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Can't Camouflage Military-Cop Convergence

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  • Clore Daniel C
    Published May 11 - 17, 2000 Seattle Weekly Editorial Comment You can t camouflage the military-cop convergence. BY KNUTE BERGER THE LINE BETWEEN the police and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2000
      Published May 11 - 17, 2000 Seattle Weekly

      Editorial Comment

      You can't camouflage the military-cop


      THE LINE BETWEEN the police and the military has
      been blurring for years. Have you noticed how
      police SWAT teams have adopted US military-style
      helmets? Did you see the armored personnel carriers
      during the WTO protests?

      If any question that the two seem to be merging
      remained, surely the famous photo of government
      agents seizing Elian Gonzalez creates an image that
      is apt: government employees resolving a child
      custody case at gunpoint in full combat regalia.

      Increasingly, police departments around the country
      are receiving military-style training and being
      advised to acquire arsenals that are compatible with
      the military's. And while civilian police departments
      are being militarized, the military itself is taking
      on law enforcement-style missions at home and abroad:
      peacekeeping in trouble spots, patrolling US borders,
      and hunting down drug smugglers.

      A recent example is right here on Puget Sound. Last
      week Governor Gary Locke called in the National Guard
      to assist with tracking down, and shutting down, meth
      labs in Pierce County. We're not talking civil unrest,
      fires, or floods: This is cop work, pure and simple.
      Locke defends this by saying meth labs are a health
      menace and that "we must all do whatever we can to stop
      this epidemic." (Remember, this is an election year.)
      Guardsmen, in civilian clothes, will assist the police
      by doing investigative work and surveillance. Is this
      really the mission of the Guard? If Pierce County needs
      more cops, hire them.

      Locke's trigger-happiness with the Guard is indicative
      of the fact that many officials can no longer tell the
      difference between the mission of one organization and
      another, and that all civil emergencies are starting to
      look alike. Drug dealers and protesters, what's the dif?

      IF I SEEM HYPERSENSITIVE on this topic, it's because I'm
      still reading through WTO postmortem reports, and I am
      deeply disturbed by what I see.

      For example, there is Mayor Paul Schell's consultant's
      preliminary report on the WTO that was released at the
      end of April. As I warned in February ("Clean sweep or
      cover-up?" SW, 2/17), this report was likely to be highly
      slanted in its review of the WTO protests and planning
      process because the firm conducting it, R.M. McCarthy &
      Associates, is comprised of law enforcement heavies who
      specialize in "riot and crowd control." And they didn't

      This first report (and there will be a second, final one
      in July, the combined costing $100,000--nearly two-thirds
      of the City Council's entire original WTO review budget)
      covers some of the same ground as the SPD's own
      after-action critique. But these guys paint SPD and the
      mayor more harshly, almost as protester-coddling hippies.
      "Neither City government or the Police department had an
      obligation to welcome protesters and ensure their
      comfort," the report says, calling meeting with and trying
      to accommodate some of the protester groups "ill-advised."
      In fact, they conclude that protecting the rights of
      protesters was the only goal the WTO public safety
      committee accomplished. Funny, that. As thousands of
      locals were gassed and excluded from downtown's no-protest
      zone, many had the distinct feeling their rights were
      being violated. I guess "violated" now means "protected,"
      the same way "peacekeeper" now means "missile."

      The consultants are outraged at Seattle's onerous police
      surveillance ordinance and can't understand how any
      serious policing can take place in a city that has one
      (what, no infiltration of political groups!?). And at
      the tail end of the report, they bash (who else?) the
      media: "The media, too, is accountable. While there were
      incidents of objective reporting, most coverage was
      inflammatory and at times irresponsible." They offer not
      a single example. Certainly in the days leading up to the
      WTO, the coverage in the mainstream press was almost all
      boosterish of the WTO, free trade, and Christmas shopping:
      I found that pretty irresponsible, too, but I doubt we're
      talking about the same thing.

      Another group bears responsibility for the fiasco: "The
      people of Seattle who legitimately exercised their First
      Amendment rights, but refused to disperse and leave the
      area when ordered, thus preventing the police from making
      arrests and restoring order, also share in the
      responsibility for what subsequently occurred. Reasonable,
      law-abiding citizens do not remain to watch or participate
      in anarchy." Wow. Apparently a lot of anarchists were
      in Seattle during the WTO--some of them in baby strollers
      at the Pike Place Market!

      Another report, written by C.L. Staten, a national security
      analyst for the Emergency Response and Research Institute
      (which, by the way, did not respond to my call), is even more
      disturbing. In an analysis of the recent IMF/World Bank
      protests in Washington, DC, Staten suggests that protester
      tactics--the rather decentralized, mobile, hit-and-run
      methods used there and in Seattle--are an example of
      so-called "4th Generation" or "Asymmetric" warfare, first
      described in a 1989 Marine Corps Gazette article. In such
      warfare, "the battle is likely to be widely dispersed and
      largely undefined; the distinction between war and peace
      will be blurred to the vanishing point. It will be
      nonlinear . . . the distinction between 'civilian' and
      'military' may disappear." So that's how some security
      analysts are seeing things: Seattle = Somalia.

      As the lines between civilian and military blur, as cops and
      troops begin to merge, I guess it's natural that lessons
      learned fighting enemies abroad might be applied on the home
      front. Those dancing sea turtles of November 30, they did
      kind of look like Third World warlords, didn't they?

      Dan Clore

      The Website of Lord We├┐rdgliffe:
      The Dan Clore Necronomicon Page:

      "Tho-ag in Zhi-gyu slept seven Khorlo. Zodmanas
      zhiba. All Nyug bosom. Konch-hog not; Thyan-Kam
      not; Lha-Chohan not; Tenbrel Chugnyi not;
      Dharmakaya ceased; Tgenchang not become; Barnang
      and Ssa in Ngovonyidj; alone Tho-og Yinsin in
      night of Sun-chan and Yong-grub (Parinishpanna),
      &c., &c.,"
      -- The Book of Dzyan.
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