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 jihadi harboring planet = (nation)
Spellcheck don't catch stupid.
If smugglers come in at midnite they should not be harassed?
"The Founding Fathers would be appalled. Why aren't we?"
How about generations of educators "educating" for the new group man of which John Dewey was so fond?
If you want to do something, try forcing some changes at your local school board meetings. If you need something to demand changes over, try reading one of those 'texts', or attending some classes.
Volunteers are always welcome, and this gives you a chance to see what is really going on.
For a "Three bags full" experience, study the curriculum (a.k.a. The Master Plan).
Unfortunately it's a "all to common" attitude with many LEO's out in the field today. But on the other hand...a double edged sword appears...
Apparently you voted for the wrong people.
The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.
Big Freaking Deal. The FBI is authorized be federal to search houses to enforce federal laws, the state police are authorized to search buildings in the state to enforce state laws, the local po-po are authorized by state and local laws to search local houses and buildings for violations of local laws but in all cases THEY NEED A WARRRANT. Saying "maritime law" is not a magic incantation that makes the Constitution go away. Maritime law is bound by the limits of the Constiution just like every other law promulgated by a US political sub-division. The real law they have backing them up is "Might Makes Right", there are six of us w assault rifles, and one of you in your PJs in the middle of no where. Time for another Vin Suprynowicz book.
All I'm saying is, there is no proof that this article isn't an exaggeration of two vindictive boat owners who we don't know, weren't out of line themselves. Before I would jump to a conclusion and make negative comments of the Coast Guard, I would want some proof that it's fact.
"Isn't it more than a little insane to compare this to death squads in argentina? Such whining!"
We keep saying it: next time you capsize or need rescuing, call your local drug cartel.
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.