Residents of Leesburg, Florida were shocked to see their local Social Security office turned into a random Homeland Security checkpoint Tuesday morning, as DHS officers armed with semiautomatic rifles and accompanied by sniffer dogs checked identifications of locals.
DHS Officers Armed With Semiautomatics Set Up Unannounced ID Checkpoint 010412shield1 h400
“With their blue and white SUVs circled around the Main Street office, at least one official was posted on the door with a semiautomatic rifle, randomly checking identifications. And other officers, some with K-9s, sifted through the building,” reports the Daily Commercial.
The activity was part of Operation Shield, an unannounced drill conducted by the DHS’ Federal Protective Service centered around “detecting the presence of unauthorized persons and potentially disruptive or dangerous activities.”
Thomas Milligan, district manager for the Social Security Administration office, said staff were not informed their offices were about to be stormed by armed FPS officers. DHS officials refused to answer questions asked by local media and left with no explanation at noon.
“Part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FPS is the federal law enforcement agency that provides integrated security and law enforcement services to over 9,000 federally-owned and leased buildings, facilities, properties and other assets,” states the report.
Indeed, the FPS is used for a variety of roles, not just limited to setting up unannounced ID checkpoints.
As part of the reinvention of the Department of Homeland Security to serve as a tool of political repression, the Federal Protective Service is used by the DHS to track the political activities of peaceful advocacy groups. The FPS was seen arresting photographers in Portland last November during an OWS rally.
In 2004, the FPS arrested a veteran for the crime of complaining to his local VA office in Des Moines.
A separate component of Homeland Security, VIPR (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response), recently received an expansion in funding from Congress that will see 2011′s figure of around 9,300 checkpoints increased with the addition of 12 new VIPR teams, who will be used to carry out security checks at bus depots, train stations, ferry ports and highways.
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