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by
Rick Moran

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April 6, 2014 - 9:13 am

The proliferation of federal agencies with armed agents is one of the most worrisome aspects of the growth in government. Just last summer the EPA carried out an armed raid on a mine in Alaska to enforce the Clean Water Act — a bit of government intimidation that residents say was totally unnecessary:

It looks like a took a Congressional hearing in Washington, DC to get the ball moving, but Alaska Governor Sean Parnell announced last Thursday, the same day as a hearing on the issue, that a special counsel will investigate the EPA’s armed raid over the summer of the mining town of Chicken, Alaska (population 7 at the last census). The agency sent a heavily armed team eight strong over possible violations of the Clean Water Act, an act the miners said amounted to intimidation. Residents questioned the need for armed agents to participate in what amounted to a water safety check, as well as the public safety threat the action posed.

And who can forget the Gibson Guitar raid by armed agents of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

The EPA, the USFWS…the Department of Education? It’s getting ridiculous — and frightening.

Watchdog.Org:

It may come as a surprise to many U.S. taxpayers, but a slew of federal agencies — some  whose responsibilities seem to have little to do with combating crime — carry active law enforcement operations.

Here’s a partial list:

That’s right, NOAA — the folks who forecast the weather, monitor the atmosphere and keep tabs on the oceans and waterways — has its own law enforcement division. It has a budget of $65 million and consists of 191 employees, including 96 special agents and 28 enforcement officers who carry weapons.

“There’s no question there’s been a proliferation of police units at the federal level,” said Tim Lynch, director of the Project On Criminal Justice for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C. “To me, it’s been a never-ending expansion, a natural progression, if you will, of these administrative agencies always asking for bigger budgets and a little bit more power.”

It’s been estimated the U.S. has some 25,000 sworn law enforcement officers in departments not traditionally associated with fighting crime. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and in a tabulation compiled by the Wall Street Journal in 2011, 3,812 criminal investigators are working in areas other than the U.S. departments of Treasury, Justice, Defense and Homeland Security.

Lynch says it’s hard to tell how much money federal agencies spend on their respective law enforcement divisions.

Oftentimes, the armed agents appear to be used more for intimidation than law enforcement. When armed EPA agents come on your property to cite you for violating the Clean Water Act, or because you’ve run afoul of wetlands regulations, you’re probably not going to give them any lip or backtalk. And you will be more inclined to cooperate.

But what does the NOAA need with 96 armed agents? They predict hurricanes and other severe storms, which is very valuable and saves lives, but it’s hard to see a mission for a law enforcement branch of the agency.

“NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement protects marine wildlife and habitat by enforcing domestic laws and international treaty requirements designed to ensure these global resources are available for future generations,” NOAA spokesman David Miller said in an email to New Mexico Watchdog, pointing out that the division has existed since 1970. “Our special agents and enforcement officers ensure compliance with the nation’s marine resource laws and take enforcement action when these laws are violated.”

They may have had an armed division since 1970, but I bet they didn’t have nearly 100 armed agents. This is, in classic terms, mission creep. And it’s especially true for most agencies after 9/11:

But many other federal agencies established their own after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the FBI shifted its attention to tackling terrorism, and Congress gave permanent powers to inspectors general in more than two dozen agencies.

By last count, 25 agencies with law enforcement divisions fall under their respective offices of inspectors general.

With their growth has come criticism that officers are becoming overly militarized.

“The whole notion of police operations these days, that they’re dressed to kill, that they’re up against an enemy, is wrong,” Johnson said. “Citizens are not the enemy.”

We have what amounts to a national police force. The FBI is severely constrained by statute as to what kind of crimes for which they can intervene. The EPA, Education Department, NOAA and most other agencies have few, if any restrictions and can bend and shape the law to interpret a mandate just about any way they wish.

Congress has had hearings on police powers for individual agencies but the broad problem of militarizing the federal government has not been examined. It’s time this worrisome growth in armed federal agencies is brought before the people and Congress get busy reigning the practice in.

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
NOAA is not Forestry.

28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
NASA put a dozen men on the moon and safely returned them to earth with no cops, but now needs 62 cops when they can't fly to space at all.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
The arming of what should be peaceful federal agencies, together with the militarization of local police forces, is a disturbing trend, and amounts to an end run around the Posse Comitatus Act.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (57)
All Comments   (57)
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Does anyone remember John Ross's "Unintended Consequences"?
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
The short answer to this issue is "congress did it". Legislation was passed sometime between 2006 and 2008 that allowed any department with an inspector general could apply to the AG's office for permission to create their own police force. Appearently with no requirements or restrictions, all they have to do was ask. Jeff Knox of the Firearmcoalition.org wrote about it several years ago when he discovered the Dept of Education was buying 14" barrelled 870 shotguns to go with existing inventory. I inquired of my congressman, who was in office at the time, and he told me he voted for the law because some of the departments complained that had to get help from local law enforcement to serve warrants, etc. He acted like it was no big deal. He is a conservative Republican. Allegedly.
Congress doesn't need to hold hearings or conduct investigations. They are the responsible party. If this abuse and intimidation is to stop, all congress has to do is repeal the legislation that created this monster.
27 weeks ago
27 weeks ago Link To Comment
Has anyone else noticed that the bureaucracies are "loading up" while the military is being disarmed?

I'd say that's a pretty clear Police State Wakeup Call!!
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why? Tea party.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Thompson's original sub machine gun was designed to be used by the Army in WW I, but the war ended before a prototype could be finished. Subsequently, the manufacturer, Auto-Ordnance, produced and sold their first batch of Thompsons to the US Postal Department. There had been a rash of mail train robberies at the time so the Post Office started using armed guards on mail trains.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
What people are missing here is that NOAA is the parent agency for the National Marine Fisheries Service who are responsible for managing fish in the ocean as well as anadromous fish such as salmon and steelhead. The law enforcement agents are actually federal game wardens. Look around at your state game wardens - they all carry guns to protect themselves.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
I kinda like that "Federal Agent" logo on their backs.
Makes it easy to separate the friendlies from the targets.
It's coming.....soon.
III
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
Remember what 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." Homeland Security and other agencies are purchasing ridiculous amounts of ammo and military equipment - why? I can't imagine what Obama has planned for the rest of his presidency! Will he go for president forever?
Good read is: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2013/10/remember_obamas_civilian_national_security_force.html
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
It isn't intimidation, it is empire building. Every agency has to have the same toys as every other agency.
Wait until he Department of Education has missile armed drones, and the other departments cry about that like spoiled 6 year olds.
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
More importantly, why would they need to buy millions of rounds of ammo for a small number of armed security personnel?
28 weeks ago
28 weeks ago Link To Comment
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