Second-class citizens

The conservative political punditry certainly called this one right.  Wednesday, President Bush spoke out against  the Minuteman Project, which consists of about 1000 US volunteers who have grown tired of the rampant illegal immigration across our southern borders, and is assisting the US Border patrol by observing and reporting illegal activity.  And, if this weren't bad enough, GW displayed a distinct lack of knowledge on exactly how the Minuteman Project operates, by using the term 'vigilantes' when referring to the volunteers.  Frankly, this was an inappropriate term and displayed an elitist attitude.  And this coming from a man who in the past has been willing to place his trust in the American people rather than practicing political expediency.

Vigilantes are defined as private citizens who take law enforcement into their own hands.  The Minutemen are doing nothing of the sort.  Now is the time for the SecDef to explain to the President what our own military units do when conducting a civil support mission on the border. It is virtually the same mission as the Minuteman Project.  In fact, the US NORTHCOM website has a primer on the differences between Homeland Defense and Homeland Security operations, and how legal restrictions impact on the military when performing these two distinct operations.

When the American people think of US forces on the border they naturally assume all missions are within the purview of these units.  Legally, the military is given free reign for Homeland Defense missions only; that is, when we are openly attacked by an armed external enemy.  In Homeland Security missions however, military units are restricted by the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the military from direct involvement in law enforcement operations.  This is why the units are limited to civil support activities that assist federal agencies in performing their border missions.

For example, just a few weeks ago, US NORTHCOM reported on the actions of the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment performing a civil support mission in the Luna and Hildago counties of southern New Mexico.  The Soldiers operate only in a support role and do not become involved in activities directly related to law enforcement.  Generally, units on border duty use their superior fire control optics, including thermal sights, and other reconnaissance assets to acquire and track illegal activity, and then hand the situation off to federal law enforcement for appropriate action.

As far back as the early 90s, Governor Pete Wilson of California was also frustrated with federal inaction in dealing with the flood of illegal immigrants across the border just south of San Diego.  He mobilized the Scout Platoons of the California Army National Guard who then established observation and listening posts along the on the US side of the border fence.  Their mode of operation was identical to that of the 14th Cavalry: conduct surveillance of illegal activity and hand—off to the Border Patrol for proper disposition.

These Army operations are no different than what the Minuteman Project is doing.  That is, providing more sets of eyes and ears for the Border Patrol so that they, not the Minutemen, can bring the situation to a safe and legal resolution.  And, like the military units that perform the same support mission, they are armed solely for self—defense purposes — of course, not as heavily armed as the US Army.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the US is spending $25 million for a sophisticated system of border forts and state—of—the—art customs stations. The US also spends big bucks to ensure the Iraqi border force is manned, trained, and equipped to defend against any possible external threat.  If Iraq has this critical requirement to secure their borders, certainly the frontiers of the terrorists' prime target should rate a similar level of effort.

The real troubling aspect of this sad situation is the seeming lack of trust in the very people who volunteer for the dangerous work of protecting our freedoms overseas or stateside.  Every Iraqi household is permitted to have one AK—47 assault rifle to help protect their family from terrorist and criminal attacks.  [Note to the anti—gun left: these are real assault rifles, selectable to fully automatic, not the 'sporter' semi—auto knock—offs that make you apoplectic when in the hands of an American householder.]  Yet, our volunteer US citizen contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq are expected to abide by a set of arcane regulations drafted by inside—the—beltway JAG officers prohibiting them from carrying firearms for protection.

Our citizens working in Iraq are then asked to entrust their lives to military units that some say are stretched too thin, or to other contractors hired by the government to help with security.  Apparently, there is some magical power to the right of self—defense conferred on our people as long as they put on a federal uniform or are under contract from the government.  I think a reasonable person would rather obey the laws of common sense than be kidnapped, tortured, or have his head sawed off trying to comply with these morally bankrupt regulations.

Even in our homeland, it appears that US citizens can't band together for the common defense to aid and assist the Border Patrol without being accused by the President of performing some imagined illegal activity, which in reality mirrors what military units have been doing in the civil support role for over a decade.  If this is not the case, the President needs to explain it to the American people, and then pony up the men and materiel to adequately secure our borders.

President Bush has been viewed as a leader who places the national security of our country as the number one priority.  His national security team and the DoD have correctly gone on the offense in the Global War on Terror and taken the fight to the enemy.  Unfortunately, the lack of will in securing our border, and his criticisms of our citizens acting in good faith to protect their loved ones and property, only reinforce the perception that GW is returning to business as usual in the domestic political arena.  Pandering to the oddball coalition of open—border Democrats and cheap—labor Republicans may have some economic benefit that I don't understand, but this is certainly no way to secure our country.

Douglas Hanson is our military affairs correspondent.

