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Bridget Johnson

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August 15, 2014 - 12:42 pm

The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Congress would review how the Pentagon transfers surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies.

The statement from Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) comes after criticism, including from Republican Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.), that the SWAT reaction to the protests and rioting in Ferguson, Mo., resembled a police state more than a suburb.

“Congress established this program out of real concern that local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals,” Levin said today. “We intended this equipment to keep police officers and their communities safe from heavily armed drug gangs and terrorist incidents.”

“Before the defense authorization bill comes to the Senate floor, we will review this program to determine if equipment provided by the Defense Department is being used as intended,” he added.

At yesterday’s Pentagon briefing, press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby was asked whether the concern over increased militarization of domestic police forces would give the Defense Department pause about the oversight of the program or its future.

“There is a law enforcement support program that the Defense Department administers which provides to law enforcement agencies around the country surplus military equipment, gear, arms, ammunition, vehicles. This is a useful program that allows for the reuse of military equipment that otherwise would be disposed of that can be used, again, by law enforcement agencies to serve their citizens,” Kirby replied.

“So it’s a — so the program serves a purpose. That said, it is up to law enforcement agencies to speak to how and what they gain through this system. And I’m not going to inject the Pentagon into this discussion. How this equipment is used to serve local citizens, again, is up for local law enforcement agencies to speak to.”

More: 

GOP Lt. Gov. in Missouri Says Holder’s Ferguson Response Thus Far ‘Praiseworthy’

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
All Comments   (9)
All Comments   (9)
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Levin is an 80-yr-old sanctimonious liberal pr*ck and part of the problem, yet he's granted deferential respect by the same commenatariat that flies into foam-flecked rage at the mention of the word Paul.

Levin, you will note, is dancing as usual: don't talk to me, talk to the police.

Yet he knows all about this 'program'. He's been the ranking D on the Armed Services Committee for more than fifteen years and on the committee for much longer. He has no military experience. He's the wrong tool for the job.

Meanwhile, GOP congressional leadership is as supine as usual. And they believe themselves entitled to re-election. Many of the wise men around here agree.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment

The Military administration does not operate using logic or reason filters to make decisions.
They must spend X amount of dollars, they must deplete current year weapon stores, they must purchase using a point grade system that awards the contract based not on history of quality or price, but on cronyism and other considerations.
The DCMA ( Defense Contract management Agency) is a disaster, i dealt with them for over 15 years. The people employed must follow arcane rules and guidelines that divert contracts to to companies that help write the rules and guidelines.
The issue with Surplus weaponry is the same. The more they give away the more they can request to purchase and waste taxpayers money. Do small towns need a Tank?? why do small towns have militarized police departments?

This is also a reason cities departments are in the red, maintenance and training for these machines are expensive, as are spare parts. So instead of hiring actual police, they must maintain their Tank which will be used to oppress citizens when they assemble and put into practice the constitution of these United States.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>> The chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee said Congress would review how the Pentagon transfers surplus military equipment to law enforcement agencies. <<<

Mr. chairman,

When you start reviewing the program, it would be extremely helpful to ask -

WHEN did the Pentagon start having all these surplus military equipment to transfer to law enforcement agencies,

WHAT and WHICH/WHERE law enforcement agencies (Dept of Education and IRS included?),

WHY the Pentagon consistently have surplus military equipment,

and HOW the equipmment is transferred (inventory list, accounting book, etc.)

I am especially interested in the timeline and the extent of such program before Obama and after Obama took office. Does it tie to the Fast & Furious Gun Walking/Gun Running scandal?

I think we all know - Even after Obama leaves office, the America has been fundamentally re-transformed.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
So no more hellfire missiles for Ferguson police, either?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
hundreds of machine guns? sounds like obummer is still looking for that army to support his attempt at martial law. machine guns and armor for local cops. gosh, tell me again how 'serve and protect' jives with 'force and disrespect'.

if you don't see this transparency you ain't lookin'.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
I don't get how arms currently used by the military can be "surplus".

Do we not have salt mines and cosmoline to store these weapons should they be needed by a military that we suddenly need to grow rapidly?

Back in '07 when my son's national guard unit deployed, he literally drove all over his home state trying to gather up enough equipment for his 100 person unit to deploy. When they left for Kuwait they had exactly 6 working rifles between them. Fortunately, they were issued new rifles when they arrived in theater.

I think the idea of the government is to get weapons into the hands of O's "civilian" force who does not swear to defend the Constitution (except for former military of course).
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
Allow me to add just one data point: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office owns a tank. Not long ago it was used on a raid of a rooster-fighting ring (PM's comment filter would not allow me to used the correct term that begins with 'c' and ends with 'ock'.)
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
In the name of security, for you small non intelligent people, we are going to help arm the Police incase of gangs running amuck, or terrorist creating hate and discontent.

Now, hand over your weapons so we can protect you better. You nationalist scum.
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
If it's still useable, why doesn't the military hold on to it? I do support a robust military budget, but why not save some money here?
10 weeks ago
10 weeks ago Link To Comment
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