"Are our valiant Border Patrol agents being ordered to bring bean bags to a gun fight?"

Hi Gang:
My commentary today will focus on on an excellent news report written by Diane Macedo, a journalist with Fox News, who has been covering the immigration issue for a number of years.  Her news report appeared on the Fox News website on March 3rd.
Once again the issue is the murder of United States Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry who was killed on December 14, 2010 when he and four of his colleagues came upon a group of illegal aliens who were heavily armed with AK-47 assault rifles.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with that weapon, it is a weapon that may permit the shooter to fire bursts of bullets.  This weapon has a reputation for lethality and for being very rugged and is the weapon of choice for many countries and terrorist organizations.
There are simultaneous controversies swirling around the murder of Border Patrol Agent Terry.  First of all, it would appear that the agents were ordered to not resort to deadly force when encountering illegal aliens, even if these illegal aliens were armed- this is the topic for Diane’s article that I have provided you with.  It is believed that even when the illegal aliens encountered by Terry and company failed to drop their weapons and even opened fire, that the Border Patrol agents, at least initially fired nonlethal beanbags at the armed intruders!
Ask yourself- would want to be a Border Patrol agent patrolling some of the most dangerous terrain on our planet and be told that even if you are confronted by apparent deadly force, your first response should be non-lethal?
I want you to consider an extremely interesting quote from President Obama when he was running for the office of President of the United States.  This appeared in the New York Times:

June 14, 2008, 5:13 pm

Obama: ‘We Bring a Gun’


Senator Barack Obama was fund-raising Friday night in Philadelphia. But he was talking about “the Chicago way.”

Channeling the mob drama, “The Untouchables,” Mr. Obama said in reference to the general election rumble with the Republicans: “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”


Let me repeat what then candidate Obama said:

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun.”

In the excellent film, “The Untouchables,”  Sean Connery plays the role of Jimmy Malone, a seasoned Chicago cop who takes Elliot Ness played by Kevin Costner, under his wing.  Many people don’t realize it, but Elliot Ness was actually a Revenue Officer, the equivalent of an ATF special agent.

Connery’s character instructs Elliot Ness about how to be “street wise” and calls into action his many years of experience as a “beat cop.”
The film is known for many incredible scenes and is often thought of as being one of the best law enforcement films.  Probably the most famous line in the movie and one that was invoked by Mr. Obama had to do with the “Chicago way” as noted above.
Here are two links to the film, the first is extremely brief while the second, somewhat longer, provides an abbreviated overview of the film:
                                                          

[youtube GRz_kyT9Yyc]

