September 9, 2013 - A recent weapons purchase by NASA piqued the interest of some of my readers, prompting questions such as, "What is NASA doing with assault rifles?" In post 9/11 America, no self-respecting federal agency - from the Environmental Protection Agency to the Department of Education - can exist without its own SWAT team. A strong trend of militarizing law enforcement has been occurring for some time, and if this is a surprise to you, its time to catch up. Yes, even NASA has a SWAT team, and you may be surprised with some of their assignments, which include militarized perimeter security and robbing grandmothers of heirloom decorative paperweights.
NASA's recent purchase of Armalite AR-15 rifles, documented on FedBizOpps.gov, is only the tip of the iceberg regarding NASA's equipment and capabilities. The space agency also has its own police department and round-the-clock SWAT team.
The purpose of all this security is protection from "troublemakers," as the agency states, as well as criminal investigations, which I will discuss shortly.
Some security is surely warranted to protect NASA's equipment and personnel. How much? I will leave that for you to decide.
NASA.gov describes its SWAT team in a post they titled, SWATting Trouble:
Along with the formidable force of standard security at Kennedy, a highly trained and specialized group of guardians protect the Center from would-be troublemakers. They are the members of the Kennedy Space Center Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and they mean business.
"We're here 24-7," said SWAT commander David Fernandez. "There's never a point when SWAT is not here, so we're ready to respond to something if needed at a moment's notice."
The SWAT team is equipped with helicopter(s) and armored Lenco Bearcat vehicles - priced at $250,000 each - both of which the agency enjoys taking selfie pictures with