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  1. SmokeTwibz

    Want to make money on the drug war? Start a company that builds military equipment, then sell that gear to local police departments. Thanks to the generation-long trend toward more militarized police forces, there's now massive and growing market for private companies to outfit your neighborhood cops with gear that's more appropriate for a battlefield.

    Some of this is decades-old news. For over 25 years, the Pentagon has been supplying surplus military equipment to police agencies across the country, largely in the name of fighting the drug war. In fact, in as early as 1968 Congress passed a law authorizing the military to share gear with domestic police agencies. But it was in 1987 that Washington really formalized the practice, with a law instructing the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Attorney General to notify local law enforcement agencies each year about what surplus gear was available. The law established an office in the Pentagon specifically to facilitate such transfers, and Congress even set up an 800 number that sheriffs and police chiefs could call to inquire about the stuff they could get. The bill also instructed the General Services Administration to produce a catalog from which police agencies could make their Christmas lists.

    Ten years later, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Security Act of 1997, a portion of which created what is now known as the 1033 Program. In that bill, Congress created the Law Enforcement Support Program, an agency headquartered in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia whose sole task is to make it easier for Pentagon supplies to find their way to local police stations. In just its first three years, the office handled 3.4 million orders for Pentagon gear from 11,000 police agencies in all 50 states. By 2005, over 17,000 police agencies were serviced by the office. National Journal reported in 2000 that between 1997 and 1999, the office doled out $727 million worth of equipment, including 253 aircraft , 7,856 M-16 rifles, and 181 grenade launchers. In the October 2011 edition of the program's monthly newsletter (Motto: "From Warfighter to Crimefighter"), the office celebrated that it had given away a record $500 million in military gear in fiscal year 2011.

    The increasing role of the National Guard in the drug war also benefits military contractors. The National Guard straddles the gap between a police force and a military force. Over the years, Congress, state legislatures, and state governors have increasingly asked the Guard to take on the role of a domestic anti-drug agency, but to approach the job as the military might. of course supply the guard with everything from uniforms to weapons to aircraft. The National Guard was first recruited into the drug war in the mid-1980s with the Campaign Against Marijuana Production program. But it was during the lat 1980s and early 1990s that the Guard's role really began to expand. In 1989 Congress first gave the Guard funding for $40 for drug interdiction efforts -- $40 million. The next year, funding jumped to $70 million. Two years later it was up to $237 million.

    By 1989, fully-armed Guard troops were stationed in front of suspected drug houses in a series of drug raids in Portland. In Kentucky, local residents grew so enraged at Guard sweeps in low-flying helicopters, they blew up a Kentucky police radio tower. In Oklahoma, Guard troops dressed in battle garb rappelled down from helicopters and fanned out into rural areas in search of pot plants to uproot. Guard troops would later tell USA Today Some would later tell media outlets they were told to exaggerate their haul in order to boost federal funding for future efforts.

    In September 1990, the San Diego Union-Tribune sent a reporter to cover “the nation's first counternarcotics school, organized to teach military and law enforcement how to fight the war on drugs together.” The curriculum stressed “the need for law enforcement agencies to wage the war with searches, seizures and arrests, while the military performs surveillance, intelligence and undercover roles.”

    By the 1990s, National Guard units were flying anti-drug surveillance helicopters and boarding up crack houses in Washington, D.C.; flying surveillance helicopters and cruising the streets with infrared gear to spot drug houses in Brooklyn; sealing crack houses in Philadelphia; sent to support drug raids in Baltimore; and helping serve 94 drug warrants during a massive, city-wide raid in Pittsburgh. Members of the Pennsylvania Guard assisted in raids of two factories that produced small glass vials. There were no drugs in the vials. But both states had made the vials illegal because they were often used by drug dealers to package crack cocaine. The staff of Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) discovered that the Texas National Guard had received $3 million in federal funding to dress troops up like cacti and position them along the border to hunt for drug smugglers. And in the summer of 1990, an Army helicopter circled overhead as Massachusetts National Guard troops, some of them undercover, assisted police in identifying potential drug offenders at a Grateful Dead show.

    According to journalist James Bovard, in 1992 alone National Guard troops across the country assisted in just under 20,000 arrests, searched 120,000 automobiles, entered 1,200 private buildings without a search warrant, and stepped onto private property to search for drugs (also without a warrant) 6,500 times. Col. Richard Browning III, head of the organization's drug-interdiction effort, declared that year, “The rapid growth of the drug scourge has shown that military force must be used to change the attitudes and activities of Americans who are dealing and using drugs. The National Guard is America's legally feasible attitude-change agent.”

    The next major wave of militarization came after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In the decade since, DHS has handed out billions in homeland security grants with a program far larger and better funded than even the Pentagon giveaways. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), DHS gave out $2 billion in such grants in 2011 alone, about four times the value of gear the 1033 program gave out in its own record year. The money goes for hardware such as armored personnel carriers, high-power weapons, aircraft, and other military-grade gear.

