As if there weren’t already too many reasons to distrust the United States’ government’s discretion with weapons of war, a federal agency has found that our bureaucrats can and will give weapons to just about anyone.
A government watchdog group called the Government Accountability Office (GAO) produced a report highlighting a Department of Defense program’s serious vulnerabilities in sending excess military equipment to law enforcement agencies across the country when they posed as a false agency and acquired military equipment afterwards without any verification in less than a week.
The GAO, under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016 (NDAA), went to carry out an assessment into the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) program which sends excess military equipment to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies, applied for the program, posing as a false federal law enforcement agency and created a false agency website to test out the program’s handling of sending controlled property to law enforcement agencies. Afterwards they obtained an estimated $1.2 million’s worth of controlled property ranging from “night-vision goggles, simulated rifles, and simulated pipe bombs, which could be potentially lethal items if modified with commercially available items,” according to the report.
The director of the GAO’s defense capabilities and management team that ran the operation, Zina Merritt, later stated that “they never did any verification, like visit our ‘location,’ and most of it was by email… It was like getting stuff off of eBay.”
The Defense Department later promised to strengthen its procedures in the future by making visits to law enforcement agencies applying for the program and making sure the agents applying have valid identifications.
Since 1991, the Defense Department through the LESO program has transferred $6 billion worth of supplies to more than 8,600 law enforcement agencies.
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