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."
Every one of my contacts with the USCG have been positive. OTOH, I've run accross some Everglades National Park Rangers who were both rude and ignorant. Not exactly jack boots, but just not very nice. I don't think they were that way 30 years ago.
I never said it was inexpensive. (although I do have a fondness for the "naked" part)
I think we set a record with this thread! !
These people said yes to searches. If they say no, the CG can get a warrant, then board. I can just imagine the tone the CG was greeted with by these people. I agree, 10:30pm is very late- I would have been upset too. But the CG isn't out there because they had nothing better to do. How do we know they didn't have a tip that something might happen that night?
And, how about applying the 4th Amendment to everyone else so they can be safe and secure? The war on terrorism must not be predictable nor complacent.
Ranger Randy has acquired machine guns - now he is a member of the Armed and Rangerous.
You might like the latest issue of eco-logic, found at freedom.org. Look for an article called The Morning After The night Before. It is about one of the Armed & Rangerous.
I suggest you take that up with Alexander Hamilton the next time you see him.
I just finished designing this site, from "my bright idea",
after getting the "Official" OK from Dist 13 top CFVE's i.e.
Chief, Fishing Vessel Safety Branch
US Coast Guard District 13
Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator
US Coast Guard Sector Seattle WA
Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator
US Coast Guard Sector Portland OR
Commercial Fishing Vessel
Safety Examiners Association
This is not an official US Coast Guard
or Department of Homeland Security sponsored website.
CFVSEA.com is an unofficial website
who's sole purpose is promoting
Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety for both
Documented and State Registered Vessel's
engaged in Commercial Fishing in the United States
CFVSEA.com contributors are composed of
Active Duty Coast Guard, Reserve Coast Guard,
Coast Guard employees and Coast Guard Auxiliary members
who conduct courtesy fishing vessel safety dockside exams.
The information and links are provided by CFVSEA.com are for reference only.
We do not have any input, nor do we update,
any official US Coast Guard, Department of Homeland Security,
NOAA, FCC, or any other local or state
That would signify that they are still alive. lol
There is a difference between a house and a boat- one can't move around. A warrant makes sense.....for a house that doesn't float into our country in the middle of the night. Do you really think that the CG should call back to a judge just to board a boat for a five minute inspection? Should they get warrants for every boat, or just not the whiners' boats?
Indeed. These guys have a right to be upset if they want, but they sound like smartass snots to me.
You obviously have a problem with authority. Coast Guard members don't ransack property. This wasn't even mentioned in the goofy article/story. Are warrants required? Why are you so upset about our CG doing what it is supposeed to do? Would you have been upset if the CG found a hidden compartment full of smuggled humans destined for the slave trade? They rescued over 9,000 people since last October alone! And, how about drugs? They intercepted more than 150,000 pound of cocaine on the Pacific side alone. Yes, that was pounds.
Here are some statistics for you to digest before you lose your composure again:
The second link is straight to the USCG for statistics on smuggling people.
Here is a link to the drug statistics: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-o/g-opl/Drugs/Statswww.htm
Enjoy the reading and let me know if you need more information to help you form your thoughts a little more clearly.
I normally agree with property rights, but boats aren't like my home- they serve recreational and transportation needs only. Simply choosing to live on a boat doesn't change that.
It looks like a great start. When you have updates, let us know.
So, here we are again....another silly comment you've made. Shall the judges be armed and guard our borders? Is that the job you think they should have? Or, do you think we should leave it to the grown-ups?
Every family is subject to be searched. Why the suggestion that military families are left alone? Come on! I doubt these people had loaded machine guns aimed at them. I have been stopped while driving to work in rush hour traffic ----IN UNIFORM!! So, that deflates your theory that military members or their families aren't prone to be harrassed. How sensitive should they be? See the link to the CG statistics on how many pounds of drugs and smuggled people they find every year. Here are the links again, in case you missed that one: http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-o/g-opl/Drugs/Statswww.htm and http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-o/g-opl/AMIO/FlowStats/USCG.htm
Thank you for the kind words and faith in our service members. There is quite a bit of negativity towards the people protecting our borders in this thread. I thought I mistakenly ended up at a left-wing forum....
Good to know there are more like me out there.......
I resent the "jackboot" reference- these are AMERICANS not Germans. Who will you expect to guard the coasts? Anyone? Do you think it's even necessary?
Granted, if the search was "payback", there needs to be UCMJ action taken against those guilty servicemen. If not, which I suspect, the owners of the boats should be thankful the CG weren't sleeping when they were. The first group they'd blame if anything happened to them while they were out there would be the CG. I hope they never get stranded and have to eat a little crow when the CG shows up and are respectful and courteous- like they should be.
Calling a late night search for contraband a safety inspection is uncalled for. Call it what it is.
Or looking down on us.