The One Year Anniversary of the Merger of Homeland In-Security
DO YOU FEEL SAFE YET?On March 1, 2003, the United States Customs Service officially became part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and moved into two bureaus. The merger of the U.S. Customs Service and 21 other agencies into a single department was the largest reorganization of the federal government since the Defense Department was created in 1947.
This department merged 22 federal agencies together totaling over 170,000 employees. This makes this new agency the MOST MASSIVE ARMED agency ever in the history of the United States.
The new department’s primary mission became detecting and preventing terrorists and weapons from entering the U.S., while facilitating the orderly and efficient flow of legitimate trade and people.
In the past, travelers entering the United States made three stops – an Immigration Inspector, a Customs Inspector and an Agricultural Inspector. But now its the “One Face at the Border” initiative in the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection. It will be one Inspector to carry out all three functions.
The primary Inspector will refer travelers to secondary inspectors for additional questioning to: Prevent terrorists and terrorist weapons and contraband from entering the country; Deny entry to people seeking to enter the U.S. illegally; Protect U.S. agricultural and economic interests from harmful pests and diseases (e.g. MAD COW), and collect revenue.
The secondary inspection consists of Counter-Terrorism Response (CTR) Inspectors which are located on specialized teams called the Passenger Analysis Teams (PAT), Passenger Enforcement Rover Teams (PERT) and Analytical Units (AU). Remember, these were the teams in the past that were found in reports written by Congress, and in Multi Million dollar lawsuits, to violate Black international travelers by subjecting them to abusive pat-down inspections, intrusive strip-searches, x-rays, monitored bowel movements and unwarranted prolonged detentions. These new teams under the creation of Homeland Security have even more power.
The next huge error in judgement was when the powers that be chose to leave out the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF). BATF has the best arson and explosives experts in federal law enforcement. It is an understatement to say that this agency, above all others, should be under Homeland Security. “I don’t make jokes, I just watch the Government and report the facts” Will Rogers.
DO YOU FEEL SAFE YET?
Another cancerous problem with the merger is that the administrators of Homeland Security have allowed the creation of higher paying jobs for management officials. These illegal promotions have created a new layer of management between the field and headquarters. Because the Customs commissioner, Robert Bonner, was overseeing border security, Customs officials have been deemed to be “Top Dog” of the merger. Customs, an agency already rife with numerous investigations into it’s top level managers, repeated Congressional inquiries, and millions of dollars being spent to defend massive lawsuits, was allowed to carry out a massive nationwide management/supervisor recruitment program.
Customs managers/supervisors who where on the front lines, were promoted because of nepotism, cronyism and favoritism not because of their backgrounds, education or training. These already questionable supervisors were allowed to simply promote clones of themselves, with no real objective promotion system in place. This is the just one of the numerous reasons that many feel that the new department has already put the cart before the horse in terms of being able to carry out the new functions of their jobs. The incompetent managers already in place selected even more incompetent managers for the new Homeland Security supervisor positions.
Additionally, this illegal promotional process caused a lot of turmoil and infighting among the Immigration and Customs Service employees, resulting in many multi-million dollar lawsuits being filed against U.S. Customs. This was another “NO BRAINER” that the tax payers will again eat, that anyone could see coming from a mile away. Needless to say, the other agencies didn’t much like that they were being passed over for promotion into these new supervisor positions, by less qualified Customs Officers.
The other major problem with the merger is the lack of training that each agency received from the other agency. The Customs Inspectors only received (one) 1 classroom day of training and five (5) days of on the job training before they were expected to keep up and know each others duties. This alone weakened the security of this country. The INS, Customs and Agriculture can’t train their own people, how are they going to train each other? And with all the resentment regarding the promotion wars, what’s their incentive? “The truth is these are not very bright guys, and things just got out of hand” Deep Throat – the movie Watergate.
DO YOU FEEL SAFE YET?
In corporate America, some cross training where it makes sense, is of course accomplished. However, it would be corporate suicide for a CEO to think that by cross training his top marketing people to become accountants, his accountants to learn the shipping department and his human resources folks to learn sales, that this will somehow improve the company’s overall wealth. This is progress in reverse. This type of venture (cross training) is, to say the least, counterproductive.
It is evident that this merger (Customs, Department of Immigration and Naturalization Service, and the Department of Agriculture) came about without much of a game plan involved. But look who was at the table for the initial planning: managers who are thieves, alcoholics, and sexual predators.
