Dear Mainstream Media,
Back in 2008, candidate Barack Obama went off his teleprompter and added a couple of sentences to the text of a speech about expanding the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. Over rolling applause, the soon-to-be president of the United States said: "We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."
At the time, Joseph Farah of WND.com wrote a column calling on you to help shine a light on what this shocking statement really meant. In a permanent state of vapors over Obama's candidacy, you were of no use when it came to extracting anything but press releases from Team Obama.
Nearly five years later, it hardly matters that candidate Obama's promise to double the Peace Corps and the rest has come to naught. But the president's unscripted determination to empower a civilian national security force is a different story. As far as you're concerned, though, it's also a nonstory.
This complacency or complicity has to stop. During the last 10 months, the Department of Homeland Security has purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, including millions of hollow-point bullets. The department also has purchased 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles, and it has overseen the retrofitting of more than 2,000 light tanks, which, of course, were originally designed to resist the mines and ambushes of the battlefield. Why does DHS need such offensive and defensive firepower?
Remember, DHS stands for Department of Homeland Security, and "homeland," just to be extremely clear, means the USA. Obama must be asked against which domestic enemy he is arming nonmilitary forces. It sounds incredible, to be sure, but are we watching administration battle plans take shape against American citizens on the streets of Your Town, USA?
That's where you in the mainstream media come in. This story has been burning up the "alternative press" of our Internet age -- Drudge Report, Infowars.com, WND.com -- for months, even years. As noted by Natural News, another "alternative" source, it's only this week that the story is finally showing up in the mainstream media. Leapfrogging off a very thin Associated Press story of Feb. 15, Forbes.com contributor Ralph Benko made quite a splash (664,581 views) this week with a more substantive piece acknowledging these same menacing stockpiles and calling for a "national conversation."
We the People seem ready for such a conversation -- just think of all those story views. (By contrast, the next most popular Forbes.com story garnered 87,384 views.) You, the media, need to make sure the administration doesn't get away with stonewalling.
That's what we get now, if we get anything. Government spokesmen, when they're not trying to make 1.6 billion bullets sound like a frugal, Costco-style bulk purchase, will tell you it's all about target practice. Really? I hear that U.S. Army newbies soon to deploy to Afghanistan are training with blank cartridges. Why the priority for arming domestic forces, not military ones?
Even the liberal-minded "debunking" site Snopes.com confirms that the Social Security Administration has procured 174,000 hollow-point bullets for 300 special agents. Meanwhile, the National Marine Fisheries Service, which is tasked with "protecting fish stocks from depletion," has procured 46,000 hollow-point bullets. Spokesman Scott Smullen explained, straight-faced, I am guessing, that 63 fisheries service "enforcement agents" will be using the so-called cop-killer bullets for "target qualifications."
And that's nothing. Last month, Paul Joseph Watson of Infowars.com reported that DHS purchased 21.6 million more rounds of ammunition, including 10 million hollow-point bullets. The latter, of course, are prohibited by the rules of war.
Commentators who have done the math tell us the feds' ammo dump includes enough bullets to fight the war in Iraq for 27 years, or enough bullets to shoot every American citizen five times over.
Ridiculous? Conspiracy theory? Sorry to pop that bubble of well-being, but we have only blind faith to convince us that any of this is ridiculous, even that any of this is a conspiracy. The evidence, so far, is in the ammo. The whoppers and the stonewalling come from the government. You, the mainstream media, can restore balance with attention and exposure.
You might start with Watson's coverage last month for Infowars.com of Law Enforcement Targets Inc. (LET), a Minnesota-based manufacturer that has received $2 million in unspecified contracts from DHS in the last three years. Recently, Watson writes, the company began selling cardboard cutout targets designed to "desensitize police" to "nontraditional threat targets," as the online catalog called them. These targets included very pregnant women, children and other civilians in home, playground or other neighborhood settings. All hold guns. Public outrage over Watson's online reports was such that LET apologized on Facebook for the company's "No More Hesitation products" and removed them from its website.
In its apology, LET insisted these heinous civilian targets weren't the company's idea. "This product line was originally requested and designed by the law enforcement community ..."
I asked a friend with a long career in state and local law enforcement if he'd ever seen the like. He replied: "No. Hell, no. The targets I was trained to fire upon depicted people who really looked like armed criminals. No pregnant women. No kids. No old people. ... I could have shot three armed men during my career and been justified. Right or wrong, I didn't shoot them. These no-hesitation targets are disgusting."
What branch of law enforcement requested and designed them? DHS? Fisheries? Social Security? Who exactly is planning for the kind of action that requires all those bullets? Is the government, as some suggest, depleting ammunition stocks as a means of gun control? Then why light tanks, too? We don't know the answers to any of these questions.
That's where you come in. Start asking around. It's been awhile, I know, but you could actually do some good for a change. Maybe even boost your circulation.
Diana West is the author of "The Death of the Grown-up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization," and blogs at dianawest.net. She can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.