Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano dodges questions from U.S. Senate while delaying implementation of “the Anti-Border Corruption Act”

Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) may be getting tired of prodding Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano. He’s been dealing with her bureaucracy since spring on the issue of Mexican border security.
On Thursday, Pryor nudged again. [This issue is deadly serious, however, Pryor’s concern is purely political. After two years the Obama Administration continues on a reckless of course of “open borders” and “selective law enforcement”. The question is why has the Senate not acted …. the Country needs more than “gentle” political “nudges” that fo nothing more than provide political cover to the man in charge of Homeland Security Oversight]
As chairman of a subcommittee of the Department of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Pryor sent Napolitano a letter requesting she answer a series of questions surrounding corruption of U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agents.
In July, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed Pryor’s legislation, the Anti-Border Corruption Act, to help prevent rogue border agents from being hired or retained. It requires the Custom and Border Protection agency to give polygraph tests to all applicants for law enforcement positions. The requirement has to be implemented within two years, providing the agency time to hire and train examiners. The bill also requires the agency to initiate background checks on all backlogged employees within six months.

In an April letter to a group of senators that included Pryor, Napolitano wrote: “We are engaged in a thorough review of the issues raised . . . and a long-term solution to ensure that we root out corruption and effectively prosecute those who threaten our country.”

She added, “We are also assessing our integrity policies to ensure they include adequate background and checks on CPB employees.”

The Department of Homeland Security did not return phone calls Thursday about Pryor’s new letter to Napolitano.

Internal corruption cases have escalated in recent years. Since 2003, there have been 129 corruption arrests of CBP officers. Last year, there were 576 allegations of corruption. Many centered on drug smuggling.
In his letter to Napolitano, Pryor cited that President Obama signed a bill into law on Aug. 13 that would provide emergency supplemental appropriations to hire more border security agents.
“In that vein, I remain concerned about the failure to conduct polygraphs on new hires, as well as the growing periodic reinvestigations backlog,” Pryor wrote.
He wants Napolitano to clarify the link between the background check measures and the current investigations by Sept. 21. Pryor’s is the sole signature on the letter.
“As we increase the number of agents patrolling our borders, we need to be confident that these men and women have been thoroughly screened and are fully committed to protecting our country,” Pryor told Politics Daily. “If we don’t seal the cracks in our hiring process now, we risk wasting taxpayer dollars and creating a false sense of security.”

Border Corruption: Drugs Now, Dirty Bombs Next?

While there are many complicated problems along the U.S.-Mexico border, one piece of the puzzling crisis is corruption.

Sadly, Mexican drug cartels are corrupting U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents at startling rates.

Internal corruption cases have escalated in recent years. Since 2003, there have been 129 corruption arrests of CBP officers. Last year, there were 576 allegations of corruption.

A recent hearing by the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Ad Hoc Subcommittee on State, Local and Private Sector Preparedness and Integration highlighted the issue.

One person gained employment as a border inspector specifically to smuggle drugs. The person imported more than 1,000 kilograms of marijuana to the United States and received more than $5 million in bribe payments. He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy.

Another case included two CBP officers in Brownsville, Texas, who assisted an illegal-immigrant and narcotics-smuggling organization. A search of one of the officer’s houses yielded $85,250 in cash.

The main reason for such cases? Failure to properly screen potential employees.

Such dangerous cracks in the agent-screening process concern Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), chairman of the subcommittee. He says it allows drug cartels to infiltrate this country’s law enforcement. Pryor has introduced legislation — the Anti-Border Corruption Act — to curb such crime.

“We need to clamp down on this now,” Pryor said. “By my estimates, it is already out of control, but it’s really about to get out of control if we’re not careful.”

The legislation includes a more rigorous system of polygraph testing. Pryor’s bill would require such tests of all applicants for law enforcement positions.

During the March hearing, which Pryor was the only senator to attend, CBP officials said that fewer than 15 percent of job applicants receive a polygraph test, even though standing policy states everyone should be examined. Sixty percent of those who do receive a polygraph test are deemed not suitable for hiring. “These tests are a critical part of the screening process to weed out bad apples,” Pryor said.

Every five years CBP employees are required to undergo a background check. Currently, there is a backlog of 10,000 cases. That number will nearly double by year’s end. Pryor’s legislation would require the CBP to eliminate the current employee background check backlog within six months.

The problem isn’t just polygraph tests, however. Pryor says there should be drastically improved coordination between the Department of Homeland Security and other federal agencies. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has received a letter from the Senate¬†stating that the Senate¬†wants better sharing of information and prevention of duplicative investigations. They cited a memo dated Dec. 16, 2009, from the DHS Inspector General’s office that claimed jurisdiction over corruption investigations currently being carried out by the Customs and Border Protection Internal Affairs.

“My message to DHS is clear: either fix your problems voluntarily, or I will make sure you do it by law,” Pryor said.

If Napolitano doesn’t address the issue, Pryor said he will move to put the bill into law because border security is a national security issue. Today, drug smuggling, he says; tomorrow, dirty bombs.

http://www.politicsdaily.com/2010/04/28/border-corruption-drugs-now-dirty-bombs-next/

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