Tag Archives: Homeland Security Department

National security suffering from government shutdown

Donald Trump says the partial government shutdown is aimed at improving national security. He wants to curb illegal immigration along our southern border and says The Wall will do the job. He wants money to pay for its construction.

OK, but what about national security?

The shutdown has had an impact on the Department of Homeland Security, the Cabinet agency directed specifically to protect us against threats to, um, the homeland.

Airport security? Let’s see. Those TSA security agents are being denied paychecks for them to do their job. Many of them are calling in sick to protest the shutdown. Thus, airport security is put in jeopardy.

What’s more, we are learning that most of the terror suspects apprehended in the past year have been nabbed at — where do you think? — our airports!

If this wall matter is related to national security and if the president wants to shutter part of our government to get Congress to spend $5.6 billion to pay for a project he pledged would be paid by Mexico, then how does the shutdown improve our national security?

Just my guess . . . but I believe it inflicts grievous injury to it.

Trump’s loud talk produces diminished illegal immigration

Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly gives Donald J. Trump ample credit in the fight to stem illegal immigration into the United States of America.

U.S. officials report a dramatic decline in illegal crossings along our southern border. Kelly’s reasoning? The president’s loud and persistent complaints about illegal immigration somehow has deterred people from coming into the country without proper documentation.

I kind of understand the secretary’s logic. Moreover, I am willing to give the president great credit for talking a good game.

Kelly more or less echoes the thoughts expressed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, according to USA Today, said the following: “This is a new era,” Sessions declared during last week’s trip to Nogales, Ariz. “This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws, and the catch-and-release practices of old are over.”

I beg to differ with the AG on whether the previous administration’s policies somehow were more lax than, say, those of earlier administrations. President Obama became known as the “deporter in chief,” as his administration caught and deported record number of undocumented immigrants during his two terms in office.

Now, about that wall.

I give Trump all the credit in the world for whatever impact his loud and boisterous rhetoric has had on those seeking to enter the United States illegally.

Here is my question of the day pertaining to this issue: Does a precipitous decline in illegal border crossings now render “the wall” that Trump wants to build irrelevant?

I live in a border state, albeit we’re a good distance from the southern border. I’ve ventured along the border twice in the past few weeks and haven’t witnessed anything approaching a “horde” of criminals crossing the border.

Perhaps if the president keeps harping out loud about what he intends to do when his administration’s border officials catch illegal immigrants, then there might be even less need for a wall.

I’ve heard already from too many immigration experts who tell us that a wall won’t stop illegal crossings. Desperate individuals can  be quite creative in looking for ways over, under or around such barriers.

If Secretary Kelly is willing to give the president’s rhetoric for stemming the flow of illegal immigration, I am more than happy to accept it as a contributing factor.

Keep talking, Mr. President.

$20 million in the bank to build wall … where’s rest of it?

Donald J. Trump vows to build a “great, great wall” across our southern border.

It’s going to cost as much as $20 billion — give or take a few billion bucks. How much money does the president have on hand to start the job?

Department of Homeland Security officials say they’ve got about $20 million on hand, in the bank, to start the job.

The gap between 20 billion and 20 million dollars is, um, really yuuuge, man!

Where’s the rest of it going to come from? Trump says Mexico will pay for it. The Mexican government says no … it won’t pay. Can the head of one sovereign government force the head of another one to do something he doesn’t want to do?

I guess we could go to war with ’em, right?

That won’t happen. Quite obviously.

According to Reuters: “Trump has said he will ask Congress to pay for what existing funds cannot cover and that Mexico will be pressured to pay back U.S. taxpayers at a later date.

“Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he will include funding for a border wall in the budget for next fiscal year. He has estimated the cost to be between $12 billion and $15 billion.”

The Ryan estimate falls short of what Homeland Security officials have said; they place the cost at more than $21 billion.

This wall-building stuff is making my head spin.

Trump continues to court the support of fiscal conservatives. But he wants to spend $54 billion additional on defense spending, while cutting other programs to pay for boosting the Pentagon budget; he wants to spend $1 trillion on a road and bridge rebuilding program.

Oh, and he wants to cut taxes, too!

What does that do to the national debt? The annual budget deficit?

Does the president pile more debt on us while blowing the budget apart? Hey, I think he said the Obama administration’s “disastrous” fiscal policy was something he intended to fix.

Construction of this proposed wall, so help me, is going to cause many more headaches than it is intended to cure.

Hoping to size up how Trump plans to wall off U.S.

