Obama Administration Puts Public at Risk for Political Expediency

Cross Posted from Swords Crossed – GoRight

Well I can’t say that I am particularly surprised by this given all of the lies we have seen from Obama’s campaign promises, but to put the public at risk just to garner a little political gain is simply unthinkable.  And this issue is far more than just some illegals crossing into the US.  The real issue is the National Security threat that this all highlights.  No one is worried about the average Mexican sneaking in to make some money to feed his family, but the policies of deception being employed by the Obama Administration to cozy up to the latino voting block is seriously opening holes in our border security.

By failing to apprehend the people we find crossing the border we also fail to identify who these people actually are and what affiliations they may have to known terrorists.  There’s your National Security hole right there.  In addition, since these policies are now being made public they only invite terrorists who wish to come into this country to try and exploit the lax security on our southern border.

This all started coming to light earlier this month when Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever from Arizona began relating conversations he had had with border patrol agents and supervisors.  They had apparently been told to stop apprehending people trying to cross the border illegally in an effort to keep the arrest statistics low.  The significance and the motivation for these actions become clear in the following Fox News report.

EXCLUSIVE: Federal Agents Told to Reduce Border Arrests, Arizona Sheriff Says

Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever told FoxNews.com that a supervisor with the U.S. Border Patrol told him as recently as this month that the federal agency’s office on Arizona’s southern border was under orders to keep apprehension numbers down during specific reporting time periods.

“The senior supervisor agent is telling me about how their mission is now to scare people back,” Dever said in an interview with FoxNews.com. “He said, ‘I had to go back to my guys and tell them not to catch anybody, that their job is to chase people away. … They were not to catch anyone, arrest anyone. Their job was to set up posture, to intimidate people, to get them to go back.”

Dever’s charges were vigorously denied by a commander with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“The claim that Border Patrol supervisors have been instructed to underreport or manipulate our statistics is unequivocally false,” Jeffery Self, commander of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Joint Field Command in Arizona, said in a written statement.

Now of course the claims will be denied by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection management, but notice the sleight of hand being employed here to obfuscate the issue.  Jeffry Self is employing a straw man argument in this statment.  He is denying that they were ever told to “underreport or manipulate our statistics”.  But of course no one ever said that they were told to do that.  The claim is that they were told not to apprehend anyone in the first place.

See the subtle misdirection being employed?  Intentionally not apprehending people trying to cross the borders illegally will effectively decrease the number of such reported apprehensions without the need to surruptitiously “underreport or manipulate [their] statistics“.

But why bother in the first place, you ask?

In recent days, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has said the U.S.-Mexican border is more secure than ever, and Homeland Security officials have used recent statistics to support those claims.

“There is a perception that the border is worse now than it ever has been,” Napolitano said at the El Paso border crossing last week. “That is wrong. The border is better now than it ever has been.”

Dever doesn’t agree.

Janet Napolitano says the border is more secure than it’s ever been. I’ve been here for 60 years, and I’m telling you that’s not true,” he said.

Because the Obama Administration wants to be able to claim that the borders are safer because the number of apprehensions are going down.  Sneaky, eh?  As the article goes on to point out, however, burying your head in the sand is not good for National Security.

Mark Hanna, CEO of Real Life Enterprises, a Phoenix-based technology integration and security company, has testified before the Arizona Senate about what he called Homeland Security’s flawed methodology used to compile border security statistics. Hanna maintains the numbers are dangerously misleading.

But those charts left out crucial data, Hanna said.

Since we don’t know how many illegal crossings are occurring, then a decrease in apprehensions might mean that there are fewer illegal crossings, and the border is more secure. But it could also just as easily mean that more illegal border crossings are occurring, and we’re just not catching as many. In order to know how secure the border is, you need to know how many are crossing and the threat level of those who are crossing illegally,” he said.

It is a very dangerous condition for the secretary of Homeland Security to be using incomplete data to form such a conclusion, and then repeatedly announce these conclusions as fact,” he said.

