On February 26, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) Center for Human Rights issued a white paper on the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty (ATT), which concludes that “the proposed ATT is consistent with the Second Amendment.” This conclusion neglects important facts about the treaty and the processes surrounding it, which we have explored in this four-part series.
We have shown that while we agree with several of the ABA’s contentions, it ignores the fact that the ATT—like many treaties—is not designed for a nation with a federal structure like the U.S. The ABA also ignores the fact that the ATT goes beyond import restrictions on firearms by requiring signatories to prevent the domestic diversion of imports. The treaty may also invite the executive branch to take executive actions to restrict and control the import of firearms into the U.S., imports which comprise about 35 percent of the new firearms market.
Finally, the treaty raises broader concerns about the application of transnational law to the U.S. These concerns are heightened by the fact that both foreign nations and some prominent legal scholars have identified treaties like the ATT as a mechanism to pressure the U.S. to change its domestic policies, and even to change the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment.
The question, then, is what the U.S. should do about this. The U.S. is sensitive to allegations that it is failing to fulfill treaty commitments, and it rightly takes its treaty obligations seriously. Because the ATT is a process that is designed to evolve and grow, it is impossible to know where it will lead.
A new ATT conference begins today in New York, and we will be blogging from the conference.
Supporters of the ATT frequently defend it as entirely unrelated to the Second Amendment. Some opponents of the ATT criticize it as a nefarious plot against the Second Amendment. The truth is more complicated …
Listen carefully. No, the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty isn’t really that complicated. It is a nefarious plot against the second amendment.
We’ve covered this in detail before. All that rubbish and claptrap about the treaty excluding civilians because it excludes civilian arms is a ruse. What it does is what Feinstein and Obama want to do within the framework of U.S. law, and distinguish between so-called “military weapons” and “civilian weapons.” Again – it doesn’t distinguish between you and a member of the professional military, it distinguishes between military arms and civilian arms.
It would make illegal all sorts of firearms currently in circulation, as well as subject you to a set of rules, licensing and governmental checks that would make what Obama has proposed look like free utopia.
Some things really are as they seem. Can Heritage at least try to get it right next time? Otherwise, it’s just wasted space and bandwidth.
The Obama administration is moving to shut down nine Border Patrol stations across four states, triggering a backlash from local law enforcement, members of Congress and Border Patrol agents themselves.
Critics of the move warn the closures will undercut efforts to intercept drug and human traffickers in well-traveled corridors north of the U.S.-Mexico border. Though the affected stations are scattered throughout northern and central Texas, and three other states, the coverage areas still see plenty of illegal immigrant activity — one soon-to-be-shuttered station in Amarillo, Texas, is right in the middle of the I-40 corridor; another in Riverside, Calif., is outside Los Angeles.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection says it’s closing the stations in order to reassign agents to high-priority areas closer to the border.
“These deactivations are consistent with the strategic goal of securing America’s borders, and our objective of increasing and sustaining the certainty of arrest of those trying to enter our country illegally,” CBP spokesman Bill Brooks said in a statement. “By redeploying and reallocating resources at or near the border, CBP will maximize the effectiveness of its enforcement mandate and align our investments with our mission.”
The last paragraph has all of the right keywords, but I told you what this is really all about Changes in Mexican Border Strategy. This aligns personnel with the objective of increasing transcontinental and cross-border traffic. It’s all part of a larger nation and state level plan to make the border less significant, make it easier to cross, and raise cross-border shipments of goods and products, especially with Mexican truck drivers.
Mark Krikorian passed on a revelation that alone should have cost this administration the upcoming election. In the initial fight with drug cartels fighters, Brian Terry and his team shot beanbags rather than bullets. But the situation is really even worse than that.
First it was confirmed that Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and his elite tactical unit initially fired bean bags at heavily armed dope smugglers. Now comes news that a Border Patrol training video is instructing agents that, when confronted by a shooter. they should “run away” and “hide”. Only as a last resort, if they are cornered, should agents get “aggressive” and “throw things” at the perps. Throw things? Really; here’s the site of the largest local of the Border Patrol agents’ union describing the training they’re required to undergo. The site reports that the suits in D.C. have “offered to revise and clarify this training” — sure, only because it was exposed. It’s debatable whether Bill Clinton actually loathed the military, but this administration certainly loathes the Border Patrol.
