywhere as though he were at home, by the same token he must treat his own population as though he were a foreign conqueror.”

    The class war which kleptocracy wages against us is organized violence. It is not difficult seeing such violence becoming militarized. The trick is to isolate the police and troops and then use them against the general populace to “restore order” or whatever other catchphrase the rich and elites might use for repression. However as most of these forces of repression come from or have families and neighbors in the general populace their loyalty to the kleptocrats can easily fracture and blow up in the faces of the kleptocrats.

    1. Susan the other

      That could be why they were urgently fast-tracking immigration. Squads of foreign mercenaries to contract out their services to local police departments. Didn’t the British bring in foreign mercenaries to “maintain law and order?”

    2. omagh

      Pretty obvious where this is going: a competely militarized Orwellian- Panopticon Police State. The White House, NSA and Homeland Security occupy the apex; then the
      US Military North American Theater troops coordinate operations (the Posse Comitatus Act is pretty much repealed); and the local SWAT teams and community cops are on the ground at the bottom.

      All the procedural and “legitimacy” issues are subsumed under the Pagtriot Act; NDAA, court rulings and Executive Orders.

      All that’s missing is a fuse to initiate a nation-wide martial law lockdown. The FBI-CIA is good at manufacturing “false flag” terror theatrics, so that’s not much of a problem either. In Boston the crowds cheered martial law enforcement.

      Once that’s all in place, then the really heavy-duty Killer Austerity and Sequester Murders may proceed apace. This will be the Wall Street’s American version of the Final Solution.

  2. Massinissa

    I just want to point out that that last list was satire.

    But it may as well not be.

    The ONLY excuse I could see for one of these vehicles is in drug war zones on the border (ANd thats f***ing stretching it), or inner city gang zones (Also totally stretching it!!!), and Im pretty sure Concord is NEITHER of those!

    The government is so AFRAID of its OWN CITIZENS that it is making these paramilitaries in preparation. Its obvious there are no foreign terrorist organizations on american soil strong enough to need these kinds of paramilitaries, or for that matter powerful domestic terrorist organizations.

    This isnt Mexico for gods sake. The violent part of the drug trade doesnt happen so much over here, or at least not in Concord.

    1. ambrit

      Dear Massinissa;
      Come on down to Da’ Deep Sout’ and the ” this is’nt Mexico for Gods’ sake..” assertion falls somewhat short of the reality. Tuscaloosa Alabama has small Rincones, (corner stores) with everything priced in dollars as well as pesos. All the local churches now have Spanish services sometime during the week. Being Spanish English bilingual is now a selling point on your CV. The drug war started here, and is just now heating up on the home shores. The Narcos have had a significant presence here for years, only they haven’t had any real opposition, except for the occasional Park Ranger. When you build a domestic military, it gets used. History is our guide. Interesting times ahead.

      1. Massinissa

        What I meant by “this isnt mexico” was that we dont have the same level of drug violence as they do south of the border.

        I did not in any way intend to suggest that there are no spanish speakers here. I am from Georgia myself, I know what you speak of, but while drug gangs are prevalent in some areas, the level of violence they commit is NOWHERE near what happens in Mexico.

        Basically what I am saying is that the level of violence is not high enough here for these ‘Bearcats’ or associated paramilitary personnel to be necessary, though they might have some use in more violent places, a la Mexico.

        You are right, though: We are certainly heading for interesting times. I just hope the USA doesnt become a haven for government backed paramilitaries who are beyond the law like in Colombia.

  3. bob

    The bearcat solves many of today’s top law enforcement problems.

    We live in dangerous times. There are subversives groups all over the US who continue to question the role of the police. They question our methods, equipment and even our uniforms.

    Lenco developed the bearcat to deal with all of these dangerous ideas in one 255k package.

    No longer will you have to listen to “civies” question why you are treating a neighborhood as a war zone. Just turn on and rev up the Bearcat’s massive engines to drown out the noise, and stay on mission.

    The equipment speaks for itself. The intimidating look of the vehicle keeps most people securely inside their houses or places of work. No more people watching your delicate work.

    The most under stated beneifit to the bear cat system is that your time tested urban camouflage gear now looks less threatening.

    http://freekeene.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/lenco-bearcat.png

    What looks more intimidating? I bet you didn’t even notice the guys next to the bearcat.