It is my fondest wish — for the moment — to lay eyes on some real estate down yonder.

I intend to take a look at just how Donald John “Smart Person” Trump intends to wall off the southern U.S. border with Mexico, to stop all them “drug dealers, rapists, murderers” and even some of those “good people, I’m sure” who are trying to sneak into this country.

John Kelly, the secretary of homeland security, said this week he thinks the wall can be built — start to finish — in two years. Of course, the president insists that Mexico is going to pay for it — apparently presuming that the Mexican government is “sending” all those criminals into the United States.

The wall, of course, would have to be erected on U.S. soil. Still, that doesn’t matter to Trump, who keeps insisting — despite Mexico’s stubborn refusal — that our neighbors will foot the bill.

Good luck with that.

I’ll report back to you when — or if — I get my chance to see it for myself. I might even ask around to see how the locals feel about it.

Stay tuned, dear reader.

Trump fills two key national security posts … next?

Donald J. Trump took the oath of office today and the U.S. Senate managed to do its job by confirming two critical appointments to the new president’s national security team.

Senators confirmed James Mattis as secretary of defense and John Kelly as secretary of homeland security.

Two elements intrigue me about both of these men.

One, they are retired general-grade officers, both Marines, both of them with four stars each on their epaulets. You’ll recall that the president said he knows “more than the generals about ISIS, believe me.”

But … does he? I don’t think so. I am convinced as well that the president didn’t think so either when he blustered that statement while campaigning for the office. It was an applause/laugh line.

The second element that is most interesting to me is that Gens. Mattis and Kelly both contradict some talking points that Trump declared, also while campaigning for the presidency.

Mattis in particular has declared Russia to be a primary threat to our national security, something that Trump has dismissed virtually out of hand as the controversy over Russian hacking has escalated. Kelly, too, has shown to be his own man while discussing ways to protect the nation.

Kelly takes the point now as Trump’s guy in the fight to control illegal immigration. Mattis now gets to assess additional international threats to the nation — and he is seriously concerned about Russia. Perhaps he can persuade the commander in chief that he, too, needs to worry about Vladimir Putin’s intent.

I’m also fascinated that the notion of a retired Marine general with the nickname of “Mad Dog” is seen as the reasonable alternative to the man who nominated him in the first place.

These two men will assume critical roles in the new administration. One word of warning, though, is in order: Donald Trump now needs to concentrate aggressively on filling many of the staff-level national security jobs that are vacant.

He did vow at his inaugural that he would eliminate radical Islamic terrorists from the face of the planet. You must get busy, Mr. President.

Secret Service fails ex-president

The hits just keep on coming at the Secret Service department.

Now this: It took the agency charged with protecting presidents and former presidents more than a year to repair a faulty alarm system at the Houston home of former President George H.W. Bush.

Let’s see. We’ve had agents frolicking with hookers in South America, a man busting through security at the White House, someone crashing a small helicopter on the White House lawn — and now reports of a failure to respond in a timely manner to concerns about an alarm system at the home of the 41st president of the United States.


There’s more, too.

Vice President Joe Biden’s home in Delaware had its alarm system shut off indefinitely by the Secret Service because it, too, wasn’t working properly.

This is getting increasingly difficult to understand, let alone justify.

The Secret Service is charged with protecting the highest government officials in the land, namely the president and the vice president. It also protects former presidents and their families. The one notable recent exception to that was the late former President Richard Nixon, who resigned from office in August 1974 and who then hired private security officers to protect him in his family in his post-presidency years.

The rest of them, though, get — and deserve — protection from the Secret Service.

That the agency wouldn’t repair former President Bush’s home security immediately after its malfunction became known is unconscionable. Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and new Secret Service director Joseph Clancy have declared security upgrades for those under the agency’s protection to be a top priority item.

Do you think?


Why the fixation over labels?

Conservative media continue to be fixated over the White House’s refusal to refer to the terrorists with whom we are at war as “Islamic terrorists.”

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson got the third degree on Fox News Sunday over that question.

His answer: Islamic State terrorists don’t deserve to be dignified by any reference to Islam.


I’ve long wondered when this silly argument is going to cease. I’m believing now that it will never end.

From my standpoint, it makes no difference if we call these monsters “Islamic terrorists,” or “violent terrorists,” or “garden-variety terrorists.” What matters — or what should matter — is what we’re doing in the field to fight these groups.

We’re stalking them. We’re killing them. We’re taking some of them prisoner. We’re subjecting them to serious interrogation.

