Three newspaper headlines this past week paint three different pictures of our nation’s border-security policies. Two are bombshells, and one ties all three of them together.
From the Obama White House on Thursday came a declaration of resolve:
“Obama, Calderón pledge to broaden efforts against Mexican drug gangs”
From CBS Evening News the same day:
“Agent: I was ordered to let U.S. guns into Mexico”
And from the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, a bombshell that calls out for a housecleaning in the Border Patrol and Janet Napolitano’s resignation:
“Records show agents fired beanbags in fatal border gunfight”
Border Patrol agents firing beanbags? Impossible, you say? That’s what even many Border Patrol veterans thought back in December when I first wrote about the circumstances surrounding the killing of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry.
The FBI investigation of the Brian Terry killing reveals that the Border Patrol agents of the BORTAC team that tracked an armed gang of bandits on the Arizona desert south of Tucson were armed with both regular weapons and shotguns with non-lethal beanbag rounds. The FBI confirms what I reported four days after the shooting, based on sources within the Border Patrol, that the BORTAC team followed standing operations orders and fired the beanbags first as “”warning shots” after verbally asking the bandits to drop their weapons.
Instead of dropping their weapons, the bandits opened fire, and agent Terry was hit and killed in that exchange.
Two questions immediately come to mind when reading this story. Why do Border Patrol agents ever carry non-lethal beanbags? And why in Heaven’s name was a BORTAC team ordered to use beanbags when confronting bandits known to be heavily armed and dangerous?
Border Patrol agents routinely carry and use non-lethal weapons when patrolling “the line,” the border fence and the area adjacent. When confronting illegal entrants, agents identify themselves and ask the intruders to halt and surrender. They are under standing orders to always use non-lethal weapons first and their regular firearms as a last resort and only in self-defense.
But those rules of engagement make sense only for encounters with ordinary migrant border interlopers, not for BORTAC teams specifically tasked with seeking out armed smugglers and armed bandits. The team that went into Peck’s Canyon Dec. 14 were looking for “rip crews,” armed bandits who prey on both drug smugglers and local civilians. So, why were they told to carry beanbag rounds in their shotguns?
The Border Patrol supervisors in Tucson Sector headquarters and in Washington, D.C., who sent out Brian Terry’s BORTAC team with those rules of engagement need to be identified and then fired. Then Napolitano should follow them.
Oh, one more thing. There is a little detail in the CBS News ATF story that ties directly to the Brian Terry killing. One of the AK47 rifles used by the bandits that evening has been traced to the group of weapons the ATF knowingly allowed to be smuggled into Mexico. Brian Terry was killed with a weapon that originated in an ATF “sting” operation.
Thus, while President Obama is making promises on the White House lawn about expanded efforts to control north-to-south gun smuggling, his own government employees are assisting the Mexican cartels in obtaining AK47s, and Janet Napolitano’s DHS team is requiring agents to fire beanbags when encountering those same AK47s in the Arizona desert.
Hollywood could never make a movie based on such an idiotic script. No one would believe it. But in the age of Obama, this passes for border-security policy.
Secretary Napolitano has announced she will host a border security tour for high-ranking members of Congress. The farmers and ranchers of Arizona and Texas have some suggestions for that tour itinerary, as does Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu. So do I.
My suggestion for Secretary Napolitano is that the congressional delegation skips the normal, sanitized dog-and-pony show. They should go into Peck’s Canyon or San Bernardino Canyon or one of the other “wildlife preserves” on the border, and they should go at night and without any special security, only regular Border Patrol agents with their regular weapons. Let Janet carry the beanbags.