ARMS RACE AMONG THE BUREAUCRATS: Why has every government agency become militarized?

Guest post by Rob Nikolewski

SANTA FE, N.M. — In late February, four federal agents carrying side arms with a drug-sniffing dog descended on the Taos Ski Valley in what was called a “saturation patrol.”

Authorities were working on tips of possible drug selling and impaired driving in the ski resort’s parking lot and surrounding area.

But the agents weren’t from the FBI, ATF or even the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Rather, the agents represented the U.S. Forest Service.

“It’s one of the untold stories about government,” said former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who lives in Taos, is an avid skier and has been a leading critic of the operation that turned up only a few minor infractions. “People don’t grasp the size and the scope of these entities and their law enforcement arms.”

It may come as a surprise to many U.S. taxpayers, but a slew of federal agencies — some whose responsibilities seem to have little to do with combating crime — carry active law enforcement operations.

Here’s a partial list:

That’s right, NOAA — the folks who forecast the weather, monitor the atmosphere and keep tabs on the oceans and waterways — has its own law enforcement division. It has a budget of $ 65 million and consists of 191 employees, including 96 special agents and 28 enforcement officers who carry weapons.

“There’s no question there’s been a proliferation of police units at the federal level,” said Tim Lynch, director of the Project On Criminal Justice for the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank based in Washington, D.C. “To me, it’s been a never-ending expansion, a natural progression, if you will, of these administrative agencies always asking for bigger budgets and a little bit more power.”

It’s been estimated the U.S. has some 25,000 sworn law enforcement officers in departments not traditionally associated with fighting crime. According to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, and in a tabulation compiled by the Wall Street Journal in 2011, 3,812 criminal investigators are working in areas other than the U.S. departments of Treasury, Justice, Defense and Homeland Security.

Lynch says it’s hard to tell how much money federal agencies spend on their respective law enforcement divisions.

“We need a fuller accounting of exactly how many police units have proliferated in the federal government and how much it’s costing taxpayers,” said Lynch, who said he would like to see members of Congress ask agency officials direct questions about budget and staffing.

The Wall Street Journal reported that, in 2008, agents armed with assault rifles from NOAA, along with officers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, raided a businesswoman’s offices in Miami looking into charges that she was violating the Endangered Species Act by trading in coral.

“I felt like I was being busted for drugs, instead of coral,” Morgan Mok said afterward. “It was crazy.”

Mok said she obtained the coral legally and eventually paid a $ 500 fine and served a year’s probation for failing to complete the proper paperwork.

Why is a law enforcement arm necessary at NOAA?

“NOAA’s Office of Law Enforcement protects marine wildlife and habitat by enforcing domestic laws and international treaty requirements designed to ensure these global resources are available for future generations,” NOAA spokesman David Miller said in an email to New Mexico Watchdog, pointing out that the division has existed since 1970. “Our special agents and enforcement officers ensure compliance with the nation’s marine resource laws and take enforcement action when these laws are violated.”

As for the U.S. Forest Service, Special Agent Robin Poague defended the use of the agency’s law enforcement officers — called LEOs — in the Taos operation that resulted in harsh criticism from many residents.

“Rangers were armed when the Forest Service started 100 years ago,” Poague said. “We have a long history of law enforcement.”

Portions of the Taos Ski Valley sit on federal land. If there were suspicions of drug activity leading to the operation in February, why not use the DEA instead?

“U.S. Forest Service land is our primary responsibility, it’s not the DEA’s,” Poague told New Mexico Watchdog by telephone from his office in Albuquerque.

A Forest Service recruitment video says the agency employs about 700 law enforcement personnel. Poague said the service’s law enforcement division was created in 1994.

But many other federal agencies established their own after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

In the aftermath of the attacks, the FBI shifted its attention to tackling terrorism, and Congress gave permanent powers to inspectors general in more than two dozen agencies.

By last count, 25 agencies with law enforcement divisions fall under their respective offices of inspectors general.

With their growth has come criticism that officers are becoming overly militarized.

“The whole notion of police operations these days, that they’re dressed to kill, that they’re up against an enemy, is wrong,” Johnson said. “Citizens are not the enemy.”

In 2010, the Department of Education defended its purchase of 27 12-gauge shotguns to replace old firearms used by its Office of Inspector General, the law enforcement arm of the department. DoE said the guns were necessary to help combat “waste, fraud, abuse, and other criminal activity involving Federal education funds, programs and operations.”

A year later, DoE Office of Inspector General special agents raided a California home at 6 a.m. to apprehend a man the department said was involved in criminal activity. DoE officials did not say why the raid was conducted, releasing a statement that said, “the office conducts raids on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.”

“In these cases, it causes you to think, is this agency really necessary, is this unit really necessary,” Lynch said.

In an email to New Mexico Watchdog, a spokeswoman for the DoE Office of Inspector General — the department’s law enforcement arm — reported it has a staff of 260 members, 90 of which are criminal investigators. Its budget is $ 57.7 million for fiscal 2014.

