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Obama finalizing plans to boost resources on border

Discussion in 'Political Zone' started by WoodysGirl, Mar 21, 2009.

  1. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

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    U.S. helping fight drug cartel violence

    By SPENCER S. HSU and MARY BETH SHERIDAN
    Washington Post


    March 21, 2009, 8:39PM

    WASHINGTON — President Obama is finalizing plans to move federal agents, equipment and other resources to the border with Mexico to support Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s campaign against violent drug cartels, according to U.S. security officials.

    In Obama’s first major domestic security initiative, administration officials are expected to soon announce a crackdown on the supply of weapons and cash moving from the United States into Mexico that helps sustain that country’s narco-traffickers, officials said.

    The announcement sets the stage for Mexico City visits by three cabinet members, beginning Wednesday with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and followed next week by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

    Napolitano, designated by Obama to convene a multi-agency security plan for the border, said the government is preparing plans to send more agents and intensify its investigation and prosecution of cartel-related activity in the United States. In addition, she said, the government may expand efforts to trace the sources of guns that move from the United States into Mexico.

    To combat the southbound flow of guns, ammunition and grenades at border checkpoints, the government may deploy new equipment, such as scales to weigh vehicles and automated license-plate readers linked to databases, as well as other surveillance technology, she said.

    Government officials are discussing how to increase intelligence sharing and military cooperation with Mexico, following a visit there this month by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And the administration could employ tools used to track terrorist financing to follow the flow of funds within the estimated $65 billion North American drug trade. Funds — estimated at $18 billion to $39 billion a year — move through wire transfers as well as cash smuggled into Mexico in planes and vehicles and by human “mules.”

    Obama, who plans to visit Mexico in mid-April and has said he will have a “comprehensive policy” on border security in place within months, has elevated to the top of the agenda a subject that did not receive significant attention in the presidential campaign. His focus on Mexico follows a sharp increase in drug-related killings in Mexican cities along the border, prompting fears in the United States of destabilization in the populous neighbor. Since the beginning of 2008, more than 7,200 people have died in drug-related violence, according to Mexican authorities.

    Andrew Selee, director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, said Obama’s security and foreign policy aides have spent the past two months reordering their priorities as “snowballing” concern in Congress pushed Mexico “to the front burner” alongside the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


    Officials doubt security threat to U.S.

    Obama’s efforts mark a shift from the homeland security priorities of the Bush administration, targeted mainly at the threat of Islamist terrorists overseas and illegal immigration at home. While the new president has vowed to maintain counter-terrorism efforts, the addition of fighting Mexican drug trafficking as well human smuggling networks represents a new emphasis.

    While a Pentagon study in November concluded that the sudden collapse of Mexico and Pakistan into failed states “bear consideration” as potential worst-case threats over 25 years, several senior U.S. intelligence officials, to a person, disputed that analysis and said they do not believe the cartels will deliberately target U.S. government personnel, interests or civilians in the United States in the near-term.

    “The ongoing violence is a concern, but not a national security threat to the United States,” said Mike Hammer, spokesman for the National Security Council, who said it has largely resulted from Calderon’s “determined and courageous” effort to dismantle the cartels.

    Spillover violence in the United States is primarily cartel-on-cartel crime, such as kidnappings, Napolitano said. Phoenix, for example, reported 700 kidnappings in the past two years, mostly as human smugglers extorted fees from their clients.

    Still, the long-term national security threat both in the United States and in Mexico would be real if Mexican authorities are forced to resume a de facto coexistence with narco-traffickers. Intelligence analysts argue that freedom for transnational crime organizations to operate in large parts of the country could undo Mexico’s progress toward democratization and open markets, and erode U.S. influence.

    To an extent, Calderon’s campaign against traffickers has struggled because, as Mexico has become more democratic, the police and judicial apparatus of the old authoritarian system has crumbled — but has yet to be replaced by a professional law-enforcement system.

    “This is what people miss when they analyze Mexico. Drug trafficking feeds on a country that has a very precarious, if not nonexistent, rule of law,” said Denise Dresser, a Mexican political scientist.

    The U.S. anti-smuggling effort may make only a dent in the southbound flow of cash and weapons, but could ease the way for further U.S.-Mexican cooperation and help Calderon mobilize public support, said Vanda Felbab-Brown, a professor of security studies at Georgetown University and a Brookings Institution fellow.

    A wave of violence in Mexico last year prompted urgent calls by Calderon for U.S. government action, aimed in part to bolster his weakened political standing ahead of crucial legislative elections in July, analysts say. At the same time, dire reports in the U.S. news media whipped up concern among key lawmakers here.

    Bloodletting has taken on new degrees of savagery since Calderon began his assault against the cartels two years ago. The cartels beheaded about 200 people last year, staged grenade attacks in public places and conducted hours-long firefights in border cities.


    A plea for help

    Calderon’s administration has pressed officials in Washington to do more to target U.S. demand for drugs and step up the delivery of promised assistance.

    Last year the Bush administration pushed through Congress the Merida Initiative, a three-year, $1.4 billion counter-trafficking aid package for Mexico and Central America that includes training, military hardware, scanning technology and security database improvements. But Congress has approved only $300 million of the $450 million sought for Mexico in 2009, and delivery of some key equipment, helicopters and surveillance aircraft is not expected until 2011 at the earliest, officials say.

