In all my few years of tracking and deconstructing Teh Crazie on the Tribune-Review's editorial board, I never thought I'd see them go thoroughly conspiracy theory crazie like they have today:
Your federal government keeps buying lots — and lots — of gun ammunition. It previously said the purchases were part of the normal restocking process for government law-enforcement stuff. Now there's word that it's bought another 21.6 million rounds. And as Paul Watson, writing at Infowars.com, ciphers it, and calculating how many rounds have been used in recent U.S. wars, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “has now acquired enough bullets to wage 30 years of war.” And the feds really wonder why God-fearing and liberty-loving Americans have been buying guns in record numbers?The important point of the braintrust's paragraph is the sourcing of infowars.com. And actually the name of the website isn't exactly "infowars" is it? It's actually:
And who's Alex Jones?
This is Alex Jones:
And Alex Jones' Infowars is where the the braintrust gets its story about the DHS buying up all those bullets. This piece, specifically:
The Department of Homeland Security is set to purchase a further 21.6 million rounds of ammunition to add to the 1.6 billion bullets it has already obtained over the course of the last 10 months alone, figures which have stoked concerns that the federal agency is preparing for civil unrest.Teh paranoid crazie further feeds teh paranoid crazie. Arm yourselves, patriotic citizens! The DHS is preparing for civil unrest! And you know who that means! From infowars:
The federal agency’s primary concern is now centered around thwarting “homegrown terrorism,” but information produced and used by the DHS to train its personnel routinely equates conservative political ideology with domestic extremism.And infowars can't even get the facts straight on this point. Take their first example of how the DHS "equates conservative political ideology with domestic extremism":
A study funded by the Department of Homeland Security that was leaked last year characterizes Americans who are “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme right-wing” terrorists.When you push through the link and actually make it to the study, you'll find this on the very first page:
Current articles and postings on the Internet have mischaracterized the conclusions of the START report “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970 to 2008,” which was released in January. To be clear, the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) does not classify individuals as terrorists or extremists based on ideological perspectives. START and the Global Terrorism Database, on which the Report is based, defines terrorism and terrorist attacks as "the threatened or actual use of illegal force and violence by a non-state actor to attain a political, economic, religious, or social goal through fear, coercion, or intimidation.” [Emphasis in original.]And then:
First, at no point has any START study defined persons "suspicious of centralized federal authority" and "reverent of individual liberty" as terrorists. Instead, we assigned ideological classifications only to groups that have already carried out completed or attempted terrorist attacks. [Emphasis in original.]So the report first defines terrorist as someone who uses or threatens to use violence for political gain then classifies all those terrorists according to their political ideologies - not the other way around. Infowars got it completely wrong.
And this is where the braintrust got its info for today's page.
But what about those bullets?
This isn't the first time this "bullets for an upcoming Civil unrest" story has appeared on the outskirts of reality that Infowars inhabits. Take this from CNN last September:
Praise the Internet and pass the ammunition: the blogosphere is roiling with conspiracy theories over a Social Security Administration shopping list for 174,000 hollow-point bullets. Depending on whom you believe, police who protect Social Security Administration officers are either preparing for impending financial doom by purchasing lethal ammo to put down rioting citizens, or they're just making a standard purchase of ammunition for a federal police agency.A post also written by Paul Watson, by the way. And according to CNN, even that one wasn't new:
It all began last month when the agency, which is primarily responsible for distributing benefits to the disabled and retired people, posted an announcement seeking bids for 174,000 hollow-point bullets.
Why? cried some bloggers.
Infowars, a website operated by right-wing talk show host Alex Jones, wanted to know if the agency was preparing for "civil unrest."
"Social Security welfare is estimated to keep around 40 per cent of senior citizens out of poverty. Should the tap run dry in the aftermath of an economic collapse which the Federal Reserve has already told top banks to prepare for, domestic disorder could ensue if people are refused their benefits," it said in a post.
Conspiracy theorists had previously speculated that a purchase of hollow-point bullets by the Department of Homeland Security was similarly meant to quell impending riots. A few years ago, theorists similarly questioned why the Federal Emergency Management Agency was stockpiling body bags and other supplies, suggesting the agency was preparing for civil collapse.But there is an explanation:
In the face of the furor, the Social Security Administration's public affairs shop -- which spends most of its time issuing releases about speeding disability decisions or looking up benefits information -- issued a statement explaining that its 295 agents need the bullets for target practice and to protect the agency's 66 offices across the nation.And:
"These investigators have full law enforcement authority, including executing search warrants and making arrests," the agency said in an August post. "Our investigators are similar to your state or local police officers. They use traditional investigative techniques, and they are armed when on official duty."
Investigators "use this ammunition during their mandatory quarterly firearms qualifications and other training sessions, to ensure agent and public safety," the administration added.Let's run the numbers.
174,000 bullets divided by 295 agents makes an average of about 590 bullets per agent. If they train for quarterly qualifications, that's about 150 bullets per agent per quarterly qualification.
Hardly out of the question for training, doncha think?
But to the infowars and the conspiracy theorists, it could only have meant one thing: THEY'RE PREPARING FOR CIVIL UNREST!!!
And this is the information source Scaife's braintrust trusted enough to quote this morning.
They got teh crazie far deeper than I thought.