I always said the War on Drugs was about buying off police departments. Some snips from Paul Craig Roberts about SWAT teams:
Today 17,000 local police forces are equipped with such military equipment as Blackhawk helicopters, machine guns, grenade launchers, battering rams, explosives, chemical sprays, body armor, night vision, rappelling gear, and armored vehicles. Some have tanks. In 1999, the New York Times reported that a retired police chief in New Haven, Conn., told the newspaper, "I was offered tanks, bazookas, anything I wanted." Balko reports that in 1997, for example, police departments received 1.2 million pieces of military equipment.And our heavily funded and armed SWAT teams are mainly serving drug warrants. A circular nightmare of corruption and death. Kind of reminds me of another war based on a lie, that is killing civilians needlessly and making a select group very rich...
With local police forces now armed beyond the standard of U.S. heavy infantry, police forces have been retrained "to vaporize, not Mirandize," to use a phrase from Reagan administration Defense official Lawrence Korb. This leaves the public at the mercy of brutal actions based on bad police information from paid informers.
Much of the police's drug information comes from professional informers known as "snitches" who tip off police for cash rewards, dropped charges, and reduced sentences, names and addresses are often pulled out of a hat. Balko provides details for 135 tragic cases of mistaken addresses.
In 1995 the Boston Globe profiled people who lived entirely off the fees that they were paid as police informants. Snitches create suspects by selling a small amount of marijuana to a person whom they then report to the police as being in possession of drugs [accounting for 87% of all drug raids]. Many police informers are themselves drug dealers who avoid arrest and knock off competitors by serving as police snitches.
As long as the war on drugs persists and as long as it produces financial rewards to police departments, local police forces, saturated with military weapons and war imagery, will continue to terrorize American citizens.
~Cross-posted at Ice Station Tango~