Federal Fire Power: Instead of putting a lien on the property of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, the Bureau of Land Management surrounded his ranch with 200 armed agents. It's not the only agency with a private army.
Back in 2008, candidate Barack Obama slipped a little-noticed line in a speech, proposing a national police force reporting straight to him.
"We cannot continue to rely only on our military," he said. "We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
As our military is slowly decimated by his policies and budget cuts — and with federal agencies armed to the teeth — we may be seeing what he had in mind at the ranch of a 67-year-old Nevadan.
Agents of a federal agency that many Americans were surprised to see so heavily armed even herded American citizens into "First Amendment zones," another surprise to those who thought the Constitution made the entire U.S. such a zone.
"The government's option," said Fox News contributor and former Judge Andrew Napolitano, "is to take the amount of money (Bundy) owes them and docket it — that is, file the lien on his property. The federal government could have done that.
"Instead, they wanted this show of force. They swooped in . . . with assault rifles aimed and ready and stole this guy's property, they stole his cattle. They didn't have the right to do that. That's theft, and they should have been arrested by state officials."
The Environmental Protection Agency also has a private army. In late August 2013, armed EPA agents joined agents of the Alaska Environmental Crimes Task Force and swarmed gold mines near Chicken in the Last Frontier State.
In groups of four to eight, they even wore body armor and carried guns while investigating a supposed violation of Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.
That raid drew attention to the fact that some federal agencies, including the Library of Congress and the Federal Reserve Board, have divisions employing armed officers.
Other federal agencies participating in the operation were the Fish and Wildlife Service, Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Park Service and, yes, Bureau of Land Management.
That's right: NOAA, whose dangerous job is to forecast the weather, monitor the atmosphere and keep tabs on the oceans and waterways, has its own law enforcement division.
It has a budget of $65 million and consists of 191 employees, including 96 special agents and 28 enforcement officers who carry weapons. Why does a weather service need ammunition?
We have pointed out the massive purchase of ammunition by the Department of Homeland Security that's estimated to provide DHS a thousand more rounds per agent than soldiers in the Army.
But DHS is not alone.
Some 70 federal agencies, including those not associated with national security or crime fighting, employ about 120,000 full-time officers authorized to carry guns and make arrests, according to a June 2012 Justice Department report.
The Agriculture Department recently put in a request for 320,000 rounds.
Not long ago, the Social Security Administration put in a request for 174,000 rounds of ".357 Sig 125 grain bonded jacketed hollow-point" ammo. NOAA put in a request for 46,000 rounds.
"We're seeing a highly unusual amount of ammunition being bought by the federal agencies over a fairly short period of time," said Alan Gottlieb, chairman of the Washington-based Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep & Bear Arms. "To be honest, I don't understand why the federal government is buying so much at this time."
Maybe we can ask Cliven Bundy.
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