Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Chertoff Specializes in Dire Predictions

Photo by T. Vanderpool
Agent standing next to border fence in Arizona

Chertoff's recent statement about more violence on the border reminds me of the phrase "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that was used to provoke the Iraq war. Now we are being told that something could happen around the time of the next president's inauguration - there is a higher risk of terrorist attack since the our government is in transition.

Now Chertoff is saying there will be more border violence and that the fence is really needed to keep narcotraficantes in check. It is true that border violence has been an issue the past few years. Many people from the U.S. have stopped driving their cars through Mexican border towns, especially Nuevo Laredo.

However the fence is not a viable way to contain drug traffic. These guys (the narcos) can find a million other ways to get their work done.

There is strong opposition to the fence, from border agents themselves, besides border communities. What is common knowledge is that the fence will not stop any type of clandestine immigration - or any drug running. Either Chertoff doesn't have a clue to what is going on or he knows and is lying to us as he looks us straight in the eye. Either possibility is worrisome.,0,7422022.story?coll=la-home-nation
From the Los Angeles Times

Chertoff expects more border violence

The Homeland Security Department is turning up the heat on criminals, he says, and an agent's death shows why fencing is needed.
By Nicole Gaouette
Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

January 23, 2008

WASHINGTON — Violence along the border with Mexico will likely increase this year as the administration bolsters Border Patrol staffing and adds more fencing and technology to catch illegal immigrants, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Tuesday.

On Saturday, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Luis Aguilar, 32, was killed in California's Imperial Sand Dunes recreation area, run over by suspected drug smugglers as he was laying down a spike strip to stop their fleeing Hummer.

Aguilar's death has drawn attention to escalating violence on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico divide, which Chertoff and other administration officials attributed partly to heightened border security measures.

"Experience shows that the more successful you are in putting pressure on criminal organizations, the more violent they will become in fighting back," said Chertoff, who wore a pin depicting a Border Patrol badge draped in black. "The sad, tragic fact is that the increase in violence is very consistent with other metrics we've had that show we're getting increased success with stopping the flow across the border."

In an interview with The Times and the Associated Press, Chertoff and Border Patrol officials said the agency considered the agent's death a murder -- the first since 1998 of a Border Patrol agent -- and was working closely with Mexico to investigate. The Hummer's driver appeared to swerve not just to avoid the spike strip, but to "hit the agent intentionally," one witness said.

Mexican officials reportedly found the Hummer, burned, in Mexicali.

Chertoff and other officials said Aguilar's death highlighted a need to continue such initiatives as a fence.

Several border groups have sharply criticized Homeland Security's plan to build a border fence on private land. Many residents, mayors and business owners also object to Chertoff's announcement that if necessary, his agency will seize land from unwilling property owners in order to continue construction.

"I know it gripes some people; they don't want it on their property," Chertoff said.

But, he continued, "if the [Border Patrol] chief says to me building a barrier, building a fence would make it safer in this particular area . . . I'm going to use every available tool, including the courts."

Meanwhile, conservatives critical of President Bush's policies on illegal immigration have cited Aguilar's death in renewing calls to pardon Ignacio "Nacho" Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean. The two were Border Patrol agents, sentenced in 2006 to more than 10 years in prison after shooting an unarmed Mexican drug smuggler in the buttocks as he fled to Mexico. (They were found guilty of violating his civil rights and trying to cover up their actions.)

"Obviously, Aguilar didn't know if he could use his gun to shoot at this car coming at him," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) said on Fox TV.

Border Patrol officials strongly disputed that.

"It's not a fair comparison, and it diminishes our shock and heartbreak," said National Deputy Chief Ron Colburn.

Chertoff said there was no indication that Aguilar had time to defend himself.

Both Colburn and Chertoff stressed that Border Patrol agents are allowed to use force to defend themselves. Chertoff said that agents have been attacked with firearms, knives, bats, steel pipes, vehicles, boats and slingshots. Violence on the border increased 31% from 2006 to 2007, and attacks on agents jumped 44% over the same period.

Border officials say the burgeoning violence is rooted partly in criminal organizations' turf battles and lawlessness on Mexico's side.

Some 2,500 Mexicans died in drug-related violence in 2007, and the nation's president, Felipe Calderon, has made combating drug cartels his government's priority.

Chertoff linked the jump in violence to an array of U.S. enforcement measures, including fencing.

He said that his agency had built about 170 miles of pedestrian fencing and 130 miles of vehicle barriers.

He also cited increased Border Patrol staffing -- which now stands at 15,000 -- and policies in which illegal immigrants are deported and not released.

The administration has set up protocols that allow Homeland Security to coordinate with Mexico when violence crosses the border.

Chertoff said that Mexican officials reacted promptly after Aguilar's death, and that he had discussed with them additional steps they might take "to turn up pressure on cartels."

Chertoff added that the violence would require continued close cooperation, including joint intelligence-gathering and investigations on both sides of the border.,0,7422022.story?coll=la-home-nation

No comments: