The War on Terrorism changed many things within the United States. One area was in local law enforcement being more involved in anti-terrorist activities. The precursor was the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, which created more collaboration between federal, state, and local law enforcement. One case study is in Louisiana, where local law enforcement clamored to have anti-terrorism training for local law enforcement. All this points to the increased domestic militarization that happened in the post 9/11 era.
The Homeland Security Strategy Act of 2001.
This act was introduced in the House of Representatives on March 29, 2001. More than 5 months before 9/11. It started at H.R. 1158.IH, then H.R. 1292 IH, as of October 2 2001 it was S. Res. 165 IS. The purpose of the bill was to “require the President to develop and implement a strategy for homeland security.”(1)(2)(3)
It was referred to the Committee on Armed Services, Committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Judiciary, Intelligence (Permanent Select).
“The United States needs to enhance activities to improve homeland security for its citizens and territory in providing protection from the threat of terrorist or strategic attacks, including cyber attacks and attacks involving the use of chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear weapons.” (emphasis own)
There are two key aspects of homeland security listed by the bill. They are anti-terrorism activities, and consequence management. The bill is introduced because there is no official plan for “homeland security crisis and consequence management.”
The United States government admits it has no adequate “strategic sense of the unconventional threats to the United States.” Furthermore “Due to the significant conventional military superiority of the United States, future adversaries are unlikely to risk a direct head-to-head military confrontation with the United States, but rather are likely to seek to exploit weaknesses in the domestic preparedness and counter-terrorism preparedness of the United States.”
The new homeland security strategy they looked for called for prevention, protection, and response to an attack.
On the role of the Defense Department the bill states: “the Department of Defense has assets that could be used to provide and enhance homeland security, but those assets should only be used for that purpose in appropriate circumstances.”
It requires identification of federal agencies and other organizations that would play a role in homeland security. It also called for “selective use of personnel and assets of the Armed forces” where personnel could be used for homeland security purposes “without infringing on the civil liberties of the people of the United States.”
It furthermore states “Optimization of the use of intelligence assets and capabilities, including improvement of the processes by which intelligence information is provided to State and local governments.” Yes that is right, homeland security went into information and intelligence sharing was increased between federal, state, and local law enforcement.
It also authorized the president to designate a single official to be responsible for homeland security in the federal government and to report to the president on it. This was the precursor to the Office of Homeland Security, then the Department of Homeland Security.
It gives the definition of homeland security: “ the protection of the territory, critical infrastructures, and citizens of the United States by Federal, State, and local government entities from the threat or use of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, cyber, or conventional weapons by military or other means.”
The bill had an “Unfavorable Executive Comment Received from DOD” on August 10, 2001, and no further action on this bill was done. After 9/11 it was renewed as S.RES.165.IS, “Establishing a Select Committee on Homeland Security and Terrorism,” on October 2, 2001.
Proposed Expansion of the USA PATRIOT Act for more Local Law Enforcement Involvement
Another bill introduced after 9/11 would have extended the powers of the USA Patriot Act of 2001 to give state and local governments access to the same foreign intelligence information as federal law enforcement agencies. It would also give state and local law enforcement access to confidential financial and educational records from federal agencies, visa information from the State Department, and other information not allowed before. The bill never passed but the USA PATRIOT Act did increase cooperation between federal agencies, and local law enforcement got in on the new anti-terrorism paradigm.
The bill in question, also cited as “Federal-Local Information Sharing Partnership Act of 2001,” would have provided “for the sharing of certain foreign intelligence information with local law enforcement personnel, and for other purposes.”
One section of the bill states this: It adds this section after “national security official” in Rule 6(e)(3)(C) in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure it amends with “or to law enforcement personnel of a State or political subdivision of a State (including the chief executive officer of that State or political subdivision who has the authority to appoint or direct the chief law enforcement officer of that State or political subdivision).”(4) The ACLU had criticisms of this proposed bill because of past abuses against those practicing First Amendment activities. (5) Local law enforcement get more involved with national security, or more accurately involved with the national security state.
Louisiana Sheriff and Domestic Security Training
An article in The Advocate of Baton Rouge, Louisiana tells of “Ascension Sheriff Envisions Domestic Security Training.
It talks of nearby Fort Polk, home of the Joint Readiness Training center, where military conducts most of its anti-terrorism training. Also in the area is Louisiana State University (LSU), where law enforcement from many foreign countries receive counter-terrorism training. Yet there was no training facility for “domestic” police to learn to handle terrorist threats. Ascension Parish Sheriff Jeff Wiley wanted to change that, proposing 85 Acres owned by sheriff’s office to be used for this purpose.
Sheriff Wiley stated “Fort Polk is the state-of-the-art anti-terrorism training facility for the military on the planet. We train Third World countries at the Antiterrorism Assistance Program (ATAP) at LSU. We want a facility to train domestic police for homeland security…We would hire world-class instructors, such as retired Green Berets, Delta Force, Navy Seals.”
Wiley wanted to use ATAP as a model to train Americans the same way they train foreign law enforcement. While already the Sheriffs office has a regional training facility for federal, state and local law enforcement on general police tactics, they want to expand training for homeland security.
Along with ATAP, sponsored by the State Department, LSU has the Academy of Counter Terrorism Education which “prepares emergency responders on how to deal with bioterrorism and other weapons of mass destruction.” Yet Wiley wants to train police in hostage rescue, sophisticated weapons, use of pyrotechnics, and dynamic building entry, among other skills.
Wiley received support from U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-New Orleans. Landrieu stated that 70 percent of the research and development dollars for the U.S. Defense Department comes under the jurisdiction of the Emerging Threats and Capabilities subcommittee, which she chairs. She said she doesn’t apologize for bringing more than Louisiana’s fair share to its colleges and universities, saying “jobs follow research money,” emphasizing also the example of North Carolina’s research triangle. Landrieu shows the bipartisan support for more military money by pointing out that Republican Rep. David Vitter of Metairie is also working to get this funding to their state.
Even before 9/11 there were plans to increase local law enforcement in homeland security activities. These were done after 9/11, with plans to do more. In one example in Louisiana one sheriff implemented plans to train local law enforcement in counterterrorism. Many more around the country likely followed. These are signs of the increased domestic militarization that happened in the War on Terror era, which have and will stay around for long to come.
6. McMillan, John. “Ascension Sheriff Envisions Domestic Security Training.” The Advocate Online (Baton Rouge, LA). January 9, 2002. http://www.theadvocate.com/news/story.asp?StoryID-2701 (accessed January 13, 2002)