“President Barack Obama has ordered a review of programs allowing for state and local enforcement to buy military equipment,” cnn.com reports, somehow forgetting to use the words “at no cost.” A “senior administration official” made the announcement today, in the wake of the President’s post-Ferguson promise for a bi-partisan look at the current military -> police transfer of armament. The White House will lead the review, under the auspices of the Domestic Policy Council. That’s the quango established by Executive Order in 1993, chaired by the Prez, comprised of . . .
Vice President; Secretary of Health and Human Services; Attorney General; Secretary of Labor; Secretary of Veterans Affairs; Secretary of the Interior; Secretary of Education; Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Secretary of Agriculture; Secretary of Transportation; Secretary of Commerce; Secretary of Energy; Secretary of the Treasury; Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers; Director of the Office of Management and Budget; Assistant to the President for Economic Policy; Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy; Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of National Service; Senior Advisor to the President for Policy Development; Director, Office of National Drug Control Policy; AIDS Policy Coordinator; and such other officials of Executive departments and agencies as the President may, from time to time designate.
And thousands of assistants and administrative staff. But wait! There’s more! Also in on the review: the National Security Council, which includes . . .
The Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the statutory military advisor to the Council, and the Director of National Intelligence is the intelligence advisor. The Chief of Staff to the President, Counsel to the President, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy are invited to attend any NSC meeting. The Attorney General and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget are invited to attend meetings pertaining to their responsibilities. The heads of other executive departments and agencies, as well as other senior officials, are invited to attend meetings of the NSC when appropriate.
Did I mention the Office of Management and Budget? Or the fact that the review will be held in coordination with Congress? Them too, apparently. Here’s what’s on the agenda:
— Whether such programs and funding are appropriate
— Whether state and local enforcement agencies have the necessary training and guidance after getting such equipment
— Whether the federal government is sufficiently auditing the use of equipment obtained through federal programs and funding
What are the odds that all involved will get to number one and just say no to MRAPs, fully-automatic rifles, flash bangs, etc. for the local po-po? A lot less than the odds that military suppliers will pick up their phones Monday morning and have a quiet word with friendly Beltway politicians.
Then again, Congress is threatening to act on its own to stop the transfer of military kit to police forces around the country. Last week, washingtonpost.com reported that . . .
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has called for reforms to the Defense Department program. [A week ago] Friday, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) indicated that he would call for a review of the program. “Congress established this program out of real concern that local law enforcement agencies were literally outgunned by drug criminals,” he wrote in a statement. “We intended this equipment to keep police officers and their communities safe from heavily armed drug gangs and terrorist incidents.”
What a difference a police shooting makes.
On June 19, the House voted down on an amendment to a Department of Defense appropriations bill. Rep. Alan Grayson’s bill (D-Fla.) was designed to kill the Department of Defense’s 1033 program sending local cops “aircraft (including unmanned aerial vehicles), armored vehicles, grenade launchers, silencers, toxicological agents (including chemical agents, biological agents, and associated equipment), launch vehicles, guided missiles, ballistic missiles, rockets, torpedoes, bombs, mines, or nuclear weapons.”
Guess how that vote broke down, bi-partisan-wise? No need. Check it out:
We shall see what happens to this latest effort to stop the equipment transfer. But what of the cultural changes and strategic emphasis on SWAT teams, enabled by The War on Drugs, no-knock raid-friendly judges, asset confiscation laws and the large number of military personnel entering the police? Of that we’ve heard nothing. [h/t DrVino]