Who Exactly Is The Enemy On Our Doorstep?

It’s hard to keep up with the outrageous statements and positions of various 2012 presidential candidates.  One might reasonably ask: Who let the loons out?

As offensive as all these assaults, affronts and crazy talk have been, there’s been something else operating in the background, which begs the question:

What’s up with the joint military/police exercises being conducted in our cities?

The question lingers in the air, a thick mist of doubt laced with a pinch of paranoia.  We live in an era that breeds both with incredible ease.

On the heels of the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA’s] passage, replete with an indefinite detention clause that President Obama signed onto, against the security advice of the FBI and NSA, it’s a question that leads even the level-headed to ponder the rhyme and reason of military/police training maneuvers inside American cities.

In late January, Los Angeles was an operational site.  In August of last year, Boston and earlier exercises were held in Miami and Little Rock.  The purpose?  According to official statements:

This will be routine training conducted by military personnel, designed to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments, and meet mandatory training certification requirements.

Hummm.  I thought that’s what military bases were for?  And forgive me, I don’t see anything ‘routine’ about this.  I grew up near Fort Dix and McGuire Air Force Base in NJ.  We had plenty of planes and helicopters in the sky and military equipment trucking down the highways.

But military exercises in our living space?  Never.

We’ve seen the images from Greece, the Cradle of Democracy in flames, the populace pushed to extremes by financial/political deals that insist on further tightening of the economic thumbscrews.  These remedies never apply to those inflicting the misery.  But for the general population?  Pain is good.  Could these draconian prescriptions and subsequent reactions happen here?

Lest we forget, we’ve seen the prologue. Here:

I’ve written before about the creeping militarization of local police force units, where routine calls are turned into SWAT team events, complete with wartime accouterments—uniforms, weapons and vehicles.  And then there are the drones added to our airspace for additional surveillance and security, features that some would tell us are simply the next reasonable step in effective police work. The President has signed the FAA Reauthorization Bill, which among other things authorizes drone utilization in American airspace.  The Agency projects 30,000 drones in operation by 2020.

And now our cities are hosting military and police force exercises, presumably to prepare for overseas’ deployment.

The local CBS affiliate in Los Angeles started with this lead:

If you notice a heavy military presence around downtown Los Angeles this week, don’t be alarmed — it’s only a drill.

Whistling past the graveyard?  Color me suspicious but I find this whole concept disturbing.

Former Police Chief Norm Stamper, a 35-year police force veteran who oversaw the disastrous response to the 1999 WTO Battle in Seattle, has been vocal in his concern about militarizing our domestic police forces. He takes himself to task in going along with the brass in Seattle, where police took a hard-ass stand that resulted in injury and considerable property damage.  Instead of the cautionary tale that Seattle might have provided, the paramilitary mindset was further cemented into place after 9/11.  The Department of Homeland Security funded cities and small towns across America for ‘terrorist preparedness’ training and equipment. And those small, unlikely terrorist targets took those funds and armed their Police Departments to the teeth.

To the horror of many, we watched this equipment and personnel turn against Americans during the Occupy Wall St. protests, most spectacularly in Oakland, CA.

Stamper blames this on:

The paramilitary bureaucracy and the culture it engenders—a black-and-white world in which police unions serve above all to protect the brotherhood—is worse today than it was in the 1990s. Such agencies inevitably view protesters as the enemy. And young people, poor people and people of color will forever experience the institution as an abusive, militaristic force—not just during demonstrations but every day, in neighborhoods across the country.

He also cites the military model adopted by police bureaucrats, an archaic attitude that fosters a dedication to authoritative regulations rather than an officer’s behavior in the streets.  And the senseless ‘War on Drugs’ that adds an overblown righteousness to the mayhem, a policy that criminalizes non-violent drug use and imprisons more of our citizens, ratio to population, than anywhere else on the planet.  The US represents 5% of the world’s population, yet we have 25% of the world’s prisoners.

Let that sink in!

Five percent of the world’s population = Twenty-five percent of the world’s prison population.

What the hell are we doing?  To our own people.

