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More on Militarization

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To add a bit to Scott’s post citing Randy Balko, see this Eli Lake article on the effort defense firms are making to break into the domestic police market:

Brad Antle, the president and CEO of Salient Federal Solutions and a former vice president of Lockheed Martin, said, “I think it’s logical to assume your adjacent markets for ISR capability, assuming the federal government won’t let you sell it overseas—and it’s pretty sensitive, so I can’t imagine you are going to get much of that approved for foreign sales—they are going to try to push it down to the state and local governments to see if there is a mission to support.”

Antle said he didn’t think the states and cities had the budget for much of the technology developed for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. “Maybe some limited cities and states; a city like New York might have some budget to support that, but I can’t see broadly how the customers are going to support customers in ISR.”

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, said he has seen this trend for a while of military technology developed for uses overseas finding their way to local law enforcement.

“In some ways this is the entire trend we’ve been seeing since 9/11. All kinds of capabilities that were developed with an eye to foreign countries are being turned inward upon the American people,” Stanley said. “We’ve seen this with everything from the NSA to spy satellites even to a lot of the technologies that are moving through what is called the green to blue pipeline, which is to say the military to the police.”

Gifts that keep on giving, and all that.  There’s not even anything particularly sinister or conspiratorial about this process.  Firms produce technology in response to military demands; military demand slackens as focus shifts; firms look to domestic customers, and begin to craft sales pitches that appeal to police departments increasingly thinking along military lines for (mostly) independent reasons.  I don’t have stats, but I suspect that military veterans are also carrying some know how and technological expectations into domestic police forces, which increases the demand for the technology.

Don’t know of any examples, but I wouldn’t be surprised if at some point we see invocations of state secrets privilege stemming from defendant counsel inquiries into the nature of military technology repurposed for police use.

 

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