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Has The Dept. Of Homeland Security Become America’s Standing Army?

DHS MRAP

This article was written by John Whitehead and originally published at The Rutherford Institute

“A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty.”—James Madison

“Here [in New Mexico], we are moving more toward a national police force. Homeland Security is involved with a lot of little things around town. Somebody in Washington needs to call a timeout.”—Dan Klein, retired Albuquerque Police Department sergeant

If the United States is a police state, then the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is its national police force, with all the brutality, ineptitude and corruption such a role implies. In fact, although the DHS’ governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.

The third largest federal agency behind the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense, the DHS—with its 240,000 full-time workers, $61 billion budget and sub-agencies that include the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, Secret Service, Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)—has been aptly dubbed a “runaway train.”

In the 12 years since it was established to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States,” the DHS has grown from a post-9/11 knee-jerk reaction to a leviathan with tentacles in every aspect of American life. With good reason, a bipartisan bill to provide greater oversight and accountability into the DHS’ purchasing process has been making its way through Congress.

A better plan would be to abolish the DHS altogether. In making the case for shutting down the de facto national police agency, analyst Charles Kenny offers the following six reasons: one, the agency lacks leadership; two, terrorism is far less of a threat than it is made out to be; three, the FBI has actually stopped more alleged terrorist attacks than DHS; four, the agency wastes exorbitant amounts of money with little to show for it; five, “An overweight DHS gets a free pass to infringe civil liberties without a shred of economic justification”; and six, the agency is just plain bloated.

To Kenny’s list, I will add the following: The menace of a national police force, a.k.a. a standing army, vested with so much power cannot be overstated, nor can its danger be ignored. Indeed, as the following list shows, just about every nefarious deed, tactic or thuggish policy advanced by the government today can be traced back to the DHS, its police state mindset, and the billions of dollars it distributes to police agencies in the form of grants.

Militarizing police and SWAT teams. The DHS routinely hands out six-figure grants to enable local municipalities to purchase military-style vehicles, as well as a veritable war chest of weaponry, ranging from tactical vests, bomb-disarming robots, assault weapons and combat uniforms. This rise in military equipment purchases funded by the DHS has, according to analysts Andrew Becker and G.W. Schulz, “paralleled an apparent increase in local SWAT teams.” The end result? An explosive growth in the use of SWAT teams for otherwise routine police matters, an increased tendency on the part of police to shoot first and ask questions later, and an overall mindset within police forces that they are at war—and the citizenry are the enemy combatants.

Spying on activists, dissidents and veterans. In 2009, DHS released three infamous reports on Rightwing and Leftwing “Extremism,” and another entitled Operation Vigilant Eagle, outlining a surveillance program targeting veterans. The reports collectively and broadly define extremists as individuals and groups “that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely.” In 2013, it was revealed that DHS, the FBI, state and local law enforcement agencies, and the private sector were working together to conduct nationwide surveillance on protesters’ First Amendment activities.

Stockpiling ammunition. DHS, along with other government agencies, has been stockpiling an alarming amount of ammunition in recent years, which only adds to the discomfort of those already leery of the government. As of 2013, DHS had 260 million rounds of ammo in stock, which averages out to between 1,300 to 1,600 rounds per officer. The US Army, in contrast, has roughly 350 rounds per soldier. DHS has since requisitioned more than 1.6 billion rounds of ammo, “enough,” concludes Forbes magazine, “to sustain a hot war for 20+ years.”

Distributing license plate readers. DHS has already distributed more than $50 million in grants to enable local police agencies to acquire license plate readers, which rely on mobile cameras to photograph and identify cars, match them against a national database, and track their movements. Relying on private contractors to maintain a license plate database allows the DHS and its affiliates to access millions of records without much in the way of oversight.

Contracting to build detention camps. In 2006, DHS awarded a $385 million contract to a Halliburton subsidiary to build detention centers on American soil. Although the government and Halliburton were not forthcoming about where or when these domestic detention centers would be built, they rationalized the need for them in case of “an emergency influx of immigrants, or to support the rapid development of new programs” in the event of other emergencies such as “natural disasters.” Viewed in conjunction with the NDAA provision allowing the military to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone, including American citizens, it would seem the building blocks are already in place for such an eventuality.

Tracking cell-phones with Stingray devices. Distributed to local police agencies as a result of grants from the DHS, these Stingray devices enable police to track individuals’ cell phones—and their owners—without a court warrant or court order. The amount of information conveyed by these devices about one’s activities, whereabouts and interactions is considerable. As one attorney explained: “Because we carry our cellphones with us virtually everywhere we go, stingrays can paint a precise picture of where we are and who we spend time with, including our location in a lover’s house, in a psychologist’s office or at a political protest.”

