By Jim Kouri
President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, on Tuesday unveiled the DHS Northern Border Strategy (NBS), according to a statement obtained by the 14,000-member National Association of Chiefs of Police. But some security and law enforcement commanders believe it’s nothing more than a political diversion.
According to Napolitano, the NBS is “the first unified DHS strategy to guide [her] department’s policies and operations along the U.S.-Canada border.” She claims that it provides “a framework for enhancing security and resiliency” while expediting lawful travel and trade throughout the Northern border region.
“Acting as if she’s tackling the Northern border fresh from her victory on our Southern border, Napolitano appears to have lost touch with the reality of America’s border security debacle. It’s as if there are two Americas: the real one, and the Obama administration’s version,” said political strategist Mike Baker.
“The U.S.-Canada border is the world’s longest common border. With communities and businesses that reach both sides of the border, the economies and security of the United States and Canada are inextricably linked,” said Secretary Napolitano in her statement.
“The Northern Border Strategy provides a unifying framework for the Department’s work focused on enhancing the security and resiliency along our northern border while expediting legitimate travel and trade with Canada,” she said.
But several state and local law enforcement officials told the Law Enforcement Examiner that they did not share Secretary Napolitano’s enthusiasm. They claim she may be attempting to divert attention from southern border with Mexico, especially after the grisly discovery of a vehicle containing the burnt human remains on the U.S. side of the Mexico-Arizona border. (Police later discovered the crime was domestic in nature and not linked to Mexican-based criminals.)
“[Secretary Napolitano] behaves as if she completed a successful operation at our Southwest border and is now turning her attention to our northern border. If anything, the situation at our border with Mexico is dire, to say the least,” said Sergeant Paul Bellamy of the Danville, NY, Police Department.
“This is yet another dog-and-pony show for the news media sycophants to help bolster the Obama administration’s reputation as homeland security hawks. The fact is there are thousands of people sneaking across our borders and no amount of press statements and speeches will change that,” said former U.S. military intelligence officer and police detective Michael J. Snopes.
According to Homeland Security Department officials, the NBS is the first Department-wide strategy to guide policy and operations at the Northern border. The NBS identifies three key goals for the Northern border: deterring and preventing terrorism and smuggling, trafficking, and illegal immigration; safeguarding and encouraging the efficient flow of lawful trade, travel, and immigration; and ensuring community resiliency before, during, and after terrorist attacks and other disasters.
DHS’s strategy for the Northern border is built on the premise that security and lawful trade and travel are mutually reinforcing, Napolitano’s statement stressed.
“Separating higher-risk traffic from lower-risk traffic, utilizing advance information, and inspecting people and goods bound for our shared borders at the earliest opportunity enables officials on both sides to expedite the processing of lawful travel and trade while preventing illegal crossings and activities, as well as diseases and dangerous goods from entering either country,” said the former Governor of Arizona.
To accomplish these goals, DHS will leverage resources to improve information sharing and analysis within DHS, as well as with key partners. The Department will also enhance coordination of U.S.-Canada joint interdictions and investigations, deploy technologies to aid joint security efforts along the border, and continue to update infrastructure to facilitate travel and trade, noted the DHS statement.
The NBS leverages the expertise and experience of components across the Department, considering all of DHS’s authorities, responsibilities, and capabilities in developing a cross-cutting all-missions approach to the Northern border. DHS will partner with federal, state, local, tribal, and private sector partners as well as its Canadian counterparts to carry out key elements of the NBS throughout the region, noted the often criticized Secretary Napolitano.
“The NBS is consistent with and will support the vision articulated by President Obama and Prime Minister Harper in Beyond the Border: A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness,” she added.
When the Government Accountability Office analyzed DHS and its components’ planning documents, interviewed relevant DHS officials about employee morale, and analyzed copies of the federal employee job satisfaction surveys, the analysts reported on a variety of issues, including concerns about pay and a lack of trust in leadership that can lead to morale problems.
The potential issues that can result in morale problems underscores the importance of looking beyond survey scores to understand the root causes of those problems and developing plans to address them, said the GAO.
“It’s not surprising to read this in the GAO report,” said former intelligence officer and police commander Mike Snopes. “The fact is that agency personnel — whether they be Immigration and Customs Enforcement, border patrol, or other components — give low marks to their top echelon commanders.”