March 6, 2013
THEY SHOULD FIND SOME RIPE TARGETS FOR BUDGET CUTS: ACLU Launches Nationwide Police Militarization Investigation.
The Pentagon’s 1033 program has also exploded under Obama. In the program’s monthly newsletter (Motto: “From Warfighter to Crimefighter”), its director announced in October 2011 that his office had given away a record $500 million in military gear in fiscal year 2011, which he noted, “passes the previous mark by several hundred million dollars.” He added, “I believe we can exceed that in FY 12.”
Then there are the Department of Homeland Security’s anti-terrorism grants. The Center for Investigative Reporting found in a 2011 investigation that since 2001, DHS has given out more than $34 billion in grants to police departments across the country, many of which have been used to purchase military-grade guns, tanks, armor, and armored personnel carriers. The grants have gone to such unlikely terrorism targets as Fargo, N.D.; Canyon County, Idaho; and Tuscaloosa, Ala.
In the tiny town of Keene, N.H.,, the citizens protested plans to purchase a Lenco Bearcat armored personnel carrier with a DHS grant. One resident told HuffPost last year, “Keene is a beautiful place. It’s gorgeous, and it’s safe, and we love it here. We just don’t want to live in the kind of place where there’s an armored personnel carrier parked outside of City Hall … It’s just not who we are.”
They succeeded only in delaying the purchase by a few months. Keene now has a Bearcat. To town officials, it was a no-brainer. Keene was getting a $400,000 vehicle from the federal government, essentially for free. Why wouldn’t it accept?
To be fair, I’d probably take one of those if someone offered it to me for free, too.
I had some thoughts on this subject a while back.