Shortly before leaving for Christmas, I’d read the announcement about the exercise in Los Angeles, scheduled and carried out in late January.  Frankly, I had no idea that these other ‘exercises’ had ever taken place.

Here’s a description [after the fact] of the ‘training exercise’ in Boston:

Land chopper on roof

U.S. military commandos practiced raids in the shuttered Agassiz Elementary School last month, including a nighttime helicopter landing on the school’s roof, the Gazette has learned.

The elite special forces training was done without notice to nearby residents. No live ammo or explosives were involved and safety measures were taken, according to military spokesperson Kim Tiscione.

A vaguely worded July 25 press release from the Mayor’s Office announced citywide “military training exercises,” including helicopters, through Aug. 5. In fact, the exercises were top-secret training for the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), whose commandos recently killed terrorist Osama bin Laden, Tiscione told the Gazette.

“I know a lot of it can look really different when it’s in your own back yard,” Tiscione said of the training, which included the two-minute helicopter landing around 9 p.m. on July 28. “Safety is absolutely something we are concerned about.”

Safety is of prime concern?  One would think local residents would have been thoroughly informed and prepared before a helicopter was landed on the roof of an abandoned school.  Elsewhere the ‘helicopters’ were identified as a Black Hawks, buzzing among familiar business locations, always at night.

Brian O’Connell, a resident of Jamaica Plain had the following to say, following the Boston maneuvers:

Our great nation (which as you know, doesn’t tax the super rich or corporations) is currently engaged in a legislative battle royal over spending priorities. Meanwhile, the estimated price tag for our wars in the Middle East is $4 TRILLION. We close down schools in heavily populated urban areas and use the space for Special Forces raids while our unaccountable elected leaders pander behind close doors with the military industrial complex and use our communities as a commando training site. I find all of this obscene, and I know that there are many people who feel the same.

Correct me if I’m wrong but where are these ‘future deployments’ envisioned when the Iraq war has been officially ended and Afghanistan will be drawing down next year?  I’m all for defending the country but who or what are these combined forces defending it from?  Are these training exercises for a possible Iran invasion?  The drumbeat for war has been incessant, while most Americans have little appetite for another round of senseless, endless conflict.  Or are these staging operations preparing for something else?

Chris Hedges, never reluctant to criticize a system he considers thoroughly corrupt and acting against the public’s interest [not to mention Constitutional law] had this to say:

And I think, without question, the corporate elites understand that things, certainly economically, are about to get much worse. I think they’re worried about the Occupy movement expanding. And I think that, in the end–and this is a supposition–they don’t trust the police to protect them, and they want to be able to call in the Army.

I sincerely hope the man is wrong.  Unfortunately, Hedges’ has been a modern day prophet, predicting the corporate takeover of the United States that we, citizens-at-large are beginning to recognize everywhere we look.

Which begs two questions:

  • What’s up with the military/police exercises being conducted in our cities?
  • And would we be prepared for the truth, whatever that might be?

I stumbled across several quotes the other day, two of which had me rear back for a second.  So, I’ll leave you with the following:

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free. [Goethe]

And,

Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world. [Henry Kissinger]

And here’s one of my own:

Better to vigorously question any official statement than to merely nod and fall back to sleep.

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39 Comments on “Who Exactly Is The Enemy On Our Doorstep?”

  1. Delphyne says:

    Whistling past the graveyard? Color me suspicious but I find this whole concept disturbing.

    That makes 2 of us, Peggy – reminds me of that article that came out about the signs of fascism.

    Great post!

    • Woman Voter says:

      Thanks PeggySue22 for the honest truth.

      I too have been disturbed by all the doings in our government under the cover of ‘anti-terrorism’. We have been scared, asked to surrender our Civil Liberties because then they could protect us, but in the end we saw those very weapons used on US! :shock: yes on US :cry: not terrorists, US! :shock:

      We need to ask more questions and begin to resist their constant attack on our Civil Liberties as history has proven it is hard to get them back, takes years, decades and often longer. So, why do we surrender them and why is our media silent when they TAKE THEM FROM US, via laws like the NDAA?

