Archive for the 'U.S. Sovereignty' Category

Counterinsurgency on the Southern U.S. Border

BY Herschel Smith
7 years, 5 months ago

Friend of The Captain’s Journal David Danelo has a must read concerning the situation at the Southern U.S. border.  Here is the full commentary followed by our own analysis.

On Nov. 3, the day before Americans elected Barack Obama president, drug cartel henchmen murdered 58 people in Mexico. It was the highest number killed in one day since President Felipe Calderon took office in December 2006. By comparison, on average 26 people — Americans and Iraqis combined — died daily in Iraq in 2008. Mexico’s casualty list on Nov. 3 included a man beheaded in Ciudad Juarez whose bloody corpse was suspended along an overpass for hours. No one had the courage to remove the body until dark.

The death toll from terrorist attacks in Mumbai two weeks ago, although horrible, approaches the average weekly body count in Mexico’s war. Three weeks ago in Juarez, which is just across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, telephone messages and banners threatened teachers that if they failed to pay protection money to cartels, their students would suffer brutal consequences. Local authorities responded by assigning 350 teenage police cadets to the city’s 900 schools. If organized criminals wish to extract tribute from teachers, businessmen, tourists or anyone else, there is nothing the Mexican government can do to stop them. For its part, the United States has become numb to this norm.

As part of my ongoing research into border issues, I have visited Juarez six times over the last two years. Each time I return, I see a populace under greater siege. Residents possess a mentality that increasingly resembles the one I witnessed as a Marine officer in Baghdad, Fallouja and Ramadi.

“The police are nothing,” a forlorn cab driver told me in September. “They cannot protect anyone. We can go nowhere else. We live in fear.”

An official in El Paso estimated that up to 100,000 dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, mostly upper middle class, have fled north from Juarez to his city this year. Only those lacking means to escape remain.

At the same time, with the U.S. economy in free fall, many illegal immigrants are returning south. So illegal immigration — the only border issue that seems to stir the masses — made no splash in this year’s elections. Mexico’s chaos never surfaced as a topic in either the foreign or domestic policy presidential debates.

Despite the gravity of the crisis, our closest neighbor has fallen off our political radar. Heaven help you if you bring up the border violence at a Washington dinner party. Nobody — Republican or Democrat — wants to approach this thorny discussion.

Mexico, our second-largest trading partner, is a fragmenting state that may spiral toward failure as the recession and drug violence worsen. Remittances to Mexico from immigrant labor have fallen almost 20% in 2008. Following oil, tourism and remittances, drugs are the leading income stream in the Mexican economy.

While the bottom is dropping out of the oil and tourism markets, the American street price of every narcotic has skyrocketed, in part because of recent drug interdiction successes along the U.S. border.

Unfortunately, this toxic economic cocktail also stuffs the cartels’ coffers. Substitute tribal clans for drug cartels, and Mexico starts to look disturbingly similar to Afghanistan, whose economy is fueled by the heroin-based poppy trade.

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, Obama’s pick for Homeland Security director, has argued for permanently stationing National Guard troops along the border. That response alone will do little to assuage American border citizens. To them, talk of “violence bleeding over” is political pabulum while they watch their southern neighbors bleed.

If Napolitano wishes to stabilize the border, she will have to persuade the Pentagon and the State Department to take a greater interest in Mexico. Despite Calderon’s commendable efforts to fight both the cartels and police corruption, this struggle shows no signs of slowing. When 45,000 federal troops are outgunned and outspent by opponents of uncertain but robust size, the state’s legitimacy quickly deteriorates.

The Mexican state has not faced this grave a challenge to its authority since the Mexican revolution nearly a century ago.

If you want to see what Mexico will look like if this pattern continues, visit a border city like Tijuana, where nine beheaded bodies were discovered in plastic bags 10 days ago. Inhale the stench of decay. Inspect the fear on the faces. And then ask yourself how the United States is prepared to respond as Mexico’s crisis increasingly becomes our own.

