Beware of Homeland Security Training for Local Law Enforcement, by An Insider
James Wesley, Rawles
I’ve been in law enforcement for the past 18 years. I have attended a variety of training over those years. During the 1990s, most training I attended was community-oriented, sponsored by local agencies or private companies specializing in police training. Themes common to training of the past included topics such as Constitutional rights, community partnerships, youth-oriented programs and problem-oriented policing.
During the past several years, I have witnessed a dramatic shift in the focus of law enforcement training. Law enforcement courses have moved away from a local community focus to a federally dominated model of complete social control. Most training I have attended over the past two years have been sponsored by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), namely the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
No matter what topic the training session concerns, every DHS sponsored course I have attended over the past few years never fails to branch off into warnings about potential domestic terrorists in the community. While this may sound like a valid officer and community safety issue, you may be disturbed to learn how our Federal government describes a typical domestic terrorist.
These federal trainers describe the dangers of “extremists” and “militia groups” roaming the community and hiding in plain sight, ready to attack. Officers are instructed how to recognize these domestic terrorists by their behavior, views and common characteristics. State data bases are kept to track suspected domestic terrorists and officers are instructed on reporting procedures to state and federal agencies. The state I work in, like many others, have what is known as a “fusion center” that compiles a watch list of suspicious people.
So how does a person qualify as a potential domestic terrorist? Based on the training I have attended, here are characteristics that qualify:
* Expressions of libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers)
* Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership, holding a CCW permit)
* Survivalist literature (fictional books such as "Patriots" and "One Second After" are mentioned by name)
* Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)
* Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)
* Religious views concerning the book of Revelation (apocalypse, anti-Christ)
* Expressed fears of Big Brother or big government
* Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties
* Belief in a New World Order conspiracy
A recent training session I attended encouraged law enforcement agencies to work with business owners to alert police when customers appear to be stockpiling items. An example was given that a federal agent was monitoring customers at a well known hunting and fishing retail outlet and noting who was purchasing certain items. This is something to remember the next time you purchase a case of ammo at one of these popular outdoor sports retail stores.
Methods of developing evidence of terrorist activity from virtually any search have also been discussed. Various common materials which may be associated with homemade explosives are listed, such as lengths of pipe, gunpowder, matches, flammable liquids and fireworks. Officers are told when these items are found, they can be listed as “bomb making materials”. The training even goes so far as to instruct officers that the items are cleverly disguised as legitimate, such as gasoline stored near a lawn mower, pipes stored in a shop building or gunpowder stored with reloading materials.
One course I attended used the example of a person employed as a plumber being the target of a search warrant. In this example, the officers were told how to use his employment as a plumber as further evidence of terrorism. The suspect’s employment would be described as an elaborate scheme to justify possessing pipes and chemicals so as to have bomb making materials readily available. Based on this example, all plumbers are potential pipe bomb makers. All gun dealers are plotting to provide arms to gangs or terrorists. All pest control companies are preparing mass poisonings. By using this logic, simply having the ability to do something criminal automatically makes the person guilty of plotting the crime. With all the various methods of manufacturing methamphetamine, it would also be easy to claim that a disassembled clandestine drug lab was located during the search. In other words, it is easy to frame anyone for possessing bomb making materials (or other crimes) if the officer knows what items to list in the report and how to link these items to terrorism.