    Though these are considered anti-terror or homeland security grants, because the overwhelming majority of cities, counties, and towns that get them will never be subject to a terrorist attack, the equipment bought with them inevitably gets used in the drug war -- namely, to perform raids on people suspected of nonviolent consensual drug crimes. (The federal government laid the groundwork for conflating the two issues in 2002 when it ran an ad campaign explicitly arguing that terrorism and the drug war were inextricably linked.)

    But most the most troubling thing about the DHS grant program is that it has given birth to the police-industrial complex. As the CIR reported in 2011, military contractors now market directly to police agencies with messages that encourage the mindset that the military and the police are fighting the same battle. And it's lucrative. The spokesman for Lenco, which makes armored personnel vehicles, told me last year that thanks to DHS, the company has sold at least one of its "Bearcats" to 90 of the 100 largest cities in America. The CIR reports that, "The homeland security market for state and local agencies is projected to reach $19.2 billion by 2014, up from an estimated $15.8 billion in fiscal 2009, according to the Homeland Security Research Corp."

    That not only means that there's fortune to be made arming domestic police departments for battle, there's also plenty of money left over to set up lobbying offices in D.C., hire former politicians and their staffs, and generally lobby Congress, the Pentagon, and the White House to ensure that these programs not only stay around, but that they grow in size and influence going forward.

    So if you want to make money off the war on drugs, consider starting a company that makes military gear for police departments. There's a small mountain of government money for the taking. And unlike contracting with the Pentagon, you won't even need a security clearance.

    June 19, 2013
    Radley Balko | Huffington Post

    Author Bio

    My name is Jason Jones. I'm from Rochester, MN and I'm 35 years old. I scrap metal and work as grounds keeper at a local trailer park. In the winter, I shovel a bunch of driveways and sidewalks to make some extra money and to stay busy. In my free time, I try to find interesting articles about the war on drugs that I can post on Drugs-Forum, so that the information can reach a wider audience.


    Your local police might occasionally make bad mistakes raiding houses for drugs killing innocent family members including children.

    Now it looks like they are dressed for war with the enemy being our local community members.

    The worrying side being one pull of the trigger by mistake will see a whole family being annihilated.

    This is just another result of terrorism being over exaggerated to scare a community into letting a government over control citizens in our so called free society.
  2. UberDouche
    "After having thus successively taken each member of the community in its powerful grasp and fashioned him at will, the government then extends its arm over the whole community. It covers the surface of society with a network of small, complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent, and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power does not destroy, but it prevents existence; it does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes, and stupefies a people, till each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals, of which the government is the shepherd." -- Alexis de Tocqueville (29 July 1805 – 16 April 1859)
    Excellent summary of the police state we are living in (and it's only going to continue in the same direction in my opinion). Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. Everything old is new again.
    Thank you for bringing this article. Something to cogitate on.
  3. Diverboone

    Even my small town police force has been invaded by military men.
  4. allurbases
    I wonder if these type of police tatics will be adopted by UK police? If so I would imagine the MET (Metropolitan Police Service) would be at the forefront. In theory one could argue that this has already started. :(
  5. BitterSweet
    That is definitely overkill; they are literally dressed for war, when the war on drugs is a figure of speech you could say. It makes for a good soundbite but when you call it a war, you think of one side versus the other side, and as described in this article, that is exactly the way it is being approached.

    This article is interesting to me because a few weeks I was having a discussion with my friend about the aptly named war on drugs, and he pointed out how profitable the industry is, which I knew but at the same time wasn't recognizing; I assumed society would be approaching addiction issues as a health care option by now. But so many people profit - rehab and treatment centers, the police (drugs and crime go hand in hand), pawn shops, well just use your imagination and it extends upon our whole society.

    The way the militant officers are using this basically overload of equipment to bust into crack houses or perform raids just alienates the population even more so from the legal weaving of society. How can you not expect a person to run from a police officer if they have drugs on them (like on the TV show cops?). Something needs to be done to shift attitudes, because I think people only look at the police as people there to enforce laws on us as opposed to people who are here to help us.

    And also, that money pumped into Homeland Security, etc. in case of a terrorist attack is just mumbo jumbo money spending.
  6. talltom
    Money and profits are the main reason the War on Drugs continues. As the article says, powerful forces are at work, the same forces that drive so many actions of the U.S. Congress, State legislatures, and legislations all over the world bound together by international treaties. That is the main reason Obama continues and increases enforcement activities -- too many people get jobs and male profits from such action. And that's why I predict the Feds will crack down when actual marijuana selling starts in Washington and Colorado. It's also why actions to reform the Drug War have failed so far. Only if enough people got behind reform in the U.S. and all other countries will we see any change. That's not going to happen any time soon.
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