So now we come back to the rules of engagement that, according to published reports, endanger our Border Patrol agents and, if would appear, have caused the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.
The important questions that now need to be asked:
“Are our valiant Border Patrol agents being ordered to bring bean bags to a gun fight?”
“Are our Border Patrol agents still being ordered to not use lethal force in comparable situations?”
When the citizens of our nation and a number of our true political leaders demanded that the military augment the Border Patrol, it turned out that the military forces were mostly being used to create the illusion of supporting efforts to secure our borders but were, for the most part, being used to handle mundane chores that had little or nothing to do with law enforcement activities.  I certainly do not want our military to hand law enforcement duties- indeed, this is something that would be of questionable legality.  However, when heavily armed smugglers who may well have military training- indeed, training our government may well have provided them, then the premise behind the “Chicago way” needs to kick in!
Instead, our government is going in the exact opposite direction using our Border Patrol agents as “cannon fodder!”
When I was an INS special agent and we were at a briefing where we felt that certain safety issues were not being adequately addressed, we used to employ a bit of gallows humor and I would remind the people putting the operation plan together that we were not “GS-13 Target Holders!”
That simply image was generally all that was necessary to get whatever concern he had addressed.  Clearly our Border Patrol agents are not “Target Holders” either!
The second issue- one of equal concern is the fact that according to published reports, at least two of the weapons found at the murder scene have been identified (by tracing serial numbers) back to an ATF covert arms trafficking investigation known as “Project Gunrunner.”  Under the highly questionable investigative tactics employed by the long term investigation into gun running, ATF permitted large numbers of weapons to be purchased by suspected gunrunners and then, under the watchful eye of surveillance teams, these weapons were driven away- many, it is believed, ultimately winding up in the hands of the Mexican cartels and assorted criminals in Mexico and, perhaps elsewhere!
I previously wrote a commentary about “Project Gunrunner” but I felt compelled to, once again, raise the issue of this seemingly wrong-headed approach to combatting gunrunning that may have contributed to Brian Terry’s murder.
Here is the link to a video of the CBS report that aired on February 23rd:
As an INS Senior Special Agent, I have worked closely with many other law enforcement agencies including the ATF, DEA and FBI as well as with local and state police.  Whenever a strategy was to be devised to further an investigation- we always gave careful consideration to the downside of what we were doing.  For example, there were times when an agent from another agency might approach me about enabling an alien who was involved with the drug trade to be permitted to enter the country in furtherance of a narcotics investigation- the concern was whether or not we might lose control over the individual and that he might turn violent and kill or, at the least, injure someone.  The two word phrase that always took top consideration was, “Safety first!”
If the goal of ATF is to keep firearms out of the hands of the bad guys, I really and truly want to know, how does putting thousands of high powered weapons make us safer?  How does putting thousands of weapons into the hands of criminals coincide with what should be the goal of law enforcement agencies, especially the lead agency in the United States for attempting to keep illicit weapons off our streets and the streets of other countries, such as Mexico?  According to a number of highly credible news reports, ATF seemingly did the exact opposite of what should be mandated by their responsibility.  While no information has, as yet, been made public that the round that killed Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was fired by a firearm that was allowed to “walk” in the parlance of the ATF, the fact that the illegal aliens were armed with apparently functioning AK-47 Assault Rifles that had been permitted to “walk” out of a gun store in the United States is unfathomable!
I also want very much to know if any of the guns used in the assault on ICE Special Agents Jaime Zapata and Victor Avila in Mexico had also been permitted to “walk” under the auspices of ATF’s “Project Gunrunner.”
In my humble opinion, permitting fully functional lethal weapons to “walk” out of gun dealers’ stores in the United States, purportedly in furtherance of an active investigation into gun trafficking makes even less sense than having police officers manning a sobriety checkpoint, providing highly alcoholic beverages to motorists- including truck and bus drivers, and then watch them drive erratically down the road!  Commonsense should tell you that nothing good would come from such a “strategy!” 

I

our country is to survive and if our children and their children are to get their share of the “American Dream” the citizens of this nation must take their citizenship seriously!

We the People must be the best citizens we can be, citizens who are worthy of the gallantry demonstrated by our valiant men and women in the military, law enforcement and firefighters, who routinely go in harm’s way in defense of this nation and our citizens.  
My goal in writing this and other commentaries is to point out our nations many failings before more victims pay the ultimate price for the incompetence and ineptitude of our government.
The first step in problem-solving is to first identify the problems and vulnerabilities and then devise strategies to overcome them.
If you find yourself to be in agreement with this commentary, I ask that you forward it to as many of your friends and family members as possible and encourage them to do the same.  We need to create a “Bucket Brigade of Truth!”

The practice of good citizenship does not end in the voting booth, it only begins there.

The large scale apathy demonstrated by citizens of this nation has emboldened elected representatives to all but ignore the needs of the average American citizen in a quest for massive campaign funds and the promises of votes to be ostensibly delivered by special interest groups. There is much that we cannot do but there is one thing that We the People absolutely must do- we must stop sitting on the sidelines!


The collective failure of We the People to get involved in make our concerns known to our politicians have nearly made the concerns of the great majority of the citizens of this nation all but irrelevant to the politicians.  I implore you to resolve this year to get involved!

If this situation concerns you or especially if it angers you, I ask you to call your Senators and Congressional “Representative. This is not only your right- it is your obligation! 

All I ask is that you make it clear to our politicians that we are not as dumb as they hope we are!

We live in a perilous world and in a perilous era. The survival of our nation and the lives of our citizens hang in the balance.