David J. Danelo is the author of “The Border: Exploring the U.S.-Mexican Divide” and “Blood Stripes: The Grunt’s View of the War in Iraq.”

To set background in place for the analysis below, see the following video.  Mexican labor has become the new slave class for Corporate America.

The situation at the border with Mexico has become as classical an insurgency as anywhere in the world, and because of the complicity of American business fishing for cheap labor, lack of traceability of employment records, no health insurance payments, no retirement payments, and no social security payments, we are now relegated to the solution to militarize the Southern border.

Further, even militarization of the border won’t fully solve the issue unless massive changes are made to both the rules under which the military would operate and our understanding of the seriousness of the situation.  In Guardsmen Attacked and Overrun at U.S. Border we discussed the horribly failed attempt to use the National Guard to secure the border.  The National Guard had no ammunition in their weapons, could only put themselves at mortal risk in order to apprehend suspects, and weren’t even allowed to fire warning shots.

Unlike the citizens of New Orleans after Katrina who usually stopped for armed police (not realizing that the police are not allowed to use deadly force to stop a fleeing suspect), the border is infested with rogue elements who know better.  Militarization of the border would mean full scale implementation of the rules associated with the SCOTUS decision Tennessee v. Garner 471 U.S. 1 (1985) on criminals who wouldn’t respect the military and would use the rules against them.

The intrusiveness of a seizure by means of deadly force is unmatched. The suspect’s fundamental interest in his own life need not be elaborated upon. The use of deadly force also frustrates the interest of the individual, and of society, in judicial determination of guilt and punishment. Against these interests are ranged governmental interests in effective law enforcement.  It is argued that overall violence will be reduced by encouraging the peaceful submission of suspects who know that they may be shot if they flee.

Without in any way disparaging the importance of these goals, we are not convinced that the use of deadly force is a sufficiently productive means of accomplishing them to justify the killing of nonviolent suspects. Cf. Delaware v. Prouse, supra, at 659. The use of deadly force is a self-defeating way of apprehending a suspect and so setting the criminal justice mechanism in motion. If successful, it guarantees that that mechanism will not be set in motion. And while the meaningful threat of deadly force might be thought to lead to the arrest of more live suspects by discouraging escape attempts, the presently available evidence does not support this thesis.

Whether MS 13, other criminals and drug runners, or foreign terrorists who enter the U.S. via the Southern border, the U.S. is in real trouble concerning national sovereignty.  David has done important work in informing us of the scope of the risk at the border.


Danger at the Border

Guardsmen Attacked and Overrun at the U.S. Border

Danger at the Border

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 11 months ago

In Guardsmen Attacked and Overrun at U.S. Border we discussed the embarrassing and dangerous rout of U.S. troops by heavily armed criminals at the border around January of 2007, and how, while the use of the troops didn’t violate Posse Comitatus, they were not armed (they didn’t have ammunition for their weapons) and had only assisted the border guards in clerical and maintenance duties.

After calling for the deployment of the National Guard to the borders by so many television pundits, it was difficult for the country to understand why their soldiers had been routed by drug gangs.  There is something far deeper at work here, and it will prevent the effective closure of the border no matter how many miles of fence is constructed and no matter how many border guards or National Guardsmen are deployed to the border.  Border Guards and the Armed Forces will behave in accordance with RUF, or rules for the use of force.

In Tennessee v. Garner, 471 U.S. 1 (1985), the SCOTUS (White, Brennan, Marshall, Blackmun, Powell and Stevens, with O’Conner and Rehnquist dissenting) weighed the use of deadly force for the apprehension of criminals:

The intrusiveness of a seizure by means of deadly force is unmatched. The suspect’s fundamental interest in his own life need not be elaborated upon. The use of deadly force also frustrates the interest of the individual, and of society, in judicial determination of guilt and punishment. Against these interests are ranged governmental interests in effective law enforcement.  It is argued that overall violence will be reduced by encouraging the peaceful submission of suspects who know that they may be shot if they flee.

