The Boston SWAT party
by Chet Nagle
In his recent Ohio State commencement speech, President Obama soothed graduates by telling them not to pay attention to what they have heard, not to fear government, and to reject the idea that “tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. Was he worried the grads had seen videos of the SWAT enforcers in Boston?
A week before that speech, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) was questioning DHS, the mother of all SWAT teams, saying, “It is entirely… inexplicable why the Department of Homeland Security needs so much ammunition.” Not to mention armored vehicles and automatic weapons.
Former congressman Ron Paul weighed in a few days after the Boston disgrace with, “… a military-style occupation of an American city,” and that it looked like a “military coup in a far off banana republic.” He added, “This unprecedented move should frighten us as much or more than the (terrorist) attack itself.”
What is worries those concerned about the accelerating erosion of the constitutional rights of Americans is not the attack by a couple of teenage terrorists, but the lockdown of an American city on 15 April by a 9,000-man army of tanks and black-clad cops. If you are surprised that the true nature of America’s first taste of martial law was not shown on your evening news, you can see a video and photographs at http://www.infowars.com/shocking-footage-americans-ordered-out-of-homes-at-gunpoint-by-swat-teams/. Imagine it happening on your street — at your front door.
What happened in Boston? Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Thomas Menino responded to public outrage over the marathon bombing by putting Boston’s greater metro area of 4.4 million under house arrest, calling it by the Orwellian phrase, “shelter in place.” While Bostonians were “sheltering in place,” helos flew overhead, armored vehicles controlled the roads, snipers nestled on rooftops, and black uniforms controlled the streets hammering on doors. Where did all that military equipment come from? It was from DHS, spending over $7 billion in the last ten years for the body armor, weapons, ammunition, training and vehicles to be used in American towns and cities. The only thing missing, so far, are drones.
The irony of it all is that after the helicopter scanners, after thousands of paramilitary troops took citizens from their homes at gunpoint and marched them down the streets, the SWAT teams did not find the teenaged fugitive. He was arrested because a single homeowner found him and turned him in.
Besides the irony, there is a dire message in the Boston SWAT party. The message is that Americans are not protesting and not doing anything to defend their rights. Today, our absolute constitutional rights are treated by government and its agencies as only partial, as not applying to every citizen, and as revokable by the government at any time. The sad fact is that the police can, and do, take advantage of the fact that most Americans do not know their rights.
Under the Obama administration, it is hard to know your rights even under laws enacted by congress, never mind the constitution. Last month, Janet Napolitano, Department of Homeland Security Secretary, listened to Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) ask, “You are not entitled to set policies, are you, that violate the mandates of congressional law?” Her answer was that she “disagree(s) with almost everything” that the senator said. If senior administration officials can ignore enacted laws, then it is just as easy for them to ignore the constitution. And they do ignore both, from indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, to drone kill lists, to surveillance of phone and email communications, to prosecution and persecution of whistleblowers.
So questions arise. Do you know your rights and how to defend them? Do you know what the 4th Amendment to the Constitution guarantees? Can the police search your house without a warrant? The sad answer is that we have strayed a long way from the days when colonial Americans revolted against British soldiers who searched their homes with warrants they had written themselves. The 4th Amendment of the Constitution was designed guarantee a citizens right to be left alone. But today, U.S.federal officers can write their own warrants under the Patriot Act, just like those British soldiers. Did you know that law allows federal agents to see your mail, and your legal and medical records, without a warrant from a judge? The Patriot Act sacrificed freedom for safety — and we got neither.
There seems to be no limit to how far Americans will allow the government to chop away at the roots of their free way of life. Two weeks ago, Florida legislators gave Ric Bradshaw, Sheriff of Palm Beach County, $1 million to set up “prevention intervention” units. According to the Palm Beach Post, Bradshaw is establishing a hotline for citizens to report the “guy down the street (who) says he hates the government, hates the mayor…”. The sheriff assured the lawmakers that “it will all be done in a way that respects people’s autonomy and privacy.”
Ben Franklin said, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Don’t ever think, “It can’t happen here.” It has already happened.
And the next time you are asked if you are willing to give up some of your liberties in exchange for a promise of security, the answer is simple: “Remember Boston!”
Chet Nagle is a graduate of the Naval Academy, a former Pentagon official, a former CIA agent, and the author of Iran Covenant.