Defenders of the agencies say armed law enforcement provides a deterrent and that agents need to be armed to protect themselves against potentially dangerous criminals.

In fact, just last month a Forest Service ranger in North Carolina was shot and killed by a murder suspect, who also killed a police dog. On Jan. 1, 2012, a National Park ranger was shot and killed at Mount Rainier, in Washington state.

Contact Rob Nikolewski at rnikolewski@watchdog.org and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski

Doug Ross @ Journal

WELL, THAT MAKES SENSE: Nancy Pelosi to Accept Award Named After KKK Advocate and Race Eugenicist

Just when you think the Democrat Party has hit rock bottom, they break out the jackhammer and start digging a new sub-basement:

Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PP) announced that House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, an alleged Roman Catholic, will be given “the Margaret Sanger Award, the organization’s highest honor, in recognition of her leadership, excellence, and outstanding contributions to the reproductive health and rights movement over the course of her career,” according to a Planned Parenthood website posting…

Margaret Sanger was hardly the woman’s rights hero that the modern Left markets. In fact, she was an advocate for the Ku Klux Klan and a zealot for culling out “inferior” races from the nation’s gene pool.

Sanger wanted a new and improved race: ‘[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring.’

Then there was the April 1932 Birth Control Review, p. 108[, in which she stated]: Birth control must lead ultimately to a cleaner race.

Sanger is said to have believed that the Negro race was inferior and, as such, should be culled through sterilization.

Lloyd Marcus, author of Confessions of a Black Conservative, provides some perspective to address this peculiarity, and shares some truths about what the left’s devotion to abortion has wrought, specifically in regard to American blacks.

He writes:

“Colored people are like human weeds and are to be exterminated.” So said Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood. Seventy-eight percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are in black neighborhoods. Blacks make up only 12% of the population, but 35% of America’s aborted babies are black. Half of black pregnancies end in abortion. Is this an intentional genocide? (Emphasis added)

”The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb,” according to Pastor Clenard Childress, Jr. Blacks are the only minority in America experiencing a declining population.

So why would Obama, the NAACP, Rev. Sharpton, and other black leftists be passionate supporters of Planned Parenthood? Why did Al Sharpton threaten to protest a pro-life billboard which exposed the devastatingly high number of black abortions?

Congratulations on your award, Nancy Hitler.

Hat tip: BadBlue News

Doug Ross @ Journal

HECKUVA JOB, BARRY: Saudi Arabia Seeks Russian Help As Mideast Nuclear Arms Race Heats Up

There are credible theories that President Barack Obama actively conspired with Iran to allow that country to build nuclear arms.

As Caroline Glick put it, Obama “never explained how allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium decreases the likelihood of war”:

The negotiations with the Iranians that culminated in [the] agreement went on for a year.

And yet, the final deal reflects Iran’s opening positions.

That is, over the course of the entire year, American and European negotiators were not able to move Iran’s positions one iota.

So what has the Obama administration been doing for the past year? Since Iran’s positions were the same all along, why didn’t they sign this deal a year ago? The US’s strength relative to Iran did not diminish significantly since a year ago. So the US didn’t need this agreement more now than it did a year ago.

Clearly, Obama did not spend the last year trying to build domestic American support for a deal that enables the regime that calls daily for the annihilation of America to become a nuclear power. With Iran building military bases all over Central and South America, Obama never bothered trying to make the case to the American people that they would be more secure with this regime in possession of the capacity to kill millions of Americans with one bomb.

Obama never stood before the Congress to explain how a deal that gives America’s Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval to Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program advances US national security. He never explained how allowing Iran to continue to enrich uranium decreases the likelihood of war.

As anyone could have predicted, the other shoe has dropped. Fars News reports that Riyadh has gone to Russia to seek its assistance in building nukes.

Saudi Intelligence Chief Prince Bandar Bin Sultan in a recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked him to help Riyadh construct a nuclear power plant, the Arab-language al-Qods al-Arabi newspaper quoted informed diplomatic sources in the Persian Gulf Arab littoral states as saying.

According to the report, Prince Bandar has told Putin that if Russia declares readiness in this regard, Saudi Arabia can provide Moscow with preliminary studies that it has conducted since six years ago.

Saudi Arabia and other members of the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council (PGCC) have been conducting nuclear studies and the PGCC secretariat has been in charge of these studies.

Last month, a report said that Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will.

In 2009, Obama famously said, “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act” to reduce their proliferation.

That statement had about as much veracity as his infamous “If you like your health care plan you can keep your health care plan” trope.

Although I feel certain that, at least when it comes to disarming America, Obama means business. He intends to strip away America’s nuclear deterrent force by 80 percent or more while China, Russia and Iran are ramping up their militaries to unprecedented heights.

This president is, without question, making the world a far more dangerous place and is actively undermining America’s national security interests.

Hat tips: BB and BadBlue News

Doug Ross @ Journal