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'Who Are They Preparing to Battle?': New Report Exposes the Militarization of Federal Agencies

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes

The Internal Revenue Service made headlines recently for a job posting seeking to hire armed special agents in every U.S. state for its Criminal Investigation division. In the "major duties" listed, the IRS said these agents would need to carry a gun and "be willing to use force up to and including the use of deadly force." 

This is not the first time the issue has come to the forefront, of course, as it's been going on for years, but some lawmakers continue to be puzzled over why the agency needs weapons to begin with. 

It turns out, however, that the IRS, which spent $10 million during the COVID pandemic on weapons and gear, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to militarized bureaucracies. 

According to a new report from Open The Books, "Since 2006, 103 rank and file agencies outside of DOD spent $3.7 billion on guns, ammunition, and military-style equipment (inflation adjusted to CPI). 27 of those agencies are traditional law enforcement under the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). However, 76 agencies are [paper]-pushing, regulatory agencies, i.e. Environment Protection Agency (EPA), Social Security Administration (SSA), Veterans Affairs (VA), Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Health and Human Services (HHS)."

In addition to the National Institutes of Health, which has a 105-officer-strong police force with a bevy of weaponry and equipment, and the Office of Assistant Secretary for Health that was involved in the purchase of $100 million in guns, ammo, and military-style equipment, according to the report, even obscure agencies like the Railroad Retirement Board and the Small Business Administration have spent significant sums to become militarized. 

"There are now more federal agents with arrest and firearm authority (200,000) than U.S. Marines (186,000)," the report states. 

OpenTheBooks.com CEO and Founder Adam Andrzejewski said the trend is cause for concern. 

"Under the longstanding Chevron doctrine and Congress' penchant for leaving policy in the hands of rulemakers, federal agencies have long been gaining legal power," he said in a statement. "Lately, they're also amassing firepower. It's not only the IRS, but dozens of other rank-and-file administrative federal agencies. So, just who are they preparing to battle? When an IRS agent is out enforcing the law, or an EPA bureaucrat wants you to tamp down the dust coming from your ranch property, they can partner with local law enforcement. Instead, a culture of militarization has permeated across the federal bureaucracy. In many cases, these agencies are stockpiling the very weapons some politicians seek to ban citizens from owning. From AR-15 rifles to night-vision equipment, federal employees are looking less like paper pushers at the DMV and more like a SWAT team in a Hollywood thriller. While it may be entertaining onscreen, in reality, this is a trend that should concern every American who cares about their individual rights."

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