    Which leads us to the final bonus- camouflage. Many camouflage patterns for today’s urban fascists don’t quite blend in to the environment, seemingly defeating the purpose of wearing it. The bearcat can be painted any color you wish, offering a custom made back drop for your most sensitive covert ops.

    1. Roaring Mouse

      Armored fun-trucks represent hard targets that must be protected when not in use. They burn fuel and require a logistical support team. They are easy to spot, and at best represent a modest deterrent to an individual attacker.

      Tyranny will eventually be defeated.

    2. LucyLulu

      +1 for best humor. Thanks for the chuckles this morning (little late posting this).

      If it didn’t reflect the booming domestic tyranny market, local police forces like Keene, NH having bearcats is so ridiculous it IS funny. This story SHOULD be front page headlines. Just more fodder to support what’s already suspected….. that the NSA surveillance is about domestic control and not foreign terrorism. God bless E.S. He may play a significant role in US history yet.

      This quote from a citizen at the local council meeting, from commondreams article, posted by Walter Map above, is priceless and bears repeating:

      “So given (that) we have been designated the enemy, we have some concern about that.”

  4. Massinissa

    “[On] the domestic front [like the Eastern Front?], the threat is real and here. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges,” Duval wrote in his application, which was obtained by the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union. ”

    Because Occupy was totally a group of terrorists right? Think of all the

    Sovereign Citizens are kinda sorta slightly dangerous, but it shouldnt be anything local police cant handle. You certainly dont need a BEARCAT for them. Its not as if there as ever been a case of any more than one or two sovereign citizens shooting at anyone at one time. Theyre a bit dangerous, and its true they usually really really dislike police, but there are not so many of them that this kind of thing would be necessary.

    I had never heard of Free Staters before. Its a New Hampshire political migration movement. The project is to get 20,000 libertarians to move to a single low population state (New Hampshire) in order to make the state a libertarian stronghold. As of Jan 13 2013, over one thousand ‘early movers’ have already moved there. As of Aug 2013, over 14 thousand have signed a statement of intent to move there.

    But I see no reason to believe this is any sort of domestic terrorist organization. Sure theyre probably all gun owners but its not as if they have any history of violence. Its ridiculous that these people, or Occupy NH or even the Sovereign Citizens, could be considered enough of a threat to buy incredibly expensive vehicles for.

    By the way… Arnt we supposed to be having, I dont know, Austerity? How are these things making the way into budgets while we are cutting food stamps?!

    1. Massinissa

      think of all the weapons we saw at the occupy encampments*

      Sorry, I went on to other things before I finished that sentence somehow

    2. Jim Haygood

      Yesterday out in the far-fringe Appalachian outskirts of New York City, a neighbor described how layoffs have left many households with female breadwinners.

      ‘It’s the women who can afford the heavy weaponry and tactical gear and combat practice these days,’ he said. They’re the ones signing up in droves for concealed carry training, he added.

      It’s a wound to masculine pride, having to beg a well-heeled wife or girlfriend for an ammo allowance. But we’ll make it through these tough times together!

  5. Skeptic

    One wonders if the Marine Colonel ever read WAR IS A RACKET, by Major General Smedley Darlington Butler (1881-07-30 – 1940-07-21). He was one of the most colorful officers in the Marine Corps’ long history, was one of the two Marines who received two Medals of Honor for separate acts of outstanding heroism.

    IRAQ and the long history of America’s WAR RACKET are finally coming to roost in your backyard.

    “Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.”

    War is a racket. (1935)[1]

  6. Eugene Gant

    Those Bearcats are built right here in America by Lenco Armored Vehicles, headquartered in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

    The manufacture and funding of these vehicles is an important part of President Obama’s economic stimulus program as was reported a while back in Salon by a reporter who didn’t quite grasp the primacy of the stimulus benefits:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/08/were-building-a-domestic-army-marine-corps-colonel-before-concord-nh-town-council.html

    According to Business Week, the president of the privately held Lenco Industries is a gentleman named Len Light who, according to LinkedIn, received his education at a geographically ambiguous institution named St. Peter’s College.

    Any NC readers know anything more about Lenco Industries or Mr. Light? With cutting edge products like this, it’s almost always instructive to follow the money…

      1. zygmuntFRAUDbernier

        One sentence from the article:
        “Once you have a contract with LAPD, you’re on the ground floor,” said Light.

    1. indio007

      FYI , Just up the road they make the paper FRNs are printed on.

