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 “allistic ngineered rmored esponse ounter ttack ruck”; 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? .”
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.
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.
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.