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."
We'd never heard him whine.
Which means, of course, that it wasn't like Argentina at all!
People in this country have the right to drink and party. In fact, it's the government which establishes holiday weekends.
If you're docked in a port connected to an ocean, or any large navigable waterway they have the authority and the legal right to do this.
It's not anything new. Hell, the Coast Guard can search US Flagged vessels outside the territorial limits on the high seas.
I do wish they weren't sniffing around pleasure craft in Monterey Bay and instead concentrated on actual threats to national security but the fact remains they've had the power to do so for longer than I have been alive, and that's a while.
I wonder if the Coasties pull this kind of shit on Martha's Vineyard?
Was he handcuffed to the anchor and thrown overboard, and he's now calling the media and the ACLU from Davy Jones' Locker?
If not, then it is not like "Nazi Germany" and "Argentina death squads."
It's a clear case of "The Sheep" mistaking a "Sheep Dog" for a "Wolf".
Alexander Hamilton specifically created the precursor to the Coast Guard for the purpose of reducing smuggling (and gathering intelligence on possible disloyalty of the States).
It's a clear case of "The Sheep" mistaking a "Sheep Dog" for a "Wolf".
I have never been concerned about a group of armed LE personnel, day or night.
All laws repugnant to the Constitution are null and void. Yes, that very much includes the 4th Amendment.
There are two and only two distinct possibilies:
1. This boat was within the bounderies of US coastal waters, in which a warrant is required.
2. This boat was not within the bounderies of US coastal waters, in which case this was a simple act of piracy.
Today's reality? SCOTUS is "constitutionally challenged", wrote a sickening opinion, and now most of the difference of boating off the US and boating off some third world pisshole is the uniform of the guy pointing a gun at you while his palls ransack your property.
Screw them, and their mexifornia attitudes.
I don't. Is there one that holds water?
not at all surprising, but not something I'm pleased by.
I'm sure they have. Courts in this country haven't done their job from day one.
If smugglers come in at midnite they should not be harassed?
I was going to blame the Amish.
I think we may not know the whole story. These guys may have earned a spot on sombody's watch list. Maybe the guy is a smart A and this is payback.
Also, if the CG is suspicious about a place in the bilge, they have the right to enter any enclosed space on a boat, regardless.
They have been doing it since prohibition
Yes, I knew that. My question stands.
Its probably different now, but it used to be they had to ask you if they could do a safety inspection. You didn't have to allow them.
More than once I told 'em I didn't have time and that was it. No problem. But that was about 15 yrs ago.
Wonder if they had any hotties on board? Sometimes that explains it.
The courts have held that the Revenue Cutter Service (established by Alexander Hamilton) has this authority ever since the first smuggler whined that his rights were violated, which was right after the first board and search, which was right after Hamilton established the Revenue Cutter Service.
In other words, the Founding Fathers very much disagreed with you on this one.
Too much power for the pea brains. This is exactly the reason why our right to bear the same firearms as the military should not be infringed. This is the crap that Mr. Jefferson and friends were thinking about when they penned the Second Amendment...I feel like I've been ripped off. I voted for Bush twice thinking he was the lesser of two evils but??? Homeland Security protecting the Fatherland... The Patriot Act giving jack booted thugs rights to rape, pilage and plunder...Campaign Finance reform protecting the incumbants from the free speech of the citizenry...what's next???? Should I be expecting a visit for not complying with thought control. What the hell is wrong with this country? Bring back Reagan!!!
However,for the sake of historical accuracy, this sort of thing has been going on since Alexander Hamilton who wanted it that way.
Yep! Admiralty law allows them on board, but:
"and that their sanitation devices were in locked position."
I don't believe there's any regs that allow federal officers to enforce a state or local law regarding human waste discharge.
They leave me alone now because I took it to the public and they started getting heat.
Oh, well, that would make it okay. No sassing your betters on the water, because they have carte blanche to take revenge upon you for it. Got it.
"This act of piracy has been proudly brought to you by the War on Drugs, proudly gutting the Constitution since 1919."
"The Patriot Act giving jack booted thugs rights to rape, pilage and plunder..."
Cite the specific clauses in the Patriot Act that do this.
