Written by Michael Cutler
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. Federal agencies understood to play an integral role in protecting the American homeland from terrorist attacks were folded into this bureaucratic leviathan and included, among other federal agencies, the Secret Service, U.S. Customs Service and components of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service).
The title of the agency, “Department of Homeland Security,” certainly created the appearance that the issue of national security was at the heart of the massive reorganization of federal agencies, but it became readily apparent that this was not the case. In fact, the myriad failures of this agency have caused me to come to refer to the DHS as being the “Department of Homeland Surrender.”
As noted on the official DHS website, the budget for the DHS for Fiscal Year 2015 has been set at more than $60 billion. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) has been provided with more than 5.4 billion dollars, CBP (Customs and Border Protection) has been budgeted for nearly 12.8 billion dollars while USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has been budgeted to receive more than 3 billion dollars and the TSA (Transportation Safety Administration) will receive more than 7.3 billion dollars.
The Official DHS Website lists it mission as follows:
The Core Missions
There are five homeland security missions:
While all sorts of arguments are being made about how secure or insecure our borders truly are, the irrefutable metric about border security has nothing to do with the arrest statistics offered by the administration (which are, at best, highly suspect), but can be found in the fact that our nation finds itself awash with heroin and cocaine. In point of fact, police departments and other first responder agencies across the United States are providing their members with the antidote to heroin overdoses. This is an unprecedented measure.
Neither heroin nor cocaine are produced in the United States. Therefore, every single gram of these substances that are present in the United States provides graphic and incontrovertible evidence of a failure of border security.
How secure can our nation be when our borders are not secure and unknown millions of foreign nationals freely roam the towns and cities of our nation while their very presence in the United States represents a violation of the essential immigration laws that are America’s first line of defense and last line of defense against international terrorists and transnational criminals?
If a company made promises such as those articulated in the DHS mission statement, and did as an abysmal job as the DHS does, it would face all sorts of lawsuits and sanctions — ultimately putting it out of business. These failures of the DHS are hardly “victimless.” Every year thousands of people in the United States die because of crimes committed by criminal aliens. Illegal drugs play a role in most violent crimes committed in the United States — creating still more carnage.
Terror attacks have killed and injured thousands of innocent victims and we have never been more vulnerable to this threat than we are today.
No one has been made accountable for these failures of the immigration system. The only people who have lost their jobs were those who were slaughtered because of those attacks.
There is an expression that mocks those who fail to act until a tragedy strikes — doing too little, too late. The expression is, “Closing the barn doors after the horses are stolen.” This administration, aided an abetted by politicians from both sides of the aisle and those local and state politicians who gloat about creating “Sanctuaries” for illegal aliens are in fact, guilty of taking the barn doors off the hinges after the horses were stolen.
Of course, if, God forbid, there is another terror attack carried out on American soil, these supposed leaders may claim the “insanity defense.” It has been said that insanity is “Doing the same thing the same way and expecting a different outcome.”
On March 9, 2005 I testified before the Subcommittee on Management, Integration and Oversight of the Committee on Homeland Security on the topic: CBP and ICE: Does the Current Organizational Structure Best Serve U.S. Homeland Security Interests?
In my prepared testimony I made it clear that in my judgement, the creation of the DHS caused many more problems than it solved.
This is an excerpt from my prepared testimony:
The fact that the issue of re-organizing the agencies which bear the responsibility of securing our nation’s borders is the focus of this hearing encourages me that this subcommittee is intent on making the protection of our borders and the enforcement of the immigration laws the priorities as well they should be. But I would implore you and your colleagues who represent us in both houses of congress to act swiftly and resolutely to secure our nation’s borders which at present are anything but secure. The clock is ticking and time is on the side of our nation’s enemies. To quote the first two sentences of the preface of a report entitled, “9/11 and Terrorist Travel, A Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States,”
“It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal.”
The failure of our nation to impose even a modicum of control over who is able to enter our nation, even now, is a clear indication of the inability of the United States to protect its citizens from the potential of another terrorist attack. And it is not only terrorists who threaten our well-being. It has been estimated that 30% of the federal inmate population is comprised of aliens.
I concluded my testimony at that hearing by stating:
It is my opinion, and the opinion of many of my former colleagues at the former INS, that this management structure is unwieldy and ineffective. The enforcement of the immigration laws is critical and shares little with the other agencies which have been combined with the former INS. The mission of each of these agencies is critical, but also unique. The mission of the former U.S. Customs Service bears little in common with the work and priorities and orientation of the former INS. In fact, prior to the merger, Customs was a division of the Treasury Department and the INS was a division of the Department of Justice. Its primary responsibility was to prevent contraband from entering the United States and to collect tariffs and duties. Customs is responsible for the movement of goods and currency across our nation’s borders.
The INS was concerned with the movement of people across our nation’s borders and has been involved with issues that more closely paralleled what the employees of State Department, the Labor Department, and the FBI are involved with. To re-enforce this point, I would point out that while it was relatively rare for INS agents to work with their Customs counterparts it was relatively common for us to work with agents of the other agencies I have just mentioned. The primary similarity between Customs and the INS was the border. Once you remove the border from the equation the differences become obvious and profound.
Since the merger of INS into ICE the new special agents who are now being trained are no longer even receiving Spanish language training. It is estimated that some 80% of the illegal alien population is Spanish speaking. This language training was an integral part of the curriculum for all new enforcement officers at the old INS. You cannot investigate people you cannot communicate with. It is worth noting that most of the Special Agents-in-Charge of the ICE offices came from the U.S. Customs Service further eroding the immigration mission. I have come to think of the current situation as the “Customization of immigration law enforcement.” I have been told that few, if any employers of illegal aliens were fined under the auspices of the employer sanctions program in the United States last year. Additionally, the investigation of immigration benefit fraud has been relegated, from what I have been told, to being pursued by very few field agents and computer systems.
We are currently engaged in a war on terror where control of our nation’s borders is critical to the outcome of this battle where the stakes are so high. In order for the borders to be secured we need to have a coordinated enforcement program that creates a seamless effort from the borders to the interior. This can best be done, in my estimation, by putting the CBP and ICE under one roof. It is also essential that separate chains of command be established for the immigration enforcement program with specific training and funding and accountability. This is the era of the specialist. One size does not fit all. It is critical that our nation gains control of its borders and the entire immigration bureaucracy if we are to protect our nation from illegal immigration. Illegal immigration has a profound impact on more other aspects of this nation than does any other issue. It impacts on everything from education, the environment, health-care and the economy to criminal justice and national security. It is vital, in my view, that this mission be effectively dealt with. The current structure does not provide the framework or leadership to enable this to happen. Morale among the former INS personnel is at an all-time low. Clearly this situation needs to be remedied. A reorganization such as I outlined would represent a major step in the right direction.
On March 10, 2005 I testified before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on Immigration, Border Security and Claims on the topic: Interior Immigration Enforcement Resources.
Here is how my prepared testimony began:
A country without secure borders can no more stand than can a house without walls. The task of securing America’s borders falls to the dedicated men and women of CBP and ICE. These law enforcement officers are often put in harm’s way as they try to prevent aliens from gaining unauthorized entry into our country. They are not succeeding in this vital mission as evidenced by the millions of illegal aliens who currently live within our nation’s borders. This is not because of failings for which the employees of ICE or CBP bear the responsibility, but rather because our government has consistently failed to provide them with the resources they need to make certain that this basic job gets done.
The 9/11 Commission ultimately came to recognize the critical nature of immigration law enforcement where the ”War on Terror” is concerned. In fact, page 49 of the report entitled, ‘’9/11 and Terrorist Travel, A Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” contains a sentence that reads, ”Thus abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity.”
In point of fact, there are precious few members of Congress who are even willing to suggest that America’s borders be made truly secure or that our immigration laws be effectively enforced even though the 9/11 Commission and its staff of federal agents and attorneys identified failures of border security and the overall lack of integrity to the immigration system as playing a key role in enabling the terrorists to enter the United States and embed themselves in the United States as they went about their deadly preparations.
To this very day, it is all but impossible to find members of Congress willing to talk about the nexus between immigration and terrorism or other threat to national security or public safety.
On Sunday, August 10, 2014 South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham went on Fox News to discuss his concerns about members of ISIS attacking the United States. The Huffington Post ran a report about Graham’s televised interview. The title of the article summed up Graham’s statements, succinctly: Lindsey Graham: If Obama Doesn’t Go On Offense, Terrorists Are ‘Coming Here.’
Fox News also reported on Graham’s interview: “Graham: Islamic State will attack on US soil, Obama must stop terror group’s rise.”
Here is an excerpt from the Fox News article:
However, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a fellow Democrat and the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, is taking a more hawkish stance, similar to Graham’s.
“It takes an army to defeat an army, and I believe that we either confront [Islamic State] now or we will be forced to deal with an even stronger enemy in the future,” she said Friday after the airstrikes were announced. “Inaction is no longer an option.”
She and others have said for months that Islamic State is recruiting and training fighters from Europe and the United States who could come home and launch a terror attack.
Graham also argued that Islamic State’s nearly unchecked rise is the result of Obama failing last year to take action against the group in Syria, even after the FBI and other U.S. intelligence officials warned the White House and Congress of its growing, global threat.
“Your game plan cannot protect the United States,” Graham said Sunday, addressing Obama.
Such rhetoric tracks closely to that used in the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, lawmakers from both parties voted to give President George W. Bush the authority to take military action against Iraq in the hopes of combating terrorism.
At the time, many said the United States faced a choice of fighting terrorism on American soil or on foreign soil.
What is being ignored by the politicians and most news organizations is that the “War on Terror” is not an “either/or” situation. Terrorists can certainly launch attacks inside the United States whether or not we hammer them with our military forces in the Middle East.
While the emergence of ISIS has justifiably ratcheted up concerns about the Damoclean threat of global terrorism, these concerns have been raised for years and, incredibly, many of the very same politicians have turned the issue of border security into a bargaining chip for a program that would ultimately provide unknown millions of illegal aliens with lawful status and official identity documents even though they know full well that there would be no way to interview those aliens in person — let alone conduct actual field investigations to determine the truthfulness of the claims made in their applications.
On December 1, 2013 the Huffington Post ran a worrying report: “America Is ‘Less Safe’ Than 2 Years Ago, Intelligence Committee Chairs Say.”
The report focused on statements made by Senator Dianne Feinstein, who chairs the Senate’s Intelligence Committee, when she was interviewed for CNN’s program, “State of the Union.”
Here is how the report began:
Interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she believed that there are now more terrorists with the technological means to carry out a bombing in the U.S.
Here is an additional important excerpt from the Huffington Post article:
“I think terror is up worldwide,” said Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee. “There are new bombs, very big bombs, trucks being reinforced for those bombs. There are bombs that go through magnetometers. The bomb-maker is still alive. There are more groups than ever. And there is huge malevolence out there.”
Feinstein added that there was “a real displaced aggression in this very fundamentalist jihadist Islamic community, and that is that the West is responsible for everything that goes wrong and that the only thing that’s going to solve this is Islamic Sharia law.”
On the same day, December 1, 2013 Newsmax posted the report that provided an even more dire warning: “Sen. Feinstein, Rep. Rogers: Terror Threat Greater Than Before Sept 11″
This report began with this unambiguous assessment:
The U.S. is in greater danger of a terrorist attack than it was prior to September 11 and has less ability to prevent such aggression by Islamist radicals, key congressional intelligence leaders said Sunday.
This report ended with the following statement:
Feinstein is pushing legislation to protect NSA practices but require more congressional reporting.
The disconnect is nothing short of astonishing. Feinstein is willing to accept a loss of privacy in the name of national security while she blithely ignores anything that relates to the 9/11 Commission, its findings or its recommendations. Having mentioned the 9/11 Commission, the first paragraph of the preface of the “The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel“ begins with the following paragraph:
It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal. Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.
The 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist travel went on to detail numerous examples of instances where terrorists not only made use of visa and immigration benefit fraud to enter the United States but to also embed themselves in the United States. Page 47 of this report noted:
Once terrorists had entered the United States, their next challenge was to find a way to remain here. Their primary method was immigration fraud. For example, Yousef and Ajaj concocted bogus political asylum stories when they arrived in the United States. Mahmoud Abouhalima, involved in both the World Trade Center and landmarks plots, received temporary residence under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers (SAW) program, after falsely claiming that he picked beans in Florida.
This paragraph is found on page 98 under the title “Immigration Benefits:”
“Terrorists in the 1990s, as well as the September 11 hijackers, needed to find a way to stay in or embed themselves in the United States if their operational plans were to come to fruition. As already discussed, this could be accomplished legally by marrying an American citizen, achieving temporary worker status, or applying for asylum after entering. In many cases, the act of filing for an immigration benefit sufficed to permit the alien to remain in the country until the petition was adjudicated. Terrorists were free to conduct surveillance, coordinate operations, obtain and receive funding, go to school and learn English, make contacts in the United States, acquire necessary materials, and execute an attack.”
On July 20, 2013 the Washington Times published a truly disturbing report: “Homeland Security loses track of 1 million foreigners; report could hurt immigration deal.”
Here is how this important report begins:
The Homeland Security Department has lost track of more than 1 million people who it knows arrived in the U.S. but who it cannot prove left the country, according to an audit Tuesday that also found the department probably won’t meet its own goals for deploying an entry-exit system. The findings were revealed as Congress debates an immigration bill, and the Government Accountability Office’s report could throw up another hurdle because lawmakers in the House and Senate have said that any final deal must include a workable system to track entries and exits and cut down on so-called visa overstays.
The government does track arrivals, but is years overdue in setting up a system to track departures — a goal set in a 1996 immigration law and reaffirmed in 2004, but which has eluded Republican and Democratic administrations.
It is foolish — indeed extremely perilous — to think that terrorists would not want to strike at the heart of America today to demoralize our nation.
