Skip to comments.Boat owners say they were fearful during Coast Guard search
Posted on 09/22/2005 2:42:37 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks
Two of the Moss Landing Harbor residents who were the subjects of random boat searches during Labor Day Weekend say their experiences were closer to armed invasions than the friendly "safety inspections" characterized by U.S. Coast Guard officials.
Both residents said search crews entered the harbor in inflatable boats with machine guns mounted on their bows. Then, carrying M-16 rifles, they approached residents and boarded and searched their boats in the name of safety and "homeland security."
One resident, who asked not to be identified for fear or retribution, said his experience was "very intimidating, very frightening."
"To me it reeks of Nazi Germany and the death squads in Argentina," he said. "I don't want my name on their list."
Scott Jones, a live-aboard resident who was searched, said there has been talk in the harbor about contacting the American Civil Liberties Union, but he first wants to hear further from the Coast Guard about its future intentions.
Lt. Mark Warren of the Monterey Coast Guard Station said he has heard mostly positive response to the operation, but may rethink future actions given current criticisms.
"We take lessons and learn from these types of operations. If the public is genuinely distasteful of it, we might not do it," he said. "I'm not saying we won't, but I'm not saying we will."
In addition to trying to ensure the safety of boats on the bay during the holiday weekend, Warren said, the operation was part of an effort to increase the public's awareness of the Coast Guard's role as a law enforcement agency under the Department of Homeland Security. He said the public might have been surprised to see weaponry that is now standard issue to all Homeland Security forces.
"I, as a U.S. citizen, am highly offended by that," said Jones, who is accustomed to Coast Guard boardings when he sails. "When a sheriff's deputy drives down the road or a CHP officer drives down the road and I see them, I'm aware of his job, and not because he's pulled me over and put a gun to my head.
"The Coast Guard's needs would be better served by an advertising campaign," he said, "rather than bullying people in their bedrooms at 10:30 at night."
Jones said he and his wife were sleeping when they were awakened by knocking on the side of the boat.
He went to the deck and was confronted by two armed officers asking if they could come aboard. Thinking something had happened in the harbor that the officers needed to talk to him about, Jones acquiesced.
"It seemed a little unreasonable at 10:30 at night," he said, "but it was the middle of the night and I was half asleep, so I said 'OK.' At this point, I looked out and saw six to eight officers (on the dock) and all appeared armed."
The officers boarded his boat and quickly spread out beyond the immediate deck without invitation, saying they were conducting a safety inspection.
"I can say with all certainly that what they did was not a safety inspection or in any way related to a safety inspection," he said. The officers demanded access to the bilge, saying they wanted to make sure the boat wasn't taking on water.
"This was highly suspect," Jones said. "If you're on board, you'd know if you were taking on water."
When Jones showed them the bilge, the officers repeatedly, and with increasing forcefulness, demanded to know if there were other accesses to the bilge. They also "demanded" the driver's licenses of everyone on board.
Increasingly upset by the nature of the search, Jones asked for the officers' authority and justification. One officer read to him from a federal code authorizing the search.
"It was either the Patriot Act or homeland security,"Jones said.
Warren said the officers would not have cited the Patriot Act because it affords the Coast Guard no additional authority.
Jones conceded he may have heard "homeland security" and registered "Patriot Act," but still feels the search was unwarranted and in a gray area of the law at best.
"I wouldn't question their professionalism, but I do question their motive and their authority," he said. "To me, it sounds like something that an ACLU lawyer would just tear apart."
Coast Guard officials say they are authorized by maritime law to board and search vessels on U.S. waters, including waters that lead to U.S. waters, to enforce federal laws.
Warren said the officers were attempting to ensure the safety and compliance of docked boats by checking for oily water in their bilges and that their sanitation devices were in locked position. Some searches were conducted at night in an effort to catch boats before they went onto the bay for the weekend.
The second boat owner who spoke to The Herald said his boat was searched after he challenged officers who were searching other boats, at 10:30 p.m. Sept. 2, and during the morning on following days. Told they were acting as Homeland Security officers, he asked what they were protecting the harbor from.
