Saturday, June 28, 2008

GAO Releases Report on Border Security

The timing of this report is critical because we are seeing a flurry of stories about the border region of Mexico and the US which suggests that the area is spinning out of control. The Department of Homeland Security is simply not up to the task of setting a long term agenda.
The GAO found that the Secure Border Initiative (SBI) was compliant with the majority of benchmarks, but failed to comply with a requirement that stated:

A description of how activities will further the objectives of SBI, as defined in the SBI strategic plan, and how the plan allocates funding to the highest-priority border security needs.

And that is the entire report in a nutshell--the GAO determined that DHS has no articulated plan that tells the American people how the SBI will achieve anything resembling a long term goal, like you know--securing the border. Without a long term plan, what's the point? How sad is it that the GAO, which has a pretty wide latitude with what it decides, ultimately had to decide that the DHS has no vision of how it will achieve anything?

Back in February, it was revealed that one of the components of the SBI, the virtual fence, was a failure:

The failure of the virtual fence was inevitable, a combination of an unrealistic and heavily politicized policy imperative, untested technology hastily fielded with little input from subject-matter experts, a contractor that understands airplanes a lot better than systems integration, and poor management by the federal government’s least experienced bureaucracy.

The only good news here is that the Department of Homeland Security was not building an airplane. The technology used to build the virtual fence was designed to rise only a few feet off the ground on a series of towers along the southwest and eventually the northern border. Its maiden voyage didn’t kill anyone, but it wasted millions of dollars that DHS can ill afford to lose.

So the question is: What do we do now? Given that the Bush administration will leave office in less than a year, picking up the pieces of this flawed project will largely fall to Congress and the next administration.

Well, I would argue that until we ELIMINATE the structure of the Department of Homeland Security--that is, break it up and put things back largely the way they were--we're never going to see meaningful progress. The DHS is the only agency that has never been under Democratic control and is entirely the creation of Joe Lieberman. In turn, Lieberman has failed to provide even the most basic example of oversight of DHS in the Senate. Years and years of incompetence, paralysis and wasteful spending have created the ultimate example of Republican governance--a terrible agency that can't do anything. Mission accomplished, Republican Party--you've proven that government can't do anything right. So, step aside while we fix the DHS problem.

Once that's done, we have to stop this crap--and you'll be excited to hear that corrupt broke-ass wingnut ex-Congressman J.D. Hayworth has dedicated himself to paying off his debts by hosting a radio show that gets everything wrong:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) said three suspects arrested in a Monday morning Phoenix home invasion and homicide were not members of the Mexican Army.

"We have no indication whatsoever that any of the individuals were involved with formal military in Mexico," said Vincent Picard of ICE.

The incident at 8329 W. Cypress St. resulted in the death of the homeowner. Between 50 and 100 rounds were fired at the house.

While on the J.D. Hayworth show Tuesday, a top member of a Phoenix police union announced that the suspects were active members of the Mexican Army hired by drug cartels to perform home invasions and murders.

Phoenix Police Enforcement President Mark Spencer said a police officer told him that one of the men captured said they were completely prepared to ambush Phoenix police, but ran out of ammunition. Click Here to listen to the entire interview.

He added that all of them were dressed in military tactical gear and armed with AR-15 assault rifles. Three other men involved in the invasion escaped.

Way to go there, JD. The environment for any discussion of these issues is toxic, thanks in large part to the efforts of the right wing in this country to demonize people and lie through their teeth. It helps them justify paying billions to companies that fail to do what they've been contracted out to do. In order to cover up the incompetence and greed, the right wing has to whip people up in a frenzy and get them mad at the wrong issue and the wrong people.

In other words, is it January 20, 2009 yet?

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