This is sad but not surprising. It dovetails with the overall administration policy for the border, that is, the last three administrations. As I have observed, “The National Guard is bored, has little to do other than watch, isn’t under arming orders, and has sagging morale, while the administration is using the lack of security on the border as an opportunity to make political hay on so-called “assault weapons,” and study groups are more concerned about militarization of the border than they are border security. Don’t look for a secure Southern border in this generation unless something catastrophic happens to the U.S. homeland. By then it will be too late.”
Securing the border would look so different than what we currently have that it would be indiscernible to the average American, and we aren’t prepared to implement what’s necessary. The border would have to come before trade and trucking deliveries, all traffic would be fully searched, the U.S. Marines would have to patrol the border, under arming orders, outside of the constraints of the Supreme Court ruling in Tennessee versus Garner, men with weapons would be shot by Scout snipers before they ever became a threat, and e-verify would be implemented on a national level.
Again, don’t look for this unless something catastrophic occurs, such as Hezbollah fighters crossing the border and perpetrating acts of terror. Right now, trade and cheap labor on the backs of the American taxpayer are far too important to prevent “alignment of our assets with our strategic goals.” Expect more border station closings and a more diminished Border Patrol.
Currently, Immigration and Customs Enforcement personnel in the El Paso area of responsibility are apprehending and removing more undocumented people through the Secure Communities Program, employment raids and by catching crossers at major ports of entry than the Border Patrol, according to Border Patrol and ICE enforcement and removal figures.
That is why the Border Patrol 2012-2016 Strategic Plan calls for redirecting its agents’ efforts toward relieving congestion and waits at the ports of entry, as well as combating terrorism and transnational crime.
By the close of fiscal year 2011, the typical Border Patrol agent working from Texas to California was apprehending 17.7 undocumented people a year, from a high of 352.2 “illegal alien apprehensions” per agent in 1993. In comparison, the numbers fell even more for agents in the El Paso Sector, from a high of 470 apprehensions per agent in 1993 to only 3.8 apprehensions by 2011.
More agents at entry checkpoints would be a relief for some people of El Paso.
“People would cross to go to work, or to go to restaurants and enjoy the nightlife. They would cross to see family and they would cross to engage in trade. It used to be pretty easy to cross and it’s gotten more and more difficult,” said border journalist Louie Gilot.
Gilot is the publisher of Newspaper Tree, a nonprofit online news organization in El Paso. Previously, she covered immigration issues as a reporter for the El Paso Times.
For those who cross the border back and forth as part of their daily lives, long waits are too time consuming.
“There used to be no lines when you were going on foot and now there is. I have spent an hour on foot,” Gilot said.
Analysis & Commentary
The reason for the decrease in border apprehensions is more complex than simply painting a picture of success. The story being peddled here is that border security is improved to the point that the border patrol can now focus on making cross border traffic even easier and more efficient. The truth is that illegal border traffic is becoming more knowledgeable and efficient, the border patrol (and DHS) is under-reporting “got-aways,” and “soft metrics” are making things look better than they really are.
U.S. and Mexican officials are meeting today as a first effort to decide where new border crossings and connecting roads may be necessary, reports HispanicBusiness.com.
At the first Border Master Plan meeting today at the University of Texas at El Paso, representatives will begin identifying future projects, along with project priorities and timelines.
Objectives will also include increasing understanding of the planning process and designing a process that ensures participation from everyone involved in the port of entry projects.
“All sorts of transportation projects and issues will be discussed,” Bob Kaufman, a spokesman for Texas Department of Transportation, told the website. “It will be a binational, multi-government agency meeting. There will be federal, state and local officials that have responsibilities for transportation. The end result will be a list of transportation infrastructure priorities.”
Representatives from the Metropolitan Planning Organization, City of El Paso, the Texas Department of Transportation and the New Mexico Department of Transportation will also be present at the meeting, in addition to U.S. and Mexican federal officials.
“The Border Master Plan is part of a national initiative,” said Roy Gilyard, El Paso’s MPO executive director. “California has a plan and so does Laredo.”
Just to make sure that you understand what is happening, read that last paragraph again: “The Border Master Plan is part of a national initiative.” Nothing is happenstance or happening by accident. It’s all part of a larger plan to make the border less significant, make it easier to cross, and raise cross-border shipments of goods and products, especially with Mexican truck drivers.
