On December 10, 2008, Joshua Tree-based News Director Gary Daigneault of radio station KCDZ received a faxed press release from the California Highway Patrol (CHP) that announced an upcoming DUI checkpoint. But this was not like any other press release Daigneault had ever read.
It stated that the Morongo Basin office of the CHP, the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department and the United States Marine Corps (USMC) planned to conduct a “joint sobriety/license checkpoint on Friday Dec. 12, somewhere in the unincorporated/incorporated area of San Bernardino County.”
Daigneault was concerned over the mention of the military, due to his awareness of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, a federal law passed by Congress which bans the military from enforcing civilian laws. Even more upsetting, the CHP did not disclose the location of the checkpoint, which violates entrapment laws.
A note at the bottom of the fax read: “The sobriety/driver’s license checkpoint will be operated from 9:00PM to 2:30AM. The media may contact the Barstow Dispatch Center, at (760) 255-8700 on Dec. 12, 2008, after 7:00PM, for the exact location of the checkpoint.”
Daigneault contacted the CHP and brought the issue up on air.
“When I went on my talk show that morning, most callers were against this use of our military. We ran an on-air editorial reminding the CHP there is a federal law, prohibiting military from enforcing civilian laws.”
According to Daigneault, on Friday, Dec. 12, around 11:30 in the morning, he received a second fax from the CHP, but the mention of the USMC was omitted.
Daigneault asserted that at 7:00PM, Dec. 12, he made multiple attempts to call the number on the press release to obtain the location of the checkpoint, but his calls went unanswered.
Later that evening, several KCDZ employees witnessed a checkpoint off Highway 62 in Yucca Valley, across from the Home Depot, where uniformed Marines/Military Police Officers from the Twentynine Palms Marine Base were present.
“The CHP never gave us the specific location of the checkpoint,” said Daigneault. “To add insult to injury, they used the Marines, after they sent the second fax saying there would not be a military presence.”
The checkpoint stirred up quite a bit of controversy, and rattled some nerves in the High Desert community and surrounding parts of the Inland Empire. It also led to suspicions of a cover up, and even a rumor that this was a sign of impending martial law.
Though it went mostly ignored by the mainstream media, it was covered by KCDZ, several blogs, the ABC affiliate, KESQ Channel 3 out of Palm Springs/Coachella Valley and the nationally syndicated Alex Jones Radio Show.
KESQ reporter Nathan Baca, who covered this story said residents were worried about the checkpoint, due to the possible violation of federal law. “This story called out for some looking into, because of Posse Comitatus,” Baca said over a phone interview several weeks after his story aired on Dec. 16. “I think people weren’t accustomed to seeing Marines that far from the Twentynine Palms Marine Base, which is 30 miles from Yucca Valley.”
In Baca’s report, Marine Lt. Thomas Beck, who was present at the checkpoint was interviewed. “We were not actively participating, enforcing any civilian laws. We were there to observe and observe only, and that is what we did do,” Lt. Beck told Baca on camera. “I learned a lot of techniques on how they conduct their checkpoints, and we observed some of their field sobriety tests,” Lt. Beck stated at the end of the report.
According to Officer Rob McLoud, another reason behind the checkpoint was to show a sign of a good relationship between the CHP and USMC. “We had the DUI checkpoint and invited the Marine Corps out in a show of good relations between our two organizations,” McLoud said.
The checkpoint was conducted because of the rise in DUI accidents and fatalities along Highway 62, which runs from Twentynine Palms to Yucca Valley, according to Baca.
“There is a sign when you’re leaving the base that has updated statistics on DUI arrests involving Marines. There were more DUI accidents and fatalities last year, compared to 2007,” said Baca.
When this story initially broke, the KCDZ employees who witnessed the checkpoint could not confirm whether or not the Marines were armed, or in a marked military vehicle. “I got no clear answer as to whether or not they were armed,” Baca said. “I believe it’s in their protocol to carry firearms, but I couldn’t confirm this.”
Baca concluded that the incident might have been questionable, but it was not a violation of Posse Comitatus, since according to his sources, the Marines were not involved in arresting people or searching vehicles.
Baca noted that CHP sources told him that one or two people were arrested at the Dec.12, checkpoint for suspicion of DUI and prior warrants. Yet, they did not disclose the identities of those arrested to him or the IE Weekly. “They told me that this specific information was not available,” Baca said.
He also pointed out that KESQ received no e-mails or calls reporting that Marines were arresting people. “We got no reports from any witnesses to that,” Baca explained.
Baca added that some residents contacted him with concerns over the checkpoint. “Some people said the mere presence of Marines was nerve-racking,” said Baca. “The High Desert is used to a military presence, but just not this kind of a presence.”
Though Baca doesn’t think any federal laws were violated, he says that the CHP may have been in the wrong for failing to disclose the location of the checkpoint to the media. When Baca confronted Officer McLoud on camera, McLoud replied, “I know that our dispatch center is a busy place, but normally they answer the phones, they answer all of our public calls.”
Baca feels that this was not a good PR move for the CHP. “I think because of the backlash in the community, the CHP and Marines have learned their lesson,” he said. “No matter how innocent it may have been, they probably won’t do it again.”