The INS and Customs Services have had management problems since the early 1900’s and they haven’t gained much ground since. They have been reborn (reorganized) several times, never becoming a better agencies than the time before. The INS was raked over the coals for much of the 911 debacle especially later when everyone learned that two of the hijackers on the planes that crashed into the towers received INS documents mailed to them at the flight school they attended.
The Department of Homeland Security presents these fantastic shows for the news media to make the public (taxpayers) feel that the borders are protected. Then of course the relentless press releases (from the heads of Homeland Security) reassuring the American public that our borders are zipped up. With still only the reported 2% (insiders say less than 1%) of international cargo being inspected, the American people need to open their eyes. “Politicians are the same all over. They promise to build a bridge even where there is no river” Nikita Khrushchev.
DO YOU FEEL SAFE YET?
While our government officials are busy misleading or lying to the public, we the tax payers are forced with the task of paying for this protection. Meanwhile, the poor federal employees on the front lines of this mess are trying to figure out whose training who, and what to do next. What little training that they are getting is by the seat of their pants. The blind is definitely leading the blind here. The Customs Commissioner has publicly stated that drugs are no longer a priority, terrorism is. Drugs are now 5th and 6th on their new list of things to do. Ask yourself this, if literally ton’s of narcotics can easily flow across our borders, doesn’t it make sense that anything else can? So far, what brave insiders are telling us is that issuing permits for travelers crossing the border to visit Disneyland, is even a higher priority than drugs. Let me say this again, issuing permits is the new priority. Do you really think that any terrorist with half a brain won’t figure this out. They only have to not ask for a visa, and simply gain entry to the U.S. by lying and stating, “I’m here to visit Disneyland.” Many Customs Inspectors ar
e stating that stamping permits does nothing for them, and if they really wanted to apply to work for Immigration, they would have applied for this in the first place. “Status quo: Latin for the mess we’re in” Stanton Delaplan.
DO YOU FEEL SAFE YET?
If need be, we should ask the private sector organizations for guidance and how to better accomplish a more productive merger. But then the U.S. Government would have to come out and speak the truth. They would have to publicly admit that the U.S. Customs Service, INS, and the Department of Agriculture are all failed organizations with incompetent managers, who have now been formed into the largest, most dysfunctional agency, ever.
Merging Customs, INS, Agriculture and supposedly, the U.S. Border Patrol was a bad idea, under it’s current design reconstruction. All of these agencies have unique and specialized training to accomplish their respective missions. They do not need to be cross-trained to perform other, additional functions. Cross-training of this magnitude will only serve to deteriorate their main individual functions. Let the experts excel in their respective fields. I agree that this is a rare case where the wheel needed to be reinvented, but we need to bring in outside, objective help. May I remind everyone of the 14 BILLION (yes that’s Billion with a B) dollar malfeasance that the so called GOVERNMENT EXPERTS spent on the failed design of the Bradley Tank. Must this kind of malfeasance go on without someone putting a stop to it? “My kind of loyalty is to my country, not to it’s institutions or it’s office holders” Mark Twain.
This is why a check and balance system has got to be in place. Over the past 30 years, it has been documented repeatedly that anyone who is an insider in one of these agencies who dares to speak out on the truth, will be immediately severely punished, and careers ruined. These so called “Whistleblowers” are the taxpayers last line of defense to protect us from this kind of dangerous waste. Yet most people don’t know that there is NO protection what so ever, for this human check-and-balance system. THAT’S RIGHT, no protection for the only real defense between the government bureaucrats who perpetuate this kind of debacle, and the people on the front lines who risk everything to put a stop to it.
We need your help. For anyone who reads this and chooses to get off your couch to do something about it, please feel free to contact any of the agencies below. These fine people will put you to work, even if it’s just making a phone call to someone else who might listen. Remember, “All that is essential for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing,” Edmund Burke.
Darlene Fitzgerald,(EKU Grad/KY Native) former Special Agent & Author of: “U.S. Customs, Badge of Dishonor” & “Murder @ Fort Huachuca
Kathy Harris, Senior Customs Inspector & Author of: “Flying While Black, a Whisteleblower’s Story”
For more information on how you the tax payer can help, please contact the agencies below. “Even the smallest person can change the course of the future” – the movie The Fellowship of The Ring > The Elf Queen said to Frodo.
The Patrick Henry Center www.patrickhenryctr.org (703) 691-2302
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) www.whistleblower.org (202) 408-0034
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) www.pogo.org (202) 347-1122
Customs Employees Against Discrimination (CEADA) Charrisceada@aol.com