The decision would change the face of law enforcement across the nation (even for those police departments who had already implemented something like the SCOTUS decision into policy):

Without in any way disparaging the importance of these goals, we are not convinced that the use of deadly force is a sufficiently productive means of accomplishing them to justify the killing of nonviolent suspects. Cf. Delaware v. Prouse, supra, at 659. The use of deadly force is a self-defeating way of apprehending a suspect and so setting the criminal justice mechanism in motion. If successful, it guarantees that that mechanism will not be set in motion. And while the meaningful threat of deadly force might be thought to lead to the arrest of more live suspects by discouraging escape attempts, 9 the presently available evidence does not support this thesis.

Notice here that the SCOTUS takes an irrelevant adventure into unscientific and anecdotal evidence to bolster their decision rather than focusing on the case constitutionality or lack thereof.  Continuing:

The use of deadly force to prevent the escape of all felony suspects, whatever the circumstances, is constitutionally unreasonable. It is not better that all felony suspects die than that they escape. Where the suspect poses no immediate threat to the officer and no threat to others, the harm resulting from failing to apprehend him does not justify the use of deadly force to do so.

What the decision means is that a police officer (and substitute here border guard) cannot use his weapon to apprehend; he can only use it for self defense in the case of an armed assailant who intends to do harm.  Apprehending must be performed without deadly force.  Notwithstanding the video of looters who were ignorant of the law being detained by police officers in New Orleans after the flood, the police cannot use their weapon to detain.  Those looters could have fled the scene if they were able to escape physical, bodily restraint by the officer.  They only stopped because they incorrectly thought that the officers could have used deadly force to detain them.

The gang members who regularly cross the southern border are not so ignorant of the law.  This legal criteria is applied without exception to non-citizens who have crossed over the U.S. border from Mexico.  Calls for sending the National Guard to the border are ostensibly a call for militarization of the border.  In fact, the administration, border guards and military forces of the U.S. know better, and thus the deployment of Guardsmen becomes a shell game with national security.  It is done knowing full well that it will have no effect on border security.

Big business has created a situation in which national security is being sacrificed for the sake of stock prices.  The logical connections go as follows.  The use of illegals to perform work in the U.S. is big business.  The corporate class has found a way to create a new slave class by paying lower wages to illegals while forcing the middle class to shoulder the burden for medical, social, language, educational and other welfare programs for this new slave class.  This new slave class makes an already porous border even worse, and helps to break a system that is woefully unprepared and improperly tooled to track illegals in the country.  This system breakage then redounds to further lack of control over potential terrorists who would cross over the border.

If you doubt that the new slave class is big business for corporations, the video below might convince you otherwise.

Many things can be done about the current debacle that is the border with Mexico.  The SCOTUS could revisit Tennessee v. Garner.  But will they?  The congress could enact legislation that militarizes the border (or at least provide more authority to border guards) and, by their constitutional authority, order the courts not to adjudicate the law.  But will they?  Miles of border fence could be constructed and manned by border guards with non-lethal weapons.  But will America do this?  We could imprison corporate executives who hire illegals.  But will we?  Will we institute all, some or none of these changes?  Without having a national conversation about the entire scope of the problem and getting serious about the hard work of securing the border, sending more Guardsmen to the border will not just be ineffective.  It will prolong the problem and prevent the national conversation from taking place.  And talk about “comprehensive immigration reform” (S. 1639) is a ruse and usurper of a real national conversation about securing the border.

More Confusion on Rules of Engagement

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 2 months ago

We have covered rules of engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan, both at the micro- and macroscopic levels, i.e., from room clearing operations to the use of munitions delivered from air.  In this coverage we have challenged not only the written rules, but the in-situ application and communication of them.  Rather than using MSM reports, we have done original investigative reporting, conveying the stories of at least two NCOs who were recently in Iraq.  We have received thousands of visits to these articles from military network domains, including CENTCOM, the Pentagon, NCTC, Army, Marines and others.  There was a promise by the administration to revise the ‘overly-restrictive’ rules of engagement upon announcement of “the surge.”  Yet there continues to be obvious indecision and confusion regarding both the application and communication of ROE, the most recent instances of which involved kinetic operations in a Mosque and university in Baghdad.