"Terrorists," he said he was told by the officers, who exhorted him to "remember the Cole," referring to the October 2000 attack by terrorists on the USS Cole that killed 17 sailors.
"The only terrorists down here are you guys," he told them. "You're scaring the hell out of me with that machine gun."
While Warren was noncommittal about future searches, he said it is important for the public to know the Coast Guard's presence will be increased.
"The Coast Guard's focus on homeland security has increased our presence on the water and will continue to increase our presence simply because that's what Congress is wanting us to do right now," he said. "The concern at the congressional level about the security of ports is pretty high."
Hah! I've been through there too... went out in a chartered sailboat... at max ebb... It's like being fired out of a slingshot. :-)
Deception Pass. And How.
I'd applaud "Rambo-like" conduct if it was applied to gee I don't know...ISLAMIC MURDERERS. But not one of those boat owners seemed to have a rag head name. How exactly did they pose a threat to security?
Yeah, that Freedom of Speech thing is overrated, anyway.
Also, suggestion, don't drink and drive and be a smartalec to the Police Officer who pulls you over because you just want to have fun.
I once knew a retired member of the Coast Guard who bragged to me how he liked to trash people's boats who mentioned the Constitution.
That is my statement - a statement of fact, of course - and does not require quotes or italics. Nor does it mean that I think the Coast Guard is somehow not serving the people. Or do you think that when I say "The fry cook's job is to serve french fries," what I really mean is "the fry cook isn't doing his job"?
We don't know why they were boarded. We don't know the circumstances because the article doesn't provide the details. Conclusion of many is all based on conjecture of the few comments of two men in this article.
Knew him when he was a student at Georgia Tech. He'd gone in the CG first and was doing college afterwards.
Read the article, the fool CONSENTED to being searched.
Whew, Thank you! :)
I'm not denying he said it, I'm saying that to infer that this attitude is somehow commonplace... is nonsense. It simply isn't.
They killed you?
I've been to NO two times, both for business conventions. Each time I walked around the French Quarter and marveled in in a kind of morbid fascination how people could live with the smell of rotting garbage, urine, vomit and beer everywhere. I'd never actually "wish" to be there.
And I think that taking away guns from lawful citizens is asking to get shot.
But I also think that when the Coast Guard is tasked with interdicting anything and everything, they have my OK to kick someone's ars if need be. But then again, I'm one of those people who think that if you make the police chase you then they should not only be allowed to beat you up, they should be encouraged to beat you up when they catch you.
Coasties are the best, and if they wanted to board my ship with guns then so be it. I'd probably treat it as if I were at an air show and thankful to have the opportunity to see some of the cool hardware my tax dollars are paying for.
Gotcha. You were just dodging the question. Cute trick.
Stupid self-glorifying lefty - he just wishes he were important enough for his name to be on somebody's "list." But if something happened at Moss Landing, guess who'd be the first on the phone, complaining that he wasn't being "protected" and it was all Bush's fault. I have a family member who's a police officer, and whenever they do routine traffic stops around the bar areas at night, the most abusive folks are the white liberals driving their high-end cars. And of course, these are also the people who, after their house is broken into because they have left their door unlocked, scream obscenities over the phone at the police because their valuables haven't been found yet and there is not a special detail devoted just to their insignificant burglary. Oh, yes, and they also routinely vote to reduce money for the police force. Can't have it both ways, guys.
Personally, I think there are details to this story that we aren't getting. The fact that they were very interested in the bilge indicates that they were looking for something. And for all the pro-druggies on this forum, I honestly don't think they were looking for your pot stash.
"Seems the jackboots are out in all their goose-stepping glory..."
The MOST idiotic PING of the day!
If/when someone asks me a somewhat less loaded question, they're a bit more likely to get a straight answer.
It's something, isn't it?? We we're just out for a little day cruise, we (illegally) moored at Allen Island just so we could hit the pass at the right time. Otherwise it's like trying to pilot a bowling ball across an ice skating rink....