Tuesday, May 16, 2006

More on National Guard troops on the border

It occurred to me that perhaps the reason one would put the troops there is to keep them fresh for Iran. Except with only 2 week deployments, I don't understand how they are to learn their jobs before being sent home. Also, this alleged problem (alleged, because I don't believe one exists) has been around since before Bush came to office. The original report from the 9/11 Commission recommended that this issue be addressed, but Republicans decided not to back the Commission's findings. So, why all of the attention now? Well, it's obvious that they hope to turn it into an election year security issue that will change the topic from Iraq, Iran, and North Korea and supply them with some positive momentum to build upon for the coming elections. Other issues our non-working, but well paid Congress will address in the coming months will include flag burning (when was the last flag burnt in protest in the U.S. that this is still an issue?) and gay marriage rights. They hope to use these as gotcha issues for Democrats that will get their base out and hope that people forget about incompetency, foreign policy blunders, war, and an economy which has been a drain on the average American. On top of that, they are planning on bringing a substantial number of troops home from Iraq - a political cut and run that they've planned on all along. Hey, I'm happy to see the troops home and wish it could be all of them, but this is a cynical political ploy that is getting more killed by the day until the President can pull the plug to make his polls look better for the election. That's been the plan from day one.

But let's get back to that idea of National Guard Troops for Border Patrol. Bill O'Reilly asked Michael Chertoff about this exact same thing in December of 2005 (expect to hear O'Reilly crowing about it today):
“Why don’t you put the National Guard on the border to back up the border patrol and stop the bleeding, and then start to increase the Border Patrol, the high-tech and all of that?” O’Reilly asked.

“Well, the National Guard is really, first of all, not trained for that mission,” Chertoff told O’Reilly. “I mean, the fact of the matter is the border is a special place. There are special challenges that are faced there.”

“I think it would be a horribly over-expensive and very difficult way to manage this problem,” Chertoff said. “Unless you would be prepared to leave those people in the National Guard day and night for month after month after month, you would eventually have to come to grips with the challenge in a more comprehensive way.”
From today's press conference TPM Muckraker provides this account with Fatherland Security's Michael Chertoff:
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, if I've understood everything I've heard, you don't yet know what missions the 6,000 National Guardsmen will do, you don't know who is going to pay for them, you don't know what the rules of engagement will be for them, you don't know what size units there will be or how long -- whether they'll be two-week or six-month deployments, and you don't really know exactly which equipment they're going to have. So my question is, how long have you been working on this?

SECRETARY CHERTOFF: I guess that's what they call a loaded question. And I guess you haven't understood what we've said, so I'm going to try to make it really clear. . . I]t is true that, sitting here right now, I do not have in my head every single mission set. . .

ASSISTANT SECRETARY McHALE: . . . We don't know how many helicopters we're going to put up, but we know to a near certainty that we'll have helicopters. . . We don't know where we will place censors [sic] to detect illegal movement, but it's almost a certainty that we will have censors [sic]. . . We don't know how many barriers or roads we're going to build, but clearly, we will be putting new barriers in place, and clearly, we will be building new roads . . . So your question, sir, is a fair one.

QUESTION: What I'm really trying to understand, is this a well-thought-out plan, or is it something that's just been --


SECRETARY CHERTOFF: in quite exquisite detail. . .

GENERAL BLUM: This is clearly a well-thought-out plan[.]

So, let's see...5 months ago this was a horrible idea. Today, it's a well thought out plan, except that we don't know how much equipment, nor where it will all be placed. This sounds like another policy pulled - no doubt with hasmat suits - from Karl Rove's asshole. Questions: Why are we wasting resources on this? Assuming that this is a problem, is this the best use of resources? Why stretch the National Guard in this manner? Haven't we tried this before and the troops were recalled because they shot a Mexican teen in the back? (OK, that one's rhetorical because the answer is "yes") Where is Osama bin Laden and why haven't we captured him yet? Can we trust an administration that flubbed bin Laden's capture, flubbed the Weapons of Mass Destruction, screwed up royally on the post Iraq planning, could not and can not properly address the aftermath of Katrina nearly 9 months later, and could not deliver a proper system to benefit seniors in this country (not to mention No Child Left A Dime) to deliver on this promise?

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