Due to the facts that there are no arming orders for the National Guard troops on the border (causing the troops simply to perform clerical duties), misapplication of the rule of law to these troops (i.e., Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner), and confusion about the Posse Comitatus Act (i.e., the belief that it applies to border security caused by foreign threats), the law enforcement battle (fought with law enforcement officers, and not enough of them doing the right things) has been substantially lost at the border.
This criminal insurgency crosses the border with as much ease as illegal immigrants, and the lack of border security is as much of a cause of the diminution of U.S. sovereignty and security as it is the increased cost of insurance, health care and other costs associated with illegal immigration and the influx of low skilled workers.
The new strategy at the border isn’t without planning and forethought. It just isn’t the planning and forethought that one might have guessed would attend issues of national security. It has more to do with trade, facilitating transcontinental traffic, and enforcing the idea that the United States is an idea rather than a place.
Recall that I told you “the National Guard has been “deployed” to the border to perform clerical functions and do overwatch and reporting,” and that the troops have been deployed without arming orders? Now this.
The Pentagon began flying military helicopters and surveillance planes over the U.S. border with Mexico last month as part of an effort to withdraw all but 300 of the National Guard ground troops who have helped patrol the rugged border since mid-2010.
The 19-month deployment of 1,200 National Guard troops on the southwest border has hurt recruiting efforts and threatened to strain diplomatic relations with Mexico, Brian J. Lepore, a director at the U.S. Government and Accountability Office, told a House homeland security subcommittee hearing Tuesday.
About 12 Blackhawk helicopters and several fixed-wing manned surveillance planes began flying regular patrols over the Rio Grande in Texas for a mission called “Operation River Watch II” in March. The 300 troops will fly the aircraft, or analyze intelligence about smuggling routes in command centers miles from the border.
The Obama administration deployed the National Guard to build access roads for border patrols and to help spot smugglers. The extra manpower was intended to bridge the gap while U.S. Customs and Border Patrol hired an additional 1,200 agents.
In the first year, the National Guard troops helped apprehend 17,887 illegal immigrants and seize 56,342 pounds of marijuana, which was 5.9 percent of all apprehensions and 2.6 percent of marijuana seizures during that time, officials said.
This is a great report, that National Guard troops “helped” apprehend 17,887 illegal immigrants. But wait.
National Guard troops could man watchtowers and stare at closed-circuit television screens of the fence line but were prohibited from making arrests, and officials said morale suffered. The National Guard leadership became concerned that the mission, if extended, could hurt recruitment, according to a GAO report titled “Observations on Costs, Benefits, and Challenges of a Department of Defense Role in Helping to Secure the Southwest Land Border.”
Further use of National Guard troops “could create a perception of a militarized U.S. border with Mexico,” State Department officials told the GAO.
And we certainly wouldn’t want to create the perception of a militarized border. That would be worse than anything else. And speaking of perceptions, Lanny Breuer is at it again. Lying and creating false impressions, that is. Feinstein queued up the issue of “assault weapons” for Lanny, and he responded as intended.
Thank you, Senator, for the question, and for your leadership on this issue. You have, of course, identified the paramount issue that we have to face as we deal with transnational organized crime from the Mexican cartels.
That’s it. The paramount issue, without which there wouldn’t be any such thing as the Mexican cartels. American “assault weapons.” This deceitfulness will be held to account one day, but until then, it belongs in the same category as stupid border security reports like this one.
Today, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Mexico’s College of the Northern Border (COLEF) released “Beyond the Border Buildup: Security and Migrants along the U.S.-Mexico Border,” a year-long study on the impact of both countries’ security policies on migration.
The study finds a dramatic buildup of U.S. security forces along the southern border–a fivefold increase of the Border Patrol in the last decade, an unusual new role for U.S. soldiers on U.S. soil, drones and other high-tech surveillance, plus hundreds of miles of completed fencing–without a clear impact on security. For instance, the study finds that despite the security buildup, more drugs are crossing than ever before.
The study reveals that security policies that were designed to combat terrorism and drug trafficking are causing a humanitarian crisis and putting migrants in increasing danger.
Migrants are often subject to abuse and mistreatment while in U.S. custody, and face higher risks of death in the desert. Also, certain deportation practices put migrants at risk. For example, migrants can be deported at night and/or to cities hundreds of miles from where they were detained. These same cities are also some of the border region’s most dangerous, where migrants may fall prey to–or be recruited by–criminal groups. In Mexico, approximately 20,000 migrants are kidnapped a year; many others face other abuses. “Decency demands more humane policies,” said Maureen Meyer, WOLA analyst and co-author of the study.
