After having drastically accelerated the militarization of local police forces by the federal government, Obama is now having second thoughts about it — or so the administration and the establishment press would have you believe based on widely reported “de-militarization” edicts issued last week. But while the decrees were framed by virtually all of the establishment media as reining in federal programs that provide military gear to law enforcement, the real agenda, as usual, is about empowering Washington, D.C. — in this case, to exert even more control over local police departments across America. Indeed, much of the military gear can still be obtained from the feds, as long as officers are first subjected to more federal “training” programs and police departments submit to new “national policing standards” across the board. The new rules fit well with the broader agenda of nationalizing law enforcement and other key sectors.
The latest round of police-related demands from the White House was unveiled as a supposed response to militarized police in Ferguson, Missouri. After local law enforcement there was blasted by Obama and others last year for its military-style show of forcein handling rioters and demonstrators bankrolled by billionaire Obama ally George Soros, the administration pledged to act. Race-mongers and leftists seized the opportunity to promote more “fundamental transformation” of America. Baltimore poured fuel on the fire. And so, according to media reports, Obama’s latest executive actions involved giving his approval for the recommendations laid out by the “President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing,” a multi-agency body that he created by decree to examine law enforcement issues. The outfit recommended national “standards” for police, and much more.
The new set of rules on military gear endorsed by Obama reportedly includes rolling back, if only slightly, a 25-year-old federal program established under Section 1033 of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) used to militarize local police with “surplus” war-fighting tools. In recent years, the administration has used that authority to expand police militarization to unprecedented levels, even while attacking gun rights and claiming “weapons of war” do not belong in the hands of civilians. Despite his own role in militarizing police across America, Obama and his administration have been lambasting law enforcement at the same time — and it all fits perfectly with the agenda to exploit incidents such as riots and alleged police abuses to expand federal control over police and everything else.
Now, Obama has apparently had a change of heart when it comes to militarization, at least if the establishment press is to be believed. Among other measures in Obama’s recently unveiled decrees is reining in federal distribution of certain types of military equipment to local police forces: vehicles that use tank-style tracks instead of wheels, bayonets, weaponized aerial vehicles, certain high-caliber guns, grenade launchers, camouflage uniforms, and more. Of course, as The New American has been reporting for years, even though the federal government has no business militarizing or meddling in local law enforcement to begin with, the feds, and especially the Obama administration, have played a crucial role in transforming and arming America’s police departments.
At a recent confab to promote his new decrees, though, the rhetoric suggested that Obama opposes the militarization his administration assisted and enabled for so many years. “We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people a feeling like there’s an occupying force as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” Obama said at a speech in Camden, New Jersey, last week touting his latest decrees. “It can alienate and intimidate local residents and send the wrong message.” The “ban” on certain federal military gear took effect “immediately,” Obama’s spokesman said, with further rules set to be released in October.
However, buried in the details is another element of the Obama rules that has received far less public attention and scrutiny. “There’s other equipment that may be needed in certain cases, but only with proper training,” Obama said, hinting at the elephant in the room that went mostly unnoticed by the press. In other words, the feds will continue to militarize local law enforcement — provided officers receive additional federally mandated “training” and comply with new “record-keeping” demands promulgated by the administration. Police departments that submit to the Obama administration’s control will still be able to continue receiving armored vehicles, specialized weaponry, manned aircraft, drones, battering rams, and even explosives.
Some media outlets did report the facts, though buried deep within their articles. “To have access to that equipment, police departments must meet national policing standards, track their use and receive approval from the federal government before selling or transferring them,” USA Today reported under a misleading headline about an Obama “ban” on military supplies for local cops. “To be eligible to purchase that equipment, agencies must adopt ‘robust and specific written policies and protocols’ covering not just the use of the federal equipment, but their policing practices in general. Agencies that violate those rules would be barred from future equipment purchases for at least 60 days and, in some cases, be referred to the Justice Department for a civil rights investigation.” In other words, if local cops want military gear from Obama, they need to become what some critics of the scheming are calling “ObamaCops.”
Police departments, of course, can continue to purchase as much military gear as they like — including anything on the newly unveiled “controlled equipment list” defined by Obama and even “banned” items. After all, Obama may like to rule by “pen and phone,” but the Constitution does not give the federal government or the White House any authority over local police. Now, however, if local or state law enforcement want any of the proscribed military equipment, they may still acquire it, just not directly from the Department of Defense or other federal agencies for free or drastically subsidized. Despite that, pro-law enforcement groups blasted Obama for allegedly putting officers in harm’s way by ending handouts of military gear. They should have focused instead on Obama’s efforts to usurp control of police departments from local communities.
The new Obama rules for police in exchange for military gear were one small part of a broad set of recommendations issued by Obama’s “21st Century Policing” taskforce — the overarching theme of which was promoting increased federal control over law enforcement. While speaking to a group of police at the carefully stage-managed event in Camden, the president also touted some of his other efforts to exert more control over police — officers who are supposed to serve and be accountable to local communities in accordance with the Constitution and the wishes of local citizens, not the White House. Among other schemes, Obama boasted of his administration’s alleged efforts to “fight crime,” improve relations between police departments and the communities they serve, and promote “transparency.” He also touted a White House “data initiative” aimed at prodding police departments into following federal guidelines on data and body cameras.
Finally, Obama also celebrated federal “grants” created by the administration to promote and fund the implementation of dubious policies associated with “community policing strategies.” Those federal grants, of course, along with others, are at the heart of Obama’s efforts to nationalize everything from healthcare and education standards to law enforcement. Among the schemes to be promoted with the new grants are national standards for police departments receiving federal funds. Some critics have started describing the plot as “Common Core for police,” a reference to the Obama administration’s Department of Education bribing states into imposing the deeply controversial national K-12 school standards and the associated federal testing regime. The effort also comes just a few months after United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon demanded that American police submit to “international standards.”
Decentralized government is one of the cornerstones of America’s freedom and its constitutional system of federalism. Even if Obama’s radical plans to nationalize police departments were not unconstitutional, though, history provides numerous examples showing why national policing is not just unwise, but extremely dangerous to liberty. Congress must rein in Obama, and, in the meantime, state and local governments should refuse to surrender self-government to an out-of-control White House in exchange for unconstitutional federal bribes. The American people, meanwhile, should work to support their local police, and keep them independent.
Photo: AP Images