I will not have access to a computer until Sunday evening. (9/29) Talk to you then.
I will not have access to a computer until Sunday evening. (9/29) Talk to you then.
The Office of Public Affairs (OPA) in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proven to be quite adept at controlling Border Patrol communications with the media and the public at large. Every media request for information about Border Patrol operations, regardless of import, must be channeled through an OPA filter. Information requests are routinely denied or unreasonably delayed by OPA, but the Border Patrol is invariably blamed for the lack of transparency. The refusal of OPA to release the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) use of force policy is a prime example.
The CBP use of force continuum provides guidelines for the use of force when a Border Patrol Agent encounters a resistant suspect who refuses to obey lawful commands. The lower end of the continuum includes abstract principles like “officer presence” and “projection of authority” to persuade compliance. The continuum provides for increasing levels of force necessary to overcome resistance, up to and including deadly force. The amount of force used must be the minimum amount necessary to accomplish the task at hand. Border Patrol Agents are not authorized to use deadly force unless they believe a suspect poses an imminent danger of death or great bodily harm to the Agent or another person, and the suspect has the opportunity, ability and intent to do so.
Unless there has been a radical departure from historic Federal law enforcement use of force guidelines since my retirement, what I’ve written is the standard Border Patrol Agents must adhere to. It is a sound, time-tested policy that is consistent across the Government and it has served to protect Border Patrol Agents and the public, as well as suspects who actively resist arrest.
I believe the public has every right to examine Border Patrol use of force policies. The Border Patrol is the largest law enforcement agency in our Government and its Agents make more arrests and are involved in more shootings than any other Federal agency. OPA’s refusal to provide the Border Patrol use of force policy to members of the media is patently unreasonable and a disservice to the men and women who serve in a green uniform.
The media routinely bemoans their inability to obtain information that should be available to the public, but they frequently identify the Border Patrol as the entity refusing to cooperate. The Border Patrol no longer has the capacity to protect and preserve its own relationship with the media and the public because “communication experts” have taken over messaging and information distribution. OPA has made even the most mundane information requests concerning arrest statistics and operations prohibitively burdensome by demanding a Freedom of Information Act request for virtually everything.
The public doesn’t understand the lack of transparency regarding use of force policies. Every Border Patrol Agent I have spoken with is frustrated that OPA is permitted to harm the agency’s standing in the communities they serve. Media criticism and public dissatisfaction will not abate until OPA’s unreasonable, obsessive restriction of Border Patrol communications is halted.
The official CBP/OPA website identifies Melanie Roe as the person in charge of the component. An excerpt from her official bio appears below. She is likely a great political communicator, but OPA policies are not serving the men and women patrolling our borders well.
“Prior to joining DHS, Roe worked on the 2004 and 2008 presidential campaigns. During the 2004 cycle, she traveled daily with Sen. John Kerry as a speechwriting and communication aide. In 2008, she served as deputy communication director for then-vice presidential candidate Joe Biden. She also worked on the Democratic National Convention in Denver, where she was responsible for all operations inside the convention hall. She also served as a spokesperson for the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 2009.”
I began this blog for reasons I outlined in my home-page introduction. In spite of occasional allegations that I am sometimes insensitive, blogging has been a blast. Publicly offering my opinion without the considerable restraints imposed by federal employment has been therapeutic.
As is often the case when starting a new venture, one thing leads to another. Family and some who identify themselves as friends have urged me to open a Facebook page since I started this blog. I did so yesterday and I am astonished by the networking capabilities this social media holds. In the past 24 hours I have connected with friends and acquaintances I haven’t spoken with in years, sometimes decades. Truly amazing. I understand there will be inevitable negatives coming my way, but so far Facebook has been painless.
I am trying to figure out how to link blog posts to my Facebook page without scaring off Facebook friends who couldn’t care less what I think about illegal aliens, border security, politics or drugs. If at all possible, I’ll strike a reasonable balance.
I take comfort in the knowledge that many of you will let me know if I miss the mark.
The Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security has published a long-awaited report on the use of force by Border Patrol Agents. The report provides a comprehensive examination of force usage and provides several recommendations for better tracking of excessive force complaints and training. The report is generally positive and does not provide a damning evaluation of Border Patrol practices or training. I suggest you read the report before lending too much credibility to media reports regarding what the report says. Read the OIG report here.
Tim Steller, a feature reporter with the Arizona Daily Star, has long had an interest in Border Patrol shootings. Steller usually plays it straight and manages to keep personal bias out of his writings. Not so in this case.
Steller’s column headline reads, “What’s behind abrupt falloff in killings by BP?” An intriguing question that has nothing to do with the OIG report. Steller provides an “answer” to the question near the end of his column, but I’ll get to that in a moment. Steller begins his column by advising readers the OIG report “…answers a lot of questions, some of them relevant.” His snarky overall assessment becomes more focused when he asserts the report did not answer the question that “…most urgently needs answering: Have Border Patrol agents been killing people too often, in situations that don’t merit deadly force?”