In addition, “We have reached a point where any further increase in security will yield diminishing returns,” said Meyer.
Yes, we may as well just stop everything and swing the borders wide open. Our buildup hasn’t helped. The possibility that it is a drop in the bucket compared to what it needs to be doesn’t occur to this team because they have different presuppositions than you do. They don’t want a secure border, so it’s easy conclude that there should be no buildup or change in strategy or tactics.
The National Guard is bored, has little to do other than watch, isn’t under arming orders, and has sagging morale, while the administration is using the lack of security on the border as an opportunity to make political hay on so-called “assault weapons,” and study groups are more concerned about militarization of the border than they are border security.
Don’t look for a secure Southern border in this generation unless something catastrophic happens to the U.S. homeland. By then it will be too late.
Glenn Reynolds links Mickey Kaus writing at The Daily Caller on the border fence. Mickey links and discusses observations by Mark Krikorian. Mark’s report is a mixed bag, and I recall reading it with some skepticism. Mark’s report, which Mickey views as “balanced,” discussed how the larger fences have been more effective (even if the smaller ones aren’t). The border situation, says Mark, is “better.” Sorry, but I’m not buying it. The pitiful parts of the fence are still pitiful, and the larger parts of the fence – well, you can judge for yourself.
Also, here is something to watch for in upcoming debates about the border situation. Napolitano says that things at the border have gotten far better. But the Border Patrol (and DHS) is under-reporting “got-aways.” Why would they do this? Well, soft metrics can make things look better than they really are.
Napolitano cited some specifics of the new index, which she wrote would include “traditional measures” but also other indicators.
“This index would take into account traditional measures such as apprehensions and contraband seizures, state and local crime statistics on border-related criminal activity, and overall crime index reporting,” the testimony states. “But to fully evaluate the condition of the border and the effectiveness of our efforts, this index would also incorporate indicators of the impact of illegal cross-border activity on the quality of life in the border region.”
“This may include calls from hospitals to report suspected illegal aliens, traffic accidents involving illegal aliens or narcotics smugglers, rates of vehicle theft and numbers of abandoned vehicles, impacts on property values, and other measures of economic activity and environmental impacts,” says Napolitano’s testimony.
I mostly agree with the normally clear-thinking Mark Krikorian. In this case, I continue to advocate U.S. Marine Corps arming orders and patrols along the Mexican border. Build large fences, but enforce border security by arms.
Woe is the diplomat who uses the wrong word, no matter its veracity. Over the past year, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Undersecretary of the Army Joseph Westphal separately have used the word “insurgency” to describe the Mexican government’s fight against indigenous criminal cartels.
Maybe it comes too easily after the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in Mexico the word stirs cultural memories of heroic freedom fighters-not exactly the message that the government wants to convey-and drew cries of outrage from Mexico City, resulting in diplomatic retractions from U.S. officials.
I have called the cartel and gang violence both warlord-ism and an insurgency. But of course, I have no romantic notion of insurgents as freedom fighters. The insurgents in South America throughout the last quarter of the last century were mainly communists. They weren’t fighting for anyone’s freedom from anything. But since South and Central America is steeped in Marxist thinking, and thus conflates freedom with revolution, Mexico City became outraged. Mexico City might prefer to think of them only as criminals, but at least they seem to be reacting to the problem with the correct tools.
Still, insurgency or no, one thing is for certain: The cartels present a serious, multifaceted, and increasingly well-trained and well-armed challenge to the state, but Mexico is reconfiguring its armed forces to meet the challenge.
Frequently outgunned and sometimes corrupted, entire police forces have been sacked and their duties assumed by the Mexican military in recent years. In December 2011, the entire Veracruz police force was fired, with the 800 officers replaced by 2,400 marines. The military has taken over policing in other places, such as Ciudad Juarez, Nuevo Leon and the border state of Tamaulipas.
At the same time, according to analysts, there also has been a real shift in the training and equipping of the military to meet the cartel threat. The army’s training doctrine has been realigned to address stability operations, doing things like setting up checkpoints and working to implement law and order in towns that have been overrun by violence. “They’re conducting stability operations in areas the size of Belgium,” says Inigo Guevara, a consultant on Mexican security and defense issues based in Washington. In one effort to rebuild its presence in the north, the armed service recently spent about $100 million to buy battalion- and company-sized “mobile headquarters” that can be easily constructed and taken down, in preparation for longer-term domestic stability operations, he adds.
Yet, these operations occur against an increasingly sophisticated enemy, with heavily armored “infantry” carriers dubbed “Los Monstruos” (the Monsters) by the Mexican media, as well as more professional infantry tactics refined at training camps in the barren spaces of northern Guatemala and southern Mexico. Cartel gangs are armed with everything from assault rifles and crew-served weapons, to military-grade explosives, .50 caliber rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as using insurgent weapons like car bombs.
As a result, the army and marines have started to look for alternatives to the older, thin-skinned Humvees-Mexico has produced several thousand in local plants in a deal with AM General-and toward a variety of new armored vehicles like Oshkosh’s SandCat, of which 250 have been delivered so far. The navy also has conducted operational testing of Renault’s Sherpa light scout vehicle, most notably in operations in Veracruz late last year, but has not made a final decision on whether to buy it.
This is reminiscent of the need for MRAPs due to the IED threat in Iraq. Note that Mexico isn’t relying on the police to curb the violence. Mexico City has enlisted the assistance of the military in a big way, and the military is purchasing weapons and equipment needed for fighting large scale, violent, and highly effective insurgencies.
Aviation Week continues into the weeds concerning equipment, organization of the Mexican military, and various problems they sustain due to inefficiency in structure. But continuing with this theme of warlord-ism, and insurgents, if we’ve learned nothing else from the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, we understand the need to control the borders, even if we didn’t effect that control.
The Republican-led Arizona Legislature is considering a bill to fund an armed, volunteer state militia to respond to emergencies and patrol the U.S.-Mexico border.
Gov. Jan Brewer could deploy the volunteers using $1.9 million included in the bill making its way through the state Senate. The militia itself was created by a law signed by Brewer last year.
The Arizona Republic reports the bill has a hearing Tuesday before the Senate Appropriations Committee. Senate Bill 1083 has already passed one committee along mostly party lines. It would provide $500,000 in one-time funding and $1.4 million a year from a gang task force fund.
The state is expecting a budget surplus this year, but lawmakers must deal with long-term debt and the May 2013 expiration of the 1-cent-per-dollar sales-tax increase, so it is unclear how much support this bill will receive.
“Something has to be done about the situation at the border — people are being terrorized,” Sen. Sylvia Allen, a Republican from Snowflake who is sponsoring the bill, told The Republic. “There are plenty of ex-law-enforcement officers who could do this. I don’t have any illusion that we can solve our border problem, but this would help.”
Former LEOs or not, they would be operating under rules that apply to everyone, i.e., deadly force can only be used in the case of imminent danger to life or sexual assault. It isn’t clear that they would even have arrest authority.
What I have recommended is that the rules for the use of force be amended to move away from the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner. This has also been termed “exempting the Border Patrol from the rule of law,” but I have recommended that the U.S. Marines be used to patrol the Southern border.
The law pertaining to the conduct of hostilities (jus in bello), which has developed since antiquity and includes certain provisions of the modern Geneva and Hague conventions, permits the sanctioned killing of an opponent in an armed conflict, regardless of whether he is armed at the moment he is engaged. So long as the opponent meets the minimum criteria to be regarded as a combatant (even an unlawful combatant), he may be engaged with deadly force, even if he is separated from his weapon. He may be killed while sleeping, eating, taking a shower, cleaning his weapon, meditating, or standing on his head. It is his status as an enemy combatant, not his activity at the moment of engagement, which is dispositive.
So the following situation is posed to help the reader understand how serious he or she is concerning security on the border. You are a border patrol officer, or a U.S. Marine, and you have charge of border security in your area of operations. A string of what appears to be several dozen illegal immigrants is heading across the border (and is now on the U.S. side of the border), as you have ascertained using night vision.
In the front and bringing up the rear are two individuals, each toting what appears to be an AK-47, but what is most surely a weapon. No one has fired any shots towards you at this point. Is it morally justified to shoot and kill the individuals holding the weapons? This is a different question that is it currently legal.
Robert Bunker writing at Small Wars Journal assesses the relative threat posed by transnational Islamic jihadists versus the Mexican cartels. After citing a portion of Napolitano’s concern about the growth of the lone wolf terror threat, Robert weighs in.
While the above statements—some might even say political “sound bytes”— uttered by US Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano were directed at America’s European allies, they convey the ongoing Washington obsession with Al Qaeda to the exclusion of other non-state threat entities. The memory of the 9/11 attacks is still a visceral experience for most of our nation’s financial and political elites.
Napolitano now equates lone wolf (Al Qaeda inspired) attackers, who need to take commercial aircraft to reach the US, as a significant threat to our nation. Such terrorists have extremely limited combat capabilities, both destructive and disruptive, and suffer from lack of training, equipment, and finances. They represent nodal criminal-soldiers (devoid of network support) who at best can engage in sporadic active aggressor (shooter) or IED (improvised explosive device) attacks. Such attackers are not the most pressing US national security threat; even if a few got through, the damage inflicted will be inconsequential to the integrity of American society and the functioning of its governmental system. Yes—even a suicide bomber or two detonating in the Mall of the Americas, on Wall Street, or in a high-end bistro in N.W. DC is a survivable attack for our nation, though the media would replay newscasts of the incident ad infinitum and make quite a bit of money off of the ad revenue in the process.
I’m a bit troubled by Robert’s seeming dismissal of the threat of transnational Islamic insurgency. True enough, the so-called “lone wolf” cannot do much more than inflict terror and localized loss of life and property. But Robert is assuming that all such terrorists are going to be lone wolfs. Perhaps not, and perhaps also since we know that Hezbollah fighters are crossing the Southern Border, Robert’s assumption forces the conclusion that it isn’t a threat.
On the contrary, in A Terrorist Attack That America Cannot Absorb I described a plausible scenario in which economic disaster would be effected as a result of the attack. True enough, this kind of attack would require several hundred well trained, well equipped and highly motivated fighters – fighters and equipment that a group like al Qaeda may not currently be able to field. But it’s also true that Hezbollah may be able to, and an attack of this nature, even if only partially successful with fewer fighters than I have described, would have significant consequences. In my view Robert is thinking tactically rather than strategically as he pans the idea that transnational Islamic fighters are no longer a threat. Small time hits against human-targer rich environs are a tactic of terror. Destruction of infrastructure directly resulting in the inability to replace that infrastructure is a strategy – one that thankfully the enemy hasn’t deployed.
However, I agree with his assessment of the threat of Mexican cartels.
What is most amazing about Napolitano’s statements is that they ignore a far more significant threat derived from geographic proximity, mass of numbers, training and organization, wealth, and corruptive capability. Mexican cartel operatives do not have to take commercial flights to get to the US and hundreds-of-thousands of personnel exist running the gamut from foot-soldiers through lookouts into narcotics production and distribution, street extortion, human trafficking, kidnapping, and bulk thefts. Tens-of-thousands of these cartel members operate in the US in conjunction with US street, prison, and motorcycle gangs which number well in excess of 1 million individuals. The Mexican cartels control more wealth than Al Qaeda ever had at its disposal—even at Osama bin Laden’s high point— and have specialized commando units on par, if not surpassing, the best Al Qaeda could ever field. Further, the Mexican cartels have taken corruption to an art form and have compromised entire regions of the Mexican state. This corruption is now being used in a targeted manner on the US border— hundreds of documented incidents exist— a capability with which Al Qaeda has never possessed to threaten the US homeland.
Common sense dictates that we address the real threat next door and already over the border— in excess of 1,000 US cities have Mexican cartel operatives in them. While the Mexican cartel threat to the US is subtler than that of Al Qaeda— the 9/11 attacks were indeed fierce and bloody— it is also in many ways more threatening, especially now that Al Qaeda central is a former shell of itself. While ‘border spillover’ attacks and corruption have been downplayed and wide swaths of Mexico resemble a war zone (with well over 45,000 deaths), we continually hear DHS rhetoric about Al Qaeda being the #1 threat to the United States.
That doesn’t mean that the border is secure. Analogous errors in judgment occurred in Iraq when we believed that the tribal awakening in Ramadi secured Anbar, when in reality the insurgents had simply moved to Fallujah and had to be cleared from that city in 2007. Pressing the Taliban out of Helmand moved them to Quetta (for R&R), Kandahar, Kunar and Nuristan.
The cartels will prove to be adaptive and amorphous, and we should generally ignore anecdotes as a pointer to larger trends.
