“Johnson won confirmation 78-16. He could be sworn in as early as this week in order to begin immediately tackling some departmental priorities including stiffening border security, upgrading airport protections and improving immigration enforcement operations.”
It’s kind of hard to imagine who would be a good person to head the agency with the Gestapo-like moniker and duties of the Department of Homeland Security. so why should we object to Jeh? Heck, why should we object to the DHS at all?
That the DHS, which was allocated $47 bb for its 2012 budget, cannot pass an audit is irrelevant. We are only talking about taxpayer dollars here, not, y’know, money that needs any sort of real accounting. Just ask the Pentagon. KPMG, the independent auditor of the DHS, was unable to give an audit opinion of the DHS books in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, or 2009. Their reports for ’04 and ’06, supposedly available on the DHS website, are not actually available (one gets a “404 error”). For fiscal year 2010, KPMG couldn’t even begin an audit, as the DHS books were such a mess. Despite that, the chief financial officer of DHS issued this message on its 2010 “report”: ” This Annual Financial Report (AFR) is our principal financial statement of accountability to the President, Congress and the American public. The AFR gives a comprehensive view of the Department’s financial activities and demonstrates the Department’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars.” The message from the DHS CFO concludes “I am extremely proud of the Department’s accomplishments … we will continue to build upon our successes.” [http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/cfo-afrfy2010.pdf]
Janet Napolitano’s (then the secretary of DHS) note on the 2010 report ended with these words; “[the DHS] is ‘continuing to be responsible stewards of taxpayer resources. The scope of our mission is broad, challenging, and vital to the security of the Nation … Thank you for your partnership and collaboration. Yours very truly, Janet Napolitano” [http://www.dhs.gov/xlibrary/assets/cfo-afrfy2010.pdf]
Full disclosure: I have never personally collaborated with the fucking DHS, but appreciate that Janet took the time to thank those who have.
Since its inception under George W. Bush, the DHS has given us such delights as the TSA and fusion centers, has been steadily militarizing our local police forces, claimed the right to (illegally) confiscate laptops and electronics at our borders, and open our personal mail.
David Rittgers (Cato Institute) wrote an article about the fusion centers in 2011, mentioning:
[…] a long line of fusion center and DHS reports labeling broad swaths of the public as a threat to national security. The North Texas Fusion System labeled Muslim lobbyists as a potential threat; a DHS analyst in Wisconsin thought both pro- and anti-abortion activists were worrisome; a Pennsylvania homeland security contractor watched environmental activists, Tea Party groups, and a Second Amendment rally; the Maryland State Police put anti-death penalty and anti-war activists in a federal terrorism database; a fusion center in Missouri thought that all third-party voters and Ron Paul supporters were a threat….”
Regarding our private mail, there’s this:
‘All mail originating outside the United States Customs territory that is to be delivered inside the U.S. Customs territory is subject to Customs examination,’ says the CBP [Customs and Border Protection] Web site. That includes personal correspondence. “All mail means ‘all mail,’” said John Mohan, a CBP spokesman, emphasizing the point. […]
DHS feels it has the right to simply seize our possessions at border crossings, Bill of Rights notwithstanding, because of “terrorists” and “child pornographers” – and can do so based on the “hunches” of DHS employees.
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — U.S. border agents should continue to be allowed to search a traveler’s laptop, cellphone or other electronic device and keep copies of any data on them based on no more than a hunch, according to an internal Homeland Security Department study. It contends limiting such searches would prevent the U.S. from detecting child pornographers or terrorists and expose the government to lawsuits.
The 23-page report, obtained by The Associated Press and the American Civil Liberties Union under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, provides a rare glimpse of the Obama administration’s thinking on the long-standing but controversial practice of border agents and immigration officers searching and in some cases holding for weeks or months the digital devices of anyone trying to enter the U.S.
Since his election, President Barack Obama has taken an expansive view of legal authorities in the name of national security, asserting that he can order the deaths of U.S. citizens abroad who are suspected of terrorism without involvement by courts, investigate reporters as criminals and — in this case — read and copy the contents of computers carried by U.S. travelers without a good reason to suspect wrongdoing.
The DHS study, dated December 2011, said the border searches do not violate the First or Fourth amendments, which prohibit restrictions on speech and unreasonable searches and seizures. It specifically objected to a tougher standard in a 1986 government policy that allowed for only cursory review of a traveler’s documents.
“We do not believe that this 1986 approach, or a reasonable suspicion requirement in any other form, would improve current policy,” the report said. “Officers might hesitate to search an individual’s device without the presence of articulable factors capable of being formally defended, despite having an intuition or hunch based on experience that justified a search.” It added: “An on-the-spot perusal of electronic devices following the procedures established in 1986 could well result in a delay of days or weeks.”
The Homeland Security report was prepared by its Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.
Getting back to Jeh, the new head of the DHS, President Obama heaped profuse praise on him, no doubt in part simply because one of his nominees finally made it through the Congressional gauntlet. Perhaps also because Jeh gave a whole lot of money to Obama’s campaigns. Also because terrorists.
[…] “In Jeh, our dedicated homeland security professionals will have a strong leader with a deep understanding of the threats we face and a proven ability to work across agencies and complex organizations to keep America secure,” President Barack Obama said in a statement praising the bipartisan vote.
“As secretary of Homeland Security, Jeh will play a leading role in our efforts to protect the homeland against terrorist attacks, adapt to changing threats, stay prepared for natural disasters, strengthen our border security, and make our immigration system fairer.”
As the Pentagon’s top lawyer, Johnson was responsible for a prior legal review of every military operation ordered by the president or the defense secretary.
In October, when he announced his nomination, Obama said Johnson was an “absolutely critical” member of his national security team and had been at the heart of many of the policies that have kept America safe. […]
DHS is an amalgamation of 22 separate agencies with 240,000 employees, and critics have argued that the department is in disarray.
Jeh, you might remember, was the Obama advisor who opined that it was acceptable for the president to target Americans in drone strikes.
“… Johnson also suggested that U.S. citizens could be targeted in strikes in a February 2012 speech at Yale Law School…Johnson’s role in drone policy at the Defense Department could play into the Department of Homeland Security’s quest to build up a fleet of domestic drones, including Predator drones, with ‘nonlethal weapons’ …” http://www.nationaljournal.com/national-security/meet-jeh-johnson-drone-lawyer-and-obama-s-homeland-security-nominee-20131017)
So, yeah, that’s who should be directing internal security policies in the US – the guy who advises the President on his illegal drone assassination program and who declared that it was acceptable for the Pres and his secret cabal to target Americans (amongst others) for drone-bombing if the secret group decided, in secret, that the person in question was a “belligerent” – the definition of which is secret, of course. And it’s okay to kill that person (American or otherwise) without charges being brought, an arrest taking place, or an ensuing trial.
Doesn’t take too much imagination to grasp what Jeh’s DHS will look like.