Carrying out military drills and lockdowns in American cities. Each year, DHS funds military-style training drills in cities across the country. These Urban Shield exercises, elaborately staged with their own set of professionally trained Crisis Actors playing the parts of shooters, bystanders and victims, fool law enforcement officials, students, teachers, bystanders and the media into thinking it’s a real crisis.

Using the TSA as an advance guard. The TSA now searches a variety of government and private databases, including things like car registrations and employment information, in order to track travelers’ before they ever get near an airport. Other information collected includes “tax identification number, past travel itineraries, property records, physical characteristics, and law enforcement or intelligence information.”

Conducting virtual strip searches with full-body scanners. Under the direction of the TSA, American travelers have been subjected to all manner of searches ranging from whole-body scanners and enhanced patdowns at airports to bag searches in train stations. In response to public outrage over what amounted to a virtual strip search, the TSA has begun replacing the scanners with equally costly yet less detailed models. The old scanners will be used by prisons for now.

Carrying out soft target checkpoints. VIPR task forces, comprised of federal air marshals, surface transportation security inspectors, transportation security officers, behavior detection officers and explosive detection canine teams have laid the groundwork for the government’s effort to secure so-called “soft” targets such as malls, stadiums, bridges, etc. Some security experts predict that checkpoints and screening stations will eventually be established at all soft targets, such as department stores, restaurants, and schools. DHS’ Operation Shield, a program which seeks to check up on security protocols around the country with unannounced visits, conducted a surprise security exercise at the Social Security Administration building in Leesburg, Fla., when they subjected people who went to pick up their checks to random ID checks by federal agents armed with semi-automatic weapons.

Directing government workers to spy on Americans. Terrorism Liaison Officers are firefighters, police officers, and even corporate employees who have received training to spy on and report back to government entities on the day-to-day activities of their fellow citizens. These individuals are authorized to report “suspicious activity” which can include such innocuous activities as taking pictures with no apparent aesthetic value, making measurements and drawings, taking notes, conversing in code, espousing radical beliefs, and buying items in bulk.

Conducting widespread spying networks using fusion centers. Data collecting agencies spread throughout the country, aided by the National Security Agency, fusions centers—of which there are at least 78 scattered around the U.S.— constantly monitor our communications, collecting and cataloguing everything from our internet activity and web searches to text messages, phone calls and emails. This data is then fed to government agencies, which are now interconnected: the CIA to the FBI, the FBI to local police. Despite a budget estimated to be somewhere between $289 million and $1.4 billion, these fusion centers have proven to be exercises in incompetence, often producing irrelevant, useless or inappropriate intelligence, while spending millions of dollars on “flat-screen televisions, sport utility vehicles, hidden cameras and other gadgets.”

Carrying out Constitution-free border control searches. On orders from the DHS, the government’s efforts along the border have become little more than an exercise in police state power, ranging from aggressive checkpoints to the widespread use of drone technology, often used against American citizens traveling within the country. Border patrol operations occur within 100 miles of an international crossing, putting some 200 million Americans within the bounds of aggressive border patrol searches and seizures, as well as increasingly expansive drone surveillance. With 71 checkpoints found along the southwest border of the United States alone, suspicionless search and seizures on the border are rampant. Border patrol agents also search the personal electronic devices of people crossing the border without a warrant.

Funding city-wide surveillance cameras. As Charlie Savage reports for the Boston Globe, the DHS has funneled “millions of dollars to local governments nationwide for purchasing high-tech video camera networks, accelerating the rise of a ‘surveillance society’ in which the sense of freedom that stems from being anonymous in public will be lost.” These camera systems, installed on city streets, in parks and transit systems, operating in conjunction with sophisticated computer systems that boast intelligent video analytics, digital biometric identification, military-pedigree software for analyzing and predicting crime and facial recognition software, create a vast surveillance network that can target millions of innocent individuals.

Utilizing drones and other spybots. The DHS has been at the forefront of funding and deploying surveillance robots and drones for land, sea and air, including robots that resemble fish and tunnel-bots that can travel underground. Despite repeated concerns over the danger surveillance drones used domestically pose to Americans’ privacy rights, the DHS has continued to expand its fleet of Predator drones, which come equipped with video cameras, infrared cameras, heat sensors, and radar. DHS also loans its drones out to local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies for a variety of tasks, although the agency refuses to divulge any details as to how, why and in what capacity these drones are being used by police. Incredibly, the DHS has also been handing out millions of dollars in grants to local police agencies to “accelerate the adoption” of drones in their localities.