      The people of Keene New Hampshire tried VERY VERY hard to stop a Bearcat from coming there. They ultimately failed. This is about Federal $ (read job security) , make no mistake about it.

  7. Walter Map

    The summary by Abby Zimet on Commondreams is more to the point:

    Scores turned out to blast the city council for the gross militarization of local law enforcement, or what a former marine colonel in Iraq slammed as “building a domestic army.”

    “It was presented here as a rescue truck but it’s designed to be a military attack vehicle, to destroy the enemy. So given (that) we have been designated the enemy, we have some concern about that.”

    http://www.commondreams.org/further/2013/08/15

    That government ‘of the people, by the people, for the people’ has been replaced by one that is at war against the people. And now that the economic war against U.S. citizens has mostly been won it is time to open up the military conquest. Any Iraqi can tell you that the standard procedure is to brutalize the population into submission. Corporatists apparently view Americans as little different from Afghans or Egyptians.

    ALEC: “Bring it on!”

    1. Hugo Stiglitz

      I disagree with the headline of that piece. Unfortunately, the government (and the oligarchy that owns it) are NOT afraid of the people, THAT is precisely the problem.
      These paramilitary goons are deployed across the nation, funded by the ironically named HSA. The people attracted to this type of employment are exactly the sorts of personalities that should never be given any sort of power over others. Many, perhaps most, have received ample field training in Iraq and Afghanistan (and god knows where else), they will not hesitate to kill and maim anyone who disobeys them or anyone they just do not like. The US has been doing this for more than a century throughout the world. I suppose it is a sort of justice that the American people get a taste of what they have been exporting.

  8. Richard Lyon

    It isn’t particularly difficult to imagine some sort of federal initiative that seeks to bypass “inefficient” local government organizations like a city counsel so that law enforcement assets can be brought into standardized compliance. It is an established principle of neoliberalism that democracy is an enemy of Freedom(TM).

      1. Hugo Stiglitz

        It’s also possible that some governors will defy the federal government and use their own authority to tell these goon squads to stand down, perhaps even deploy national guard troops – if the state still has any in residence i.e. not deployed in whatever third world hellhole the US is in the process of destroying when it happens.

  9. TomDor

    A few people have opined upon the topics at hand – I suppose they are just little known and do not know of what they speak – At least, that is what DHS would have us believe.

    “A highwayman is as much a robber when he plunders in a gang as when single; and a nation that makes an unjust war is only a great gang.” -Benjamin Franklin

    “No protracted war can fail to endanger the freedom of a democratic country.” -Alexis de Tocqueville

    . “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it.” -George Orwell

    “The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor.” -George Orwell

    “It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.” -James Madison

    “A state of war only serves as an excuse for domestic tyranny.” -Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  10. steelhead23

    What’s this? A Bearcat in every town in America. At $260k per pop, somebody is going to make a bit of money. Who makes these LEO sex toys, I simply must invest?

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic. It would be worthwhile knowing who makes them so we can boycott. And it would not much surprise me if the owners had some kind of ties to Homeland Security. Let’s follow the money and see where it leads.

    1. Ms G

      If you want to boycott, you’d be turning into a tax protester (gasp!) — US Gov is probably the original (and biggest) client, and it uses our tax money to pay private companies to make them — or you’d want to check out how to boycott LENCO.

      See, for example, this sole-source acquisition for Bearcats issued to LENCO. It’s 2013. This one’s for the Navy.

      https://www.fbo.gov/index?s=opportunity&mode=form&tab=core&id=e2ef5c66f3c568eef8abcfd8128724eb $1.5 Million for 6 vehicles!

    2. Hugo Stiglitz

      Imagine the sort of nation the US would be if being a violent sadistic dick were penalized (as in saner societies) and creating useful value adding and desperately needed products were profitable.

      Yeah, I know. Crazy talk.

  11. Susan the other

    All those shiney new prisons will be internment camps soon. This is too Alex Jones. Bearcats. I’m thinkin the Branch Davidians. Now to be some relatively harmless libertarians holed up in a church somewhere with hunting rifles. If this is happening it is going to be a very destructive and expensive debacle that will not accomplish anything resembling peace and tranquility.

  12. der

    Again I bring up what Chris Hedges alleges: They (the government) know what’s coming with climate change. The Pentagon has been planning for the real climate catastrophe and forced migration out of the middle latitudes Christian Parenti writes about. Dana Rohrabacher should introduce a bill or attach a rider to defund that plan if he believes One World Government is using the fraud of climate change to socialize his America.

