Monday, April 7, 2014
"Substantial Inter-operability Challenges" impede "unity of command" on Texas Border
"He makes peace in your borders,
And fills you with the finest wheat."
[Author's note: Today's hearing covered both border security and second amendment issues; this post will cover border security, we'll cover the second amendment in a separate post.]
Texas State Capitol -- Earlier today, we attended an interim hearing of the Texas Senate committee on Agriculture, Rural Affairs, and Homeland security. It was the most depressing and hilarious event we've attended in awhile. It highlights how government can't even get the things it's supposed to do right.
The two quotes in the title were from Brigadier General Patrick Hamilton (Texas National Guard). In other words, you have a bunch of state and federal agencies with different sources of funding and accountable to no one not talking to each other and accomplishing nothing. This creates a situation where the cartels are able to monitor our communications, but friendlies in different government agencies cannot communicate with each other.
Next up were Tom Krampitz (General Council, Texas Border Prosecutors Unit) and Jaime Esparza (District Attorney, El Paso County), who outlined the efforts of prosecutors in the border region. There are now 20 prosecutors embedded with DPS in South Texas. Esparza detailed efforts to get the various agencies communicating, which didn't happen before 2009. We suppose this is progress, but mostly we find this a textbook example of what a former Texas Governor called "the soft bigotry of low expectations." To his credit, Krampitz said they didn't need more money and that further appropriations would probably go to waste.
During public testimony, we were struck by the plight of Alton Moore. Mr. Moore, who grew up outside McAllen, moved to Austin two years ago when he had to abandon his 25 acre ranch a mile from the border. According to Mr. Moore, the cartels have overwhelmed the property to the point that it's no longer economically feasible to maintain. Mr. Moore explained that "the special operations are fruitless, they only catch 10%" of trafficked persons or drugs. Unfortunately, in his view (with which we concur), "the only people making money from the drug war are the cartels and cops."
Several members of the Texas Border Volunteers relayed their experiences. Multiple members reported seeing foreign military units moving at night in South Texas. It's also worth noting that Chinese is now the third most common language spoken in the area.
One final note: we were struck by the praise several people offered for the Office of the Governor. This stands in marked contrast to the bogus accusations that were thrown at Governor Perry during his last Presidential campaign. Rick Perry remains the best Governor in America.
Today's hearing illustrated the mess on our border. The state of Texas deserves credit for stepping into the void where the federal government has willfully failed. Unfortunately, until the assets we have already deployed are utilized properly, any expansion of 'border security' operations will be pointless.