We have numerous examples of terror attacks that had been carried out, or were attempted to be carried out in the United States.
But then you need to remember that Graham was one of the “Gang of Eight” that concocted Comprehensive Immigration Reform. On Feb. 18, 2013 Accuracy In Media (AIM) published my paper: The “Gang of Eight” and Immigration Reform: “Bordering on a National Security Nightmare.”
From the day that the DHS was created concerns about the ability of this huge agency to truly enhance national security was questioned by the employees of the various component agencies. Many of my former colleagues at the INS who suddenly found themselves to be part of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) became concerned that by splitting up the immigration mission among three agencies and positioning many managers from what became known as “legacy customs” in charge of the enforcement of the immigration laws would compromise the ability of this cobbled-together entity of ICE to properly enforce the immigration laws.
Additionally, while the former INS had its share of problems, putting the Border Patrol and inspectors assigned to ports of entry into the newly created agency known as CBP (Customs and Border Protection) would only exacerbate the challenges to mounting a coordinated effort to secure our nation’s borders and effectively enforcing our immigration laws. There were additional concerns that moving the adjudications officers who were charged with adjudicating applications for immigration benefits, such as conferring refugee status and resident alien status as well as United States citizenship upon lawful immigrants, would add to the lack of coordination that is vital to making certain that there is meaningful integrity to the immigration mission
It is unlikely that DHS was created to truly cure the ills of the former INS, but if it was, then you could compare the creation of this Frankenstein agency with the statement, “The surgery was a success but the patient died.”
I have testified before more than a dozen congressional hearings and on several occasions I was called upon to provide insight about my concerns about how the creation of the DHS migh impact effective enforcement and administration of our immigration laws.
In the days, weeks and months after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 a veritable parade of political “leaders” seeking that all-important photo-op and print in the newspapers, stood before the forest of microphones and television cameras and thumped their chests and the podiums demanding to know, “Why no one had connected the dots?”
Of course, the vulnerabilities created by failures of the immigration system were well known to many politicians for years prior to the attacks of 9/11.
On May 20, 1997, more than four years before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I participated in my first Congressional hearing. That hearing was conducted by the House Subcommittee on Immigration and Claims and was entitled: “Visa Fraud and Immigration Benefits Application Fraud.”
This important hearing was predicated on two terrorist attacks that were carried out more than four years earlier, in 1993 by aliens from the Middle East who, as was determined, gamed the visa process and/or the immigration benefits program.
In January 1993 a Pakistani national by the name of Mir Kansi stood outside CIA Headquarters with an AK-47 and opened fire on the vehicles of CIA officials reporting for work on that cold January morning in Virginia. When the smoke dissipated, two CIA officer lay dead and three others were seriously wounded. Kansi fled the United States and was ultimately brought back to stand trial. He was found guilty and executed for his crimes. He had also been granted political asylum and had been subsequently found to have lied on his application, thereby committing a felony: fraud. Had the fraud been detected and had he been deported from the United States, those who were killed and wounded would not have been harmed.
Just one month later, on February 26, 1993 a bomb-laden truck was parked in the garage under the World Trade Center complex and detonated. The blast nearly brought one of the 110 story towers down sideways. As a result of the explosion, 6 innocent people were killed, hundreds were injured and an estimated one half billion dollars in damages were inflicted on that iconic complex of buildings located just blocks from Wall Street. That attack was also carried out by alien terrorists who managed to not only game the visa process in order to enter the United States, but the immigration benefits program that enabled them to remain in the United States and embed themselves as they went about their preparations to carry out that attack.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 there have been numerous congressional hearings that focused on how the terrorists were able to enter the United States and carry out their attacks. In fact, there have been other terror attacks and attempted attacks. Many experts from many fields have consistently warned about the existential threats America and Americans face today. Yet, for the most part, they are ignored by the news media and ignored by our “leaders.”
I am only one of many witnesses who have done everything possible to get the “Fools on the Hill,” as I refer to all too many of our supposed political representatives in Washington, to listen.
It has been said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Where terrorism is concerned, in point of fact, nn ounce of prevention is worth many tons of cure.
Source: Front Page Magazine
Michael Cutler is a retired Senior Special Agent of the former INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service) whose career spanned some 30 years. He served as an Immigration Inspector, Immigration Adjudications Officer and spent 26 years as an agent who rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. For half of his career he was assigned to the Drug Task Force. He has testified before well over a dozen congressional hearings, provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission as well as state legislative hearings around the United States and at trials where immigration is at issue. He hosts his radio show, “The Michael Cutler Hour,” on Friday evenings on BlogTalk Radio. His personal website is http://michaelcutler.net/.
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