APRIL 14, 2011
Should Americans believe Janet Napolitano’s rosy picture of a U.S.-Mexico border that’s “as secure as it has ever been” or a Pentagon assessment that it’s actually a gateway for Mexican criminal organizations that have infiltrated the entire country and joined forces with terrorist groups?For months the nation’s Homeland Security Secretary has repeatedly insisted that everything is hunky dory on the southwest border, even as violence escalates and overwhelmed federal agents are increasingly attacked by heavily armed drug smugglers. Just last month Napolitano declared that violence along the Mexican border is merely a mistaken “perception” because the area is safe and “open for business.” Furthermore, Madame Secretary assured that “some of America’s safest communities are in the Southwest border region….”A top Pentagon official contradicts that fairytale assessment, pointing out that Mexican criminal organizations extend well beyond the southwest border to cities across the country, including big ones like Atlanta, Chicago and Detroit. Addressing a U.S. Senate hearing this week, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics and Global ThreatsWilliam Wechsler warned lawmakers that all their constituencies are confronted by the threat of Mexican drug cartels.Even more alarming is that, once in the United States, Wechsler says the Mexican criminal groups are becoming more dangerous by forming networks with each other and insurgent or terrorist groups. In some regions the “threat networking” not only engages in drug trafficking but kidnapping, armed robbery, extortion and other serious crimes.The threat is so great that the assistant Defense Secretary offered federal legislators military assistance in the name of protecting national security. “Many of the global and regional terrorists who threaten interests of the United States finance their activities with proceeds from narcotics trafficking,” Wechsler reminded, adding that “extremist and international criminal networks frequently exploit local geographical, political or social conditions to establish safe havens from which they can operate with impunity.”
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