Speed Reads

The police state

Chuck Hagel could take military gear back from local cops — but probably won't

A Pentagon spokesman said this week that Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has the power to unilaterally stop the military's 1033 program, which donates hundreds of millions of dollars of excess military gear and weapons to local police forces annually. Rear Admiral John Kirby said, "The secretary has the authority to rescind and take back equipment that is transferred to local law enforcement agencies if he deems fit. He has that authority."

In the same statement, Kirby defended the 1033 program, which has drawn national attention since police in Ferguson, Missouri, used 1033 equipment in a highly militarized response to citizens protesting Michael Brown's death. Kirby suggested that it would be a mistake to "throw the baby out with the bathwater here," as the military equipment has "provided a good measure of support…to citizens all over the country."

Hagel has asked for more information about the program, which he is reviewing. But as Jason Ditz says at Antiwar, based on Kirby's statement, it seems that Hagel has "no intentions of actually" stopping these shipments, which makes his request for more info seem "to be little more than some fun facts for him on the ongoing program."