      Betchya Gotta Cure

  2. peggysue22 says:

    I was aghast when I discovered that Los Angeles was not the first or only operational site for these joint exercises. I mean–what are they [whoever the ‘they’ are anymore] thinking?? Talk about sowing seeds of doubt in people! But it does gives you a sense of a creeping fascism in the wind.

    As I started pulling up articles on the subject, I read more and more poster comments. Some were down right paranoid but all deeply, deeply disturbed by these maneuvers. In fact, one or two posters/commenters indicated that the military had planned to stage another exercise somewhere in Iowa–Glenville,Glendale, something like that–but the locals caught wind of it, threw a hissy-fit and the plans were dropped. I poked around but couldn’t confirm the information.

    The whole thing, particularly in light of everything else swirling around us, doesn’t pass the smell test. From what I could gather, the exercises have been primarily at night. The more successful military operations in the Middle East have been night time raids. It’s something the Afghan people have complained bitterly about for years.

    We need to stay alert. We live in dangerous times.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      I find the locations interesting as well…almost like a rehearsal for the real thing…here in the states.

      Thank you …thank you Peggy for writing about this. I had no idea this was going on, lately my focus has been funneled into the war on women. These exercises are very disturbing coupled with the other strange things going on in surveillance and drone warfare.

      • peggysue22 says:

        Thanks, minx. I wish it was happier news but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of that around anymore.

      • ralphb says:

        almost like a rehearsal for the real thing…here in the states.

        That’s right and why wouldn’t that be a good idea? In the event we ever have a live terrorist situation in the US training like this would be invaluable for dealing with it. I don’t know why this is a problem. There have been periodic NEST team exercised for years in the US. German counter-terrorist squads live train occasionally, or they used to anyway, The SAS has done live training exercises in Britain.

        Personally, I think this could be a rather good idea especially if we draw down our foreign military ops and go into a more defensive posture.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It could be helpful for a terrorist attack, but based on past history it’s a lot more likely that the military will be called in to deal with protests or riots–like what happened at Kent State. I also find it frightening that the power to call out National Guard troops is no longer in the hands of governors.

      • ralphb says:

        We don’t have enough past history for this to make any judgments, thank goodness. Maybe being in the military for some time, even though I know the official word can’t be trusted, makes me less likely to jump to conclusions.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’m talking about the past history of the federal government using its law enforcement powers to go after protest movements. There’s plenty of history. It happened under Bush with peace groups. It happened in the ’60s and ’70 with the FBI, the CIA, and National Guard troops. It happened even earlier with the labor movement. I’d say there’s plenty of history to show that once the government has a particular power and the troops in place, they will be used.

      • The US Army has gone after citizens before, led by Douglas MacArthur on the Bonus Army in DC: http://www.npr.org/2011/11/11/142224795/the-bonus-army-how-a-protest-led-to-the-gi-bill

      • northwestrain says:

        Innocent citizens are going to die — an oops here and an oops there is going to add up. AND we are paying for this.

        I know Kent State had a huge impact on college students — I know exactly where I was and what I was doing when I hear about the murders at Kent State. There was so much hatred against college students — the “adults” (GOP etc.) were saying that any student deserved to die. The war was wrong — and anyone with a lick of common sense knew it was wrong — but students got the blame.

        In California Raygun got his jollies by having the pig cops beat up as many students as possible. It was damned dangerous to be a student — you never knew when one of the pig cops would go bat shit crazy.

        Growing up on military bases — we knew we had no rights — and we often saw training on base. THAT was on military bases — then the joint exercises with the local cops spilled out. I saw a military drill in Hawaii in 1995 — right out on civilian streets — of course the US military thinks it owns all of Hawaii anyway. Black helicopters are everywhere — and have been for decades in Hawaii.

        This reminds me of East Berlin — where the troops practiced often on the empty streets. Their aim was to control the population.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Many people don’t understand why we are so alarmed by President Obama signing the 2012 NDAA:

      Legal-Easy (via Mark Fiore)

      Goodness gracious indeed…Good Lawd, Lordie help US.

