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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/18/14

One Nation Under Siege: "Counterinsurgency Cops" in Ferguson -- and on TV

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An 'aha moment'?

The Green Beret in question -- actually he's a former Green Beret, although this goes curiously unsaid -- is a charming and affable state trooper named Mike Cutone. We're told that, in Stahl's words,

"... after returning from Iraq (Cutone) had an 'aha moment' when he was talking to a gas station manager in Springfield ... The similarities to the Iraqi town he had lived in and defended were so striking, that he sat down and wrote out an action plan for Springfield ... He proposed his plan, a counterinsurgency program, to Springfield's deputy police chief, John Barbieri."

After being reassured that the plan wouldn't involve "helicopters" and "checkpoints," we're told that Barbieri gave the young former Green Beret the green light to proceed with his "counterinsurgency" program.

The long war at home.

Except that Mike Cutone didn't think of it all by himself. The American Civil Liberties Union has been studying the militarization of American police forces for years. So has author Radley Balko, whose book Rise of the Warrior Cop tracks this militarization process from Reagan's war on drugs, through Clinton's COPS programs, and into the present. Among other things, this process has given defense contractors billions in domestic sales they would not otherwise have enjoyed.

To hear 60 Minutes tell the story, the use of counterinsurgency tactics by US police forces began with an "aha moment" in Cutone's head. His program was initiated in 2009. But military scholars were writing about the topic as far back as January 2007, in papers with titles like "Using Counter Insurgency Tactics, Techniques and Procedures to Defeat Gangs in U.S. Cities." They were published while Cutone appears to still have been overseas.

The American people saw the "militarized" police force at work this week on the streets of Ferguson. Let's hope that the violence which followed becomes our nation's real "aha moment."

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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