Yellow Journalism Award

It must be fall, the birds are flying south and the National Guard helicopters are flying in circles. From the Boston Herald the Mass State Police, aided by a National Guard helicopter spotted a single marijuana plant hidden in a garden and sent ground units in: Ridiculous_marijuana_raid_targets_single?

This Nomination For Hero Badge breaks with tradition and goes to the hack reporter who filed the story. Jessica Heslam was so busy trying to score points at the expense of the police that she deliberately mislead readers.

Heslam reports that: “state police and the National Guard deployed ground troops and a helicopter at her Amherst home and chopped down the 6-foot-tall marijuana plant growing out back with her raspberries.” Later in he story we find out the discovery of the single marijuana plant was part of a strategy  to discover other marijuana grow operations in the vicinity. Which is it?

“But two weeks ago, she and her plant were the targets of an annual “marijuana eradication operation” the staties and the guard conduct in western Massachusetts.”

Knowing the liberal penchant for word games lets break her statements up to manageable chunks. state police and the National Guard deployed ground troops  and a helicopter. Common usage Massachusetts State Police are known as staties, state police, and state troopers. Soldiers on the other hand are known as “troops” or even better “ground troops”.  So who was on the ground and who was in the air?

Later in the story she refers to the “marijuana eradication operation” the staties and the guard conduct in… Okay, who is driving this bus?  Is it the State Police, the National Guard, do each have a hand on the wheel? Or is there another explanation?

Kids these days and the things they didn’t learn in school, Posse Comitatus. Admittedly there is some wiggle room. Posse Comitatus generally prohibits the military from investigating and arresting civilians. Posse Comitatus does not strictly apply to National Guard soldiers under the control of the Governor. However, in my dealings with National Guard personnel in counter drug operations, their role was one of support. That is they would supply specialized equipment (helicopters) to support a law enforcement operation. They required that law enforcement officers be on board to be the decision makers as to probable cause, in this case plant identification. For all intents and purposes they followed the restrictions of Posse Comitatus,as they understood it.*

Chances are law enforcement activity, as described was carried out by the state police. I have no doubt if it had turned into a 200 plant grow the National Guard would have been there with a truck and support personnel to help.

Since it was one plant, it appears that no criminal charges were filed. A mature marijuana plant would be considered to weigh one pound under Federal guidelines, seems like the staties were being generous.

Finally, while we got an example of the ignorant ramblings of mother and son why didn’t Ms. Heslam follow up on their claims of First and Forth Amendment violations? Could it be that she did and found that the police obeyed the law and did nothing wrong? That just wouldn’t fit the narrative at all.

* Once a National Guard unit is called up, Federalized then Posse Comitatus would apply. Since Guard personnel rotate into Regular Army units it makes sense to have one way of doing things.