Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The GAO Reminds Us Why The Republicans Can't Be Trusted to Defend America

Are you safer today than you were eight years ago?

When the Government Accountability Office (GAO) decides to look at anything controlled by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), you might as well sit back and get out a few highlighters, because what you're going to get is enough to fill as many blog posts as you want to try to do in one day.

In testing ports of entry, undercover investigators carried counterfeit drivers' licenses, birth certificates, employee identification cards, and other documents, presented themselves at ports of entry and sought admittance to the United States dozens of times. They arrived in rental cars, on foot, by boat, and by airplane.

Oh, crap!

They attempted to enter 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). In nearly every case, government inspectors accepted oral assertions and counterfeit identification provided by GAO investigators as proof of U.S. citizenship and allowed them to enter the country.

Double crap!

In total, undercover investigators made 42 crossings with a 93 percent success rate. On several occasions, while entering by foot from Mexico and by boat from Canada, investigators were not even asked to show identification. For example, at one border crossing in Texas in 2006, an undercover investigator attempted to show a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer his counterfeit driver's license, but the officer said, "That's fine, you can go" without looking at it.

Oh noes!

Here's a classic picture, one that should be hung on the wall of every wingnut in America:

What could possibly be in that duffel bag? A thermonuclear device? Dirty laundry? A bag of cash for someone who wants to build an Embassy in a Middle Eastern country?

I don't have the embed link, but here's the GAO video of these activities:

The GAO chronicles the absolute farce that is our border security. While the wingnuts go on Fox News and screech about a missile that Iran doesn't have that can carry a nuclear weapon Iran doesn't have, the people who run this administration have installed the most inept people in American History as leaders of the worst idea in American history--the Department of Homeland Security.

The next President should immediately disband and deactivate and disperse the Department of Homeland Security. DHS is a an unmitigated failure and a disgrace:

In contrast to our observations on the northern border, our investigators observed a large law enforcement and Army National Guard presence near a state road on the southern border, including unmanned aerial vehicles. On October 17, 2006, two of our investigators left a main U.S. route about a quarter mile from a U.S.–Mexico port of entry. Traveling on a dirt road that parallels the border, our investigators used a GPS system to get as close to the border as possible. Our investigators passed U.S. Border Patrol agents and U.S. Army National Guard units. In addition, our investigators spotted unmanned aerial vehicles and a helicopter flying parallel to the border. At the point where the dirt road ran closest to the U.S.–Mexico border, our investigators spotted additional U.S. Border Patrol vehicles parked in a covered position. About three-fourths of a mile from these vehicles, our investigators pulled off the road. One investigator exited the vehicle and proceeded on foot through several gulches and gullies toward the Mexican border. His intent was to find out whether he would be questioned by law enforcement agents about his activities. He returned to the vehicle after 15 minutes, at which time our investigators returned to the main road. Our investigators did not observe any public traffic on this road for the 1 hour that they were in the area, but none of the law enforcement units attempted to stop our investigators and find out what they were doing. According to CBP, because our investigators did not approach from the direction of Mexico, there would be no expectation for law enforcement units to question these activities.

The GAO also did this:

Took photographs of over half a dozen locations where state roads ended at the U.S.–Canada border

They noted that:
• No visible law enforcement response despite suspicious activity
• No observable electronic monitoring equipment
• CBP stated that our activities would not be grounds for a formal investigation

Then they:
Simulated the cross-border movement of radioactive materials or other contraband into the United States from Canada
And they noted that there was:
• No visible law enforcement response
• No observable electronic monitoring equipment

GAO's investigators also:
Simulated the cross-border movement of radioactive materials or other contraband into the United States from Canada
And recorded that:
• Some surveillance cameras and law enforcement presence noted along the road
• Investigators crossed the border into the United States in a spot that appeared to be unmanned and unmonitored, then returned to Canada

Here's a little more information about that "unmanned" border crossing station:

We also identified several ports of entry with posted daytime hours in one state on the northern border. During the daytime these ports of entry are staffed by CBP officers. During the night, CBP told us that it relies on surveillance systems to monitor, respond to, and attempt to interdict illegal border crossing activity. For example, on November 14, 2006, at about 11:00 p.m., our investigators arrived on the U.S. side of one port of entry that had closed for the night. Investigators observed that surveillance equipment was in operation but that the only visible preventive measure to stop an individual from entering the United States was a barrier across the road that could be driven around. CBP provided us with records that confirmed our observations about the barrier at this port of entry, indicating that on one occasion a cross-border violator drove around this type of barrier to illegally enter the United States. Although the violator was later caught by state law enforcement officers and arrested by the U.S. Border Patrol, we were concerned that these ports of entry were unmanned overnight.

So what we have, after seven and a half years of the Bush Administration being warned repeatedly to do something, is border security on the honor system.

We have, in effect, the Otis the Drunk rule as our policy of defending America:

Remember, terrorists--Andy leaves the jail unlocked and he leaves the key to your cell hanging on the wall. Lock yourself in for the night and sleep it off.

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