Radley Balko: No, no, to be honest again. I disagree with Tea Partiers on immigration, and some of them tend to be pretty hawkish on foreign policy. But again, no, on this issue, I've gotten nothing but support from Tea Party groups and prominent people who support, who are sort of aligned with the Tea Party. Now I will say that politicians who are aligned with the Tea Party, somebody like Jim DeMint or Tom Coburn, or some of these elected officials, they disagree with me I'm sure. And I think Rand Paul probably agrees with me on these issues, but he's not going to, I mean it's not an issue he's going to make a big fuss about. These aren't their priorities.
But politicians of all stripes have been terrible on this stuff. I mean no politician wants to look like he's anti-police, so both parties have been terrible about this. I make the point in the book that, as bad as Reagan was, and he was pretty bad, on the drug war, and on this, just policing issues, he was regularly being criticized by Democrats in Congress for not being tough enough. And not going far enough.
In fact one of the loudest critics in that ring was Charlie Rangel, who you would think would kind of be more sensitive to how these issues would affect communities of color. But throughout the 1980's he was regularly on Reagan's case for not going far enough.
Rob Kall: So I gotta call the show for the radio version, but I'd love to have you on for a bit longer for the podcast. Think you could stick around?
Radley Balko: Yeah, I could do fifteen or twenty minutes more.
Rob Kall: all right, great, great. So this is Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show WNJC1360 AM, you've been listening to me interviewing Radley Balko, the author of Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of Americans Police Forces. He's got endorsements from the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union and Ron Paul and Glenn Greenwald . It's an amazing mix of this. So we're going to continue now with the interview and it's going to go on the podcast, and you can listen to it either on iTunes, look for my name Rob Kall, K A L L or go to Opednews.com/podcasts and you'll find it there.
So, I want to hear a little bit more about this political aspect of this, because we started earlier in the interview saying that the real problem is the politicians and what I'm hearing you just say, is that this is a bi-partisan failure on the part of the politicians. Now I write a lot about duopoly, about how they're all corporate, but this isn't even about corporate, or is it? There are people who refer to the prison-police-industrial-medical complex, and they throw them all together now. Could you talk a little more about that?
Radley Balko: Yeah. I think that police, I'd used the word police-industrial complex, and I think it's a relatively recent phenomenon. But I think it's definitely something to worry about. It's this idea that since these DHS grants started coming in, to police departments across the country, and I think they've given away, DHS has given away about thirty five billion dollars since 2001, and you know this is going on again, these departments are using it to buy armored personnel carriers, and M16's and bayonets, and helicopters and all this kind of stuff.
Up until the September eleventh attacks, the Pentagon was giving away all this military equipment as well, but it was surplus equipment. It was equipment that had already been built depending on what the Pentagon was using. The DHS grants created a market for new equipment. So now you have companies springing up to build this equipment so police departments can buy it with DHS grants. So now you have companies, that their bottom line rests on these grants continuing to flow to police agencies. So they have an interest now in setting up lobbying shops in DC to make sure these programs continue and expand and that their bottom line continues to grow.
So I think we have entered the age of the industrial-police complex, and it is going to make it that much difficult to walk any of this back, because now you're going to have all this money lobbying Washington to make sure it continues.
Of course that money itself originally came from tax payers, is the really perverse part. But getting back to the politics a little bit, now there is this interesting phenomenon that's gone on where, and I argued this in the book, because I think that one reason why these police tactics have gotten to the point where they are, and militarization has been allowed to flourish is because, on either side of the political spectrum there has been outrage when these tactics are used against people who are vaguely kind of considered on our side, right? And somewhere between indifference and glee when you see these tactics being used on people, you know, we disagree with. So in the 1990s it was largely the right, the conservative right, that was up in arms about police militarization. They were upset about Ruby Ridge and Waco and the Eli-n Gonzales Raid and more, and I don't think any conservatives would say they identify with David Koresh or the Weawers, and the ATF were conducting a lot of raids in the 1990s on people suspected of gun crimes, and they were just like the BDA raids at the time. They were brutal, they were breaking into people's houses' in the middle of the night, often on pretty scant evidence. And so the right was outraged about this, then Bush gets elected, and the outrage sort of dies down, and, I should add in the 1990's the left were sort of quiet on this, well quiet too, somewhere between quiet, and lethal. You saw a lot of pooh-pooing of the right's criticism and to be fair some of the, Gordon Liddy with a famous radio show where they talked about, encouraged the listeners to take headshots at ATF agents, because they had, they were always wearing protective gear on their chests. Obviously...
Rob Kall: Who was that? Who said that?
Radley Balko: G. Gordon Liddy.
Rob Kall: G. Gordon Liddy, ok.
Radley Balko: Which is particularly ironic because G. Gordon Liddy was the one who orchestrated the narcotics raids in the 1970's when he was working with Nixon. But it was the left who sort of, the right went overboard a few times, but also they had a legitimate point, I mean these were brutal tactics. I mean the ATF was out of control, the left was sort of downplaying this idea, and in some cases openly mocking conservatives who were upset.
And then you get to, you know, the Bush administration takes over, and now we're doing, he steps up the raid on the medical marijuana clinics, he starts using SWAT teams from border patrol, and later from ICE to raid places where there is suspected illegal immigrants. Now the left is starting to become concerned about these tactics, and the right is sort of turning the other way.