This is neither a Conservative issue, nor is it a Liberal issue- simply stated, this is most certainly an AMERICAN issue!

You are either part of the solution or you are a part of the problem!

Democracy is not a spectator sport!

Lead, follow or get out of the way!

-michael cutler- 


Please check out my website:

 

Border Agents Forced to Face Down Bullets With Bean Bags, Critics Say

By Diane Macedo

The U.S. Border Patrol is under fire for allegedly ordering its elite, SWAT-style units to use non-lethal bean bag ammunition before responding with deadly force – even against suspects armed with high-powered semi-automatic and automatic weapons like AK-47s.

The controversy over the agency’s “bean bag” policy began in the days following the Dec. 14 killing of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry and has escalated recently as more information is uncovered in the investigation of the fatal shooting.

“When the suspected aliens did not drop their weapons, two Border Patrol agents deployed ‘less than lethal’ beanbags at the suspected aliens,” according to a FBI search warrant request filed in the U.S. District Court in Tucson on Dec. 29. “At this time, at least one of the suspected aliens fired at the Border Patbrol agents. Two Border Patrol agents returned fire, one with his long gun and one with his pistol. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry was shot with one bullet and died shortly after.”

The warrant appears to support claims made by Terry’s brother, Kent, and former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo that Terry’s team — part of the U.S. Border Patrol Tactical Unit, also known as BORTAC — was under standing orders to always use bean-bag rounds first before using live ammunition. 

“There was a group of four guys with my brother and two had lethal and two had non-lethal weapons there,” Kent Terry told Fox News Friday.

Tancredo wrote about the issue in a Dec. 18 op-ed article.

Although it’s not clear how many, if any, border patrol units were ordered to carry the non-lethal beanbag ammunition, one expert insists the order has been applied to at least all BORTAC teams in Arizona – if not the entire Border Patrol.

“That order stemmed from the incident on the El Paso-Juarez border in which an agent discharged a sidearm to defend himself from rock throwers,” said Andy Ramirez, founder of the advocacy group Friends of the Border Patrol. Ramirez was referring to a June shooting that left a 15-year-old Mexican boy dead.

Mexico was outraged at the incident, so Victor Manjarrez Jr., then chief of Border Patrol’s Tuscon sector, “acquiesced by ordering agents to use non-lethal loads,” Ramirez said.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman, Agent Mark Qualia, said at the very least, “every law enforcement personnel within CBP has a sidearm which is fully loaded, along with two additional magazines,” and denied that units were ordered to use non-lethal bean bag ammunition first. 

“There was no order given to any CBP law enforcement personel – now or in the past – that indicates the use of less lethal devices before using deadly force,”Qualia, told FoxNews.com.

But T.J. Bonner, president of the National Border Patrol Council, the border agents’ union, said there are “conflicting statements” as to whether the agents were under such orders. “Because of the ongoing nature of the investigation, the people who know best aren’t talking.”

Ramirez said regardless of whether the men were ordered to use the bean bags, the simple fact that a Border Patrol tactical team was armed with bean bag ammunition at all was “asinine.”

“BORTAC is like a SWAT unit; they’re our most highly trained, specialized unit of agents. These guys go in when we have a serious problem. It would be like sending a SWAT team into a bust with bean bags. … They were outgunned by far.”

Asked why a BORTAC team would carry guns armed with bean bags, Qualia said, “Why do law enforcement personnel carry Taser guns? If you’re in a confrontational situation where you do not need to use lethal force.”

If the officers did need to use lethal force, Qualia said, they had the freedom to make that decision and the equipment to execute it.

“So I’m not going to Monday morning quarterback a situation where an agent in that heat of the situation has to make that decision…I wasn’t there.”

Bonner stressed he also “didn’t know all the facts of the case,” but said “given the intelligence they had, a number of agents I spoke with question the wisdom of having less than lethal weapons in that situation.”

Qualia said the CBP is fully cooperating with the FBI in their continued investigation. “As soon as something’s been published, we’ll be able to follow up.”

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