(Photo: Reuters/Tim Wilborne)
The Internet has been buzzing with conspiracy theories and rumors as to why the U.S. Social Security Administration made a bid last month for 174,000 hollow-tipped bullets. The administration has created its own website to combat these rumors and explain the reasoning behind the large purchase.
Jonathan L. Lasher, the SSA's Assistant Inspector General for external relations released a statement shooting down the conspiracy theories and rumors, saying the bullets were being requested for the Inspector General Office's 295 agents who investigate social security fraud and protect the 66 social security offices throughout the country.
Lasher added that the majority of 174,000 hollow-tipped bullets, which account for about 590 bullets per agent, will be used primarily on the firing range in the upcoming fiscal year.
"These investigators have full law enforcement authority, including executing search warrants and making arrests," the agency said in an August post on the webpage "Beyond The Numbers," created solely to respond to concerns over the SSA's recent ammo procurement.
"Our investigators are similar to your state or local police officers. They use traditional investigative techniques, and they are armed when on official duty," the agency added.
Hundreds were still skeptical of the purchase, flocking to Internet forums to discuss the potential reason behind the SSA's need for the ammunition.
Critics have especially questioned why a government organization specializing in providing benefits to retirees, disabled workers, and children would be collecting such a massive amount of ammunition.
While some maintained the more prudent approach that the SSA is simply restocking ammunition for a federal police agency, others argued that the government agency was preparing for widespread civil unrest due to the economic crisis.
"Social Security welfare is estimated to keep around 40 per cent of senior citizens out of poverty. Should the tap run dry in the aftermath of an economic collapse which the Federal Reserve has already told top banks to prepare for, domestic disorder could ensue if people are refused their benefits," right-wing talk show host Alex Jones wrote on his website Infowars.
Others speculated that because the SSA has no involvement internationally, the bullets were surely meant for Americans in one way or another.
Although the conspiracy theories continued to swirl Tuesday, some argued that the SSA was not a viable outlet for staging some sort of brute control over the civilian population.
"If (President) Obama plans armed overthrow, would he really choose weather nerds or Social Security agents as his task force," tweeted political blogger Kevin Drum, referencing a separate conspiracy theory which recently claimed that Obama was inaccurately reporting on Hurricane Isaac to stall the Republican National Convention.