The Department of Homeland Security did not return repeated requests for comment on Hanna’s specific challenges to the agency’s methodology.

 When I first read this story I thought it would be good to wait and see what else came out before commenting on it.  I am glad that I did.

The next development occurred when U.S. Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher decided to personally weigh in on the sherrif’s allegations (something the report calls “an unusual move”).

Border Chief Writes Arizona Sheriff Who Claimed Lax Border Patrol Enforcement

Three days after an Arizona sheriff said Border Patrol agents were ordered to turn back — rather than arrest — illegal immigrants trying to cross the Southwest border, the head of the U.S. Border Patrol has asked to meet with the sheriff and offered a “ride-along” with federal agents for a firsthand look at Border Patrol activities.

In a letter sent Monday to Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever, U.S. Border Patrol chief Michael Fisher wrote that he felt “enormous disappointment and concern” over the “recent allegation.”

That assertion is completely, 100 percent false,” Fisher wrote in the letter obtained by Fox News. “That it comes from a fellow law enforcement official makes it especially offensive.”

Last week, Dever told FoxNews.com that a Border Patrol supervisor and others recently alerted him that the federal agency’s office on Arizona’s southern border was under orders to keep apprehension numbers down during specific reporting periods. Those orders included, at times, an all-out halt to arrests of illegal immigrants caught trying to cross the U.S.-Mexican border.

So now we have the U.S. Border Patrol chief getting involved.  But what has he actually said and offered above?  He offers the Sheriff the opportunity to “ride long” with boarder agents to get a first hand look at their activities.  Sounds reasonable?  Sure.  But does anyone want to take bets on whether orders to “turn back illegals” and “not apprehend anyone” would actually come in over the radio while the Sheriff was on his ride along?  Heh.

Surely it was a genuine offer of a ride along but it would have proven nothing.  It is equally as likely to have been more obfuscation and cover up as it would have been a real attempt to clear the air.

And note that we may have more sleight of hand even here.  “That assertion is completely, 100 percent false.”  Seems pretty clear.  But exactly what assertion is Fisher actually referring to here, the one made by Sheriff Dever or the strawman setup by Jeffry Self?  It is unclear at best.

Sheriffs in other Arizona counties along the border said they have not heard of any such orders, but two — both Democrats who generally support the Obama administration’s efforts on the border — said they know Dever well and believe he would not knowingly say something false.

Border Patrol and Homeland Security officials have repeatedly said a 36 percent decrease in border apprehensions over the past two years shows fewer illegal immigrants are trying to cross the border, proving their approach to fighting illegal immigration is working. But some Republicans and other critics have taken issue with that metric, saying fewer apprehensions could just mean fewer illegal immigrants are being caught.

Now we have other Sheriffs indicating that they have not heard of such orders, but being Democrats they are also unlikely to have been looking into such possibilities.  It is telling, however, that two such Sheriffs are basically vouching for the character of Dever in this case.

Then we have a little twist thrown into the mix.

Since his interview with FoxNews.com, Dever has not responded to e-mails and calls seeking further comment, and did not return a call Tuesday seeking comment for this article. The sheriff’s spokeswoman said she had not heard about Fisher’s letter. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada said DHS is now actively trying to find the anonymous tipster who gave Dever the information.

Dever vowed last week to discuss what he’s heard — under oath — during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing Thursday titled “Securing the Border: Progress at the Local Level.” But soon after his interview with FoxNews.com, Dever turned down the committee’s invitation to testify, citing “a scheduling conflict,” according to a Senate aide. His spokeswoman said the sheriff is out of town for the rest of the week.

My, oh my.  After making his allegations Dever appears to drop off the face of the earth.  Certainly seem suspicious does it not?  Things are looking bleak for Sheriff Dever’s side of the story and we have reports that DHS is looking for their “anonymous tipster“.  Well on the one hand whistleblowers are normally given some amount of leeway in these cases because of the obvious concerns over retaliation against them professionally by their upper management.  On the other hand, as Skymutt has recently pointed out I generally am suspect of anonymous sources and afford them very low credibility.

