Are we looking at some real DHS incompetence at the Tijuana line?
Up until about now, I've been against the idea of firing Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. She's said the right things and any hampering of her duties seems to have been largely been the work of leftwing lawyers and mob protestors.
I'm not so sure of that anymore.
The news has been out for days, that the caravan migrants making their way up from Mexico would be entering the U.S. illegally through Tijuana. Not just any place from Tijuana, but a very specific place, Playas de Tijuana, where the land touches water so it's exceptionally easy to pinpoint on the vast 1,954-mile stretch of the U.S. Mexico border. It's where the organizers of the caravan, Pueblo Sin Fronteras, have a known base of operations. They used it for the April operation and now they are using it for the current one. You can read all about it in the San Diego Union-Tribune's report three days ago, describing how Tijuana was "bracing" for the caravan, and where outraged Tijuana locals are rather unhappy about the caravan setting up camp in their upscale neighborhood again. Last night, they actually got into a confrontation.
It was right at that point that the caravaners put on a show, climbing the U.S. border fence as U.S. Border Patrol agents watched, waving their arms, yelling victory. And at least one jumped over before jumping back, consequence-free, having his fun as the U.S. agents stood by. We all know who won in that one.
Image credit: Fox News / San Diego Union-Tribune video screengrab
Here is the entire Fox News-San Diego Union-Tribune video.
What they did, for them, was Mission Accomplished. They were able to demonstrate that the U.S. is a paper tiger as far as the border goes, and there is no reason to fear jumping the border illegally. The border in fact, remains a joke and the U.S. in fact is powerless. That was the purpose of the show. They demonstrated for the TV cameras that they can jump the border any time they like and there's not a thing the U.S. can do to stop it.
Which is what we saw.
Two big pieces of incompetence stand out for me: Where was the much-reported razor wire the U.S. military was supposedly installing? I watched television programs and looked at news photos and I could not find any. The Department of Homeland Security had days of intelligence, printed right there in the newspapers and news broadcasts, that the caravaners were headed to Playas de Tijuana, which would be the most logical place to string the wire.
Yet they didn't string the wire. Oh, there was some belated stringing of wire, done by neither the military nor the DHS, but the news videos said it was done by contractors. And it was done late, reactively, after the first news accounts of the border spectacle made the news. No strategic estimates there about exactly where such wire would be needed, apparently it might've just been strung up in Arizona, where Gen. Mattis and DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen made a show of visiting troops a couple days earlier. Talk about being caught flatfooted.
Here's another thing: The Department of Homeland Security's website doesn't seem to think the caravan's arrival is a big event, either. Their last notation about it, posted two weeks ago, posts 'myth and fact' about the caravan. That's a little old. Their Operation Faithful Patriot link goes to what it calls 'b-roll' which is background news, not 'a-roll' headline news. The border security link features a big item on security at the U.S.-Canadian border. This doesn't sound like they consider this whole matter any big thing.
As for the concertina or razor wire that was belatedly strung, look at how bad it is - this is a DHS screengrab: It goes right to the beach water level and stops right there. Afte that, no concertina wire and just a low level fence. If you were a caravan illegal trying to get through to San Diego, a fit young man of military age who had just swam a border river on Mexico's south, and walked and hitched truck rides thousands of miles from Honduras, would that fence be much of a physical problem for you? The only thing you'd do is walk over to the beach side with your feet in an inch or two of beach water and jump over to the U.S. from that point because it's a no-brainer. You'd land in the soft sand and get your feet wet which would be a heckuva easy thing given the border fence you busted through, the bridges you jumped down and the rivers you swam back in Mexico.
I just don't see any seriousness from the U.S. about this, despite the big press buildup about troops to the border and increased security as the caravaners announce their intention to break in in mass numbers. Apparently, it doesn't bother anyone, other than President Trump, that the migrants are making a big show of U.S. incompetence.
Now let's go to the border visit, which got a big buildup in the press, what with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen visiting the troops. The press accounts that ran in San Diego never quite mentioned where this visit was, but if you listen closely to one of the longer videos, the soldier explains to Mattis that the border reinforcement at Nogales in Arizona was the priority, even as he seems to know that the illegals may "punch through" to Tijuana. From this video, I simply don't understand how with that knowledge the two U.S. agencies had, they didn't put two and two together and reinforce the Tijuana end.
Mattis almost beclowns himself by making a reference in this video here about all of these ineffective border actions being 'environmentally' correct, focusing on that instead of whether the entire operation was effective, which doesn't speak well for a general who up until now has been known as "mad dog" for his focus on results. He seems more interested in process than results. As for Nielsen, there she is, in a big huge black coat with an old lady pin attached and aviator glasses, looking for all the world like Teresa May, and just as ineffective, largely saying nothing, passive and afraid to engage because it didn't seem to be her show. She looks grim most of the time and then manically laughs at one point.
All I can say is I'm unimpressed. I'm totally open to other explanations as to what went on in that border visit, perhaps they were reinforcing Arizona because the cartels were looking to take advantage of the migrant attention in Tijuana as a good opportunity to move their "loads" without lawmen attention, but if so, someone should have said something. This looks like incompetence and the migrants are flashing the victory sign because they have changed the terms of battle to the propaganda front, they have gotten the camera attention and the message they wanted out and the U.S. is incapable of stopping them.
That concertina wire should have been up.
I think it's time for Nielsen and maybe Mattis to go.