As a contextual background to the most recent issues, in Rules of Engagement and Indecision we discussed the ~200 Taliban, in formation for a funeral, and who escaped without being engaged by a predator drone because of bureaucracy and indecision on rules of engagement.

Every airstrike, whether from a manned aircraft or a Predator, must be at least approved by commanders at the regional Combined Air Operations Center, or CAOC. If an intended target is particularly sensitive, the decision could go all the way up to a general officer serving as top combat commander … The current rules of engagement, likely developed by senior Pentagon officials, do not rule out an attack on religious gathering but do generally prohibit an attack on a religious site such as a cemetery or mosque, military analyst and retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs told MSNBC TV.

Ramadi combat action has seen U.S. forces finally engage insurgent fire coming from Mosques, after “Militants inside the Al Qadir Al Kilami mosque fired small arms, machine guns and rocket propelled grenades at U.S. forces.”  In this instance, there was hesitation, and it took direct attacks against U.S. forces from the Mosque to provoke engagement by the U.S.

In the recent security operations, Maliki has allegedly directed robust action against the tactics of using Mosques as defense by the insurgents.  “We are full of hope. We have no other choice but to use force and any place where we receive fire will not be safe even if it is a school, a mosque, a political party office or home,” he said. “There will be no safe place in Iraq for terrorists.”

The U.S. has indeed recently raided Mosques in kinetic operations.

Two suspects were detained when members of the 10th Mountain Division “Commandos” conducted a search of the Khashab mosque in western Baghdad on Jan. 12 aimed at capturing insurgents believed responsible for assassinating the governor of Baghdad. Insurgent propaganda was found in the mosque.

The search was planned based on intelligence gathered from numerous citizens in the Hurriyah neighborhood of Baghdad, officials said. Residents witnessed insurgents leaving from the mosque then fleeing to the mosque after the assassination.

There is even more recent action inside Mosques, followed on by a confused statement from the Multi-National Force:

Coalition forces detained three suspected terrorists during a raid in Baghdad Sunday morning.
The targeted suspected terrorist, who was detained on the scene, is reported to be involved in the procurement and distribution of weapons, including explosives to conduct improvised explosive devices attacks against Iraqi citizens and Coalition Forces.
While conducting the raid, Coalition Forces entered a mosque where the targeted suspect was hiding.  Coalition Forces detained the targeted suspect along with two other suspected terrorists.
During the operation, one local Iraqi woman received wounds to her thigh and head.  Coalition medical personnel treated her onsite and she was transported to a local hospital for further care.
“Coalition forces soldiers respect the sanctity and holiness of all places of worship and exercise the utmost restraint when planning for and considering the conduct of operations in and around mosques,? said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, MNF-I spokesperson.
“We do not enter mosques for the sole purposes of disrupting insurgent activities or conducting a show of force.  Mosque entries occur only as a last resort, and only when substantial and credible evidence shows insurgent activity is occurring there – i.e., meetings, storage of weapons, harboring of insurgent leaders,? he said.

Lt. Col. Garver states unequivocally that the U.S. does not enter Mosques for the “sole purpuse of disrupting insurgent activities” (causing us to question what conditions would warrant entry if not disrupting insurgent activities), and then proceeds to outline conditions that warrant entry into a Mosque, including but not limited to evidence that entry might disrupt insurgent activities.

Based on such a statement, it is not obvious that the mistake of allowing ~200 Taliban to escape from a funeral would not be repeated either in Iraq or Afghanistan, and we may even be devolving from a context where ROE is spoken of to one where we speak of RUF, or rules for the use of force.  A recent instance at a university in Baghdad shows that, given U.S. rules of engagement and avoidance of collateral damage, police in riot gear might have been more appropriate to the circumstances (more here):

Students at Baghdad’s Mustansariya University frustrated a US raid on Thursday with a large protest, Aswat al-Iraq reports in Arabic.

