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As they often are, the conspiracy theories swirling around the Social Security Administration's request for bids to provide 174,000 bullets were so much more interesting than the explanation. The Associated Press brought the pedestrian news on Tuesday that the agency was buying the bullets to supply its Office of Inspector General, which employs 295 law enforcement agents, "who carry guns and make arrests." The agents investigate social security fraud, carrying out search warrants and responding to threats against the administration. They arrested 589 people last year, AP reports. "Agents carry .357 caliber pistols, [IG spokesman Jonathan L.] Lasher said. The bullets, which add up to about 590 per agent, are for the upcoming fiscal year. Most will be expended on the firing range."

Compare that commonplace explanation with Infowars' suggestion that "the Social Security Administration is purchasing the bullets as part of preparations for civil unrest," or the Daily Caller's hyperventilating guess that SSA and other seemingly non-law-enforcement federal agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration were arming themselves to put down a widespread uprising. Terrifying! And completely unfounded. Just to save everybody the trouble when the NOAA puts in its next request for supplies, let it be known that that agency, too, has a law enforcement wing. This is like a lesson in government agencies, one conspiracy theory at a time.

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