The conservative political punditry certainly called this one right.  Wednesday, President Bush spoke out against  the Minuteman Project, which consists of about 1000 US volunteers who have grown tired of the rampant illegal immigration across our southern borders, and is assisting the US Border patrol by observing and reporting illegal activity.  And, if this weren't bad enough, GW displayed a distinct lack of knowledge on exactly how the Minuteman Project operates, by using the term 'vigilantes' when referring to the volunteers.  Frankly, this was an inappropriate term and displayed an elitist attitude.  And this coming from a man who in the past has been willing to place his trust in the American people rather than practicing political expediency.

Vigilantes are defined as private citizens who take law enforcement into their own hands.  The Minutemen are doing nothing of the sort.  Now is the time for the SecDef to explain to the President what our own military units do when conducting a civil support mission on the border. It is virtually the same mission as the Minuteman Project.  In fact, the US NORTHCOM website has a primer on the differences between Homeland Defense and Homeland Security operations, and how legal restrictions impact on the military when performing these two distinct operations.

When the American people think of US forces on the border they naturally assume all missions are within the purview of these units.  Legally, the military is given free reign for Homeland Defense missions only; that is, when we are openly attacked by an armed external enemy.  In Homeland Security missions however, military units are restricted by the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the military from direct involvement in law enforcement operations.  This is why the units are limited to civil support activities that assist federal agencies in performing their border missions.

For example, just a few weeks ago, US NORTHCOM reported on the actions of the 4th Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment performing a civil support mission in the Luna and Hildago counties of southern New Mexico.  The Soldiers operate only in a support role and do not become involved in activities directly related to law enforcement.  Generally, units on border duty use their superior fire control optics, including thermal sights, and other reconnaissance assets to acquire and track illegal activity, and then hand the situation off to federal law enforcement for appropriate action.

As far back as the early 90s, Governor Pete Wilson of California was also frustrated with federal inaction in dealing with the flood of illegal immigrants across the border just south of San Diego.  He mobilized the Scout Platoons of the California Army National Guard who then established observation and listening posts along the on the US side of the border fence.  Their mode of operation was identical to that of the 14th Cavalry: conduct surveillance of illegal activity and hand—off to the Border Patrol for proper disposition.

These Army operations are no different than what the Minuteman Project is doing.  That is, providing more sets of eyes and ears for the Border Patrol so that they, not the Minutemen, can bring the situation to a safe and legal resolution.  And, like the military units that perform the same support mission, they are armed solely for self—defense purposes — of course, not as heavily armed as the US Army.

Meanwhile in Iraq, the US is spending $25 million for a sophisticated system of border forts and state—of—the—art customs stations. The US also spends big bucks to ensure the Iraqi border force is manned, trained, and equipped to defend against any possible external threat.  If Iraq has this critical requirement to secure their borders, certainly the frontiers of the terrorists' prime target should rate a similar level of effort.

The real troubling aspect of this sad situation is the seeming lack of trust in the very people who volunteer for the dangerous work of protecting our freedoms overseas or stateside.  Every Iraqi household is permitted to have one AK—47 assault rifle to help protect their family from terrorist and criminal attacks.  [Note to the anti—gun left: these are real assault rifles, selectable to fully automatic, not the 'sporter' semi—auto knock—offs that make you apoplectic when in the hands of an American householder.]  Yet, our volunteer US citizen contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq are expected to abide by a set of arcane regulations drafted by inside—the—beltway JAG officers prohibiting them from carrying firearms for protection.

Our citizens working in Iraq are then asked to entrust their lives to military units that some say are stretched too thin, or to other contractors hired by the government to help with security.  Apparently, there is some magical power to the right of self—defense conferred on our people as long as they put on a federal uniform or are under contract from the government.  I think a reasonable person would rather obey the laws of common sense than be kidnapped, tortured, or have his head sawed off trying to comply with these morally bankrupt regulations.

Even in our homeland, it appears that US citizens can't band together for the common defense to aid and assist the Border Patrol without being accused by the President of performing some imagined illegal activity, which in reality mirrors what military units have been doing in the civil support role for over a decade.  If this is not the case, the President needs to explain it to the American people, and then pony up the men and materiel to adequately secure our borders.

President Bush has been viewed as a leader who places the national security of our country as the number one priority.  His national security team and the DoD have correctly gone on the offense in the Global War on Terror and taken the fight to the enemy.  Unfortunately, the lack of will in securing our border, and his criticisms of our citizens acting in good faith to protect their loved ones and property, only reinforce the perception that GW is returning to business as usual in the domestic political arena.  Pandering to the oddball coalition of open—border Democrats and cheap—labor Republicans may have some economic benefit that I don't understand, but this is certainly no way to secure our country.

Douglas Hanson is our military affairs correspondent.