I don’t want this blog to turn into Dave’s Happy Fun Time Tinfoil Hat Emporium and Juice Bar. I really don’t. But every time I sit down to write about something benign like videogames or porn or videogame porn, something happens out in the real world that I feel I just can’t not write about. It’s infuriating.
Let’s get one thing straight: I am not a conspiracy theorist. I don’t believe that the moon landing was faked, or that ancient alien astronauts helped us build the pyramids and bestowed upon us the secrets of hair gel. At the same time, shit keeps happening and I keep staring at it and going, “what?”
For instance, not one but two people brought it to my attention yesterday that the Department of Homeland Security just bought 2,700 light armored personnel carriers, capable of carrying up to 10 “operators” and featuring windows with gunports and fitted with bullet-resistant glass that can stop a .50-caliber round. On top of that, these giant APCs are actually retrofitted MRAPs, or Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles – the kinds of light personnel carriers used in war-torn areas where land mines and improvised explosive devices are common, like Afghanistan and Iraq. Only now they’re on US streets instead.
This isn’t even a secret, either. In fact, Homeland Security is damn proud of these beasts, as demonstrated by a YouTube video going over the features of these MRAPs. Take a look:
Now keep in mind that these are DHS-owned and operated vehicles. This means they are expressly designed to be used on American soil for “delivering teams to high-risk warrant services,” as the gentleman in the video says – in other words, the apprehension of suspected terrorists operating in the U.S., which is great except for the whole fuzzy definition as far as what can actually get you considered a terrorist or a possible terrorist. There were a million people on the US Terror Watch List as of 2008, including Cat Stevens of all people, and who knows how many more have been added since then – especially since the whole 4th Amendment thing doesn’t seem to be too popular with the Supreme Court lately (I mentioned this yesterday at the bottom of my blog post).
So, combine this with the fact that these MRAPs hold about 10 people and the fact that there’s 2,717 of them that have been purchased by DHS, that’s 27,170 DHS personnel (what do we even call them? Agents? Officers? Troops?) that can be fielded now nationwide. On top of that, let’s not forget that there’s some 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition stockpiled by the Department of Homeland Security. To put that in perspective, at the height of the Iraq war, US armed forces were burning through maybe 5.5 million rounds of ammunition a month; 1.6 billion rounds is enough to sustain that level of use for 24 years straight.
DHS says this ammunition is needed for – well, they don’t come right out and say so, but the implication is that it’s for “training purposes.” This is all well and good – federal agents need to meet weapon accuracy qualifications before they’re allowed to go out into the field armed – but you can’t really tell me with a straight face that the DHS needs 24 years’ worth of ammunition simply for training purposes.
Just what the hell are they up to? Are they preparing for some sort of civil unrest, what with their crates and crates of ammunition and a fleet of more than 2,700 land mine and IED-resistant armored personnel carriers? Is this really necessary to handle “terrorist threats” on American soil? This whole thing confuses me and makes me incredibly paranoid, which will probably have the end result of landing me on the Terror Watch List, complete with free black bag over my head and a permanent vacation to Cuba.
Hey, three hots and a cot and all the waterboarding I can stand – sounds great. I’ve always wanted to learn Arabic.