Steller knows very well that Border Patrol shootings resulting in death are thoroughly investigated by the FBI as well as state and local agencies with jurisdiction. A Border Patrol Agent who kills someone in a situation that does not merit deadly force will face criminal prosecution and termination. Steller’s comment would lead readers to believe that individual Border Patrol shooting investigations do not determine whether or not the use of a firearm was warranted, when in fact the answer to this question is the primary focus of the investigation.
Steller is clearly miffed because Customs and Border Protection has refused to give him a copy of the Border Patrol’s use of force policy. He has a legitimate gripe here. The Border Patrol’s use of force guidelines have historically been available to the public and the media without reservation. Not presenting force policies for public review is inexcusable and CBP should be held accountable.
For the sake of brevity I won’t discuss Steller’s column line-by-line. However, his cynical attempt to answer the question posed by his headline demands attention. Steller writes, “So, whether Border Patrol agents have been killing people in unjustified situations remains unanswered, but there are hints rising from changes in the behavior of the 4,300 agents in the agency’s Tucson Sector.” Steller outlines a significant decrease in the number of Border Patrol shootings this year before observing that the decrease “…happened abruptly at the same time outcry over Border Patrol shootings was peaking last year. So perhaps the threats have lessened, or perhaps agents simply decided not to shoot in situations where it might not really be necessary, and when they might have shot before.”
The baseless allegation that Border Patrol Agents were shooting people without justification until the public began to notice is offensive. Steller’s absurd insinuations offend everyone currently wearing a Border Patrol uniform as well as those of us who spent a career serving with some of the finest law enforcement professionals in the country.
Don’t accept my evaluation of Steller’s column without reading the OIG report yourself. Steller’s column can be found in the September 16 edition of the Star. Read them both before assessing Steller’s journalistic integrity and let me know if you believe I have been unfairly critical.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan was in Arizona last week and took the opportunity to lecture Arizona taxpayers about the unfairness of illegal alien “dreamers” paying out-of-state tuition at Arizona’s three state universities. According to Duncan, Arizona’s universities should be more affordable for illegal aliens, who currently pay higher tuition rates than in-state students.
Duncan declared that dreamers represent “an amazing talent pool” and that charging them higher tuition rates makes “no sense.” In an interview with the Arizona Republic newspaper, Duncan declared, “It’s wrong for these young people. Ultimately, it’s wrong for the nation.”
Illegal aliens have complained that higher tuition prices limit the number of college courses they can take in a year, making it harder to finish their college degrees. Some illegal aliens say they are unable to even pursue a bachelor’s degree under the current pricing structure. What a shame.
The Obama Administration sees nothing wrong with forcing Arizona taxpayers to subsidize the secondary education of foreign nationals who are here in violation of our immigration laws. Secretary Duncan doesn’t have a problem with charging higher tuition rates to young American citizens from neighboring states seeking an education at Arizona’s fine universities. However, he believes the notion of charging illegal aliens out-of-state tuition is simply “wrong.”
American parents who have scrimped and saved for decades to put their kids through college don’t see it that way. American students who borrow heavily to attend Arizona’s universities also don’t see it that way. What is “wrong” here is the Obama Administration’s belief that American parents and students should be forced to sacrifice so illegal aliens can get a discounted college degree.
The FBI announced that a third suspect in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry has been arrested in Mexico. Agent Terry was shot to death in December of 2010 by a group of five Mexican criminals who entered the U.S. illegally in order to steal marijuana from other drug smugglers. Two of the five have previously been arrested. The two remaining killers are still at large and are believed to be hiding in Mexico.
The weapon used to kill Agent Terry has been identified as one that was sold to a gun smuggling ring during an ATF operation named Fast & Furious. Our own Government supplied the weapon used to murder Agent Terry and nobody thus far has been held accountable.
The Fast & Furious gun-running operation is being investigated by Congress and many, many questions remain unanswered. Attorney General Eric Holder has consistently stonewalled Congressional investigators and he became the first Attorney General in history to be cited for contempt of Congress. Congress has turned to the Judicial Branch to force Holder to turn over internal Fast & Furious documents and a ruling is expected soon.
Sooner or later, the two remaining scumbags will undoubtedly be brought to justice. The FBI has primary jurisdiction in crimes involving the murder of a Federal Officer and they have compiled an impressive track record of success when hunting down animals who kill Border Patrol Agents.
Every Border Patrol Agent, past and present, is resolutely seeking justice for Agent Terry’s murder. Congress must show the same resolve in their efforts to uncover the truth about Fast & Furious.