“The American forces tried this morning to raid Mustansiriya University in the East of Baghdad, but the students made a massive demonstration protesting the trespassing of these forces on the university campus,” a student told the news agency, adding that the action “forced these forces to withdraw from the university.”

No one wants to see innocent students (if indeed they are innocent) come under fire.  But if student protests can back down U.S. kinetic operations, then the entire paradigm for twenty first century combat must be re-formulated (by Western nations, that is, since the terrorists have no rules).  While U.S. soldiers get backed down by university students, a senior JAG officer says that in his opinion, U.S. troops “use self-defense too much in order to escape liability.”  Since there is no other reason for someone to use self-defense than to “escape liability,” the JAG has engaged in tautology.  He should have his Juris Doctor rescinded, pick up a rifle and stand a post where he has to defend himself.

The same concerns over RUF have manifested themselves at the U.S. border recently, with border guards afraid for their lives because of the nature of the current threat.

Violence along the U.S.-Mexico border is undergoing what U.S. law-enforcement authorities call “an unprecedented surge,” some of it fueled by weapons and ammunition purchased or stolen in the United States.

Federal, state and local law-enforcement officials from Texas to California, concerned about the impact of illegally imported weapons into Mexico, say they already are outmanned and outgunned by ruthless gangs that collect millions of dollars in profits by smuggling aliens and drugs into this country.

“These gangs have the weapons and the will to protect their lucrative cargoes,” said Sigifredo Gonzalez Jr., the sheriff of Zapata County, Texas, who founded and served as the first president of the Texas Border Sheriff’s Coalition. “With automatic weapons, grenades and grenade launchers, they pose a significant danger.”

Last month, Mexican military officials in Matamoros, just south of Brownsville, Texas, stopped a tractor-trailer containing weapons and ammunition, along with a pickup truck fitted with armor and bulletproof glass.

The weapons included 18 M-16 assault rifles, one equipped with an M-203 40mm grenade launcher. Also seized were several M-4 carbines, 17 handguns of various calibers, 200 magazines for different weapons, 8,000 rounds of ammunition, assault vests and other military accessories.

The awful Tennessee versus Garner SCOTUS decision will ensure that the U.S. border becomes even more violent, and we find it likely that in the future it will be difficult to staff the ranks with border guards due to the danger (prior coverage in Guardsmen Attacked and Overrun at U.S. Border).

In summary, we enter Mosques when we feel that there is no other option, but in fact, contrary to this we respect religious sanctuary and do not enter Mosques for the purpose of disrupting insurgent activities, according to Lt. Col. Garver.  We enter Mosques but we don’t, and then we feel the need to explain to the world that we enter Mosques but we don’t.  Students at a University in Baghdad can back down armed U.S. forces, and U.S. border guards receive fire from automatic weapons and grenade launchers at the border with Mexico.  Because the ROE prevents U.S. forces from protecting property, the looters stole the Baghdad museum empty, thus demonstrating in the worst possible picture display that U.S. forces could not or would not protect the property of Iraqis.  Rather than speak of “rules of engagement,” since it appears that the U.S. military is conducting a gigantic police campaign in Iraq, “rules for the use of force” might be more appropriate.  Thus have ex-Mahdi army members returned to the streets in Baghdad for the protection of their neighborhoods.



Guardsmen Attacked and Overrun at U.S. Border

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 4 months ago


A U.S. Border Patrol entry Identification Team site was overrun Wednesday night along Arizona’s border with Mexico. Note that this is not the Syrian-Iraqi border, but the U.S. border.

According to the Border Patrol, an unknown number of gunmen attacked the site in the state’s West Desert Region around 11 p.m. The site is manned by National Guardsmen. Those guardsmen were forced to retreat.

