A former Marine Corps Colonel who was stationed in Fallujah and trained Iraqi soldiers warns that the Obama administration is working with law enforcement to build a “domestic army,” because the federal government is afraid of its own citizens.
The comments by the Colonel Peter Martino were made during public testimony at a Concord City Council meeting on Tuesday. The meeting concerned a decision on whether to accept a $260,000 Homeland Security grant on behalf of the Central New Hampshire Special Operations Unit to purchase a BearCat armored vehicle.
The purchase of the vehicle has been surrounded by controversy after the city’s Police Chief wrote in an application filing to the DHS that the vehicle was needed to deal with the “threat” posed by libertarians, sovereign citizen adherents, and Occupy activists in the region.
Referencing signs in the crowd which read “More Mayberry, Less Fallujah,” the Colonel spoke of how he didn’t even have armored vehicles when he was stationed in Fallujah.
Martino’s role as a Ministry of Defense coordinator was to command, train and equip the Iraqi Army, noting that he helped do everything he could “to make it as strong as possible,” but that “Homeland Security would kick their butts in a week.”
Stressing that it was unlawful and unconstitutional to use US troops on American soil, the Colonel warned, “What’s happening here is we’re building a domestic military,” adding that police are now “wearing the exact same combat gear that we had in Iraq, only it was a different color.”
Martino warned that the DHS was following military tactics by, “pre-staging gear and equipment” in order to build a “domestic army” while shrinking the US military “because the government is afraid of its own citizens.”
The Colonel slammed the idea of law enforcement purchasing militarized vehicles for domestic security, noting, “The last time more than ten terrorists were in one place at the same time was September 11th and all these vehicles in the world wouldn’t have prevented it nor would it have helped anybody.”
“I don’t know where we’re going to use this many vehicles or this many troops,” he continued, “Concord is just one cog in the wheel – we’re building an army over here and I can’t believe that people aren’t seeing it – is everybody blind?”
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In his initial application to the DHS for the grant to purchase the armored vehicle, Police Chief John Duval wrote, “The State of New Hampshire’s experience with terrorism slants primarily towards the domestic type. We are fortunate that our State has not been victimized from a mass casualty event from an international terrorism strike however on the domestic front, the threat is real and here. Groups such as the Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire are active and present daily challenges.”
Duval’s characterization of activists from across the political spectrum as terrorists prompted outrage but he refused to apologize, merely clarifying that his application may not have been worded correctly. Following the removal of the terms Sovereign Citizens, Free Staters and Occupy New Hampshire from the application, the DHS made it clear that the grant would be approved.
As the Concord Monitor reports, Tuesday’s public testimony also included a warning from Irena Goddard, who grew up in Czechoslovakia.
“I do not want this deadly intimidation force of a military vehicle to suppress free speech, much like what was done with communist military tanks in Czechoslovakia,” she said.
Resident Jesse Mertz remarked that the militarization of law enforcement signaled that, “The military industrial complex has infiltrated every part of our society to the point where it’s now happening in our hometowns, and we’re seeing stuff occur that people said would never happen in our own country.”
The Concord Council delayed the decision to purchase the vehicle and the matter will be taken up once again at next month’s meeting.
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