"A reader who asks his name not be used writes about the
drug raid video from Columbia, Missouri:
'I am a US Army officer, currently serving in
Afghanistan. My first thought on reading this story is this: Most
American police SWAT teams probably have fewer restrictions on
conducting forced entry raids than do US forces in Afghanistan.
'For our troops over here to conduct any kind of forced entry, day or
night, they have to meet one of two conditions: have a bad guy (or
guys) inside actively shooting at them; or obtain permission from a
2-star general, who must be convinced by available intelligence
(evidence) that the person or persons they’re after is present at the
location, and that it’s too dangerous to try less coercive methods. The
general can be pretty tough to convince, too. (I’m a staff liason, and
one of my jobs is to present these briefings to obtain the required
'Generally, our troops, including the special ops guys, use what we
call “cordon and knock”: they set up a perimeter around the target
location to keep people from moving in or out,and then announce their
presence and give the target an opportunity to surrender. In the
majority of cases, even if the perimeter is established at night, the
call out or knock on the gate doesn’t happen until after the sun comes
'Oh, and all of the bad guys we’re going after are closely tied to
killing and maiming people.
'What might be amazing to American cops is that the vast majority of
our targets surrender when called out.
'I don’t have a clear picture of the resources available to most
police departments, but even so, I don’t see any reason why they can’t
use similar methods.'
"I’ve heard similar accounts from other members of the military. A
couple of years ago after I’d given a speech on this issue, a retired
military officer and former instructor at West Point specifically asked
me to stop using the term “militarization,” because he thought comparing
SWAT teams to the military reflected poorly on the military.
"Back in 2007 I wrote a bit
more on this:
'There’s a telling scene related to all of this in Evan
Wright’s terrific book
Generation Kill. Wright was embedded with an elite U.S.
Marine unit in Iraq. Throughout his time with the unit, Wright documents
the extraordinary precautions the unit takes to avoid unnecessary
civilian casualties, and the real heartbreak the soldiers feel when they
do inadvertently kill a civilian. About 3/4 through the book, Wright
explains how the full-time Marines were getting increasingly irritated
with a reserve unit traveling with them. The reserve unit was mostly
made up people who in their civilians lives were law enforcement, “from
LAPD cops to DEA agents to air marshalls,” and were acting like idiot
renegades. Wright quotes a gunnery sargeant who traveled with the
' “Some of the cops in Delta started doing this cowboy
stuff. They put cattle horns on their Humvees. They’d roll into these
hamlets, doing shows of force—kicking down doors, doing sweeps—just for
the fuck of it. There was this little clique of them. Their ringleader
was this beat cop…He’s like five feet tall, talks like Joe Friday and
everybody calls him ‘Napoleon.’”
'The unit ends up firebombing a village of Iraqis who’d
been helping the Marines with intelligence about insurgents and Iraqi
troops. Yes, it’s just an anecdote. But it’s a telling one. It suggests
that to say some of our domestic police units are getting increasing
militaristic probably does a disservice to the military.' "
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That oil spill in the Gulf? Here are some images that superimpose the extent of the spill on other, more familiar areas of the US.
This next one brings it even closer to home. If the spill had occurred at Duluth…
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Lastly, a little something to make you smile.