Those food stamp fraudsters must really be upping their game. Breitbart’s alert AWR Hawkins reports today that USDA is soliciting bids for the “commercial acquisition of submachine guns [in] .40 Cal S&W”:
…the Dept. of Agriculture wants the guns to have an “ambidextrous safety, semiautomatic or 2 round [bursts] trigger group, Tritium night sights front and rear, rails for attachment of flashlight (front under fore group) and scope (top rear), stock collapsible or folding,” and a “30 rd. capacity” magazine.
They also want the submachine guns to have a “sling,” be “lightweight,” and have an “oversized trigger guard for gloved operation.”
Mercy. What, exactly, is USDA expecting to do with these arms? It’s the Office of the Inspector General (USDA OIG) that’s putting the order in. (The USDA Forest Service has an armed enforcement division as well, but the order is being placed by OIG.) Here’s the USDA OIG’s investigations and enforcement mission:
The types of investigations conducted by OIG Special Agents involve criminal activities such as frauds in subsidy, price support, benefits, and insurance programs; significant thefts of Government property or funds; bribery; extortion; smuggling; and assaults on employees. Investigations involving criminal activity that affects the health and safety of the public, such as meat packers who knowingly sell hazardous food products and individuals who tamper with food regulated by USDA, are also high-profile investigative priorities. In addition, OIG Special Agents are poised to provide emergency law enforcement response to USDA declared emergencies and suspected incidents of terrorism affecting USDA regulated industries, as well as USDA programs, operations, personnel, and installations, in coordination with Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies, as appropriate.
Form your own judgment. It doesn’t seem to me that Tritium night sights and 30-round magazines would be a big requirement for investigating fraud, bribery, or food-tampering.
For a flavor of the kind of things USDA OIG has actually investigated and been involved in over the last decade, see the handy list of cases in this FOIA package, posted at the excellent governmentattic.org website. Most of the cases involve EBT and SNAP fraud. Quite a few center on fraudulent representations by USDA loan and grant recipients. Cases of dog- and cock-fighting rings show up as well; maybe that’s what the state-of-the-art thunder sticks are for? Smaller caliber, 10- and 15-round sidearms just aren’t getting the job done?
On the other hand, there’s the question why the U.S. Department of Agriculture needs to have this kind of capability to go after dog-fighters or meat-packers. Besides the FBI, there are state and local law enforcement agencies to get support from, for raids on such criminals.
Then there’s the suggested prospect of “USDA declared emergencies and suspected incidents of terrorism affecting USDA regulated industries.” This maps back to “homeland security” and the Patriot Act. It’s not something the Obama administration has made up.
But the Obama administration has its own very special perspective on who’s a terrorist. The Obama administration also established, with a 2011 executive order, a strange entity called the White House Rural Council (WHRC), which comprises basically every cabinet-level department and quite a few agencies. The council is headed by the Department of Agriculture.
Blaze and numerous other websites have called out the Agenda 21 “sustainability” jargon in the WHRC’s charter. What should also be pointed out is the characteristic “executive coordination” model of the WHRC, which in the Obama administration functions too often to undermine congressional oversight of funding and priorities. This perspective is important, because of the absurdly comprehensive membership of the council.
Agriculture chairs the WHRC, but Defense, Treasury, Justice, Commerce – everybody, basically, except the State Department – is in it as a permanent member. Its focus is ostensibly “quality of life” and economic improvement for the “16% of Americans” who live in rural areas. Was that high on your list of urgent national crises at the time? Probably not. If you’d been asked in 2011 what we most needed a new White House council with a near-universal cabinet-level membership for, I doubt you’d have said, “Rural America, of course.”
In the Obama spirit of “executivism,” the WHRC has issued its own reports on how things are going, and in those reports has touted “financing from the Obama Administration,” along with listings of specific Obama programs, as the source of economic improvement for rural areas. Assuming the Obama patterns remain true, about 98% of what has been done in this regard is the result of previously scheduled federal programs. But the administration is clearly at pains to advertise, to targeted audiences, the supposed results of having the WHRC – and to create a narrow but positive buzz about it.
If you didn’t know about the WHRC, you’re probably with the overwhelming majority of Americans. We are fully justified in smelling something amiss when the White House quietly creates an unwieldy executive-branch council, whose membership appears wildly out of sync with its purported (and vague) mission; when it appoints the Department of Agriculture to chair that council; and when USDA’s most specialized enforcement division suddenly needs to order submachine guns with night sights and 30-round magazines.
It’s time for the nonsense about this stuff being business as usual to stop. There is no legitimate reason why these trends – the disproportionate armament of executive agencies, and the disproportionate vaunting of executive policy initiative over the prerogatives of Congress – should be accelerating at the same time. It is far more stupid to ignore the trends than it is to demand that they stop, and be investigated.
Dyer’s First Law of Smoking Guns is that you never find one until the gun has gone off. But the good news about public policy under a government of, by, and for the people is that it doesn’t need a smoking gun. Suspicion in the minds of a wise people is reason enough.