Isn’t that enough?

However, it doesn’t seem to be among those on the right who keep insisting that the refusal to label the bad guys as “Islamic terrorists” somehow makes the fight less, well, heartfelt or sincere on our part.

I continue to believe our deep-cover agents, special operations personnel, Homeland Security and CIA analysts are doing all they can do to ensure that we avoid a repeat of the 9/11 attacks. No one anywhere can predict the level of success in avoiding another dastardly attack.

If we get hit once again, it won’t be because the White House doesn’t hang the correct label on the forces of evil with whom we are fighting a war.


Listen to Texas lawmakers on DHS funding

Dear Members of Congress:

Your Texas colleagues are speaking wisdom that you need to hear.

Do not play politics with funding the Department of Homeland Security. Doing so, according to Rep. Michael McCaul, puts the nation at a serious national security risk.

Do you understand that? Do you understand what it means to use DHS funding as a political football?


Let’s all understand something. Some of you are angry with President Obama’s decision to grant temporary amnesty for several million illegal immigrants. Others of you support the president’s decision.

Those of you who oppose Obama’s executive action, however, are signaling a serious breach in our national security network if you cut money out of DHS just because you’re mad at the president.

McCaul, who chairs the Homeland Security Committee in the House, said it well: “The terrorists are watching and the drug cartels are watching, and anytime we play politics with funding a national security agency, it’s a dangerous game to play,” McCaul told the Texas Tribune. “It’s a sign of weakness in our government.”

I get that McCaul, a Republican, is fingering Senate Democrats for this standoff. Both sides are to blame here.

Republicans have added amendments to the DHS funding bill that takes aim at Obama’s executive order. Democrats oppose it and the Senate has held up the funding because of that opposition.

So, who’s playing politics with our national security? I’m casting a plague on both political parties.

A lot of border-state lawmakers are concerned enough to send up warning signals.

Congress must not defund a national security agency because of petulance over a presidential order.

Don’t endanger the nation by cutting off money for the agency whose mission is to protect “the homeland.”


Now it's Ashton Carter at DoD

We’ll get to see just how partisan it’s going to get in Washington, D.C.

CNN reports that President Obama is going to nominate Ashton Carter as the next secretary of defense.


Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson withdrew from consideration. So did defense expert Michelle Fluornoy. Presumably others have pulled out, too, for all I know.

Carter is a big hitter. He’s been a deputy defense secretary and was the main weapons buyer for the Pentagon. He also worked as a deputy defense boss during the Clinton administration.

He doesn’t seem to be overly political. He doesn’t have a lot of baggage. Carter seems to be a good fit for the Obama administration, which reportedly forced Chuck Hagel to quit as defense secretary after less than two years on the job.

However, in this day and time, politics seems to matter the most. Republicans who’ll take control of the Senate in January are likely to find all kinds of things to throw against Carter. The chief among them just might be that he’s Barack Obama’s choice to lead the Pentagon.

Senators have said they won’t block national security picks, while fighting other presidential nominees in retaliation for the president’s immigration executive order.

Many of us out here intend to hold them to their word.



ISIL threat: real or imagined?

Here’s my fervent hope for the moment: it is for otherwise responsible members of Congress to quit saying things they cannot prove beyond any doubt — not just reasonable doubt.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., says at least 10 Islamic State fighters have been captured on our southern border.

Not so, says Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.


Who’s telling the truth?

My relative lack of cynicism leads me to believe the guy in charge of protecting the homeland. That would be Secretary Johnson.

“Let’s not unduly create fear and anxiety in the American public by passing on speculation and rumor,” Johnson told CNN.

Rep. Hunter is feeding the national anxiety over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Does he have proof that these individuals were apprehended and they, indeed, are members of the monstrous terrorist organization? No. Johnson replies that his agency has seen no “credible intelligence” that ISIL is at our southern doorstep, ready to cross into the U.S. territory and begin its reign of terror on unsuspecting and innocent Americans.

There is, though, another way to look at this matter.

It is that Border Patrol, Immigration and Naturalization Service, the FBI and local police authorities are on their toes. Suppose they are capturing individuals linked to ISIL. Wouldn’t that mean they’re doing their job?

I’ll stick with Secretary Johnson’s assessment that the situation lacks “credible intelligence” to suggest ISIL is on the march in North America.

We need physical proof, folks, that this is happening. And I’m not talking about fuzzy photos that Bigfoot believers produce to “prove” the existence of a mythical creature.

Let’s deal in reality and forgo the fiction.