Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

April 17, 2009

Friday round up of stray stories

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on April 17, 2009

Against a backdrop of continuing violence, (more) the Presidents of Mexico and the United States met to declare common cause against criminal cartels that use Mexico to supply illegal drugs to US consumers. 

President Obama promised to stem the flow of guns from the US into Mexico.  But the Wall Street Journal reports it will be tough for the US to follow-through effectively.  In remarks with potentially important domestic implications, the President restated his support for stronger US controls on assault weaponsBut some say this is mostly talk and even the President sounded luke-warm at best.

This week Alan Bersin was appointed DHS Assistant Secretary for International Affairs and Special Representative for Border Affairs.  The official announcement explained, “Bersin’s responsibilities at DHS will include improving relationships with the Department’s partners in the international community, as well as those at the state and local level including elected officials, law enforcement, community organizations and religious leaders. He will lead the Department’s efforts to crack down on violence along the Southwest border highlighted in Secretary Napolitano’s March 24 announcement including the deployment of additional personnel and enhanced technology to help Mexico target illegal guns, drugs and cash.”

Standing with Bersin in El Paso, Texas, Secretary Napolitano reviewed “the way ahead” for Border Security.  While not highlighted in the Secretary’s remarks, construction of the border fence continues.

Prepping for the President’s Mexico City trip, the White House signaled that concerted efforts for a new immigration policy will begin in May.  More promising prospects seemed to emerge from an agreement by US labor unions to support comprehensive immigration reformThe Economist reports that, “Though the details remain controversial, an outline for a sensible system is clear: a path towards legalising immigrants; a more tightly controlled border; a system for verifying workers and punishing employers who flout the rules; and a better way to admit temporary workers.”

In a week that gave aficianados of conspiracy theories cause to drool, the Director of National Intelligence admitted the National Security Agency, “has made mistakes and intercepted the wrong communications.”  Several reports are available from CNNWashington Post,  and an especially explosive report from CNET.  The Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein, has called for a full hearing

Reaction to the leaked I&A report on possible right-wing radicalization  (see plenty of attention in other posts below) continues to unfold.  Thursday night the AP’s Eileen Sullivan – who has dug deep when others have skimmed the surface – reports that, “Civil liberties officials at the Homeland Security Department flagged language in a controversial report on right-wing extremists, but the agency issued the report anyway.” 

After several days of furious reactions to the report, a predictable push-back is beginning.   According to the AP, Jane Harman is refusing to pile on.  Eileen Sullivan writes, “The latest report has turned into a ‘political football,’ said Rep. Jane Harman, D-Calif. Harman, who chairs a House subcommittee on intelligence and information sharing, said the report could have been written more artfully, but added that ‘it was a well-intended effort to describe to law enforcement what things to look for… If the result is to dumb down intelligence products that could prevent the next attack to the homeland, we will all lose,’ she said.” 

This morning’s Los Angeles Times is editorializing, “The memo combines obvious observations with a lack of substantiation for its assertion that “the threat posed by lone wolves and small terrorist cells is more pronounced than in past years.” But it’s no broadside attack on veterans. So why do the Republicans rage? Could it be that, as in the attacks on Democrats for “not supporting our troops,” the party’s leaders are willing to exploit any opportunity to make the new administration look bad?”

Let’s see…  if someone was predisposed, what might one make of a week when credible parties claim the federal government has targeted veterans and libertarians as possible terrorists, the President speaks again of a weapons ban, the government admits to spying on its citizens,  proposals are floating for legalizing illegal aliens, and the nation’s  border can seem under attack… while certain denizens of the left-coast are defending it all?  Regular readers of HLSwatch know this is unlikely to be my understanding.  But it does not require much imagination or empathy to discern how such a conclusion might be drawn.

In a new report Messrs. Carafano and Weitz at the Heritage Foundation argue that Complex Systems Analysis is necessary for homeland security.  This week it might have helped just make sense of the news.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

April 17, 2009 @ 7:21 am

Okay throwing a little mud at the wall! Some may stick!

No external coverage or review of the rise of Black Muslims in the US Army ever! Was the DC sniper a Black Muslim? Was the fragger who killed officers in Iraq/Kuwait during Desert Storm a Black Muslim? Has black enlistment declined dramatically in the US Army? If so why?

As to the what I thought were 37 PAS (Presidentially Appointed Senate Confirmed) positions in DHS out of almost 900 that are vetted politically how are we doing on filling those slots? Why are some Assistant Secretary level positions subject to confirmation and why are some not? What is the non-career SES breakdown within DHS? Is it again being stuffed with former Senator Holling’s “Political Turkeys” as he decried the performance of FEMA in Hurricane Hugo in 1989?

Also there is a flip side to the confirmation question! First if confirmed, STATE Department puts the position into the formal protocol ranking system it controls exclusively. Second, confirmees have more clout within and without the government than non-confirmees. Even some low-level bureacrats will barely talk to someone beneath their paygrade. Ridiculous yes! True, YES!

With respect to the Bersin appoint will he be subject to confirmation? Again Clinton experience may be valuable but I would argue that Bill Clinton miserably failed to deal with any significant Mexican/US issues and when in hind site Mexico collapses much will be pointed in the direction of the Clinton Administration. What should be done is simple appoint permanent Assistant Secretaries or whatever at STATE, DOD, DOJ. and DHS and treat this relationshiop with the deep deep seriousness it derserves based on our joint history and dynamics. Exclude Mexico from the illegal immigrant issue. That provides cover for those who really don’t want Mexico to thrive and covers up other deeper problems. Not that some solutions might not be the same as for other major or minor sources of illegals but Mexico is unique. I would even consider allowing Mexico to participate in the US Social Security system. Part of Mexico’s problem is that there is absolutely no financial security for the underclass (over 75% of Mexico) (and of course US poverty stricken are not a low demographic)and in particular now that WALL STREET (Yes those same guys and gals) have privatized and ruined Mexican equivalent of Social Security. Letr’s stop pretending this relationship can be fixed with old approaches. And where did that figure of 12 M illegals come from? Knowledgeable people tell me that it is closer to 30 M! And hey how do we handle illegals in disasters and emergencies?

Again a fool can ask more questions than wise men can answer? Is the SUN or the EARTH at the center of the universe? Stop pretending the telescope for the questions and issues identified above are not yet invented! They are invented but question of political and societal will to deal with them. EU by the way in my opinion rapidly losing the will to deal with their tough issues, or that’s right all a cafe society has to do is talk, talk, talk not really do anything hard to do. Goodby EU!

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