While Americans were celebrating the country’s Declaration of Independence from a British tyranny, the Department of Homeland Security was flooding public events and transportation centers with armed officers in riot gear as well as undercover agents.
Called Operation Independence, the two-day “full scale terrorism drill,” as KTTV described it, had Americans across the country submitting to random bag searches and being watched as they used public transportation.
Many of the specifics about the exercise were kept secret, but it involved the DHS, the TSA and local law enforcement agencies.
In Los Angeles, over 1,300 officers had the busy Union Station and other locations staked out. Union Station is the largest transportation hub in the area and offers access to major rail, light rail and bus lines. The station was busy with thousands of travelers over the holiday, made all the more so with random searches at key points throughout the building.
As always, the excuse was to make people “feel safe,” this time citing the Boston Marathon bombing. There was no specific credible threat, authorities admitted.
Sheriff’s spokeswoman Nicole Nishida said the exercise was “all about keeping L.A. safe.”
That’s the same excuse behind red light cameras, hidden microphones in restaurants, GPS tracking of cell phones, the NSA’s warrantless surveillance of nearly all Americans and countless other intrusive actions by government and big business every day.
You may have noticed a seeming increase in the number of stories about military-style tactics being used by police and the alarming number of published stories about police ignoring constitutional rights. Recent instances have included the stormtrooper-like arrest of a young woman by undercover Alcoholic Beverage Control agents for buying a case of bottled water and cookie dough they mistook for alcohol. In Tennessee, a 61-year-old man was killed by police who entered the wrong house with a search warrant. A few weeks later, police in another wrong-house raid killed a veteran’s dog.
This increasing militarization of law enforcement is all supposed to be “for our own good,” but at some point “safety” becomes little more than a cage.