Editor’s note: After this story was posted earlier yesterday, the Sun Sentinel in Hollywood, Florida, reported on a drill and advised citizens not to worry:
People in Hollywood may be startled (again) by the sight of menacing looking figures rappelling from a Blackhawk helicopter over various public buildings. Don’t worry, though, it’s only a drill.
The Hollywood Police Department and the Department of Homeland Security are taking part in a Master Rappelling training exercise, according to a city notice.
The training began Thursday and is scheduled to continue Friday afternoon at several government-owned buildings. But the specific locations are being kept hush-hush for security reasons.
The Pentagon is conducting surprise military drills with increasing frequency around the country, alarming citizens and acclimating them to the presence of obtrusive combat technology and simulated warfare.
As usual, most citizens were unaware of the drills until helicopters swooped over their neighborhoods.
“Many residents were surprised and scared Wednesday evening when military helicopters descended on the vacant Wood School into the late hours of the night in a scene that might have appeared to simulate the United States’ special forces attack on Osama bin Laden’s compound last year.” the Sun Chronicle reported on Friday.
“The helicopters were landing around the Worcester Memorial Auditorium in Lincoln Square and buzzing neighborhoods, prompting many telephone calls and e-mails to the Telegram & Gazette from residents curious about what was happening,” another newspaper reported.
Even the cops were clueless. “A police officer sent to close off Main Street at State said he did not know what was going on, leaving the people around there to wonder. Left to their own devices, people thought the hubbub might be that it was filming for a new Sandra Bullock movie or that it was part of a police effort to round up all the gang members or prostitutes in the city.”
“We apologize for any inconvenience or unforeseen disturbance,” said Maj. Emily Potter, public affairs officer for the U.S. Army.
A Plainville bureaucrat who signed off on the U.S. Army Special Operations Forces exercise was miffed the operation went past midnight. “A 6-year-old would have more common sense” than to continue a military exercise in a residential neighborhood at that time, he said.
Black helicopters swooping over residential homes and simulated warfare in the public space after midnight are obviously designed to send a message – the military will do whatever it wants, whenever it wants and the irritation voiced by citizens is not a consideration.
The Federalist Papers are replete with warnings about standing armies and how they are used to deliver tyranny. The framers of the Constitution objected to a standing army because a “standing army in the hands of a government placed so independent of the people, may be made a fatal instrument to overturn the public liberties; it may be employed to enforce the collection of the most oppressive taxes, and to carry into execution the most arbitrary measures. An ambitious man who may have the army at his devotion, may step up into the throne, and seize upon absolute power.”
“Newspapers editorialized after the American Revolution against standing armies, referring to them as ‘that great support of tyrants’ and as a ‘manifest danger to public liberty,’” writes Laurence M. Vance.
Now, as reportage carried by Sun Chronicle and the Telegram & Gazette demonstrates, newspapers are not particularly concerned by the manifest dangers standing – and drill-obsessed – armies pose to liberty.
Instead, editors and reporters are star-struck by the awesome power of war machinery on parade and if there are any complaints to be reported from citizens, it concerns sleeping children past midnight, not tyranny.