So how is it that Guardsmen are forced to retreat when attacked at the U.S. border? The answer lies in understanding the assigned mission of the Guardsmen. The current administration and many in Congress see America as a “state of mind” rather than a place to live and defend. Border security is not taken seriously because they do not believe in an America with borders.

This explains the role of the Guardsmen. Since arriving in mid-June, the Guard has assisted the Border Patrol by manning control rooms, repairing roads, fences and vehicles, and spotting and reporting illegal border crossings to the Border Patrol. President Bush said last spring he would have up to 6,000 National Guard troops deployed to assist the Border Patrol.

Note well. The Guardsmen are not even armed. Posse Comitatus does not prevent the use of U.S. troops from performing functions on U.S. soil, even policing functions. It just requires the approval of the President and Congress to use them in this manner. But because most people in Washington do not understand this, or simply do not care, the Guardsmen are not armed and are not instructed or even allowed to perform policing functions, even at the border with Mexico. They assist with roads, fences and office administrative functions.

It is manifestly obvious that to use U.S. warriors in this manner besmirches their honor and reputation, insults their dignity, puts them at undue risk, wastes their time and equipment, and turns them into road workers and administrative clerks. It is unseemly and scandalous in the superlative degree.

As a solution to this embarrassment, we should either arm them with M16A2s and instruct and empower them to arrest those who violate the sovereignty of the United States and kill those who resist, or let them go home, after which we can admit to our children that we don’t care about the security of our country any more.

**** UPDATE ****

Courtesy of Oak Leaf at Polipundit, we have this informative post from June of 2006.

Unfortunately, I must report that “Armed? does not always mean “armed? as most Americans would understand. There are various states of being “armed.? These are called “Arming Orders (AO)? which define where the weapon “is,? where the magazine “is,? where the bullets “are? and where the bayonet “is.? They start at Arming Order One which could best be described as a “show of force? or “window dressing? in the worse case.

After considerable searching, I was able to find a complete copy of the Memorundum of Understanding/Rules of Engagement pertaining to the National Guard Deployment (“Operation Jump Start”), which I could then review.

After reviewing the MOU/ROE, I contacted several senior “in the loop? National Guard Officers that I have previously served with, to determine how many soldiers would be “armed? and their Arming Order number. After confirming The El Paso Times article that “very few soldiers there would carry weapons,? I was advised that during the next 90 days, amongst the few soldiers that have weapons, no soldier will have an Arming Order greater than AO-1, which means that an M-16 will be on the shoulder, there will be no magazine in the weapon (thats where the bullets come from), and the magazines stored inside the “ammunition pouch? will in most cases have no ammunition, they will be empty.

It was also conveyed to myself that in the unlikely event that a soldier is ever harmed on the border, the Arming Order will not be raised. Every individual I spoke to envisions no circumstance where there will ever be soldiers at AO-3/4, where a magazine with ammunition would be immediately available. Instead the soldiers will simply be kept farther away from the border if needed. They will be deliberately kept out of harms way.

I know you are thinking (maybe screaming), “but Why?? The easy public relations answer is that a soldier could kill someone. The National Guard is going to ensure that there is not a repeat of the incident in which Esequiel Hernández was killed by a US Marine along the Border.

There are also numerous regulations pertaining to weapons. There is a requirement that a soldier must qualify with his weapon on an annual basis. Reasonably, you must be “qualified? with your weapon before you may carry a weapon. However, ranges for weapons qualification are extremely limited. National Guard soldiers normally perform their once a year required qualification when they go to Annual Training at Ft. Stewart, Ft. McCoy…… This year they are going to “the border? and unless there is a “regulation M-16 qualification range? down the road, they will not be able to get qualified. There is also the question of weapon storage and how do you prevent theft.

If you click the hyperlink above, and read the Rules of Engagement, you will see that they provide for the right of self defense, however the question that must be asked is “defense with what??

Note to Lou Dobbs: When you go to the Border to do filming, do a close up on the M-16s where the magazine is inserted, it will go over real well with the American People.

— Oak Leaf

Smith responds: Thanks Oak. Keep up the good work.

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