    • peggysue22 says:

      Ralph, I’m not suggesting we should go running into the night with our hair on fire, but when I stumbled across this Los Angeles report, discovered that it was one of several ‘under the radar’ maneuvers, and then thought about all the other less than pleasant realities we’re being exposed to, I found the incidents troubling. I would like to believe that everything is on the up and up, but the public has been lied to repeatedly, fraud and corruption is rampant and it’s very hard to dismiss the creeping fascism in this country.

      Better to be alert and questioning, even if we’re wrong than shrug things off as ‘business of usual.’ Personally, I don’t think we can afford to do that anymore.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    This has been happening for years. Bush managed to get Congress to get rid of the Posse Comitatus rule at the same time they were cancelling Habeas Corpus. I think it was in the Military Commissions Act.

    Years ago, I wrote a post when Bush moved troops into the U.S. for the admitted purpose of policing the civilian population in case of “terrorism” (read food riots or political protests). There is a brigade stationed in Colorado at the Northern Command. That was never permitted before; but now with the President having the power to take national guard troops without the permission of governors, he could impose martial law at any time, very quickly.

    Troops were used in NO after Katrina. I really think that they welcomed the disaster in order to try out some of these military-civilian police join operations. It’s very frightening.

    Thanks for this post, Peggy Sue. I didn’t know about the operation in Boston, but I’m not surprised.

    • bostonboomer says:

      BTW, it’s Jamaica Plain, MA–not Plains.

    • ralphb says:

      What was never permitted before? Nothing in these exercises would violate Posse Comitatus anyway.

      • bostonboomer says:

        It’s my understanding that active military troops have not been permitted to police civilians except when Lincoln suspended posse comitatus. I’ll have to go read up on it. You probably know more about it than I do.

        But when I wrote my post in 2008, the article I used from the Army Times said that active duty troops had not been stationed in the U.S. before strictly to police the civilian population.

      • bostonboomer says:

        OK, I just looked and it turns out that active duty troops were used in Louisiana and Mississippi after Katrina. The army started “active duty tours” in the U.S. for the first time in October, 2008. Troops were rotated to the Northern Command straight out of the Middle East.

        http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/

        …this new mission marks the first time an active unit has been given a dedicated assignment to NorthCom, a joint command established in 2002 to provide command and control for federal homeland defense efforts and coordinate defense support of civil authorities.

        After 1st BCT finishes its dwell-time mission, expectations are that another, as yet unnamed, active-duty brigade will take over and that the mission will be a permanent one.

        “Right now, the response force requirement will be an enduring mission. How the [Defense Department] chooses to source that and whether or not they continue to assign them to NorthCom, that could change in the future,” said Army Col. Louis Vogler, chief of NorthCom future operations. “Now, the plan is to assign a force every year.”

      • ralphb says:

        That’s true about not being able to police civilians. I’ll bet that their official mission is different from that Bush rhetoric. I wonder if they are stationed at Fort Collins?

        It’s my understanding that the US Army took over administration etc of the bay area after the Great San Francisco Earthquake in 1906. I have no idea if it was official or not and would think it probably was more just a matter of emergency.

        Like you I’m concerned about the relationship with the National Guard. That just doesn’t seem right at all but the Guard has been used pretty much like any Army units for the past decade. That should stop.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I think under Bush, there was an effort to erase the distinction between active duty troops and National Guard troops. I know I tend to be a bit conspiracy-minded, but that’s based on what I know to have happened during the protests movements of the ’60s and ’70s.

        Let’s never forget that National Guard troops shot four students at Kent State. And those troops were local kids. Imagine if the President ordered active duty soldiers who had been in combat to go and police a university demonstration.

      • bostonboomer says:

        According to the article these troops were officially stationed at Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs, but they were actually getting trained for civilian policing duties at Ft. Stewart in Georgia where they will still be able to see their families and go to school, etc.

        They may be called upon to help with civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, attack.

        Training for homeland scenarios has already begun at Fort Stewart and includes specialty tasks such as knowing how to use the “jaws of life” to extract a person from a mangled vehicle; extra medical training for a CBRNE incident; and working with U.S. Forestry Service experts on how to go in with chainsaws and cut and clear trees to clear a road or area.