    Meanwhile, Congress has held eight hearings on the issue under pressure from those on the right who seek to limit immigration and engagement with Mexico and those on the left who want to decriminalize drugs and tighten gun-control laws. The subject presents a test and an opportunity for Obama officials.

    “A Democratic administration more than a Republican administration is going to be sensitive to any notion that it is not serious about a growing national security issue,” said Ted Galen Carpenter, vice president for defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.

    On the other hand, he added, “I don’t think the administration wants to play into the hands of those who take a rather xenophobic stance with regard to immigration.”

    Staff writers Carrie Johnson, R. Jeffrey Smith and Joby Warrick contributed to this report.

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/6328736.html
  2. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    Maybe this putz can do something right. Time will tell.
  3. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    he's addressing all the key points.

    but he's not doing anything.
  4. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    even a broken clock is right twice a day.
  5. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    The border situation is a big deal with me. One of my major beefs with Bush. I am willing to give Obama a chance on this and see if he does anything positive.
  6. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    well it's been one long day since he took office. When will he be right the first time?
  7. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    once he declares the sun comes out everyday. than he;ll find his track. look hes got 8 years to learn the job, hes got time.
  8. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

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    Based on the article, the U.S. has been stuck on pause for awhile re: this issue. Some initiatives were launched, but the urgency for completion faded.

    Time will tell obviously how this thing plays out, but reading between the lines, the gov't doesn't see this as enough of a national security issue to go too far with it.
  9. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    OMG I certainly hope that not the case.
  10. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    just take a real hard look at this page, and quadruple it. his defenders come out of the wood work. do the math in your head and lets see if we come to the same conclusion.

    they didnt see it in the campaign, they didnt see anything when he was a senator, they didnt see it with the bailouts, and they dont see anything wrong with him making ways on that 1388 and his pet project the "millenium project"

    do you really think they are going to see it at this point?
  11. Cajuncowboy

    Cajuncowboy Preacher From The Black Lagoon

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    It's my hope he isn't in a position to run for re-election. I hope he resigns in disgrace and soon.
  12. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    why, he's having a great time. I told you he's playing president. that doesnt mean he understands whats going on or what it means to clamp down and do the job. he just has to cruise, he has a democratic government, he just has to get his reports from Madame Pelosi and King Ried. They will do the paper work and set the guidelines. Biden has a gag order on him, cause we've all seen him talk, and OBama just has to have a good time for the next 8 years.

    I said it before ill repeat. His main goal is the UN, thats where he wants to end up. His job right now is to secure the USA into the UN's grasp before hes out to take over the UN job. Once he has us as gun of the UN, its all over.

    I hope he doesnt achieve it, but he's doing a good job so far.
  13. iceberg

    iceberg detoxed...part 2 Zone Supporter

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    i agree.

    it's not a huge issue.

    so why is he making it one now?

    when he addresses everything, he's believes in nothing.
  14. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    now this is all opinion and i could be wrong, but if he intends to pull the troops out of the middle east, this could give him the excuse to do it, if the military has to be involved. I doubt it, but its very odd, all of a sudden that the government has to move now on this when a month ago the government was saying the border wasnt has bad as the reporting said it was.
  15. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

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    Oh I'm sorry I thought we were talking about something substantive...not more Obama. That's boring to me. I was referring to these two points in the article.

    Meaning, the gov't launched certain initiatives, but they haven't really followed it through...
    And while it's a hot topic at the moment, I'm not sure how far they're going to go with it based on this part.

  16. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

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    I think for now the government would call on the national guard. Unless the violence begins to affect the U.S. in a more direct manner, I don't see the military plans for Iraq and Afghanistan changing anytime soon.
  17. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    Interesting WG, but what if Calderon fails? How do we and Mexico know this guy will succeed where others failed? Im not against that this needs to be dealt with, but I cant agree everyone in Texas and the south needs to patrol the border themselves and fire on everything in the name of security.


    Arent we told, business's need to grow in order to survive and now if the Cartels take Mexico, wont they set their sights on us pretty darn soon?
  18. ShiningStar

    ShiningStar Well-Known Member

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    I agree, but it did come up as a scenario. Now i did say opinion, but its doable. Im not against the military on the border, but I think a lot of Dems wont not support it seeing how most always vote to downsize our military.


    Hasnt Texas asked for the Guard to be activitated in this case or was that speculation?
  19. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

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    Honestly, I have no idea. I think we (general) to ignore the violence and power of the drug cartels of Mexico. I think it's commendable Calderon is even trying. I was watching some show (I forget which) about the violence on the border had been escalating to the point where a sheriff of one town was killed not even 24 hours after being sworn in. The show gave a pretty graphic account of the violence down there.

    I'm pretty ignorant to Mexican politics, but based on the article, again, it seems that Calderon took on this effort, but the policing infrastructure isn't really there for him to succeed. And I guess that's where the U.S. gets involved.

    Setting their sights on the U.S. is definitely a possibility, but I don't know if you can put a timeframe on it. Soon could be anywhere from next month to next year.

    I just hope the attitude of not being a serious threat isn't wrong.
  20. WoodysGirl

    WoodysGirl Shut up and play! Staff Member

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    Oh I think it's definitely a doable scenario. I just think that the general military would supercede the Guard only if there was a 9/11-style attack.

    If not, then I think the public U.S. involvement would follow standard escalation policies, whatever they may be.


    Gosh I forgot who posted it, but it seems that one of the reps was calling for them, but they were not activated. IIRC, there was some movement with getting them ready.

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