Coburn: 'Dangerous' Military-to-Police Program Threatens 'Very Principles That Built the Country'
Estevez admitted "there's probably a failure in coordination across the interagency regarding what we are providing."
"We do, when, you know, there is missing equipment coordinate and let them know that kind of issue," he said. "But coordinating on what police forces could use, that could be better."
The administration's review on the program is still in progress.
Coburn asked when any of this equipment has been used in a counterterrorism operation.
"I'm sure we could pulse the system for anecdotes on that, but I really would have to do that," Estevez replied.
When Estevez characterized an MRAP as a "truck," Coburn countered, "No, it's not a truck. It is a 48,000-pound offensive weapon."
"We give an MRAP, it is stripped of all its electronic warfare capability," Estevez said. "It does not have a 50-caliber weapon on it. It is not an offensive weapon. It is a protective vehicle."
McCaskill presented a "long list" of law enforcement agencies that received three times as many military-grade weapons as they have full-time officers.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said "many of us were horrified by some of the images that came out of Ferguson."
"We were horrified by seeing an unarmed man with his hands over his head being confronted by an armored personnel carrier. We're horrified by seeing an unarmed man with his hands over his head being confronted by a man with a drawn assault weapon. We're horrified by images of tear gas being shot into the yards of people's personal homes who were protesting," Paul said.
"One of the fundamental things about America is dissent, and the ability to have dissent. And it needs to be peaceful and there needs to be repercussions for people who do not act in a peaceful way. But confronting protesters with armored personnel carriers is thoroughly un-American, and for 150 years we've had rules separating the military -- keeping the military out of policing affairs. But you sort of obscure that separation if you allow the police to become the military."
Paul said that after spending "billions and billions" on equipping the police departments, "we've had maybe two instances of terrorism."
The senator noted that an NPR investigation of the program revealed 12,000 bayonets have been given out. "What purpose are bayonets being given out for?" he asked.
"Senator, bayonets are available under the program," Estevez responded. "I can't answer what a local police force would need a bayonet for."
"I can give you an answer: None," Paul shot back.
"I find these decisions to be very easy to make. You just shouldn't be giving out mine-resistant vehicles. Bayonets, there's no excuse. I don't know why we have to get together and have a study for months to decide bayonets are inappropriate to be given out. There's a -- I can't imagine any use for a bayonet in an urban setting," the senator continued.
"It's gotten out of control. And this has largely been something that the militarization of police is something that has gotten so far out of control, and we've allowed it to descend, along with not a great protection of our civil liberties as well."