Local Sheriff Buys a Tank, Others Clamor to Fight “Domestic Terrorists”

by Will Potter on October 10, 2008

in Government Priorities,Terrorism Scare Mongering

Sheriff Buys a TankIn what I can only attribute to one-too-many viewings of Red Dawn, the Sheriff Leon Lott of Richland County, South Carolina bought his department a tank. Oh, excuse me, an “armored personnel carrier”… with a .50-cal turreted machine gun. For all you city slickers, .50-cal means f’n HUGE.

From Reason:

Sheriff Leon Lott has charmingly named the vehicle “The Peacemaker,” and insists that using a caliber of ammunition that even the U.S. military is reluctant to use against human targets (it’s generally reserved for use against armored vehicles) will “save lives.”

I hate to be the bearer of bad news (which, I’ve been told, may become my official title if I keep running this blog) but the tankification of this sheriff’s department isn’t an anomaly. It’s becoming par for the course as local cops clamor to join the “War on Terrorism” and the fight against “domestic terrorists,” “eco-terrorists,” and, judging by the size of this tank, terrorist Tyrannosaurus-Rexes.

In Tennessee, the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI held a workshop (at the First Assembly of God Church, no less) on spotting terrorists. Folks were warned to watch out for people taking too many photos. And, of course, be on the lookout for “eco-terrorists.”

Allen said environmental groups and animal rights groups may harbor terrorists, but Jackson said the FBI will not infringe on those groups’ First Amendment right to free speech.

“We will never do anything to interfere with anyone’s First Amendment rights,” Jackson said. “But we do ask people to be on the lookout for that individual who comes into the group and talks a little bit radical.”

And in Arizona, Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik asked citizens to be on the lookout for domestic terrorists including environmentalists, animal rights activists, and abortion-rights advocates.

“Eco-friendly, abortion-rights and animal-rights activists are among the most active groups that have committed acts of terror in the name of their cause,” reads the December issue of “Community Connection,” a newsletter published by the department…

Dupnik’s newsletter warning excludes a few potential domestic terrorists. There’s no mention of racist skinheads, gay-bashing homophobes and anti-abortion activists who have been known to kill a doctor or two and burn down clinics.

If you’ve read this site before, you know that animal rights and environmental advocates have never killed anyone. Meanwhile, just weeks before this article was published, a white supremacist in Utah was sentenced to federal prison for five years for beating two Hispanic and Native American men. And arsonists had just torched an Albuquerque abortion clinic.

But those crimes, much like the Oklahoma City Bombing, aren’t listed as terrorism.

I think the biggest concern of all this, though, isn’t necessarily the hypocrisy of this “terrorism” rhetoric. It’s that the Bush administration, with the support of Democrats in Congress, created a massive “War on Terrorism” bureaucracy, and now, not surprisingly, local cops want to talk the talk so they can get their hands on federal resources. For some, that means trying to catch “eco-terrorists” and get a promotion. For others, it means buying tanks and playing dress up like South Carolina is Afghanistan.

Not to get all black-helicopter-crowd on you all, but I think this also needs to be put in the context of the recent “pre-emptive raids” at the RNC, and sweeping programs like Main Core. From Radar:

One knowledgeable source claims that 8 million Americans are now listed in Main Core as potentially suspect. In the event of a national emergency, these people could be subject to everything from heightened surveillance and tracking to direct questioning and possibly even detention.

Previous post:

Next post: