But corruption and collusion are only part of the problem. In a coup for incompetence, quibbling over the definition of “bridge” has compromised a $2.4 billion border fence, ostensibly designed to stop illegals from entering the country across the Rio Grande.
Why? Because the metal footbridges on either side of the fence provides easy passage for illegal immigrants and smugglers without their feet even getting wet.
Alicia A. Caldwell explained in her report to the Washington Times that because “they are not called bridges, but rather ‘grade control structures’ … built in the 1930s to stabilize and prevent a shift during high river flow,” the footpaths, or whatever one wishes to call them, now accommodates any terrorist who wishes to enter the country. A Hudspeth County’s Sheriff, Lt. Robert Wilson, noted that “a terrorist could pass through here with weapons of mass destruction and be in the United States and up on the interstate and gone in a short time.” Reporter Alicia Caldwell further notes that there are always fresh sneaker tracks on the structures, indicating they’re being used as passageways into the United States.
Which brings up the question: Is this simple incompetence? If the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is aware of the problem, it also knows that 600 miles worth of “fencing” — be it high- or low-tech — is inadequate to cover a 1,200-mile swath.
The first giveaway that something more than incompetence was at work in the post-9/11 “new-and-improved” emphasis on national security came in February 2005, when Texas Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean were sentenced to 20 years in prison for doing their job. An Assistant U.S. Attorney came up with the now-infamous charge that “it is a violation of Border Patrol regulations to go after someone who is fleeing.” The fellow they were chasing in a small town close to El Paso — Osbaldo Aldrete-Davila, a Mexican citizen — had smuggled drugs into the United States more than once. Even so, Davila, who while escaping across the border was shot by one of the agents in the buttocks after a physical altercation with him and (according to the agent) pulling a gun, was given full immunity to testify against the agents as well as free medical care at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso for non-life-threatening injuries.
Never mind that Agent Ramos had been instrumental in the capture of nearly 100 drug smugglers and the seizure of untold thousands of pounds of narcotics and nominated as Agent of the Year, a nomination that was withdrawn following the shooting incident. Prosecutors nevertheless treated the drug smuggler as a martyr, refusing to allow testimony that would have helped the border guards.
It was almost as if the federal government were sending a message, remarked T. J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing border agents. He was convinced that the excessive prosecution of Ramos and Compean was part of a larger effort by the federal government to warn other agents that confronting an illegal immigrant would result in vigorous prosecution (and persecution).
Under intense public pressure, President George W. Bush commuted the sentences of the two agents in 2009, moving them to a program of “supervised release” for three years. By then, Ramos had been beaten and kicked with steel-toed boots by inmates — thought to be illegals. Davila finally was sentenced to prison for (surprise!) drug smuggling.
By last year, a GAO Report was identifying gross security vulnerabilities at our borders. A report, obtained by the Terrorism Committee of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, concluded that terrorists were sauntering through most of the covertly tested ports of entry using counterfeit identification. Undercover agents examined ports of entry — by air, sea, and land, wherever international travelers can legally enter the United States — and made 42 “illicit” crossings with a 93 percent success rate, revealed Jim Kouri in an article for NewsWithViews that was posted to the Web by former intelligence officer and police detective Mike Snopes.
In four states on the northern border (Washington, New York, Michigan, and Idaho), three states on the southern border (California, Arizona, and Texas), and two other states requiring international air travel (Florida and Virginia), government inspectors generally accepted oral assertions and counterfeit identifications provided by GAO undercover investigators as proof of U.S. citizenship and allowed them to enter the country.
“President Obama [did] not so much as mentioned the …GAO report that showed the ease with which weapons of mass destruction — including nuclear weapons — could be surreptitiously brought across U.S. borders,” said Snopes.
So much for Barack Obama’s much-ballyhooed Nuclear Security Summit of exactly one year before. As if to snub the GAO, he cut back the number of Border Patrol agents even further!
Any student of history knows that no good can come from a combination of extremism, fraud, graft, and indulgence of criminal blackmail. The Obama administration is now spreading a fertilizer of chaos, anarchy, fear, resentment, and suspicion that eventually will culminate in a backlash. At that point, only a declaration of marshal law and imposition of a police state would be able to rein in wholesale disrespect for the law, anger at government itself, and cynicism toward once-cherished institutions.
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is providing most Americans their first glimpse of their future under a regime where everyone is suspect. The more upstanding the citizen, the more likely is that person to be held up as an example, under the ruse of fairness and egalitarianism.
Today it is still possible for someone with high-name-recognition — for example, former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who gets a “whole nine yards” pat-down every time he goes through an airport since he had a titanium hip replacement in 2008 — to garner attention with a lawsuit against federal agencies without landing in the slammer himself. But the overwhelming majority of the traveling public gets more grief than face-time on camera for their trouble, as the now-famous, 31-year-old software programmer, John Tyner, from Oceanside, California, discovered when he was thrown out of San Diego International Airport last November following his “don’t touch my junk” quip. What he got for his refusal to submit to a pat-down was a threatened lawsuit and a $10,000 fine to boot.
Unfortunately, Americans today are already conditioned to expect harassment from grade-school age. So they suffer, sheep-like, through the indignities imposed by their “betters” rather than complain. But of course, Ventura did complain, and as his attorneys noted last January, the gropes and searches are “unwarranted and unreasonable intrusions [of] personal privacy and dignity and ... a justifiable cause ... to be concerned for … [a passenger’s] personal health and well-being.”
So far, Ventura’s protestations and dual lawsuits against TSA and DHS do not appear to have helped either him or the rest of us, for the simple reason that government has become too big for its collective britches — a fact that may come as a shock even to the former wrestler and Governor.
But the truth is that neither the DHS nor the TSA is any longer viewed as a credible deterrent to terrorism by the public. Rather, both agencies now take their place alongside the Internal Revenue Service, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Environmental Protection Agency as just one more gauntlet average citizens have to run every time they turn around.
Beverly K. Eakman is a former speechwriter for the heads of two federal agencies, a sought-after lecturer and the author of six books (including the best-selling, international award-winner, Cloning of the American Mind: Eradicating Morality Through Education) on education policy, mental-health and illicit data-trafficking. Her latest works include Walking Targets: How Our Psychologized Classrooms Are Creating a Nation of Sitting Ducks, A Common Sense Platform for the 21st Century and her seminar manual, How To Counter Group Manipulation Tactics, 2011 Edition. She can be reached through her website: www.BeverlyEakman.com.
Photo of U.S./Mexico footbridge: AP Images