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As a naval reserve corpsman, when I was still assigned to the Marine
Corps for combat training, we performed many “assault” drills designed to
hone our attack skills. We didn’t get into the urban assault drills much
because at the time the military’s emphasis was on conventional ground
warfare, not urban “peacekeeping” or “humanitarian” missions, which bothers
me.

Soldiers are not cops and vice versa. Or are they?

There is an “urban assault” mentality manifesting itself in local police
departments more and more often these days, and that just plain isn’t good
for the cause of freedom. After looking at this issue from all sides, there
doesn’t seem to be much difference to me between a small unit Marine urban
assault team and, say, the “special tactics” teams formed by numerous police
departments over the past decade.

The problem, though, is that there is a difference. Or at least
there is supposed to be. One is supposed to perform a military mission while
the other is supposed to be operating in a law enforcement capacity.

Increasingly local police departments use helicopters — often obtained
as military surplus — weapons, gear and tactics better suited for a combat
zone rather than a suburban neighborhood. And these police officers have
begun to develop an attitude towards the fulfillment of their mission that
is entirely anathema to the “serve and protect” mantra emblazoned on their
squad cars.

But because too many departments these days see boogey men and drug
runners behind every rock, law abiding American citizens are being
killed in
the middle of the night by cops who are nothing but two-bit storm troopers.
This has got to stop.

Like most conservatives, I’m all for law and order. And I’m all for
prosecuting the drug war — which ought to be done in Columbia, not here.
And I’m all for cops protecting themselves; they are one of our prime
defensive lines against anarchy in our streets.

But when law enforcement becomes a senseless killing machine because the
tactics they employ are all wrong for their kind of “mission,” I’m ready to
say, “enough is enough.” You cannot arbitrarily, as a police officer, kill
innocent civilians in this country simply because you “get off” on acting
like a commando when making an arrest. Most cops I know tell me that such
“high risk arrests” are rare and that often these “special tactics teams”
are overused to justify their existence.

In this latest case, the FBI has gotten involved. But considering the
FBI’s handling of Waco, I don’t have much faith in them, either. In
fact, the FBI’s “Hostage Rescue Team” is an oxymoron and is larger and more
militaristic than similar squads in many other law enforcement agencies.

No, this is something Congress and the president of the United States
need to handle. The right of Americans to be “secure in their persons,
papers and effects, ” even on presentation of a valid search warrant, is the
government’s responsibility to protect. Instead, Congress has given local
police departments the authority — mostly through federal anti-drug
legislation — to conduct these kinds of military “raids” with no oversight.

There should be legislation — which is “loophole-free” — that triggers
the automatic prosecution of police officers and their leaders who storm
into homes in the middle of the night and kill innocent people. Bad
intelligence or laziness is no cover for killing an innocent person. If you
or I did that, we’d be hauled up before a judge and — rightly — charged
with homicide. If Congress hasn’t got the cajones to pass this, then each
statehouse should.

If 20 members of a heavily armed drug gang are holed up in a building,
fine — storm the place and take ‘em out. But you don’t show up in a
suburban neighborhood in the middle of the night to arrest one person with
15 cop-commandos. If you even need that many officers, what’s wrong with
surrounding the place with 15 uniform cops and knocking on the front door?
Or, at a minimum, keeping a contingent of SWAT team members in the area in
case they’re needed?

For those times when it may be necessary to “raid” a house using SWAT
tactics, police officers and their leaders owe us the right to be “presumed
innocent until proven guilty.” They owe us the right to make sure they’ve
got their facts straight before they go busting into our homes and kill us
in the middle of the night. Finding out afterwards that we’ve done nothing
wrong won’t bring us — or our loved ones — back from the dead. Such
tactics teach our kids to fear — not respect — the police.

And God help us if we “dare” to try to defend ourselves from
such a felonious assault.

Newt’s groveling excuses

There are still those who claim that Newt Gingrich was the greatest
conservative leader in recent years, though the more he talks since he’s
left office, the less likely that claim seems genuine. Newt — excuse
thyself no more. I’m tired of hearing it.

A recent C-SPAN interview series caught our (former)
conservative “hero” talking about how he and Clinton used to commiserate
about each other’s ethics problems, about how Clinton — a “talented man” –
will have all the “good” his presidency could have done overshadowed by
scandal, and about how “nobody is a saint,” so Americans should stop prying
into the private lives of politicians.

Newt, you co-opted coward, you. You make me sick.

If you’re not being hypocritical for criticizing Clinton’s dalliances
while you conduct one of your own, you dare to suggest that Americans have
no right to know about the personal behavior of those we elect to
lead us? What happened to all your hype about how character is
supposed to count? What happened to all of your self-righteous proclamations
about morality in leadership?

There are those of us who have always believed in these
principles, Newt — even before you “proclaimed” them. And we still believe
in them, though you obviously don’t.

Good riddance to you, Mr. Gingrich. America needs brave conservative
traditionalists as leaders of this country, not mealy-mouthed vindictive
miscreants who seek to blame others for their own failures.

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