The title is "Terror at the border A new terrorist threat is closer than you think." The lead paragraph is:
With American attention diverted to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the economic crisis and a hard-fought national election, national security experts have largely overlooked the bitter countercartel war in Mexico. But that war, which is beginning to overlap the U.S. border, is only the forerunner of an even more serious threat. Sometime in the near future a lethal combination of transnational terrorism and criminal gangs is going to cross the U.S. border in force. According to some, it already has, and we haven’t even noticed.This is not a new insight, but a restatement of what is already out there.
Colonel Killebrew finishes up with these two paragraphs
Beyond police work, though, U.S. lawmakers must begin to address social and domestic issues that support the gang and drug culture — and thus provide ungoverned space for terrorism — as a matter of national security. Immigration reform is an excellent example of a national domestic issue intrinsically involved in international gang culture that must be addressed. Prison reform is another — overcrowded prisons that warehouse minor offenders next to hardened gang members have become gang universities that take in amateurs and produce hard cases. Improvements in education, work-force development and other social priorities are no longer stovepiped issues, but have become part of the challenge of isolating and eliminating a drug and crime culture that has become a national security challenge.We, as the citizens, need to recognize that this is a large, complex and very mixed problem. We can't move to fight narcotics trafficking and not work to fight guerrillas in Latin America. We can't call for judicial reform in Mexico without understanding that our demand for drugs in this nation is undermining judicial officials in Mexico.
None of this is easy, and all of it is “irregular.” The enemy follows no rules, wears no identifiable markings — except perhaps gang tattoos — and attacks his objectives only indirectly, by undermining the opponent’s will to prevail. There is no single enemy network to attack, or hostile command and control system. In many cases, American security experts continue to be unaware of the threat posed by the axis of international gangs and terrorists, overseas and within America’s own borders. Much more can be said. But the challenge now is to recognize the threat, comprehend its many dimensions and better coordinate the counterattack.
To quote someone I know, "I hope people are paying attention." Our response is known as the Merida Initiative. Funding for the immediate phase was included in the Supplemental Budget, PL 110-252, signed by President Bush on 30 June 2008. On the 3rd of December Mexico and the US signed a Letter of Agreement, that resulted in the release of $197 million in funds.
The US Congress has placed multiple restrictions on the funding and reporting, many of which had nothing to do with combating lawless gangs or narco-terrorists. I have been told by people who know that "It is intended to please everyone, but falls short." Part of the problem is that the US Congress has tried to get down in the weeds, drawing lines separating counter-narcotics, organized crime, and terrorism and mixing all with human rights, judicial reform, etc. These lines do not exist and judicial reform will only occur when judges and prosecutors are not in constant fear for their lives. Think back to a previous post, where I noted 4,000 deaths in Mexico related to drugs. In 2008 to date, 4,000 deaths.
In my humble opinion, we should be careful about how we encourage others to conform to our ideals. Here is a quote from an OAS broadsheet on the Merida Initiative:
Mexico – After vocal opposition to language in the original bill that required that all cases of Mexican soldiers accused of human rights violations be referred to civilian courts (in violation of Mexican constitutional provisions) as a condition for assistance, Mexican officials and lawmakers are satisfied with the wording of the bill as passed in the House and referred to the Senate.I don't know the details. Did we promise a "wink and a nod"? When we put language in our bills that encourage other nations to violate their own Constitutions we are encouraging a lack of respect for not only Constitutions, but for the rule of law in general and that is not a good thing.
Regards -- Cliff