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."
Part of the money trail is the millions of taxpayer dollars spent on lying to the public about drugs, thus tainting the significance of any referendum. A referendum on global warming would probably show that most people think it exists and is man-made, but that doesn't make it true nor a sound basis for public policy.
When the Coast Guard boarded me, at sea, out of sight of land, they were definitely looking for drugs. They came aboard armed. They did find a weapon on my boat, one with a lot more firepower than a handgun, I might add. Nevertheless, they were extremely respectful the entire time they were aboard, upon being satisfied that it was a legal weapon, they made nothing more of it.
In fact, determining if weapons were aboard was their very first question. I have a feeling it usually is, for the safety of the boarding party.
Your assertion of what may happen when official searchers find weapons could well be right for most LEO's, I mention this incident to make the point that it is otherwise, in my experience, with members of the USCG.
I think zero tolerance is stupid, and so did almost all my fellow coasties. We did not exactly follow the letter of the law. It was always in the boaters favor, not the law.
You make a good point. If the guns are legit and they ask if you have weapons. Common sense should dictate that you immediately tell them that they are there. In my mind that should signify to the USCG that the person is upfront and not trying to hide something. I would think that would set a better tone for the rest of the search.
I live in New Jersey. I encounter "screw you" types on a daily basis. I usually just ignore them. I even encounter "screw you" types here occasionally. I find it offensive, but I usually just let it roll off. I don't think I should have to tolerate the "screw the troops" mentality here, or anywhere. And deep down, I suspect you agree with that. I know I'd be shocked if I ever saw you post a sweeping condemnation of our troops. I just can't picture you doing that. Why? Partly because it would offend your sensibilities. Can you honestly tell me it wouldn't? Obviously it wouldn't offend you as much as the maggots who spit on your uncle returning from Viet Nam. And it's not as offensive as the maggots who called my husband a "baby killer." There are degrees of offensiveness, but that doesn't change the fact that "screw the troops" is offensive.
Your comment was a broad brush smear of ALL National Guard troops.
You are absolutely correct. My apologies.
I guess you are right about a few incidents demonstrating their "jackbootedness". And we'll forget about the thousands of good deeds performed, because they were just flukes. These people you call jackboots are the same Americans as you and I are.
The point about the tv police is that you would REALLY have a hard time somewhere else in the world. This country has the ability to change, so do something about it. Propose a bill and do what you can to get it through our constitutional government.
You don't seem too constitutional, merely argumentative. Good luck in your endeavors.
I agree with you entirely about my tax dollars being spent to stop people from hurting themselves. Unfortunately, we have to follow those laws until they are changed. There is a big difference between global warming (hoax) and whether citizens should be allowed to "choose" what they put in their own bodies. One affects the environment whether we like it or not, and the theories have not been validated. The other, drugs, is pretty evident to anyone, who has done them or watched someone on them. I could care less about someone doing drugs, until that person impacts lives around him negatively (breaking laws already on the books).
This issue with the whining boat owners has led us down divergent paths of discussion. I have learned a lot from this thread about the constitutionality of these searches- hopefully everyone here has. As another poster (Nov3) stated that he doesn't care what I think- that is the whole reason for communication. We glean information from one another and it makes us all better and wiser. If we are on "broadcast" only, we'll never hear what others have to say.
I don't know if I can agree that the ads about drugs are lies, but I do think they are a waste of money. Perhaps the best ad would be "hey, the government is NOT picking up the tab anymore for idiocy" and "from now on, you are on your own" and lastly, "no more theft from the indentured taxpayers...you'll have to make your own destiny"
I'll agree with you on the drug war comments. However, we don't know, from this one-sided article, what the reasons for the late-night searches was. Shortly after 9/11, thousands of people cried out that we needed to be more vigilant in keeping terrorists out of this country. Remember the shoe bomber? Now every stinking time I fly, and I fly a lot, I have to remove my shoes. I am active duty Army and I STILL have to take my shoes off. Even after two major back surgeries, I had to remove my shoes. I am a little upset about the logic behind that one, but it is a small price to pay to know that some other fruitcake doesn't have fuses hanging out of his shoes. I think the PC concerns may have fueled the searches of non-threatening boaters, just in case someone got upset about being singled out.
There are some good statistics on the CG website about arrests and interdictions, which you may find interesting.
Just for curiosity- have you ever been abuse by law enforcement? I haven't, so I can't speak from experience. I do know several police officers and they have told me war stories about having to deal with really bad people, so I am not so sure that any of us would always be jovial and upbeat when approaching strangers out on the water. One of my friends has a nice steel plate in his head from being kicked by an "unarmed" criminal in a bar, while simply talking to another bar patron.
One thing to keep in mind is that criminals are always bad. I have yet to see anyone complain about criminals not showing respect or not being polite....
imVho, anything said by those "DIMocRAT house organs" is SUSPECT, absent INDEPENDENT collaboration.
Excuse me; I am not anti military, anti police, anti Coast Guard; only against ANYONE in any position who abuses his or her power. If that is not the case as reported, fine.
Do you believe that the police in New Orleans who confiscated the guns of law abiding citizens were also great servants of the people?
Where is the final report of the Coast Guard investigation in this matter?
You just didn't believe the media's account did you?
I was just responding to the story as posted, and to the complaints of the citizens.
If they're wrong, fine. I'll wait for the report. Look, I'm one of those who has a healthy skepticism of government at EVERY level.
Not that there are not a lot of fine public servants, but we have to be vigilant, yes, even of some of our beloved President's policies (like mental testing for EVERY student in public schools)
"I was just responding to the story as posted, and to the complaints of the citizens. If they're wrong, fine. I'll wait for the report. Look, I'm one of those who has a healthy skepticism of government at EVERY level.
Not that there are not a lot of fine public servants, but we have to be vigilant, yes, even of some of our beloved President's policies (like mental testing for EVERY student in public schools)"
Why did you assume (if I understood correctly) the citizen charges are truthful and why, based on a media report (not an investigative report) "innocent until proven guilty" flew out the window. In light of the media coverage of Cindy Sheehan, if I follow your lead, should I believe Cindy and demand W. bring the troops home?
What's this about mental testing for every public school student? I haven't heard anything, can you fill me in? Thanks!
"Seems the jackboots are out in all their goose-stepping glory..."
This behavior by the US Coast Guard, boarding privately owned harbored boats as citizens sleep, is a disgrace and a disservice to the people so harrassed, and to the Coast Guard.
Time to remove this "Patriot Act" for good.
And all you sickos out here who suck the wangs of the gestapo warriors do not deserve to live in a nation
born for freedom.
Agreed this was no "safety inspection", either the CG was checking out some (faulty) intel or some idiot CG officer was just trying to have a little fun.
Ignorance of maritime law can be overcome with various boating safety courses. But in your case, Rodney King, ...there is no cure for stupidity.
Not sure what your point is. I am fully aware of maritime law. My point is that most people aren't, and furthermore, if they were, would be totally outraged.
this is the thread that keeps on giving!!!!
I will not copy the drivel that takenotrolls has posted.....
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