More official cluelessness along our southwestern border.
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CNS News broke a story last month that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was unable to account for the whereabouts of ten Libyan nationals previously in its custody. According to documents released by ICE, the agency had processed 27 Libyans in 2009 and 2010. The documents revealed that out of those 27 Libyans, ten were “booked in” or detained by ICE, then “booked out” or released — but critically, neither the documents themselves nor representatives of ICE could account for what happened to these ten Libyans after they were released inside the United States. In response to repeated inquiries from CNS as to the whereabouts and case status of these Libyans, ICE stated that it had released all available information and that it had “nothing more to add on the matter.”
Though we were not yet engaged militarily in Libya at the time that these individuals were caught by and detained by ICE, we are now learning that our intelligence agencies are detecting “flickers” of al Qaeda among anti-Qaddafi forces. And as others have pointed out, Libya is a leading country-of-origin for the oft-mentioned “foreign fighters” that have been attacking our forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. That ICE not only lost track of these individuals but also does not see itself as obligated to provide answers as to what went wrong should raise troubling questions about how ICE manages the detention of those coming from hotbeds of global terrorism.
Equally disconcerting is the extent to which federal agencies responsible for land management at the border are preventing Border Patrol from effectively doing its job. The Departments of Interior and Agriculture’s implementation of land use laws have resulted in Border Patrol being denied access to public lands along the border in a timely fashion, creating entire swaths of border area through which smugglers can pass virtually without intervention. As the GAO noted in its testimony before the House Natural Resources Committee last month:
“Border Patrol’s access to some federal lands along the southwestern border has been limited because of certain land management laws, according to 17 of 26 patrol agents-in-charge that GAO surveyed…. Specifically, 14 Patrol agents-in-charge reported that they had been unable to obtain a permit or permission to access certain areas in a timely manner because of the time it takes for land managers to conduct required environmental and historic property assessments.”
Testimony by one of the founding members of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) put it this way:
“…the difficulties encountered by the Border Patrol to gain operational control are not the result of poor management or lack of resources. It is simply an issue of denied access. Unfortunately, our Country’s willingness to accept these unwise restrictions has been aggravated in recent years by the unrelenting pressure of drug cartels and other international criminal enterprises.”
No doubt that the men and women risking their lives as ICE agents and Border Patrol agents on the ground are serving with honor and doing everything within their power to keep the nation safe. Regrettably, however, their efforts have had to compete with bureaucratic inertia within and outside the Department of Homeland Security that is undermining their work and leaving us vulnerable to ever-increasing risks.
Real security efforts at the border will have to address the “hard power” shortcomings we are seeing in the face of determined and sophisticated cartels and terrorist organizations. If we turn to “soft power” without getting serious about detection and deterrence, we’re not even bringing a knife to the gunfight.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?