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."
I see that you are a kindred soul of the distressed boater in the main article.
Where is there HATE for the Coastguard in any of my comments? (Those other folks just hate "JBT"/LEOs no matter what uniform they wear.)
I am an ex-USN Bluewater Shellback.
I operated with Coasties in Vietnam.
I've fished all commercial species of Alaska, from Dixon Entrance to the Slime Bank, to the Chukchi Sea, Kings and Opilio Crabs out of Dutch Harbor in November, to drifting 100 fathoms in the Kuskokwim in the summer.
I know the Coastguard, and they know me.
Hate has nothing to do with it.
But quit trying to blow Coastie recruiting smoke up my kilt.
Inter-service rivalry seems to distress some of the little ol civilian ladies who have nothing else to worry about.
I regret that, deeply.
Yes, I'm sure it was JUST like that...
I'm not saying these people were druggies. I don't know. There's a lot we don't know about this story. But if there were some reason to conduct the boarding, should they just let them sleep in?
22 1/2 years in and it still doesnt suprise me that the majority of people have absolutly no idea what the Coast Guard does on a daily basis.
see post #241
reapply as needed
see post #241
reapply as needed
Back at cha brother.
I don't know that there's HATE in your comments specifically, but there certainly is on this thread.
I think the coasties in this story are being unfairly painted and I'm rising to their defense. That's all.
I too have spent a lot of time in the gulf of Alaska, the Bering and above the arctic circle. I've been to Dutch, and St Paul, and Adak and lots of other places. I know what an eighty foot wave looks like up close and personal. :-)
There once was another group that felt the same way, but they at least were honest about it. They flew the "Jolly Roger".
Perhaps the coast guard should readopt this old symbol.
"Coast Guard officials said the operation was not in response to any particular law enforcement report and that search warrants are not required for such inspections"
In other words " We JBTs get our rocks off pushing people around and if you don't like it, pound sand."
please see #241
PS: they don't go alone, nobody goes alone, we all need an oiler, or a BSF somewhere, to go anywhere. Well all of us but the nukes, and they need food for the crew and parts for the ship.
IF there was some reason, but I haven't heard any.
I did see 241. Roger that.
And yes, CG Cutters do typically go alone. No oilers. No supply ships. No backup. It's just the way it is. Across the Pacific, from the Bering to Mexico to Antartica. Happens every day. No biggie.
After the gun seizures started in NO my wife told me that our country was turning fascist and she was going to stop getting upset about it. There was nothing she could do. I wish I could but these jackboots just drive me over the edge. The militarization of the police is killing this country along with the Patriot Act. We have turned the corner under a Republican administration and many morons here support it.
All we've heard is the story from the point of view of some ticked-off dude that has some basic facts already wrong. Whatever was going on here, NONE of it had ANYTHING to do with the Patriot act, for one.
The Patriot act didn't change anything with regard to CG authority or mission. Everything they're doing today stems from centuries-old statutory authority that hasn't changed a whit. This is undoubtedly some Monterey leftie moonbat trying to get his fifteen minutes of anti-Bush, anti-war attention. Heaven only knows what sorts of rabid leftie rants where left OFF the story by the nice little leftie reporter.
This is the most sensible thing said on this tread so far. "Equal application of the Law" would get rid of a whole lot of the Barbara Streisand involved with all this.
If the rule was 'You search me & find nothing, then holster your gun, I'm getting mine out & lets search you. Stud.'
....You claim is that Admiralty Law trumps the Constitution, eh? Where did you come by this belief?...
Go to any common lawyer, and try to sue a vessel. He won't be able to do it unless he's an Admiralty lawyer. Based on the international law of the seas, before the constitution was even a dream in the founders' minds.
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