Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Smoke and Mirrors

The political exigencies are such that the Administration is beginning to get serious about the issue of securing our borders. The debate has largely been played out in economic terms, the issue being whetherillegal immigrants a net boon to or drain on the American economy. While that is an important debate to have, and good arguments can be advanced on both sides, to my mind the key issue is the degree to which our porous borders can be and, indeed, are being exploited by terrorists to sneak among the throngs of those coming here seeking economic opportunity.

This threat is no more ominous than it was nearly five years ago, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Nor is it more ominous than it was three and a half years ago when the Department of Homeland Security was created, to, among other things, secure our borders against terrorist penetration. Nor is it more ominious than it was a year and half ago when Michael Chertoff took over from Tom Ridge as Secretary of Homeland Secretary. How else, then, to explain the sudden focus on securing our borders than political "exigency," (an SAT word for "expediency.")

If the Adminstration were serious about border security, it would have beefed up the personnel manning our borders five years ago, or, at least, three and half years ago, or, failing that, a year and half ago. Furthermore, our border with Canada is at least as porous as our border with Mexico. If anything, because Canadians have been much less likely to flee their homeland in search of American jobs, the northern border is even more lightly defended than our southern border, making it even easier to penetrate by terrorists. It is not for nothing that Ahmed Ressan, the "millenial bomber" caught at the Canadian border by an alert U.S. customs inspector before he could carry out his plan to blow up Los Angeles International Airport, attempted entry from Canada. Third, the President's announced intention to deploy the National Guard is but the latest example of the Adminstration's parceling out duties that should be performed by the Department of "Homeland Security" now that we have one. Even if the military weren't already stretched to the breaking point by engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even if they weren't diplomatic and legal issues with deploying troops in the homeland for a non-combat purpose, it would still be a bad idea to give another agency a job that the Department of Homeland Security was supposed to do. When will the Adminstration give the department the resources, leadership, authority, and other support it needs to do the job it has at least nominally been given to do?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Ervin,

Does your book address weaknesses in the General Aviation System? Shortly afte 9/11 NTSB issued a report, revealing the FAA had lost track of 28K aircraft owners. The FAA revealed over the radio that many foreign aircraft enter US airspace without permission each month, especially in the Southern Region. Given the terrorist are reported to still be interested in aviation, per US intelligence, shouldn't we be doing more to get a handle on unidentified traffic to GA airports?
What can be done and what are the obstacles as you see them? Thank you for your public service.

12:42 PM  

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