So again, I decide that it is better to wait and see if anything else develops before commenting on this situation.

Well today we are finding out that this isn’t actually the end of the story.  Dever has been flooded with accounts from border agents basically confirming his earlier account of the situation.

EXCLUSIVE: Arizona Sheriff Cites Flood of Border Agents Confirming Feds’ No-Apprehension Policy

An Arizona sheriff says he has been flooded with calls and emails of support from local and federal agents who back his claims that the U.S. Border Patrol has effectively ordered them to stop apprehending illegal immigrants crossing the U.S.-Mexican border.

“Upper management has advised supervisors to have agents ‘turn back South’ (TBS) the illegal aliens (aka bodies) they detect attempting to unlawfully enter the country … at times you even hear supervisors order the agents over the radio to ‘TBS’ the aliens instead of catching them,” one San Diego border agent wrote in an email to Cochise County Sheriff Larry Dever.

Hmm, still an anonymous source but it is at least documented in an email that can be independently reviewed and verified by the reporters.

The email is one of more than 100 messages Dever said he received from active and retired Border Patrol agents and law enforcement officers from across the country. Many wrote of what they said was their own experience and first-hand knowledge of Border Patrol’s efforts to reduce apprehension numbers by making fewer arrests.

Could these emails have been fabricated by Dever?  Do they even exist?  Certainly it is possible but it seems highly unlikely.  It is much, much too easy to verify the veracity of and email stream when it comes from multiple independently controlled sources.  Covering up a fabrication under these circumstances would be nearly impossible for someone in Dever’s position.  Even the most basic fact checking would uncover the subterfuge and we know that the Fox News reporters are already doing such basic fact checking from the previous story where they followed up with the Senate aides about Dever’s potential testimony.

This is nothing new, during my career with the border patrol, this was done regularly,” said another email to Dever reviewed by FoxNews.com. “By assigning agents to different tasks, locations, etc., the apprehensions can be increased or decreased dramatically,” wrote Dan McCaskill Jr., a retired Border Patrol agent who worked in the Anti-Smuggling Unit.

McCaskill went on to describe how, he said, apprehension numbers were regularly manipulated to achieve various budget, equipment or manpower goals.

Well, so now it gets interesting.  Here we have a first hand account from a named source.  We also learn that Fox News has been reviewing the emails in question.  In this case the agent is retired (and hence no longer has to fear reprisals for speaking out) and he highlights that this technique is basically common practice which has already been used to justify any number of other goals.

In response to request for comment on the new allegations, Homeland Security offered the same statement from Jeffery Self, commander of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Joint Field Command, that was provided to FoxNews.com earlier this month:

“As the commander for border enforcement operations in Arizona, I can confirm that the claim that Border Patrol supervisors have been instructed to underreport or manipulate our statistics is unequivocally false. I took an oath that I take very seriously and I find it insulting that anyone, especially a fellow law enforcement officer, would imply that we would put the protection of the American public and security of our nation’s borders in danger just for a numbers game. Our mission does not waiver based on political climate and it never will. To suggest that we are ambiguous in enforcing our laws belittles the work of more than 6,000 CBP employees in Arizona who dedicate their lives to protect our borders every day.”

Ah, but notice they are falling back on the strawman here.  The allegation has never been that “supervisors have been instructed to underreport or manipulate our statistics“.  The allegation is that they are instructing agents to not  apprehend people crossing illegally in thr first place.  So they are for a second time sidestepping a direct response by using a strawman.  Their state can be, and probably is, 100% accurate but it, of course, does nothing to actually refute the true allegation.  Very curious.

Meh, say the Obama apologists at this point.  The best you have is a retired agent with no first hand knowledge of the current situation?  We’re gonna need more than that to disregard the oficial comments from the agencies charged with safe guarding our borders.

OK, that’s fine.  We then get some additional insight from an unlikely source.

