Grassroots Commentary

The Federales

William Stoecker · Jan. 28, 2016

The Constitution guarantees state sovereignty, and if the Founding Fathers had intended that the central government rule over us all, why did they call the thirteen original colonies and all later additions “states”? If they were not intended to be sovereign they would have been labeled “provinces.” A state is an independent (or, in our federal system, quasi-independent) nation. In the beginning there were no real federal police agencies like the Nazi Gestapo or the Soviet KGB, and few federal laws. But as the central government has become more powerful federal laws have multiplied and federal police agencies have been created.

The Office of U.S. Marshals was created in 1789 by the Judiciary Act; in 1969 it was made a federal agency within the Department of Justice and renamed the Marshals Service. Originally, its functions were to support federal courts and carry out the orders of presidents, Congress and federal judges, mostly serving subpoenas, summonses and warrants. Famous U.S. Marshals include Wyatt and Morgan Earp, their old comrade “Bat” Masterson, Bass Reeves, Bill Tilghman, and Heck Thomas, the last three operating in the Indian Territory before it became the State of Oklahoma. So long as federal laws were few and limited, the Marshals were pretty innocuous.

On 7/5/1865 the Secret Service was created within the Department of the Treasury, mainly to fight counterfeiting (except for the legalized counterfeiting done by the central banks). Since 1901 they have also been responsible for the protection of the president and some other federal officials, including former presidents. On 3/1/2003 the SS was transferred from Treasury to Homeland Security. So far, so good.

But then, in 1896 within the Department of Justice, the feds created the National Bureau of Criminal Identification, which gave information to local police, a limited and legitimate function; in 1908 it became the Bureau of Investigation under one Stanley Finch, prosecuting “white slavery” and enforcing Prohibition. This is the point at which federal laws really began to multiply and federal police powers began to grow. In 1924 J. Edgar Hoover, a well-connected, unmarried Washington lawyer, became head of the agency, which was renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). Hoover, who continued to lead the FBI until 1972, had never been in the military or served as a street cop, local, state or federal. The FBI laboratory, created in 1932, would later be caught falsifying reports, and heroic FBI agents participated in the events at Ruby Ridge in Idaho and Waco, Texas. As I write this, they are up to their usual tricks, arresting and even killing peaceful protesters in Oregon.

In 1886 the government created a “Revenue Laboratory” in Treasury’s Bureau of Internal Revenue; in 1920 it became the Bureau of Prohibition (the Volstead Act was profitable for organized crime and was a good excuse for expanding federal police powers). In1944 it became the Alcohol Tax Unit; Eliot Ness was an agent. In the early fifties the ATU began enforcing tobacco tax laws, and, with the Gun Control Act of 1968, the ATU began enforcing gun “control” laws of dubious constitutionality and issuing federal firearms licenses; then it began regulating explosives, and in 1972 it became the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF). The Homeland Security Act of 2002 moved the BATF to the Department of Justice. The fearless BATF agents were also present at Ruby Ridge and at Waco, where some eighty human beings were burned to death, and they were inexplicably absent from their office in Oklahoma City when the Murrah Building was bombed.

On 7/1/1973 Richard Nixon, by executive order (although Congress approved), merged several existing agencies to create the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) within the Department of Justice to enforce the federal Controlled Substances Act. Domestically the DEA works closely with the FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, but also does drug investigations and makes arrests abroad, acting in concert with foreign police. BATF agents receive more weapons and infantry tactical training than perhaps any other federal police agency.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was created by executive order in 1969, supposedly just to coordinate disaster relief. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created in 2003 under the 2002 Homeland Security Act. It has authority over the National Guard (except when they are sent to fight foreign wars under the Defense Department), FEMA, the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and several other agencies. There is no evidence that “Homeland Security” has made us more secure.

And we have the Park Police who enforce the law in national parks and monuments, primarily in San Francisco, D.C. and New York City. And park rangers in general are also armed and have a law enforcement function. The Capitol Police supposedly protect Congress, when they are not busy shooting unarmed Black women. And then there is the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and of course IRS has its own goon squads; in fact, we have reached the point where most federal agencies have their own little private armies, somewhat disconcerting to those of us who are old enough to remember a time when the police were local and did not wear German-style helmets, SS-style black uniforms and body armor.

If and when we ever restore our former Constitution and reestablish our former Republic (and, make no mistake about it, we have lost it) we need to “de-federalize” the police. Almost all law enforcement should be left to states, cities and counties; federal laws should govern only counterfeiting, treason, espionage, immigration, and smuggling. Certainly we will need a Secret Service and an INS and Border Patrol, but the failed “war on drugs” should be left to the states, eliminating the DEA. Homeland Security should also be eliminated, and FEMA should be abolished or at least downsized and reformed. The BATF is not needed either, and the FBI should be limited to investigating treason and espionage and maintaining a (reformed) laboratory to aid local law enforcement, and a central data base for the same purpose.

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