The following post was written by Claude “Gene” Guyant, a member of the National Advisory Board of the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers. (NAFBPO) Mr. Guyant had a long and distinguished career with the Immigration & Naturalization Service that began in 1966. He is inarguably one of our nation’s foremost experts on immigration matters and his message here is directed toward those who specialize in divisive special-interest politics. It is worth a read.
“To LULAC, La Raza, etc.: Stop and think. You exist in the United States of America, the land of the free and the home of the brave. The land blessed with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.
But apparently this would not be the case if you would have it your way. You would rather concentrate on sowing the seeds of national discord and separation by continuing to foster programs and policies dedicated only to emphasize being primarily “latino” rather than being American. So much for the concept of one country, one national brotherhood. Should your ultimate visions continue to be pushed forward, what do you suppose will be the eventual fruits of those seeds you are planting in our nation?
What do you and your kindred spirits, i.e., “Somos un Pueblo Unido,” (“We are a united people”) and “Hermandad Mexicana” (“Mexican Brotherhood”) and others really want? Again, hint: you won’t achieve it by emphasizing being “latino” rather than just plain American. You are only striving to accentuate the differences and thus dividing the United States into populations with different cultural habits and language.
Some individuals become obsessed with this cultural divide to the point of becoming practically “professional latinos.” Incredibly, there are even some individuals in the legislative and executive branches of the United States government who certainly merit that title.
There is still time to approach this issue with the best interests of the United States of America in mind. It’s rather simple: let us strive to work on those issues that benefit our country first instead of prioritizing and being obsessed with the assimilation of millions upon uncounted millions of persons from other countries who violated our country’s immigration laws. Honduras, Nicaragua, Chile and Panama, etc., don’t grant amnesty and citizenship to hordes of illegal aliens from Bolivia, El Salvador, Peru, Mexico and Guatemala, etc. Why should any nation reward multitudes of foreign violators of its own laws?
La Raza, LULAC: You are Americans, living in the United States of America. Be glad and be proud. And start being Americans instead of something else. Period.”
In a New York Times Op-Ed post yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin wrote that recent events in Syria prompted him to “speak directly to the American people and their political leaders.” (Read his letter here.) Putin provides a distorted assessment of the United Nations before launching into a negative diatribe about the impacts of an American military strike against Syrian President Assad.
Putin’s dissertation will be persuasive only to those who choose to ignore the fact that he is a Communist dictator whose primary goals are increasing Russian influence and embarrassing the United States on the world stage. He is a career KGB officer who has manipulated Russian law in order to remain in office and he has imprisoned or killed thousands of dissenters to silence political opposition. He is no more than a common thug who has cleverly managed to seize control of the remnants of a once-powerful Soviet Union.
Syrian President Assad has murdered over 100,000 of his own citizens in the past few years in order to suppress internal opposition to his brutal reign. Putin has been supplying Syria with weapons for years and Assad is in power today because Putin has propped him up. Assad’s use of sarin gas to massacre over 1,400 men, women and children was horrifying. Assad is guilty of crimes against humanity and Putin is complicit.
There is widespread belief in the United States that President Obama has mishandled the Syrian matter. Putin wrote his letter to the Times because he believed the Syrian situation provided an opportunity to diminish President Obama’s influence and elevate his own political standing.
I believe Putin has miscalculated the character and intelligence of the “American people and their political leaders.” Millions of Americans are not pleased with the direction Barack Obama has taken our country and we are not shy about expressing our dissatisfaction. However, dictators like Putin should not read too much into the turmoil. Like it or not, Barack Obama is our duly-elected President and he belongs to us.
Americans don’t take political advice from a common thug with a lofty title: especially when the thug dishing out the advice would bury this great nation if the opportunity ever presented itself. Putin wasted a stamp.
The National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers (NAFBPO) published an open letter this past weekend challenging the notion that only 11 million illegal aliens reside in the United States. NAFBPO labels the 11 million figure a “gross underestimate” and asserts, “The more likely figure is 18 – 20 million and rising daily.” Using the 1986 amnesty debacle (IRCA) as a yardstick, NAFBPO notes that Government estimates placed the number of illegal aliens at less than 1 million prior to IRCA’s passage. During IRCA implementation we discovered that approximately 3 million illegal aliens were here.
NAFBPO states in the letter, “Empirical data collected during processing of the 2.7 million persons during the last amnesty established that for every alien estimated to be eligible for amnesty three will actually benefit. Even after this incredible failure was discovered, Congress negligently failed to demand a methodology be developed to provide them with factual information on the number of individuals who enter and remain illegally in the United States, obviously a willful oversight.” NAFBPO asserts it is “malfeasance and fraud on its face” for members of Congress to “even contemplate another amnesty without verification of this basic information.”
NAFBPO has hit the nail on the head yet again. Undertaking an extensive overhaul of our immigration laws without knowing how many illegal aliens will be legalized and without knowing how many aliens make a successful illegal entry every night is absurd. I encourage you to contact your legislators to demand acquisition of this fundamental information before Congress takes up any sort of immigration reform.
