Mum's the word on border
These tactics smack of the KGB. I don't like this one bit, and neither should you. There's no excuse for this. If the Bush administration had nothing to hide about its immigration policy, why is it trying to prevent congressmen from having unfettered access to the border and to open communication with the border patrol?
DailyBulletin.com - Mums the word on border
Congressmen who visit the U.S.-Mexico border unannounced are being monitored by the Department of Homeland Security, and at least one U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent has been suspended for speaking to a congressman without first getting supervisory clearance, according to documents obtained by the Daily Bulletin.
Congressional representatives interviewed by the Daily Bulletin said they were unaware until recently that Border Patrol agents were required to file Significant Incident Reports -- normally used for shootings and other serious border incidents -- when congressional representatives made unannounced visits this summer along the U.S.-Mexico border.
A second document obtained by the paper reveals that one agent was suspended for 10 days without pay for speaking with Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, who made an unannounced visit to the border in May.
"Preventing Congress from speaking freely to federal employees violates at least two federal statutes, and agents are fearful of telling the truth," said King, who recounted several visits to the Mexican border when Border Patrol agents would not speak with him for fear of reprisal.
"Filing these reports is a form of intimidation. If anyone is going to be punished, then they should be punished for not speaking to a member of Congress, rather than for telling the truth."
Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, who also has made unannounced visits to the border, said he is concerned congressional oversight of border matters has suffered as a result of the Homeland Security monitoring. Poe echoed King's assertion that forcing agents to file reports is a form of intimidation, and said Congress is prepared to call for hearings and issue subpoenas to investigate the matter.
"Members of Congress should not be under surveillance by Homeland Security because we ask the tough questions (of) border agents, and border agents should not be intimidated into having to report our visits and conversations with them like we are criminals," Poe said. "Members of Congress are not the enemy because we want to find out the truth at the border."