We have previously discussed the adoption of military style tactics, techniques and procedures by the Mexican cartels, the increasing corruption of the U.S. border patrol, and the recruitment of large numbers of High Schoolers by the cartels. After observing that the use of the National Guard is problematic for a number of reasons (including the lack of training, the lack of appropriate rules for the use of force, etc.), I recommended that:
… we view what is going on as a war against warlords and insurgents who will destabilize the state both South and even North of the border. I have further recommended that the RUF be amended and the U.S. Marines be used to set up outposts and observation posts along the border in distributed operations, even making incursions into Mexican territory if necessary while chasing insurgents (Mexican police have used U.S. soil in pursuit of the insurgents).
While militarization of border security may be an unpalatable option for America, it is the only option that will work. All other choices make the situation worse because it is allowed to expand and grow. Every other option is mere window dressing.
“I have learned to live with trash,” said fifth-generation Arizona rancher Jim Chilton.
He saw his once-beautiful ranch, just a few miles from the border with Mexico, is now dotted with clusters of crushed trees and cactus, whole hillsides have been turned into charred eyesores, years worth of his award-winning conservation projects obliterated — and the whole thing is littered with trash, tons and tons of trash. And some of the trash was dead bodies.
Chilton had the misfortune of settling in the path of what would become a dangerous drug- and human-smuggling route on the U.S.-Mexican border, parallel with the notorious Peck Canyon Corridor.
“I’ve got 30,000 to 40,000 illegal aliens coming right through the ranch every year, and the Forest Service says each one leaves about eight pounds of trash. That means 100 tons of trash. Some cows eat the plastic bags and about 10 head a year die a slow and painful death. At $1,200 a head, that means we lose $12,000 a year to trash.”
Chilton saw southern Arizona not as the headline-grabbing political flashpoint of the Justice Department’s failed “Fast and Furious” guns-to-smugglers tracking project, but as the land-grabbing opportunism of Obama’s resource management agencies and, sadly, the failure of the U.S. Border Patrol to secure that bloody line separating the United States from Mexico.
The land-grabbing chapter of the trash story has gone largely unnoticed, but surfaced last year when the Bureau of Land Management proposed to shut down target shooting on 490,000 acres in the Sonoran Desert National Monument — and in large swaths of other public lands as well.
The reason? Monument manager Richard Hanson claimed shooters were leaving trash at the shooting sites, an outrageously trumped up excuse, but Hanson’s claim couldn’t be refuted at the time.
The BLM had closed 400,000 acres of publicly owned, national monument lands across three states to recreational shooting activities in 2010, labeling recreational shooting as a resource-harming activity and a public safety threat.
That was a clear signal showing that the SDNM move was just another step in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s obnoxious “lock-it-up-and-kick-’em-out” plans that have drawn the ire of Congress.
If it seems that the administration is taking an un-serious view of border security (intentionally conflating the trash left by illegals with shooters), then this report shouldn’t surprise anyone.
Federal agents trying to patrol the U.S.-Mexico border say they’re hampered by laws that keep them from driving vehicles on huge swaths of land because it falls under U.S. environmental protection, leaving it to wildlife — and illegal immigrants and smugglers who can walk through the territory undisturbed.
A growing number of lawmakers are saying such restrictions have turned wilderness areas into highways for criminals. In recent weeks, three congressional panels, including two in the GOP-controlled House and one in the Democratic-controlled Senate, have moved to give the Border Patrol unfettered access to all federally managed lands within 100 miles of the border with Mexico.
While the cartels develop intricate intelligence networks and adopt military style tactics, the U.S. prohibits access to lands controlled by the Bureau of Land Management due to EPA regulations, and blames trash at the border on shooters. It’s no wonder that insurgents have gone hunting at the border – not hunting for animal game, but human game.
Five illegal immigrants armed with at least two AK-47 semi-automatic assault rifles were hunting for U.S. Border Patrol agents near a desert watering hole known as Mesquite Seep just north of the Arizona-Mexico border when a firefight erupted and one U.S. agent was killed, records show.
A now-sealed federal grand jury indictment in the death of Border Patrol agent Brian A. Terry says the Mexican nationals were “patrolling” the rugged desert area of Peck Canyon at about 11:15 p.m. on Dec. 14 with the intent to “intentionally and forcibly assault” Border Patrol agents.
