From Local Police to Occupying Army, or LESO: The Greater of Many Evils

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Well, it sure ain’t an RV: This “Peacekeeper” Armored Personnel Carrier is listed by the Charleston, S.C. Police Department as a “Patrol Vehicle.”

There are Peacekeepers deployed in US cities, but they’re not under UN command.

They’re armored personnel carriers supplied to “local” police agencies for little or no cost through the Pentagon’s Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO), established in 1995 as part of the Defense Logistics Agency.

Since that time, the LESO has made huge amounts of military hardware — from boots to helmets to ammo to helicopters and the “Peacekeeper” APCs — available to local and state police agencies, often at little or no cost.

If you’re interested in watching the Pentagon’s promotional video for the LESO’s campaign to militarize “local” police, go to this page maintained by the DLA. At the bottom of the links you’ll find one leading to “LESO Get With The Program Video.” Follow that link, and — assuming you can withstand the barrage of really obnoxious whitebread canned pseudo-funk PSL music — you will have the entire program explained to you.

Fred Baille, a boileplater-spewing spokesdrone for the DLA’s Distribution Realization Policy Directorate (a suitably Soviet title for a police-state agency), explains that through the LESO program, “local” law enforcement agencies can receive “excess” military gear of practically any description “as if they were a DoD organization.”

What this means, in practical and tangible terms, is that your local police has the same access to military hardware as any branch of the armed services. In everything but brand name, they’re domestic appendages of the Pentagon.

The “Get With The Program” video demonstrates how easy it is for police agencies to snag the swag: Simply call up the LESO website, fill out a form “justifying” the order, and send it in. And getting “surplus” Pentagon equipment is depicted as a civic-minded thing to do, since getting the federally subsidized military gear actually helps keep taxes low.

Not discussed in the video are hidden costs of that subsidy. The monetary costs are borne by taxpayers nation-wide. But a much larger price is paid when communities no longer control their own police agencies.

When local police are supported by local tax funds, they are locally accountable. When those police are materially and financially supported by Washington — to any extent — the locus of control and accountability shifts there. That is the principle recognized in the Supreme Court’s 1942 Wickard v. Filburn decision.

The Bush Regime is trying to expand that principle in the case of Joshua Wolf, a videoblogger imprisoned on federal contempt charges last fall for refusing to surrender videotape sought by federal prosecutors.

The Feds claimed that Wolf’s video contained footage of an attack by rioters on a San Francisco Police Department squad car during a July 2005 protest. Wolf maintained that he didn’t have the footage sought by prosecutors — which allegedly showed the squad car being put on fire — and that under California’s shield law, he didn’t have to surrender the tape. The Feds countered that because the SFPD receives federal subsidies (for counter-narcotics and “homeland security” efforts, among other things), the damaged squad car is federal property, and so the matter belongs in federal court, where California’s shield law doesn’t apply.

That claim has yet to be resolved in the courts, but given that claims of this sort have been consistently vindicated since, oh, about 1937, the suspense isn’t exactly killing me.

Which leaves us here:

Any police agency that receives so much as a particle of federal aid is no longer a local police force. It is, in principle, a federal army of occupation.

Yes, most policemen (including those seen in LESO’s promotional video) are decent and honorable people who honestly believe that they are serving and protecting their communities. But the people who fund and control them are neither decent, nor honorable, and at a time of their choosing they can execute Order 66 (if you’ll pardon the allusion) and turn that army against us.

For decades, since the Kennedy administration unveiled its Freedom From War program for UN-administered “general and complete disarmament,” many observers have wondered when the blue helmets of the UN “Peace Force” would be dispatched to disarm Americans and put down patriotic resistance. It’s not impossible that such a scenario could eventually be played out, however unlikely it is at present.

People who focus on the UN as the source of the immediate threat, however, are preoccupied with the wrong threat vector.

William Norman Grigg [send him mail] writes the Pro Libertate blog.

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