The Bonus Army

I have a 126 mile a day (round-trip) commute to work and back. There are only so many radio or Pod casts you can listen to. So some days I listen to the noise of the car. So as my mind wandered I got to thinking about “what if’s”.  “What if’s” kind of fall along the lines of the “good idea fairy” One can “what if” for ever and still never cover all the scenarios or ever get anything done. But when one is stuck in a vehicle for 10 hours a week one has plenty of time to think.

So, as I was “what if-ing”, I was thinking about the latest large purchases that DHS has made lately. MRAP’s and a billion plus rounds of ammunition. My “what if” scenario was kind of along the lines of why does DHS need these things, what does the government know that I don’t, what are they expecting and what would cause the use of this hardware. That brought me back to my history readings. The Bonus Army. Well I’ll let you read about it yourself.

bonus 1

But based on our history, and what DHS has sitting in storage yards around the country one has to stop and think for a moment. A few army officers who later went on to become some of the greatest generals we ever had where involved in this “action” not only against our own citizens but veterans. After The Bonus Army incident, a small law was enacted called the Posse Comitatus Act  This Act stopped the use of America’s Armed Forces to be used in a civilian riot or police action. What does a government do when it knows that it cannot call up the active duty forces to help quell a civil disturbance? You create a large paramilitary force that is deputized to do what your Army cannot with all the capabilities of a active force. At what point under the guise of keeping civil authority intact would the hounds be unleashed? Would these officers turn their weaponry on their fellow countrymen? History has already answered this question.

bonus 2

I hate to use Katrina as an example, but in our life time that one event was a window into what a breakdown of civil authority looks like in this country during modern times. The LA Riots paled in comparison.

I have a friend that was working as a private security contractor in downtown New Orleans guarding a large hotel. Across the street from the hotel is the AT&T central office for all of Louisiana and a major portion of the south. It handles a very large portion of the telecom traffic and a high value target. “Johnny” as I’ll call him recounted that as he was out in front of the hotel late one night a 3 letter government agency police patrol came down the street and asked Johnny if things has been quiet, yes John replied, how about you? Yes the agent replied. After talking for a few more minutes, the agent told John that if any looters came along and a firefight ensued, it was OK for John to leave the bodies next to the curb until they could be picked up in a few days. He offered a phone number for John to call in the event he needed a body retrieval.

John told it as a funny story, but there is also the reality of the story that is just part of of our new normal.


Don’t worry, I have plenty more what if’s in my head to share later. Hope it isn’t to tin hat for you.

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