'Ravenwood' Comes To America

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Fans of the
CBS-terminated TV series Jericho
will recognize the name “Ravenwood.” This was the ruthless mercenary
force used by the illegitimate federal government at Cheyenne to
subjugate the citizens of Kansas in the aftermath of a massive nuclear
attack against two-dozen American cities. As with much of Jericho’s
superbly written story line, Ravenwood reflected real-world entities.
Private mercenary forces have been used extensively throughout the
Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as in many other theaters. And
as Jericho correctly depicted, these “private contractors”
have largely operated without oversight or accountability. (Can
anyone say, “Blackwater”?) For the most part, the American people
are unfamiliar with these mercenary forces, because they normally
operate in foreign theaters of war. Jericho put them on the
streets of U.S. cities. Now it looks like Jericho was more
prophecy than fiction.

An underreported
(what’s new?) story out of a little town in Montana has brought
real-life drama to the CBS blockbuster TV series. Interestingly
enough, CBS is the only major news network that has covered the
Montana story.

In the little
town of Hardin, Montana (which is about the same size as the fictitious
town of Jericho, Kansas, in the TV series), a private security firm,
American Police Force (APF), has been contracted to provide all
police services and to manage the operation of the town’s jail.
According to local news reports out of Billings, Montana, “American
Police Force officials showed up in Mercedes SUV’s that had ‘Hardin
Police’ stenciled on the vehicles. The twist, the city of Hardin
doesn’t have a police department.

“Two Rivers
Authority [the city's economic development agency] officials say
having APF patrol the streets was never part of their agenda.” (Source:
KULR-8 Television, Billings, Montana)

Until now,
the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office was responsible for patrolling
the city. However, numerous Hardin citizens have testified to APF
mercenaries patrolling Hardin’s streets.

The Hardin
jail is an interesting situation, all by itself. Completed in September
2007, the 464-bed facility has sat totally empty (which begs an
investigative analysis as to how and why the facility was built
in the first place). APF promises to fill the jail (with whom is
not clear) and also intends to build a 30,000-square-foot military-style
training facility and a 75,000-square-foot dormitory for trainees.
Costs are to be covered by Ravenwood’s — excuse me — APF’s “business
activities,” which includes security and training, weapons and equipment
sales, surveillance, and investigations.

Of course,
under our Constitution, there can be no such thing as an “American
Police Force” in the United States. Any kind of national police
force is not only unconstitutional; it is anathema to everything
American law and jurisprudence is built upon. Law enforcement is
clearly and plainly the responsibility of the states and local communities.
That a mercenary organization would take the moniker American Police
Force is, by itself, disconcerting. But there is much more.

APF touts itself
as providing security and investigative work to clients in “all
50 States and most Countries.” It boasts having “rapid response
units awaiting our orders worldwide.” It further brags that it can
field a battalion-sized team of Special Forces soldiers “within
72 hours.” APF states that it “plays a critical role in helping
the U.S. government meet vital homeland security and national defense
needs.”

Yet, an Associated
Press search of two comprehensive federal government contractor
databases turned up no record of American Police Force. Representatives
of security trade groups said they had never heard of APF. Alan
Chvotkin, executive vice president and counsel for the Professional
Services Council, said, “They’re really invisible.”

An attorney
for APF, Maziar Mafi, said the company was a spin-off of a major
security firm, but declined to name the parent company or give any
other details.

But at least
one source reports, “American Police Force, the paramilitary unit
patrolling a small town in Montana, has been exposed as being a
front group for the disgraced private military contractor Blackwater,
now called ‘Xe’.”

Whoever is
backing APF has deep pockets; that much is for sure. That APF might
be connected to Blackwater makes this situation even more problematic.
But there is still more.

According to
numerous local news reports, APF’s lead figure has a criminal history.
APF’s head is a man named Michael Hilton. And recent revelations
have turned up the fact that Hilton has served several years in
jail — along with being served several civil judgments — for fraud.
In fact, Hilton is currently scheduled to appear in a California
court over an outstanding judgment in a fraud case. This has caused
the Two Rivers Authority (TRA) to step back from the APF deal. And
at this writing, the future of the agreement between TRA and APF
is uncertain.

Adding to the
dubious image of APF is the accusation that their on-the-ground
leaders seem to be Russians. According to Hardin residents, the
APF officer in charge had a “thick Russian accent.” (Of course,
Hilton himself is Serbian, and it appears that many of his personnel
are likewise Serbian.) Residents also state that they were told
seventy-five percent of the security officers that were to be trained
would be “international.” Is this what we have to look forward to:
foreign mercenaries — employed by international corporations and
backed by the federal government — being used to police American
cities?

Local protests
against the introduction of APF mercenaries in Hardin have already
caused APF to change its name. Late news reports state that the
private contractor is now operating under the name of American Private
Police Force.

In the meantime,
Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock has launched an investigation
into the Hardin matter. According to the AG’s office, the investigation
is predicated upon concerns that the company might be violating
the Montana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

The Hardin
saga is both noteworthy and troublesome. It is the latest example
— but certainly not the first — of how private security companies
are being employed as law enforcement personnel.

Retired
lawman Jim Kouri recently wrote a fascinating piece
in which
he chronicles the growing trend of private security companies exercising
police powers. Kouri summarizes an American Society for Industrial
Security report, saying, “There are more than one million contract
security guards, with perhaps another million guards who are proprietary
security officers who are hired directly by businesses and institutions.
On the other hand, there are about 700,000 sworn law enforcement
officers working for towns, cities, counties, states and the federal
government.”

Of course,
most of these “private police” mercenaries are military-trained.
And they are also the ones providing most of the military-style
training to America’s various law enforcement agencies.

Kouri goes
on to point out that Lexington’s (Kentucky) Police Department contracted
Blackwater Security International to provide “homeland security
training.” And in New Orleans, Louisiana, mercenaries openly patrol
city streets. Kouri notes Blackwater officials as saying they are
on contract with the Department of Homeland Security and have been
given the authority “to use lethal force if necessary.”

All of the
above is disconcerting enough, but when one factors in President
Barack Obama’s desire to create a “Civilian Defense Force,” potential
problems only intensify. For example, in 1995, the United Nations’
International Police Task Force (UNIPTF) was created. Ostensibly,
the UNIPTF was formed to “carry out programs of police assistance
in Bosnia and Herzegovina.” Then, in 2003 the Civilian Police International
(CPI) was created. This was a joint venture between the U.S. State
Department and such notable private companies as Wackenhut and Kellogg
Brown & Root (a Halliburton company; and, by the way, so is
Blackwater. But this is just a coincidence, right?). The stated
purpose was for “international law enforcement and criminal justice
programs.” Inertia for mercenary-style (backed by the federal —
or even international — government) law enforcement has been growing
ever since.

The question
must then be asked: “Could the whole APF and Hardin, Montana, affair
be a test run for Obama’s budding Civilian Defense Force?”

In the CBS
TV series, Jericho, residents resisted the federal government’s
mercenary force, Ravenwood, and fought ferociously for their freedom
and independence. At the time the show aired, it all seemed like
fantasy. But if you talk with the residents of Hardin, Montana,
today, they might say that fantasy is fast becoming reality.

Stay alert,
America: your town could be next.

P.S. I have
posted a
web page devoted to the Hardin, Montana, story
for anyone that
wants to review or keep abreast of this situation.

October
10, 2009

Chuck Baldwin [send
him mail
] is a talkshow host and pastor. Here
is his website.

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