They should take the 7th Army (and the Ghost of Patton), and all its subordinate units, and move it lock, stock & barrel to Del Rio, TX. They can then patrol the banks of the Rio Grande with Bradley’s, Apaches & Cobras. Then, let’s see how much success these border insurgents, armed with the semi-auto AKs have against that.
Germany has the strongest economy in Europe. It can afford to defend itself from Russian aggression. If it can’t, then we have PLENTY of military contractors that can sell them the weapons that they need. Europe needs to stand on its own. Our resources need to be protecting our borders, not Germany’s.
This sentiment is certainly in line with my own, but unfortunately, roving the border with Bradley Fighting Vehicles won’t work. This requires combat outposts and Marines (or Soldiers) on foot patrol. Infantry – not mechanized infantry – is the order of the day.
But it will require more than that. As long as we continue to treat the border as a law enforcement endeavor, with agents subject to rules such as those outlined in the Supreme Court decision in Tennessee versus Garner, with criminals imprisoned or sent back to Mexico to try it all again, we will continue to lose the war at the border. Imprisonment of drug traffickers and illegals won’t work any more than prisons work in counterinsurgency. Prisons are a costly ruse.
Make no mistake about it. This isn’t a war against drugs, or a war against the drug cartels, or a war against illegal immigration, or even a war against human trafficking or Hezbollah fighters entering the U.S. at the Southern border. This is a war for national sovereignty – a border war.
A border war. Only when we militarize the border with combat outposts and shoot all trespassers will we even begin to wage the war on the enemy’s terms. In spite of claims that the Posse Comitatus Act applies, this war is against non-U.S. citizens, and it is a fight for the survival of what defines America. Presidents in both parties have seen America as an idea rather than a location with secure borders.
If America is an idea and the Southern border is to be just an imaginary line, then we have already lost. If America deserves defending, then we must do what is both uncomfortable and necessary to effect its security.
Mr. Obama plans to send up to 1200 National Guard troops to the Arizona-Mexico border. It’s important to realize what this is – and what it isn’t. The solution to immigration is rather simple, but involves actions that we deem too painful. I have pointed out before that piracy exists because we want it to. Rather, we want it more than we want to implement the solution (which we deem to be too violent for our sensibilities). The same holds true for illegal immigration.
One such cornerstone in the undoing of illegal immigration is to imprison the CEOs of companies who hire illegal aliens. Add to this the imprisonment of those who hire illegals as nannies, house workers, and gardeners, and those construction superintendents who drop by Home Depot or Lowe’s early in the morning to pick up their workers, and we will begin to make a dent in the illegal population in the U.S.
But illegal immigrants is big business in America. It is a form of corporate welfare. Rather than pay for benefits, the cheap CEOs (and construction superintendents) can rely on the U.S. taxpayers (and medical insurance premium payers) to pay them for him. It’s a win-lose arrangement. The CEO wins and the taxpayer loses. There are even seminars that teach these cheap CEOs how to get away with it.
But there is another supremely important issue for border enforcement, one that has gotten scant attention. It has to do with whether the National Guard can in any way really help the border guards, and in fact, whether the border guards themselves can even do their job. When National Guardsmen were deployed to the border before, they were attacked and overrun by a small army on the payroll of the drug lords. They weren’t even allowed to fire warning shots according to the rules for the use of force.
The war on the Southern border is being treated as an exercise in law enforcement, and the stipulations of the SCOTUS decision in Tennessee v. Garner 471 U.S. 1 (1985) apply. Deadly force can only be used in self defense, and thus did Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean serve time in prison (until their sentences were commuted by President Bush) for shooting a known drug dealer who was both threatening these two former border guards and fleeing arrest.
Whether one agrees with the SCOTUS decision, its application on the border with hundreds of thousands of illegals flowing across combined with a heavily armed drug army is dubious at the very best. There simply aren’t enough border agents or National Guard troops to effect arrest by hand – chasing and apprehending them without deadly force – while following the stipulations of decisions intended for U.S. citizens. The flow of immigrants across the border must be treated as an invasion, and until it is, there will be no effect on the problem.
We can equivocate until there is no more border, we can legislate until the lawyers cannot decipher it. There are even those who do not care. But among those who do, there is nothing – NOTHING – these 1200 National Guardsmen can do. Their presence is mere window dressing as pointed out by Michelle Malkin. It is for appearance, and the hemorrhaging at the border will continue unabated.
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.