NEW YORK – The Department of Homeland Security under President Obama is demonstrating troubling signs the agency is shifting the balance of power away from local and state municipalities toward a centralized federal authority, charges a recently released book.
In “Impeachable Offenses: The Case to Remove Barack Obama from Office,” New York Times bestselling authors Aaron Klein and Brenda J. Elliott document the DHS has likely violated the Posse Comitatus Act.
The law expressly forbids direct participation by the military in a “search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity.”
The authors further cite evidence the DHS is building a de facto domestic military, with the purchase of military-grade equipment and the execution of military-style training exercises.
Perhaps the DHS is the realization of Obama’s call for a civilian national security force, warn Klein and Elliott.
In his July 2, 2008, “New Era of Service” address delivered at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, presidential candidate Obama said: “We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. … We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.”
Obama’s pre-address prepared remarks delivered to the news media did not include the passage.
DHS on steroids
“Impeachable Offenses” relates Obama revised President Bill Clinton’s 1992 Defense Department Directive 1404.10, Emergency-Essential (E-E) DoD U.S. Citizen Civilian Employees.
The prior directive was rescinded. The new directive issued Jan. 23, 2009, states that a Civilian Expeditionary Workforce “shall be organized, trained, cleared, equipped and ready to deploy in support of combat operations by the military; contingencies; emergency operations; humanitarian missions; disaster relief; restoration of order; drug interdiction; and stability operations.”
Klein and Elliott dedicate a sizable portion of a chapter to the Transportation Security Administration’s Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response program, or VIPR.
A 2007 act authorized the TSA to use any DHS asset for its VIPR teams, including federal air marshals, transportation security officers, surface transportation security inspectors, canine detection teams, explosives detection specialists, behavior detection officers and federal, state and local law enforcement officers. As an extension of the TSA, VIPR teams may be found screening passengers, looking for suspicious behavior and acting as a “visible deterrent for potential terrorist acts.
While VIPR began under President Bush, the drills were expanded exponentially, and possibly illegally, under Obama, “Impeachable Offenses” charges.
How many VIPR teams are there? No one knows for sure. An August 2012 report claims there were 37 VIPR teams. This is up from the 15 existing plus 12 anticipated new teams reported eight months earlier.
By September 2008, the VIPR operations were becoming more grandiose. The Amtrak Office of Security Strategy and Special Operations, Amtrak Police, TSA personnel and officers from approximately 100 commuter rail, state and local police agencies “mobilized” for the “largest joint, simultaneous Northeast rail security operation of its kind, involving 150 railway stations between Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Essex Junction, Vermont.”
The multi-force security “surge” returned in September 2009 for Operation ALERTS – Allied Law Enforcement for Rail and Transit Security – to repeat the operation.
Amtrak Police Chief John O’Connor announced that the operation – with “hundreds” of law enforcement officers across 13 states and Washington, D.C., monitoring an estimated 700,000 travelers – was the “longest wall of security ever mobilized along the East Coast.”
Amazingly, black helicopters – often attributed only to conspiracy theorists’ imaginations – were involved with VIPR team operations the following month. A pair of black helicopters was noted flying low over the perimeter at Yeager Airport in Charleston, W.V., as part of a two-day VIPR operation.
Also reported was “an abundance” of uniformed and plainclothes TSA officers going through the terminal and inspecting delivery trucks.
The purpose of the operation? So the TSA could “spot check security procedures and increase safety.”
Write Klein and Elliott: “Did the black helicopters only fly over the airport perimeter? Of course not! They reportedly made “wide loops over the city, moving slowly over several neighborhoods.”
Also, according to Yeager Airport Director Rick Atkinson, VIPR teams visited every airport at least once a year, with a VIPR team at “an airport or two somewhere in the country every day.”
Violation of law?
In the largest VIPR extravaganza to date, in mid-June 2010 the TSA pulled out all the stops with an operation that incorporated terrain in three states – Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia.
More than 300 law enforcement and military personnel representing 83 agencies swept through a 100-mile stretch of the Ohio Valley with the alleged goal of familiarizing themselves with the area’s industrial infrastructure and learn how other agencies responded to emergencies.
It is difficult to see how much real information participants gleaned from the “brief visual inspections of power and chemical plants, rail and riverboat terminals, lock and dam complexes and natural gas pipelines,” note Klein and Elliott.
The inclusion of military personnel in this surveillance activity seems to be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act, which expressly forbids direct participation by the military in a “search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity.”
An extraordinary number of agencies and a variety of equipment were called into play, the authors write.
VIPR teams “used helicopters, emergency vehicles, reconnaissance aircraft, Coast Guard patrol boats and watercraft from the Divisions of Natural Resources in West Virginia and Ohio.”
Michael Cleveland, federal security director for TSA operations in West Virginia, boasted it was his “biggest VIPR ever.” People and resources had been pulled from both Ohio and West Virginia, with federal air marshals borrowed from Pittsburgh.
The TSA outdid itself a year later, in June 2011, when it created the “largest of its nature in the country.” The all-day field exercise encompassed 5,000 square miles along the Ohio River Transportation Corridor that covered parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, including air, water and ground resources.
The widespread VIPR operation included Coast Guard boats on the river, Ohio Air National Guard Black Hawk helicopters with multi-jurisdictional teams onboard and the West Virginia Air National Guard and other aircraft in the air. Law enforcement vehicles were “visible at various ‘targets’ (industrial plants, pipelines, surface or road assets) and other general infrastructure, including the Willow Island Locks and Dam,” and Ohio highway patrolmen on the ground.
In October 2011, the TSA literally took its operation on the road with its “first ever instance where simultaneous statewide VIPR operations” were held in seven locations. In partnership with the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security and “several other federal and state agencies” – allegedly for a “safety enforcement and awareness operation” – the TSA set up checkpoints at five weigh stations on Tennessee’s interstates and at regional bus terminals in Nashville and Knoxville.
Federal and state agents inspected trucks and other vehicles to “identify security threat.”
Book makes impeachment case
Klein and Elliott bill their book as a well-documented indictment based on major alleged violations.
Among the alleged offenses enumerated in the book:
- Obamacare not only is unconstitutional but illegally bypasses Congress, infringes on states’ rights and marking an unprecedented and unauthorized expansion of IRS power.
- Sidestepping Congress, Obama already has granted largely unreported de facto amnesty to millions of illegal aliens using illicit interagency directives and executive orders.
- The Obama administration recklessly endangered the public by releasing from prison criminal illegal aliens at a rate far beyond what is publicly known.
- The president’s personal role in the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack, with new evidence regarding what was transpiring at the U.S. mission prior to the assault – arguably impeachable activities in and of themselves.
- Illicit edicts on gun control in addition to the deadly “Fast and Furious” gun-running operation intended, the book shows, to collect fraudulent gun data.
- From “fusion centers” to data mining to drones to alarming Department of Homeland Security power grabs, how U.S. citizens are fast arriving at the stage of living under a virtual surveillance regime.
- New evidence of rank corruption, cronyism and impeachable offenses related to Obama’s first-term “green” funding adventures.
- The illegality of leading a U.S.-NATO military campaign without congressional approval.
- Obama has weakened America both domestically and abroad by emboldening enemies, tacitly supporting a Muslim Brotherhood revolution, spurning allies and minimizing the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.
This is Klein and Elliott’s fourth book investigating the Obama administration. Their other titles include “Fool Me Twice,” “Red Army” and “The Manchurian President.”