Republicans Promise Hearings on Border Provocations

As it turns out, we clipped last week’s story from the Dallas Morning
News for good reason. This week begins with a news report posted
at GOPUSA that Republicans in the US House of Representatives will be
pursuing the issue of border incursions along the Rio Grande river
involving "military style" uniforms and equipment.

Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), along with
Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Michael McCaul (R-Texas), and Steve Pearce
(R-N.M.) announced on Friday that they have asked Mexican Ambassador to
the U.S. Carlos de Icaza to explain what’s going on.

They’ve also written to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, asking them to
investigate and report back to Congress….

McCaul expressed concern about individuals in Mexican military
uniforms helping drug smugglers cross the border. He pointed to a
recent press report saying that law enforcement officers on the U.S.
side observed Mexican military humvees equipped with .50 caliber
weapons escorting drug traffickers back into Mexico to provide them
safe haven.

Meanwhile, over at the Texas Farm Bureau website,
Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O’Connor claims that 90 percent of
the migrant traffic through his jurisdiction are OTMs (other than

"I would say 10 percent at most are people from Mexico. The
rest are a makeup of people from Central and South America," says
Victoria County Sheriff T. Michael O’Connor, who polices the "fatal
funnel," a main thoroughfare for illegals traveling Highways 59 and 77,
en route to Houston. "There have even been some from the Middle East,
Russia, and China. The U.S. border with Mexico is not a free border,
but south of that, all borders are open borders. People come into
various ports in Central and South America, and they find their way
here. Their main means of transportation today is rail. They get to the
Texas border and then find their way via a trafficking issue. They pay
thousands and thousands of dollars to get to the Houston area."

O’Connor has a political voice worth respecting, since it is not often
that county sheriffs are also former vice chairs of the Texas A&M
University System Board of Regents. But we have good reason to doubt his thumbnail statistics (as quoted) since official figures
reported from the Department of Homeland Security indicate that 92
percent of foreign nationals apprehended in 2004 were "natives of
Mexico." Putting ourselves into a posture for reading tea leaves, we’d
stick by our previous predictions that
this border issue is being set up by Republican interests for
exploitation, and we’d add one more thing: keep an eye on O’Connor’s
electoral career.

The two part series at the Texas Farm Bureau web site begins with a
sentence about 9/11 and is a tellling marker of the way that the border
issue is being increasingly framed within a war on terrorism context
that criminalizes migrants and militarizes the reflexes of state policy.

Meanwhile, at the American Chronicle website, columnist Barbara
Anderson today files her third border opinion of the year, this time calling
out for "a well regulated militia". The vaunted language of the
Fourth Amendment right to carry guns is placed in context of Minutemen
who she calls "the closest thing we have to a militia". Along
with the Republican chime, Anderson also hits up last week’s report of
"military style" uniforms and guns at the Rio Grande. She pleads
for "sovereignty" in the form of a "sturdy fence":

Is this the time for a “well regulated Militia”? It seems the
disciplined Minutemen may be an answer for the pressing need of eyes
and ears, and some defensive arms, along our wide open southern border
until the government catches up with the sentiments of outrage by its

And while we’re on the subject of the war on terrorism, here’s a telling exchange at Monday’s White House Press briefing:

Q According to data currently available at the Department of Homeland
Security Funded Terrorism Knowledge Base, the incidents of terrorism
increased markedly in 2005: worldwide attacks were up 51 percent from
the year before, and the number of people killed in those attacks is up
36 percent; since the year 2000, attacks are up 250 percent, and deaths
are up 550 percent. How do you reconcile those numbers with your claim
that you’re winning the war on terrorism and putting terrorists out of

MR. McCLELLAN: Well, just look at the facts. If you look at the facts,
many of al Qaeda’s known leadership have been put out of business.
They’ve been brought to justice. They’ve either been captured or
killed. No longer is America waiting and responding. We’re on the
offense; we’re taking the fight to the enemy. We are engaged in a war
on terrorism. The enemies recognize how high the stakes are. And one
thing the President will talk about, continue to talk about tomorrow
night and in the coming weeks, is that we continue to face a serious

This is a deadly and determined enemy. But the difference is now that
we’ve got them on the run, we’ve got them playing defense, we’re taking
the fight to them. And all of us in the international community must
continue to work together. We’ve been fortunate that we haven’t been
hit again since the attacks of September 11th. And that’s in no small
part because of the great work of our men and women in uniform abroad,
and because of the great work of our intelligence community, and the
great work of our homeland security officials here at home who have
worked together using vital tools, like the Patriot Act and other
tools, to help disrupt plots and disrupt attacks.

And there’s great progress being made. But the President made it clear
after September 11th that this was going to be a long war, but he’s
going to continue acting and leading and doing everything in his power
to win that war so long as he is in office. And we also have to work to
continue to advance freedom. And 2006 was a year of progress when it
came to advancing freedom around the world. The Middle East is a
dangerous, troubled region, and that’s why it’s important we continue
to support the advance of democracy throughout that region.

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