Who Exactly Is The Enemy On Our Doorstep?Posted: February 18, 2012
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.
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.
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!
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]
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.