It’s not difficult to see why the DHS has been described as a “wasteful, growing, fear-mongering beast.” If it is a beast, however, it is a beast that is accelerating our nation’s transformation into a police state through its establishment of a standing army, a.k.a. national police force.

This, too, is nothing new. Historically, as I show in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, the establishment of a national police force has served as a fundamental and final building block for every totalitarian regime that has ever wreaked havoc on humanity, from Hitler’s all-too-real Nazi Germany to George Orwell’s fictional Oceania. Whether fictional or historical, however, the calling cards of these national police agencies remain the same: brutality, inhumanity, corruption, intolerance, rigidity, and bureaucracy—in other words, evil.

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12 comments

  1. The OathKeepers do nothing but lie and act like terrorists.. Absolute unAmerican scum.

    [Editor’s Note: Wow, Brother Bagger! How nice of you to drop by and leave off this scribble of yours as if our website were a public bathroom wall awaiting your pronouncement.

    I’m a bit short on time right now, so I’ll just thank you for sharing and be on my way. But say, in passing – would you like to reveal to our readers here just one lie in which you’ve caught Oath Keepers? If all we do is lie, it should not be too difficult for you to come up with one example, yes? Thanks.

    Salute!
    Elias Alias, editor]

  2. Almost forgot to say what a really on point article that was, as well. I’ll also have to check out some of Mr. Whitehead ‘s other works now, too.

  3. I frequently hear unfounded comments. Racist, terrorist etc. I’ve yet to meet one in this band of brothers and sisters. Everyone I’ve met has one love and desire. Sustain our great nation and our God given rights. If you have a problem with that, you need to check your own priorities and take them somewhere else. There’s no room for trolls. Time is to short for playing with fools…

  4. Mr. Bagger Likely has affiliation with the FEDS.
    He is “special” “elite” “in the circle” “part of the system” they “know best”.
    That tactic is always used by TYRANTS.
    In the military it is “they are just civilians.”

    A method of separating “goons” from the people they are about to stomp on.
    To clear away any pangs of conscience.
    It is just “collateral” damage.

    We are all human beings that have a right to be left alone and live our lives.
    There have always been TYRANTS, Thugs, Criminals, Kings, that want to steal
    what you earn and take from you.
    To make WAR upon your own people is CRIMINAL and TREASON.

    That is why there was a revolution in 1776.

  5. Quite possibly, The Rand Corporations previous research/studies, advise and wantoness of a United States Police Force has been realized and their advice accepted and taken.

  6. To Joshua Doane, in reply to your post @#2 above –

    Thank you. We’ll watch to see if he brings up an example to share with us.
    We appreciate your support of Oath Keepers, Joshua. Thanks Bro,
    Salute!
    Elias Alias, editor

  7. @ Elias He won’t! But if he does? It will be a concocted dribble. usually something twisted, and totally out of proportion. Basically Elias a lie! It’s what they do best. I see these blowhards on many sites. I would like to say that it’s all the same person, but knowing our administration? There’s probably thousands of trolls like that. It’s the only jobs the government can actually create. You know when the anointed one said the phrase “you didn’t build that” I would love to come face to face with him and ask him. Besides making our country weaker, more in debt. not trusted abroad, etc. etc., what have YOU actually done to make anything better for anybody in this country? Oh excuse me sir! Our enemies are stronger now! Sorry.

  8. Doesn’t anybody realize the need for action to stop this fascist takeover of our country has already passed? Our founding fathers warned us of the dangers we face today, and we have allowed every single one of those dangers to our republic to be established by our out-of-control government. While we all talk, our government acts, and all our efforts to RTI are having no effects on too many of the fascist government agents in an uncountable number of agencies and departments. It will only take a little more inaction on our part, and the government will have taken complete control of us. Hitler, Stalin, and others must be laughing their butts off in hell watching us allow this to happen.

  9. “In fact, although the DHS’ governmental bureaucracy may at times appear to be inept and bungling, it is ruthlessly efficient when it comes to building what the Founders feared most—a standing army on American soil.”

    Actually the founders were pretty sure that if we did not enforce our US Constitution, all laws that are in Pursuance thereof it, the state Constitutions, and arrest and prosecute ALL domestic enemies and traitors to the USA this WOULD happen. As Patrick Henry said:
    “If you have given up your militia, and Congress shall refuse to arm them, you have lost every thing. Your existence will be precarious, because you depend on others, whose interests are not affected by your infelicity.”