"I don't believe there's any regs that allow federal officers to enforce a state or local law regarding human waste discharge."
There are federal laws covering this on the high seas as well.
You may be surprised to learn that Hamilton doesn't hold a dear place in my heart.
"Most of those young coasties wouldn't know what to do if they had to use those weapons. THAT is what makes me nervous. Soldiers are forced to patrol live fire zones like NOLA w/o mags but these guys roam around marinas and boats where there are LOTS of tripping hazards. Were their weapons loaded? This is a disaster waiting to happen."
Also worth noting: Alex H. used the RCS for purposes other than its stated mission. i.e. intelligence gathering not authorized by Congress.
or when woken up at 10:30 p.m.
When the commander in chief rescinds the Posse Comitatus Act what will your reaction be to being stopped and boarded by soldiers in a Stryker patroling I-95 or whatever?
This time of year and in Nor Cal, we know what they are looking for.
The Coast Guard does not board with other than side arms, unless there is specific intelligence as to a certain area or vessel or a heightened sense of security.
Lt. Colonel Grossman, a far better man than me, a man who does things I only talk about, writes in his introduction to The Bulletproof Mind:
I excerpt a small portion of it here, without permission, in the hope that some of you go The Bulletproof Mind and buy it.
One Vietnam veteran, an old retired colonel, once said this to me: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident."
This is true. Remember, the murder rate is six per 100,000 per year, and the aggravated assault rate is four per 1,000 per year. What this means is that the vast majority of Americans are not inclined to hurt one another.
Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year, a tragic, staggering number, perhaps an all-time record rate of violent crime. But there are almost 300 million total Americans, which means that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year.
Furthermore, since many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, the actual number of violent citizens is considerably less than two million.
Thus there is a paradox, and we must grasp both ends of the situation: We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.
I mean nothing negative by calling them sheep. To me it is like the pretty, blue robin's egg. Inside it is soft and gooey but someday it will grow into something wonderful. But the egg cannot survive without its hard blue shell. Police officers, soldiers and other warriors are like that shell, and someday the civilization they protect will grow into something wonderful. For now, though, they need warriors to protect them from the predators.
"Then there are the wolves," the old war veteran said, "and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy." Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.
"Then there are sheepdogs," he went on, "and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf." Or, as a sign in one California law enforcement agency put it, "We intimidate those who intimidate others." If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen: a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath--a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? Then you are a sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the hero's path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.
He continues: Let me expand on this old soldier's excellent model of the sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. We know that the sheep live in denial; that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world. They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are dozens of times more likely to be killed, and thousands of times more likely to be seriously injured, by school violence than by school fires, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their children is just too hard, so they choose the path of denial.
The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, cannot and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog that intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.
Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports in camouflage fatigues holding an M-16. The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa." Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.
...There are federal laws covering this on the high seas as well....
Don't think so. Laws regard oil discharge, plastic overboard, garbage overboard within 3 mile limit, but no-discharge zones with closed heads are set by local or state ordinance.
You communicate with the dead?
How do know he was awaken? Where was he and what were the exact circumstances?
If they were searching for drugs then they should say they are searching for drugs and not claim "safety inspection."
4th Amendment: "... particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."Just tell the boat owners what they are really searching for. What's wrong with that?
They might as well be the open sea...
September 13, 2005
Today the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced $141,969,967.61 in the fifth round of awards under the Port Security Grant Program (PSGP).
The FY 2005 PSGP fortifies security at our nation's critical ports and maritime facilities. PSGP funds address key national priorities by helping to protect ports against small craft and underwater attacks and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices. The program also funds measures to enhance explosive detection capabilities aboard passenger vessels and associated facilities.
These grants provide another layer of security to help protect ports from terrorism, safeguard nearby communities and ensure the uninterrupted flow of global commerce, said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff.
Recipients were selected through a competitive peer review process using a new risk-based formula weighing threat, vulnerability and consequence. Consequence considers risks to people, the economy, and national security.
Vulnerability involves factors such as distance from open water, number of port calls, and presence of tankers. Threat includes credible threats and incidents and vessels of interest information. The risk formula was developed by subject matter experts who have devoted much of their careers to maritime/port security.... more
Your screen name does you justice.