  13. avg John

    “Using his “task organization” terminology, “units” can now be attached, all over the country, to missions, in identical fashion, because the materiel for each unit is increasingly identical……” Sounds like the borg culture in a Star Trek show. Maybe we should give it up? The Borgs have assured us that once we get a feel for being a borg, we will love it.

  14. Jerry Denim

    “just because the police departments have weaponry more suitable for Iraq than “the land of the free” doesn’t guarantee them victory in domestic armed conflict”

    “Materiel alone does not bring victory. In fact, we already know this from Iraq and Afghanistan, where a heavily armored, petroleum-dependent, road-bound, and above all and in every way corrupt military lost both wars to lightly armed fighters using, among other things, improvised explosive devices. There’s no reason to think that a Domestic Military would do any better, vicious and brutal though testing that scenario would be. It’s one thing to beat up non-violent protesters; it’s quite another thing to rule an entire continent by force of arms, which is what the powers that be seem to be stumbling toward.”

    Wow. Maybe I’m reading too much between the lines, but it sounds as if some serious evolution concerning 2nd Amendment rights has taken place around here since the Littletown shooting. I left a few remarks back then just mentioning that a well-armed populace serves as a check against over-the-top, middle of the night SWAT raids and ultimately a repressive rule-by-force scenario by an overwhelmingly unpopular regime which has lost the consent of the governed. I was shouted down and basically derided to the tune of: “yeah right, what are you and your little pea-shooter gonna do against the big bad paramilitary police-state?”

    Well me personally- nothing, emigrate would be my plan. But I do know quite a few other people who feel very differently about such a scenario. “From my cold dead hands” is not hyperbole for many people in this country. I sure wouldn’t want to try and be the one to disarm them, Bearcat or not.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      You’re mistaking commentary for advocacy. What part of “vicious and brutal” do you not understand? I support strategic non-violence; I think McKibben gets that part very right. But if the situation degrades into actual use of the Domestic Military, then those who employ that weapon will lose. It will be about as nice for the smallfolk as the Wars of the Roses, or the days of warring states in China, or Game of Thrones. Adding… Which is why some factions on the right would do well to abandon their hobbyist-like fetish for kinetic consumer goods and advocate for strategic non-violence as well. And adding… So far, I haven’t seen diddly from gun advocates, in terms of action, on tyranny. It was the Occupiers who took the body on that, if you recall, and non-violence was very successful.

      1. Jerry Denim

        Thanks for clearing that up but i still find your musings on guns, armed conflict and the police state to be confusing. The Iraqis you mentioned with the ‘light arms” and improvised weaponry seemed to fare alright in your account.

        I don’t own a gun and I don’t think violence is ever the answer, but surely a conspiracy minded guy like yourself who is prepared to contemplate LIHOP vs. MIHOP in regards to the Boston Marathon bombing can see how the shadowy forces creating a standardized, interchangeable, plug and play domestic police force may be also be pushing a disarmament agenda through the media that you may not want to feed into.

        Thousands upon thousands of pedestrians and cyclists are seriously injured by vehicles each year in New York City and hundreds die. 2013 will probably see close to five hundred car on human fatalities in New York City yet Bloomberg is silent and cops continue to allow anarchy on the streets. Parking tickets, sure, lots. Traffic enforcement- nada, but when someone shoots up a school in another state there’s an immediate press conference at the Mayor’s office. What’s a bigger menace to public safety? Terrorism or vehicular traffic? But vehicular traffic deaths can be solved with simple police enforcement and a little money spent of things like more side walks in places like Texas and better crosswalks in New York City. Unfortunately for us citizens a ‘war on vehicular homicide’ just can’t justify trillion plus dollar expenditures, the creation of a Gestapo, and lots of fun toys like BEARCATS! Woo-Hoo! So we get the ‘War on Terror’ instead.

        1. Yves Smith

          Oh, we have plenty of enforcement of traffic laws in NYC. Talk to a cab driver. I hardly ever take one these days, but they’ll tell you plenty. Did you know that if you are a cab and you honk, that’s a $250 fine? And the cops are enforcing that pretty aggressively? So some idiot tries to cross the street against a light and the cab isn’t allowed to honk?