The IE Weekly recently got a chance to speak directly with Sgt. Chris Cox of the Twentynine Palms Marine Base, to obtain his side of this story.
Sgt. Cox confirmed that five Marines—possibly six—who are members of the Military Police were present at the checkpoint. According to Cox, the Marines were uniformed, and armed with standard issued firearms. They were in a single marked military vehicle, which was parked in the Home Depot parking lot.
“I want to make one thing clear,” said Cox during a phone interview. “We are well aware of our limitations in terms of federal laws; if it was illegal we wouldn’t have done it. The most important thing for people to remember is that we are not strangers, we’re neighbors. Marines are Americans first.”
CHP Officer McLoud also went on record to clear up the “misunderstanding” centering the two faxes sent to KCDZ. “The first press release was an error that said it was a joint operation,” he said. “Also the number to the dispatch center was not correct, and that kind of mistake won’t happen again.”
To ease fears residents might have, Officer McLoud affirmed that there was no cover up by the CHP, and no federal laws were violated. “The Marines are not enforcing civilian laws,” he said. “We are not under a police state; people should not be alarmed.”
But others, like Alex Jones, have come to very different conclusions. Jones, an extremely controversial syndicated talk show host based out of Austin, Texas, is known to many as the father of the 9/11 Truth Movement, which posits that elements within the U.S. Government were involved in the terrorist attacks in 2001. He maintains that the entire globe is being forced into an Orwellian-like, military controlled, fascist super state, run by a ruthless group of elites known as the New World Order.
“This is classic Tyranny, where Marines are openly present at checkpoints,” Jones exclaimed during a recent phone interview. “Posse Comitatus has been weakened over the years, but not been over-turned. To have the Marines at that checkpoint armed is just outrageous.”
Jones’s news websites, www.prisonplanet.com and www.infowars.com both ran news stories covering the San Bernardino County checkpoint. According to Jones and his producer/reporter Aaron Dykes, both Sgt. Cox and Officer McLoud agreed to come on his radio show on Dec. 16, but later refused. Both Cox and McLoud gave no comment to the IE Weekly about these abrupt cancellations.
“The Marines are being very secretive about this all,” Jones commented. “But I’ve been exposing it in my films and on my radio show for years, and it’s all coming true—martial law is not just a rumor anymore, they are openly announcing it.”
Jones points to the fact that on Oct., 3, 2008, prior to the $700 billion dollar banker bailout bill was passed, two members of Congress, (James Inhofe, from Oklahoma and Brad Sherman, from California) went public, on C-SPAN and several national radio shows, and said that they were threatened that “Martial Law would be declared in America,” if the bill wasn’t passed.
Jones also cited a Dec. 1, 2008 Washington Post article, announcing that the Pentagon is implementing plans to deploy up to “20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 to help state and local officials respond to a terrorist attack, natural disaster or other catastrophe.” This report also ran on CNN, Democracy Now and several other media outlets across the nation.
Jones said that the most frightening news he has uncovered is the recent legislation, House Resolution 645, a bill that proposes plans for the Secretary of Homeland Security, as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to build facilities around the country which would ostensibly detain American citizens in case of a national emergency such as a natural disaster, terrorist attack or other emergency.
For people that doubt this, according to Jones, they need only read the actual bill, which was introduced to the House of Reps. by Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings, of Florida on Jan. 22, 2009.
Entitled the “National Emergency Centers Establishment Act,” the bill discloses plans to build no less than six national detention centers on military bases, which would “provide temporary housing, medical, and humanitarian assistance to individuals and families dislocated due to an emergency or major disaster.” However, there are those that worry these facilities could be used as concentration camps, to imprison political dissidents, much like was done in Nazi Germany.
“This is really happening,” insists Jones. “It’s time for the American people to wake up to this information.”
In terms of the Yucca Valley checkpoints, Jones said there are still some viable solutions. “I would suggest to anyone arrested at this checkpoint to go to the county sheriff and file a lawsuit; this was a clear violation of federal law,” he said.
Palm Springs DUI Attorney, Michael Kennedy, also considers the presence of Marines at the checkpoint to be cause for alarm. “The enactment of the Posse Comitatus Act in 1878 was primarily the result of Southern outrage at the use of Federal troops in the South following the Civil War,” he said, to give historical context for the law.
Kennedy mentioned that he planned to attend the checkpoint, but decided not to because he heard that the military was not going to be present. “If I had known that Marines were going to be there I would have gone and got it on camera,” he commented.
Kennedy says that he has made an offer to defend anyone for free who was arrested in the checkpoint, but at the time of publication he had not contacted or been contacted by any of the individuals who were there. He says that anyone out there arrested at this checkpoint should contact him, by using Google to look him up.
He also went on to say that a policeman told him there is no difference between using the Marines at a civilian checkpoint and Marine Military Police Officers patrolling the streets. “When you have military presence in uniforms with guns, the purpose is to set up an intimidating atmosphere,” Kennedy said. “It was terrorism in the past and it’s terrorism now.”
Kennedy is outraged over this checkpoint and is adamant about exposing its illegality.
“Employing military [Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force] to enforce civilian law on the streets of the Republic is far more illegal than the things they are asked to enforce, and it must be resisted and fought at all costs, because liberty lies in the balance.”