Want to make money on the drug war? Start a company that builds military equipment, then sell that gear to local police departments. Thanks to the generation-long trend toward more militarized police forces, there’s now massive and growing market for private companies to outfit your neighborhood cops with gear that’s more appropriate for a battlefield.
Some of this is decades-old news. For over 25 years, the Pentagon has been supplying surplus military equipment to police agencies across the country, largely in the name of fighting the drug war.
It was in 1987 that Washington really formalized the practice, with a law instructing the Secretary of Defense and the U.S. Attorney General to notify local law enforcement agencies each year about what surplus gear was available. The law established an office in the Pentagon specifically to facilitate such transfers, and Congress even set up an 800 number that sheriffs and police chiefs could call to inquire about the stuff they could get.
Ten years later, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Security Act of 1997, a portion of which created what is now known as the 1033 Program. In that bill, Congress created the Law Enforcement Support Program, an agency headquartered in Ft. Belvoir, Virginia whose sole task is to make it easier for Pentagon supplies to find their way to local police stations.
The increasing role of the National Guard in the drug war also benefits military contractors. The National Guard straddles the gap between a police force and a military force. Over the years, Congress, state legislatures, and state governors have increasingly asked the Guard to take on the role of a domestic anti-drug agency, but to approach the job as the military might. (an open violation of The Posse comitatus Act)
The next major wave of militarization came after the creation of the Department of Homeland Security after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. In the decade since, DHS has handed out billions in homeland security grants with a program far larger and better funded than even the Pentagon giveaway.
But most the most troubling thing about the DHS grant program is that it has given birth to the police-industrial complex. As the CIR reported in 2011, military contractors now market directly to police agencies with messages that encourage the mindset that the military and the police are fighting the same battle
Original Article: Huffington Post