Thursday, March 26, 2009

Border Security Initiative Gets Mixed Reviews

On Tuesday, March 24, DHS Secretary Napolitano announced the administration's $700 million southwest border security initiative calling for "additional personnel, increased intelligence capability and better coordination with state, local and Mexican law enforcement authorities." However, some federal and state lawmakers say more needs to be done.
A plan by President Barack Obama to send more federal agents to the Mexican border is inadequate to control growing drug violence in the two countries, an influential U.S. senator said on Wednesday, and he said he would seek $385 million more from Congress.
Senator Joseph Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, said he would try to quickly pass funding to hire 1,600 more Customs and Border Patrol agents and extra immigration officers, build up law enforcement centers and fight human trafficking....
"I don't think it's enough," Lieberman said at a hearing of his committee. "The danger here is clear and present. It threatens to get worse."
More reaction from elected officials here. And Investor's Business Daily also finds the plan wanting, noting that what it calls "a wall of bureaucracy" is an insufficient method for securing the border.

Update: The head of the Border Patrol union is underwhelmed by the plan. And is really underwhelmed.

State Secrets Privilege To Be Tested

The Obama administration now seeks to invoke a more extensive state-secrets privilege then its predecessor, despite what was said on the campaign trail. Sound familiar? A ruling from Judge Vaughn R. Walker could be handed down at any moment:
Civil liberties advocates are accusing the Obama administration of forsaking campaign rhetoric and adopting the same expansive arguments that his predecessor used to cloak some of the most sensitive intelligence-gathering programs of the Bush White House.
The first signs have come just weeks into the new administration, in a case filed by an Oregon charity suspected of funding terrorism. President Obama's Justice Department not only sought to dismiss the lawsuit by arguing that it implicated "state secrets," but also escalated the standoff -- proposing that government lawyers might take classified documents from the court's custody to keep the charity's representatives from reviewing them.
The suit by the al-Haramain Islamic Foundation has proceeded further than any other in challenging the use of warrantless wiretaps, threatening to expose the inner workings of that program. It is the second time the new Justice Department has followed its predecessors in claiming the state-secrets privilege, which would allow the government to exclude evidence in a civil case on grounds that it jeopardizes national security.
See our earlier post on this matter here.

Update: Judge Walker denied the government's motion on April 17.