Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Mum's the word on border

By Aussiegirl

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."


At 6:16 PM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

There has been something dirty about this whole border issue; Bush has behaved abominably, and seems desperate to hide something.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger TJW said...

After reading the full article, I cannot help but agree with you that something stinks within the Bush immigration policy. However, it has always reeked, and five weeks away from the most critical mid-term elections of our time, I find the timing of this “startling revelation” a bit curious. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa visited the border on May 6 why are we just now hearing about this and why is it suddenly such a major issue.

Even the policy in question is dated back in mid spring while the illegal immigration furor was at its zenith. Something else stinks here and it’s not just the President’s dismal immigration record. “The politics of personal destruction” wrecking ball is in full swing and the Democrats don’t much care what it smashes as long as it hurts…everyone but them.

Three lines from this article really jumped out at me, first because the incidents were so old, second because key information was left out leaving me only one way to interpret this report.

[In a May 10 memo,] "SIR for Visiting Congressmen," Clint Stoddard, special operations supervisor and a Tucson (Ariz.) Sector commander with Customs and Border Protection, notified all supervisors to set new standards for reporting Border Patrol agents who have any encounters with visiting congressmen. The policy is in effect nationwide.

"Please ensure that unannounced visits such as these are promptly reported as an SIR." (Significant Incident Report).

Now this is an incredibly dumb policy but mentions no consequences for non-compliance.

A Tucson Border Patrol agent, whose name is being withheld for fear of reprisal, was suspended on Aug. 21 for 10 consecutive days without pay for speaking with King while on duty, according to a suspension letter obtained by the paper.

This Tucson Border Patrol agent, (name withheld for fear of reprisal) may not have been authorized to shirk his duties for the three hours as it is reported he did. This also may not have been the first time this officer has run afoul of his supervisors we simply do not know the information isn’t provided. I became even more suspicious when I read that T J Bonner president of the union representing border patrol officers was cited as a source for the article.

I smell several agenda-driven rats hiding behind this story. In our modern era of McCain-Feingold, I don’t think any news source can be completely trusted as being un-biased this close to Election Day. This article also has the same “cherry-picked” feel to it, as did the leaked sections of the NIE published by the NYTimes a week ago.

At 11:20 AM, Blogger BobG said...

Thanks for bringing this to light. I agree completely with the Birdman, Bush is covering up.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger In Russet Shadows said...

I agree. There is something being hidden here. I don't like it one freaking bit!!


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