Local 2544, the Tucson branch of the National Border Patrol Council union, has also come out in support of Dever, and posted this message on their website after the FoxNews.com report.

Sheriff Dever is right. We have seen so many slick shenanigans pulled in regards to ‘got-aways’ and entry numbers that at times it seems David Copperfield is running the Border Patrol. Creating the illusion that all is well and you can start having family picnics in the areas where we work has been going on far too long. Has there been improvement in some areas? Absolutely. Is the border anywhere near ‘under control’? Absolutely not. Do some in management play games with numbers and cater to the wishes of politicians like Janet Napolitano and David Aguilar? Resoundingly, yes. Time for the foolish political games to stop.

The union posted another response on their website following Fox News’ publication of Fisher’s April 6 letter to Dever:

“Just remember, for years now we have been told from the highest ranking managers in our agency that ‘every apprehension is a FAILURE’ (Johnny Williams – former INS Western Region Director), and that we ‘are NOT immigration officers’ (current CBP Deputy Commissioner David Aguilar to Border Patrol agents when he was the Chief of the Border Patrol)…. We have been told that – Apprehensions = failure, we are not ‘immigration’ officers, we should not ‘lower’ ourselves to the status of an immigration officer, and our primary job is not apprehending illegal aliens. Couple all this with Secretary Napolitano’s recent public announcement about what she expects our apprehension numbers to be this fiscal year, and it’s not hard to figure this thing out.

Wow.  Support from the union of all places.  Unions are not generally considered to be supporters of Republican.  So again we have confirmation of the core allegations this time from active union members in a position to actually comment.  It is also telling that this has come out through yet another venue where there is no direct fear of reprisals against a specific agent.  The politics in these agencies muct be tremendous.

A second Arizona sheriff, Paul Babeu of Pinal County, also testified at a Senate Homeland Security Committee last week in support of Dever’s charges. Dever was slated to appear at the hearing, but said he could no longer attend when the date of his appearance was changed.

Asked specifically about Dever’s assertion that agents were told to turn back illegals to reduce apprehensions, Babeu told the committee he’d specifically asked his top lieutenant, Matt Thomas, about the claims.

He said, ‘Sheriff, I have heard that myself directly from border agents in the Tucson sector,’” Babeu testitified.

Babeu told FoxNews.com he’s been told by Border Patrol officials that for every person apprehended at the border, an average of 2.7 succeed in crossing into the U.S. With those numbers, he said he was concerned paramilitary or terror cells equipped with more sophisticated support and training could easily get through.

“This is no longer just public security threat, this is national security threat,” he told FoxNews.com.

Hmm.  Now we have a second Sheriff testifying before the Senate and recounting claims from a trusted and named source.  Things are starting to look pretty bad for the Obama Administration at this point.  They are clearly tap dancing around an issue for which there continues to be mounting evidence against them.

T.J. Bonner, retired president of the National Border Patrol Council, said in an interview with FoxNews.com that he’s familiar with “TBS-ing” and shares Babeu’s concerns about criminals and terrorists crossing the border.

“TBS has been going on for a number of years. You’ll never find orders in writing, and some agents have even been disciplined for TBS-ing people. That’s a practice that dates back to quite some time, to try and discourage is part of their ‘strategy of deterrence.'”

Bonner said Border Patrol agents are receiving “TBS” orders from someone higher up, but he isn’t sure who.

“Agents don’t just do this on their own. The orders must come from on high. They don’t just wake up one day and say I’m going to risk my job, my livelihood,” said Bonner, who retired last year after 32 years with Border Patrol. “I’m not sure if it’s Napolitano or folks in Customs and Border Protection, but somebody wants to silence critics in Arizona to claim success in Arizona.

Well, clearly Bonner is in a position to have expereince with this technique of TBS’ing illegals and to know the effects it has on the resulting statistics.  He is also in a position to recognize that such decisions are made from above.  Being retired, however, it is not surprising in the slightest that he doesn’t have knowledge of where the current orders are actually coming down from.

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