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What’s the beef? USDA goes shopping for submachine guns

Robert Bridge has worked as a journalist in Russia since 1998. Formerly the editor-in-chief of The Moscow News, Bridge is the author of the book, “Midnight in the American Empire.”

Published time: May 16, 2014 13:53
AFP Photo / Ethan Miller

What does the National Weather Service, Social Security Administration and now, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), all have in common? These government agencies are all hoarding weapons and ammunition for no good reason.

In August 2012, it wasn’t just conspiracy theorists who sounded the alarm after it was revealed that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was in the process of buying 750 million rounds of ammo. That mindboggling order came on the heels of another 450 million rounds of hollow point bullets it already bought earlier that year. The ostensible reason: target practice.

That’s 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition for an agency, created in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, that is supposed to “respond to domestic emergencies.” But what would such a “domestic emergency” look like that requires the firepower to fight the equivalent of about a dozen Iraqi wars, with ammunition that is banned by the Geneva Convention?

Even Forbes magazine, the fountainhead of elitist conservative thinking and probably not a few NRA subscribers, raised its stony eyebrows at the smoking gun.

If some of us may be getting just a bit paranoid, DHS certainly isn’t making it easy to resist that temptation,” wrangled Larry Bell, a commentator who usually spews hot air on the ‘global warming hoax’. “Then, to cap it off, we find out that DHS, through the US Army Forces Command, recently purchased and retrofitted 2,717 Mine-Resistant Armored Protection (MRAP) vehicles formerly used for counterinsurgency in Iraq.

Um… is the Second Amendment making anybody feeling safer yet? (That snarky aside was certainly not to suggest we do away with an amendment designed specifically to guard against the threat of tyrannical government, but rather to point out that it has become, for all intents and purposes, largely irrelevant and toothless in our hyperactive age of hyper power and hyper weapons).

But the story just gets weirder and creepier. Not only are the good folks at DHS bullet hoarding for some sort of domestic apocalypse, or the biggest turkey shoot since the Pilgrims docked at Plymouth, but so is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (16,000 rounds of .40 Smith & Wesson hollow point bullets), as well as the Social Security Administration (174,000 rounds of hollow point bullets that were delivered to 41 locations across the country).

Reuters / Jim Young

And let’s not forget to arm to the teeth the United States Department of Agriculture while we’re about it. Yes, apparently American cattle are just getting so damn big and aggressive on those hormonal steroid additives that USDA employees can’t roam the prairies without some massive firepower. Or perhaps the beef bureaucrats are arming themselves to the teeth against the big, bad wolf?

Whatever the case may be, a solicitation posted on the Fed Biz website states: “The US Department of Agriculture, Office of Inspector General, located in Washington, DC, pursuant to the authority of FAR Part 13, has a requirement for the commerical (sic) acquisition of submachine guns, .40 Cal. S&W, ambidextrous safety, semi-automatic or 2 shot burts (sic) trigger group, Tritium night sights for front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore grip) and scope (top rear), stock-collapsilbe (sic) or folding, magazine – 30 rd. capacity, sling, light weight, and oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.

Even for the non-gun-enthusiast, that sounds like some heavy-duty stuff, and certainly much more than should be required by USDA employees.

Perhaps it’s nothing more than coincidence that just last month a feisty Nevada rancher named Cliven Bundy, together with a horse-riding posse of cowboys, squared off against the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) over a little parcel of government property that Bundy claimed as his own and miraculously emerged victorious.
Bundy had stopped paying state taxes for grazing his cattle on federal land and officials said he had ignored court orders.

While US forests are part of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), most other types of federally-owned land are under the US Department of the Interior (DOI). The department has regulated private ranchers grazing their herds on these lands since Congress passed the Taylor Grazing Act of 1934.
DOI’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which was created in 1946 administers 245 million acres of public land nationwide.

So the BLM, the latest acronymous government agency to spook the bejesus out of freedom-loving Americans, showed up with a team of armed rangers just outside Las Vegas to seize some 1,000 head of cattle. However, despite fears of another Waco catastrophe, the BLM beat a retreat “in the interests of public safety.”

"Based on information about conditions on the ground and in consultation with law enforcement, we have made a decision because of our serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public," the bureau's director, Neil Kornze, said in a statement.

 Reuters / Gary Cameron

Most ranchers would probably respond to the news, saying: Bulls**t. The Bundy clan may have won the first battle, but you can bet your sweet Smith & Wesson that the war ain’t over. Not by a long shot.

Judging by the timing of the USDA’s request for submachine guns (submachine guns!), just one month after the Bundy embarrassment, it seems that the USDA, which oversees America’s vast tracks of forested land, may be preparing itself in the event some cowboys want their heads of cattle to munch government-owned grass.

In an interview prior the BLM’s announcement, Bundy said he was impressed by the level of support he had received.

"I'm excited that we are really fighting for our freedom. We've been losing it for a long time," he said.

Ironically, however, thanks in part to Bundy’s victory, and yet another US government agency arming itself to the teeth for unstated purposes, it looks like American freedom is more at risk than ever.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.