Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Blame Game

Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) gets tough on border security by ... going after the United States Border Patrol?

This is an excerpt from his letter to the Acting Commissioner of the US Cutoms and Border Protection division of the United States Department of Homeland Security:
"According to recent reports, the United States Border Patrol has provided the Mexican government with surveillance information about the location of the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. If true, these allegations are troubling as its only result could be to aid illegal immigration and put at risk law-abiding American citizens."

I guess this is more of that "personal responsibility" part by Republican lawmakers: when you control the US Congress for 12 years & the Presidency for 5 years, and you've been asleep at the wheel, wring your hands and blame the folks on the frontlines.

I know many agents who work with the United States Border Patrol, and they are fine, upstanding individuals who take their jobs very, very seriously. They are the good folks who have witness the humanity of the destitute masses seeking a better life and balance dealing with that everyday as they do their jobs to enforce our laws, fight the criminals and drug smugglers and human traffickers in the desert, and do so while short on manpower, equipment and leadership from high political office.

I wonder what the good folks at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center will think when they hear their Congressmen's stand on this matter.


patsbrother said...

There you go again. If you're going to charge Rep. Kingston with diversionary tactics, say so. If you believe the reports are true but that the Border Patrol acted appropriately so as to avoid a gun battle between civilians of two nations in the dessert, cool: but say so.

If, however, you have a problem with an elected official voicing concern (rather tepidly) over allegations of a recent series of actions taken by a government agency, why make it an issue of who's been in power for x years? To my knowledge, the Minutemen were not patrolling the border a few months ago, let alone in 1994.

Patrick Armstrong said...

Yeah, there I go again. (ummmm) You go boy, big boo yeah, 'cause you caught me red handed linking to actual stuff a Congressmen is saying about the Border Patrol.

I'm not charging Kingston with diversionary tactics, he really came out and said exactly what he meant (unless I just can't read English anymore) and I'm taking that at face value. I think everyone should go and read what he said. I'd love to hear everyone's opinions about this one.

Kingston is charging the US Border Patrol of "work against their own mission to help control the borders." I think that it is pretty low to play politics with Border Patrol agents as your targets.

As a Congressman, Kingston could make quiet inquiries as to who authorized the communications between the Border Patrol and the Mexican authorities (someone in the bureaucracy had to) and do his job to make them stop by working with the Congressional oversight committees that his party controls (and has for, as I mentioned, some time now). That kind of good behavior would show me that he is serious about fixing a real problem, and I would give him plenty of credit.

Instead, he's not voicing concern or engaging in real oversight, and I have a problem with that. He loudly goes after the whole of the US Border Patrol - no distinctions, plays politics by publicly embarassing very dedicated pulbic servants who do a very important job. I have a problem with that too.

This is, in my opinion, bad government, and I have a problem with that.

patsbrother said...

If Jack Kingston's couched language strikes you as "loud", then I am at a loss. He makes a point not to assert that the allegations are true (which is called "the benefit of the doubt"), and the strongest word he uses is "troubling". No razorbacked ranting that I can see. Cautious and polite is what I call it.

An elected official's job is to both get things done and to assure the electorate that their concerns are being addressed. I agree things can be done quietly: however, an open letter included in one's blog is not what I would consider "loud".

And finally, the Border Patrol is actually a government agency, and that means it too is a bureaucracy. Only you have said this letter impugns the field agents you describe, when the leak could just as well come from a mid-level bureaucrat (who is more likely to deal with the Mexican government directly than someone patrolling the border). No, certainly we should not condemn entire groups for individual wrongs (though again: this is not the case here). However, simply because a group in the aggregate is a positive force for good does not mean we should cover up individual malfeasance: one would think a Catholic would understand that point at least.

I personally would rather our represntatives conduct themselves in an open and civil manner. Perhaps you are merely unaccustomed to these qualities, as they seem so exceedingly rare these days.