          1. Jerry Denim

            Yeah, sure. I’ve heard cab drivers tell stories about cabbies they know getting tickets for all kinds of things but generally speaking I watch them flaunt the law daily. Speeding, running red-lights, stopping in the bicyle lane, aggressive yielding or not yielding at all to bikes, pedestrians etc. In your comment you mentioned cabbies should have the right to honk at people crossing against the signal. Exactly! You are making my point for me. Why do NYC pedestrians feel it is OK to step out in front of oncoming traffic, against a stop signal and then expect the motorists to stop for them? Even though it is against the law it happens all of the time, it is in fact the norm. Cops do nothing even when pedestrians almost cause accidents right in front of them. Its total anarchy on the streets of NYC. Motorists, cyclists and pedestrians regularly flaunt the law and get away with it, not obeying traffic laws has become the norm and that is exactly why its so dangerous out there. I do however see lots of cops issuing parking tickets which is a threat to no one. I don’t know anyone personally who has been shot in New York City but I have two close friends that have been run over by cars in the past two months and I have known dozens of other people who have been hit with serious consequences. I myself have been struck by a car in NYC twice in the last seven years. Once on a bike and once on foot, in a crosswalk, crossing with the signal no less. Fortunately both times I escaped without injury. I never worry about getting shot when I leave my apartment but I do worry quite a bit about being run over.

            My point is why is an obvious public safety problem like traffic deaths ignored in NYC even though it is a rather simple problem perfectly suited for the police, but yet the police spend their efforts militarizing in an effort to reach parity with the Russian army in the absence of a threat? Why is society OK with this state of affairs?

        2. Nathanael

          To follow up on what Lambert said, I could believe that the Michigan Militia, with their drilling and tactics and whatnot, was serious about “fighting government oppression”; the NRA, obviously completely not serious, just shilling for manufacturers.

      2. different clue

        Kinetic consumer goods and homemade bombs work quite well for the Taliban against us in Afghanistan. Then again, the Taliban are quietly using them, as against noisily fetishising them.

        Noisy fetishisers pose no threat to the emerging Domestic Police Army Police.

    2. Joe

      Jerry, do you think if the government was worried one iota about armed civilians that you would still be able to purchase your little toys? Big brutha doesn’t seem all that concerned to me.

      I’m certainly willing to watch from afar while your friends make that cold dead hands bet. There won’t even be anybody to fire those manly weapons at seeing as the government has a lot of them there drones. Guns aren’t all that hard to remove from a corpse.

    3. Lune

      IMHO, I still think lightly armed citizens wouldn’t be effective against a well-trained army (like our own).

      I would argue that most times when citizens win over a government deploying an army against them is when the citizens manage to convince the army to disobey their superiors and, if not turn against their masters, at least stop firing on civilians. Think of Yeltsin finally besting Gorbachev when the Soviet army refused to fire on his supporters. Or even the lone Chinese student in Tianenmen Square who stopped a motorcade of tanks by just standing in the street and refusing to move.

      Ironically, the worst way to try to convince a soldier to not shoot his own countrymen is to point a gun at him. Even if you have a pea shooter and he has an M-16, you make his moral dilemma much easier than if you are completely unarmed and forcing him to make the choice between obeying orders and following his own moral compass.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        +1000 to your last paragraph. On the first two, I would argue that this continent is simply big for our Army to hold it, if things come to that (which I devoutly hope they never do). And the Domestic Army of police has a long way to go before it is as lethal or effective as a real Army. This is not exactly like arming the peasants, but it’s close.

  15. Ruth

    Another point: Obama’s choice for Homeland Security: Bloomberg’s chilling NYPD chief, Ray Kelly. Which fits neatly with his equally chilling choice to complete the destruction of the U.S. economy: Larry Summers.

    Looks like Obama’s job is, and has been all along, to wrap up the corporate coup before he leave the presidency he has so thoroughly disgraced. Pretty soon he may even quit lying every time he opens his mouth.

    Nahh.

    1. Ms G

      No, no. Kelly is the *perfect* choice for Obama’s Homeland Security. He’s been the Commander in Chief of a Municipal Army — Mike Bloomberg’s!

      That’s some real credentials there.

      (Snark Alert. As a citizen of New York City for over 30 years, I despise Bloomberg and Kelly.)

  16. nobody

    “Materiel alone does not bring victory. In fact, we already know this from Iraq and Afghanistan… There’s no reason to think that a Domestic Military would do any better.”

    Materiel alone brings riches to those properly positioned. In fact, we already know this from Iraq and Afghanistan… There’s every reason to think that a Domestic Military would do as well, if not better.

  17. Leo Cullen

    These Bearcats look very like the armored vehicles used in Northern Ireland and South Africa during periods of semi-war. If I was an American I would be very concerned.

  18. Charles LeSeau

    I wonder how long something like that sits around before police get really antsy that they can’t use it? All that money for what possible situation that we’re likely to see in America exactly?

    1. bob

      They can use it for outreach within the community. Those gun ports can be used as Q&A booths. Have a question? Stick your head in the gun port.

      Of course, at a height of 6-7 feet off the ground, not too many people can measure up.

      The county I live in has one already. The city within the county also just bought one. Was the county tank under utilized? No. They were more than willing to share it. I think it was used 12 time in the last year. It never took any fire.

      1. Charles LeSeau

        Well – when you put it like that, okay. I’m sold. Sure. Why not?

        I suppose they could hook up a jingle generator like on a Mister Softee truck and serve ice cream to the community too, come to think of it, or attach street sanitation devices to it, or make it into a mobile basketball hoop carrier, a dog washing van, etc..

  19. Roland

    The USA was not defeated in Iraq. The USA’s minimum object in the war was to destroy Iraq as an effective independent state–something that a protracted economic blockade had failed to achieve. The invasion succeeded in achieving the USA’s minimum strategic objective–Iraq has been rendered incapable of pursuing any effective independent policy for at least a generation.

    The USA merely failed to achieve its maximum aim, i.e. forcibly converting Iraq into a actively and willingly subservient satellite state. Iraqi resistance was sufficiently strong, persistent, ingenious, and gallant to frustrate the invaders in this respect. Even this limited resistance success on the part of Iraqis was purchased dearly–a really awful, terrible cost to the resistors and their unfortunate country. But Iraqi fighters deserve lasting praise for endeavouring to fight unaided, for years on end, against the mightiest power in the world.

    But failure of the USA to reach its maximum goal in Iraq does not mean the USA was defeated in that war. From the USA’s point of view, settling for second-best in Iraq wasn’t so bad.

    Since the war was so cheap, it was worthwhile for the US leadership to gamble and try to obtain the maximum aim. After all, stupid bond purchasers, many of them foreigners, underwrote the entire financial cost of the war at nearly zero percent interest–bonds denominated moreover in a currency which the USA can inflate at will.

    With such being the case, why shouldn’t the USA fight aggressive wars? Why not explore the limits of what modern monetary systems make possible? Why not take advantage of world markets’ reserve currency inertia? If the foreigners continue to accept the USD, then aren’t those stupid foreigners effectively voting for more empire? They must love it, so why not give them more of it?

    The human cost of the war for the USA was also very light. There is an ample supply of disadvantaged Americans willing to enlist in the imperial forces in exchange for a chance to better themselves.

    The Afghan War is more ambiguous in its outcome. But the swift invasion, and indefinite occupation, of a mountainous landlocked country located on the other side of the planet has been in itself a tremendous demonstration of US imperial power, and therefore valuable to the empire almost regardless of the local Afghan political result.

    Also, the cost of the Afghan War has been much smaller than that of the Iraq War, trivial relative to the size of the US economy. Ben Bernanke funded the whole thing in just a few of his little trips to the lavatory, and the stupid foreign bondholders eat it all up and ask for more!

    American imperialists are not feeling the least bit defeated right now. They are neither frightened nor dismayed. They are busily pursuing their ambitions and continuously extending their reach and grip, both at home and abroad. They will do so until somebody directly, physically, compels them to stop.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      I think if you’re “the indispensable nation” and spend more on defense than the next 10 countries combined, then settling for second best is a defeat, by definition. Also, victories are typically accompanied by parades and people rushing to take credit. I don’t see any of that for Iraq or Afghanistan. In addition, I think — cannot prove — that one reason Obama loves drones so much is that the Army is an unreliable fighting force, and became so in those two wars: Suicides, terrible public relations, a corrupt general staff, and a host of other ills. That’s why even the hottest heads aren’t even mentioning deploying ground troops in Syria, for example.

      As for the rest of your commment, the powers that be are just doubling down. That’s what they always do. It will all end badly.

  20. Onemoretime

    Does this mean you can find one at a police auction in a couple of years? (You know the maintenance costs are probably on the high side).

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