        The 1st BCT’s soldiers also will learn how to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” 1st BCT commander Col. Roger Cloutier said, referring to crowd and traffic control equipment and nonlethal weapons designed to subdue unruly or dangerous individuals without killing them.

        The package is for use only in war-zone operations, not for any domestic purpose.

        “It’s a new modular package of nonlethal capabilities that they’re fielding. They’ve been using pieces of it in Iraq, but this is the first time that these modules were consolidated and this package fielded, and because of this mission we’re undertaking we were the first to get it.”

        The package includes equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.

        Those “non-lethal weapons” scare me. We had a young girl killed by rubber bullets here after the Red Sox won the World Series. She wasn’t even in the game crowd, just walking by.

      • ralphb says:

        I found this interesting in that Army Times article. These are not the units you would call in for a domestic uprising. This seems like another type of NEST grouping.

        A final mission rehearsal exercise is scheduled for mid-September at Fort Stewart and will be run by Joint Task Force Civil Support, a unit based out of Fort Monroe, Va., that will coordinate and evaluate the interservice event.

        In addition to 1st BCT, other Army units will take part in the two-week training exercise, including elements of the 1st Medical Brigade out of Fort Hood, Texas, and the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Bragg, N.C.

        There also will be Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency.

  4. peggysue22 says:

    It is scary, BB. There’s been very little info in the traditional press on these ‘exercises.’ The CBS report nonchalantly mentions the other sites in the last line of its report. We do not have the traditional press to really be our eyes on the ground or push back against any of these governmental/corporate over reaches. It’s all go along to get along and preserve ‘access.’

    In fact, I was reading an article about the ‘Generals/military brass” we see on TV. The networks are only interested in using those who tow the Pentagon’s spin. The recent whistle blowing report by Lt. Col Davis is a real eyeopener on what the military and their political handmaidens have been doing. The Davis report should be in every headline, yet you have to dig to find any true analysis on what the man has charged–the lies, the absolute waste of life and limb over the last decade.

    It’s scandalous and scary.

  5. ralphb says:

    Just a suggestion: ‘Panel Chosen to Discuss Viagra Distribution’

    h/t maddowblog – great old Women’s Christian Temperance Union photo

  6. foxyladi14 says:

    very interesting. Thanks PeggySue22 for the scary truth :)

  7. ralphb says:

    Two justices suggest Citizens United ruling should be reconsidered in Montana case

    In Friday’s order, Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer said the upheaval in the world of campaign finance since the Citizens United decision does not bear out the majority opinion.

    “Montana’s experience, and experience elsewhere since this court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, make it exceedingly difficult to maintain that independent expenditures by corporations ‘do not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption,’ ” Ginsburg wrote.

    “A petition for certiorari [from those challenging the Montana court’s decision] will give the court an opportunity to consider whether, in light of the huge sums currently deployed to buy candidates’ allegiance, Citizens United should continue to hold sway.”

    Good for the Montana SC and good for Ginsburg and Breyer! Now get Kennedy on board.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Gee, I sure hope something comes of that!

      • peggysue22 says:

        If SCOTUS decides to take the case, we’ll have a chance to have Citizens United reconsidered. Unfortunately, for Montana it means the big money interests can jump in for the 2012 elections. But I completely agree with Ginsburg and Breyer–the majority opinion has been trashed by what we’re seeing right now. It was a bad, bad decision. Hopefully, Citizens will have a second day in court.

  8. bostonboomer says:

    We also can’t forget that soldiers who have been on active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan are at high risk for PTSD and sometimes for violent acting out. Here’s an article from 2009 on a group of soldiers from one Colorado unit who were were involved in “a dozen slayings” in different parts of the country. They had been exposed to extreme violence when overseas.

    http://articles.boston.com/2009-07-16/news/29261588_1_iraq-unit-unit-soldiers-heavy-combat

    More at the Army Times:

    http://www.militarytimes.com/forum/showthread.php?1578249-Army-Accused-Carson-GIs-faced-intense-combat