    Here in our constitutional republic LEAs – state and fed – have NO constitutional basis for existence. They were created to destroy the Militia of the several states and to bring dependence of the people upon “government”. The “concept” for gov prof law enforcement comes from
    England. Our country had cut its ties with England to develop our own form of government with LESS governmental involvement in the affairs of the people, but some factions still worked to put us back under government control. The “new” law enforcement was incorporating MORE government into the affairs of the people explicitly against the US Constitution as is found in England. The ONLY legality the LE’s here have is WHEN they keep the OATH to support and defend the US Constitution and their state Constitution (not the rewritten one online), when applicable.

    As Dr Edwin Vieira states in his book “Constitutional “Homeland Security” Volume 1: the Nation in Arms” so well: “That means “that NONE of those tasks are assigned to the Army, to a Navy, to a (constitutionally unknown) National Guard, or least of all to any unnamed professional police, security, or intelligence agencies of the General Government or of any state or locality. Rather, the Constitution’s explicit emphasis on the Militia as the preeminent forces by politicians of a garrison, “national-security”, or police state…
    So those bound by Oath who “knowingly, with willful blindness, or in reckless disregard of the consequences of his/her action” votes for an unconstitutional act, bill, etc; when a “President or state governor refuses to veto it and instead executes it; or when a Judge, either of the supreme and inferior courts of the general government, or of any state knowingly declares such a statute valid and enforceable – each and every one of them violates his oath of office….”

    There is no statute of limitations on any act that breaks the Oath or Affirmation, or goes against the US Constitution or state Constitutions. More importantly, every unlawful deed that continues to remain on the books and is not destroyed by those representatives who are elected after-the-fact still make them equally guilty of those crimes. As long as harm continues to those who are having those crimes posing as “laws” enforced against them makes those reps, etc who let them continue guilty of every act committed.

    The duty of US citizens to enforce the law is a duty assigned to the people by the US Constitution. Many state constitutions also bind their citizens into a universal obligation to perform law enforcement functions within the state, to hold those who serve within the governments accountable to the contract they are under and to their oaths, plus to defend the nation as the Militia.

    As far as the fed LEA’s go under our LEGITIMATE government, the only crimes assigned to the federal government in the Constitution for law enforcement purposes are Treason, Piracy, Counterfeiting, and International law violations. That’s it! All other law enforcement matters are the purview of each of the individual states NOT the federal government.

    Professional police as we know them today originated in American cities during the second quarter of the nineteenth century. Then the 1920s brought in the rise of law enforcements new concepts developed and spread by J. Edgar Hoover. Hoover’s FBI. The FBI came to epitomize the ” governmental police profession” in its sleuth and intelligence-gathering role. FBI agents infiltrated mobster organizations, intercepted communications between suspected criminals, and gathered intelligence for both law enforcement and political purposes.

    This very new view of police as soldiers locked in combat against crime caught on quickly with law enforcement agencies of both the feds and the states as it extended their power base. The FBI led local police to develop integrated repositories of fingerprint, criminal, and fraudulent check records. The FBI also took over the gathering of crime statistics (which used to be gathered by a private association(s)). The idea of law enforcement as the “thin blue line,” that “serves and protects” civilized society from chaos and lawlessness was pushed to the public to change the way individuals saw their own duty as the Militia versus a professional governmental law enforcement.

    When our governments began to destroy each state’s Militia and to delegate their law enforcement duties to governmental professional law enforcement – federal and state, the *laws were relaxed to allow police to execute “warrantless felony arrests” based upon information received from 3rd parties – think of it as allowing rumors to cause warrantless arrests. (*actually “color of law”, “pretend laws” since ALL laws MUST be in Pursuance thereof the US Constitution) Then governmental professional LE’s could no longer be required to be “right” all of the time since it was NOT BASED ON FACTS, so the rule of strict liability for false arrest was “lost” (taken away from the people).

    The effect of this deprives Americans of certainty that the arrest is lawful and needed since the LEA’s now use unconstitutional “warrantless” arrests. Plus judges now, in complete disregard of their constitutionally assigned duty (and the ONLY basis for their “authority), consider only the question of whether there was “reasonable ground” to suspect an arrestee, rather than whether the arrestee was guilty of any crime. This loss of ‘actual guilt’ rather then the now perceived that “might be guilty”, when combined with greater deference to the state in most law enforcement matters, has reversed the original intent and purpose of American law enforcement THAT THE STATE ACT AGAINST THE REQUIRED CONSTITUTIONALLY DESIGNATED LIMITATIONS AND AT ITS OWN PERIL. Because arrest has now become the near exclusive province of governmental professional police instead of the Militia of the several states, Americans now have less assurances that they are free from unreasonable arrests or unreasonable deaths.