As I mentioned in a post written two days ago, President Obama’s critics often accuse him of being narcissistic and arrogant. His noticeable swagger, his childish tendency to bound down the stairs of Air Force One and his condescending dismissal of political opponents have been cited as examples of his self-absorption.
In a White House photo released the other day, President Obama is shown in the Oval Office talking on the phone. The picture was meant to depict the President directly engaged in lobbying lawmakers for support for a military strike against Syrian President Assad. While talking on the phone, President Obama is standing with one foot on the floor and one foot on the Presidential desk. This seemingly innocuous, candid picture of the President at work reveals a great deal about his feelings of self-importance.
The White House is a historic American landmark and the Oval Office is the most iconic representation of Presidential authority within that landmark. The desk Obama is resting the sole of his shoe on is an American treasure. It is known as the “Resolute Desk” and it was presented to President Rutherford B. Hayes by the Queen of England in 1880. The desk is fashioned from the timbers of the HMS Resolute, a British sailing ship with a celebrated history.
The Oval Office and the furnishings therein belong exclusively to the citizens of the United States and they symbolize the high regard America affords its President. If a foreign dignitary or any other person visiting the Oval Office put their foot on the President’s desk, the act would be viewed as an inexcusable insult to America and the Office of the President. It is no less an insult when the person America has bestowed the honor of occupying that Office displays such irreverence and inconsideration for our national treasures.
I have listened to several of President Obama’s recent speeches intended to garner public support for a military strike against Syria. At a press conference in Russia today, he repeated an expression that caused me great concern when I first heard him use it several weeks ago. Speaking without a script, Obama referred to U.S. Armed Forces as “my military.”
This phraseology is not insignificant because it provides a candid peek into Obama’s self-image. A number of Obama observers have accused him of being narcissistic and egocentric. They point to his noticeable swagger and his silly penchant for bounding down the steps of Air Force One as signs that he wants everyone’s focus to be upon him, regardless of the business at hand. He rarely gives a speech without reminding us he is the President of the United States and he has repeatedly dismissed political opponents by boasting, “The election is over, and I won.”
President Obama would do well to remember that America’s military does not “belong” to him in any sense of the word. The iconic residence he and his family currently occupy is not his either. He’ll have to turn over the keys to that $500,000.00 Cadillac limousine relatively soon and spending time on an airport tarmac waiting his turn for a takeoff slot will become the norm.
In the not-too-distant future, Barack Obama’s presence won’t generate as much as a simple salute from an Army Private. If the Obama family shows up at the White House, a uniformed Secret Service Officer will ask them what business they have there and who authorized their visit. If Barack Obama decides to move around Washington, DC by car, he’ll suffer in traffic like everyone else and the breathtaking view from Marine One while flying through restricted Washington airspace will soon be no more than a fond memory.
Barack Obama’s importance is fleeting by design. History will judge him on his political accomplishments and failures, not his fashionable image while flaunting the perks of his office. Less self-absorption and more concern for how he makes America look in the world’s eyes would benefit everyone.
The nation is fiercely debating whether or not to punish Syria’s President Assad for using chemical weapons to murder over 1,400 civilian men, women and children. Personally, I believe this murdering thug should be hit so hard that the mere thought of using chemical weapons again causes him to soil his pants. I believe I can make a strong case for U.S. military action, but I acknowledge the opposition has presented a persuasive argument for not engaging Syria with military force. Reasonable people are having honest disagreements regarding which course of action to take.
However, there is a disturbing underlying current in this important debate. A large number of Americans have lost faith in our Government and they view the Obama Administration’s justification for a Syrian strike with skepticism and doubt. Simply put, the public believes this administration lies in order to manipulate public opinion. This general belief is understandable.
The Obama Administration has established an impressive track record for lying. Obama and his Secretary of State lied about the Benghazi Consulate murders and obstructed Congressional investigations from the beginning. This Administration repeatedly lied about the scope of the IRS scandal by insisting a “couple of rogue low-level employees” were responsible for targeting conservative groups for additional Government scrutiny. They lied about seeking private phone records and email messages from reporters to uncover the source of embarrassing information leaks. They lied about ATF’s Fast & Furious gun-running operation by denying they provided weapons to Mexican drug cartels that used a couple of them in the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. In the F&F case, Obama’s Attorney General was caught red-handed lying about permitting guns to “walk” and he became the first U.S. Attorney General in history to be cited for Contempt of Congress. Lies told by Obama’s recently departed DHS Secretary, Janet Napolitano, are in a category all by themselves.
The disbelief crosses party lines and there is bipartisan agreement that the Obama Administration plays fast and loose with the facts. This reality is making it much harder for President Obama to gain support from a war-weary, uncertain American public.