    The distinctions between the privileges of citizens and police officers grew more rapidly in the twentieth century. State and federal lawmakers gave “police officers” expansive immunities from firearm laws and from laws regulating the use of equipment such as radio scanners, body armor, and infrared scopes. Legislatures then exempted police from toll road charges, granted police “confidential” telephone numbers and car registrations, plus even exempted police from fireworks regulations.

    Then LE’s became protected by other statutory immunities and protections against the US Constitution’s requirement that ‘all laws are applied to all of us equally’ (Fed 57, James Madison wrote that Congress “can make no law which will not have its full operation on themselves and their friends, as well as on the great mass of the society.”), such as mandatory death sentences for defendants who murder them, reimbursement of moving expenses when officers receive threats to their lives, etc. Officers who illegally eavesdrop, wiretap, or intrude upon privacy are protected by a statutory (as well as case law) “good faith” defense, while private citizens who do so face up to five years in prison. The tendency of legislatures to equip police with ever-expanding rights, privileges and powers has been strengthened rather than limited as the US Constitution requires by the courts.

    This current power differential goes in direct opposition to the principles of equal citizenship that dominated America’s founding and our constitutional republic. The great principle of the American Revolution was LIMITED GOVERNMENT, not increased government. Advocates who required the Bill of Rights be added to the US Constitution saw the chief danger of government as an “inherently aristocratic and disparate power of government authority”. Founding-era constitutions clearly say that ALL MEN ARE “EQUALLY FREE” AND THAT ALL GOVERNMENT IS DERIVED FROM THE PEOPLE (that is us).

    The modern disparity between the rights and powers of police and citizen is seen today when one tries “resisting arrest”. Earlier any citizen could resist arrest if probable cause for an arrest did not exist, or if the arresting person could not produce a valid arrest warrant where one was needed. The US Supreme Court held that it was permissible, or at least defensible to shoot an officer who displays a gun with intent who was committing a warrantless arrest based on insufficient cause. Officers who executed an arrest without the proper warrant were themselves considered trespassers, and as such the owners had a right to violently resist (or even assault and batter) an officer to evade such arrest as our property, homes were our “castles”, not to be invaded without due and lawful cause.

    There are lots more history of why we got where we are, but what it all boils down to is that the DHS has no constitutional, therefore lawful (legal), grounds to exist here in the USA. Like foreign troops “training” on US soil on military basis around our nation, the DHS is invading us, only the are “domestic enemies” and traitors to the USA, while the foreign troops are exactly what they seem to be – foreign invaders waiting for the order to take the USA and her people down. When have we had so many (any) foreign troops on US soil, stationed in (occasionally “closed”) US military bases in different states around the nation?

    The ONLY type of “law enforcement” the framers considered was safest for the freedom of the people, and to enforce our constitution’s was each state’s militia and that is what they put into the USA Constitution. The duty of mostly private citizens (and sheriffs and deputies) was as the state’s militia. The Militia’s existence deters crime in and of itself. Knowing that each home has at least one person armed and trained living within stops a lot of crime before it is committed. The Militia’s keep those within the state and federal governments honest – or more so – because they know that they are held accountable for the constitutions, their oath and actions while serving, employed by, and / or contracted by them. The US Constitution contains NO other provisions for criminal and civil law enforcement, enforcement of the state and federal constitutions, protecting each state’s borders where needed, and defending the nation when attacked except for the Militia. It assigns those duties to the people themselves because of those benefits listed above, plus the Militia alone keeps us free.

  10. Ferguson Mo, just proved you are right, and wrong, the Militia do not really notice, or care when black Americans are subjected to standing army, but however this time white and blacks without Guns were gassed, and had Military Weapons aimed at them for Protesting, interestingly the standing Army did not send Military Vehicles to the Bundy Ranch in response to the Militia with Guns. Conclusion the Standing Army you expose is really no threat to Militia.

  11. It has come to my attention through experience in my own life that if people do not know their constitutional rights , the government will not provide you with the knowledge thereof , nor will they conduct any type of business, neither judge in any legal matter accordingly. Some states blatantly disregard orders by a judge ruled on violations of constitutional law . The government has allowed itself to believe they are above the law. Such as some “law enforcement”. we need law enforcement to be public servants not enforcement of law under personal interpretation.

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