Saturday, January 27, 2007

More Details on "Operation Wrangler"

Here's a little more fuzzy detail on what exactly will constitute Gov. Perry's new "Operation Wrangler," the bastard child of last year's Operation Linebacker and the 2006 election, which according to a Perry press release has cost Texans $20 million since October 2005, most but not all of it federal grant funds.

To me, whether it's Wrangler or Linebacker, if you don't change from the same, failed strategies you spell it the same way: B-O-O-N-D-O-G-G-L-E.

Governor Perry continues to tout discredited, campaign generated statistics that falsely claim Operation Linebacker caused crime to decline by 60% on the border. In fact, crime slightly increased.

Building on Linebacker's "surge" concept, Perry will add 604 more national guard troops (who I suppose would rather be there than surging in Iraq) who will work for "11 joint operational intelligence centers" along the board.

My first question: If they're "joint," why are there 11 of them? How will these 11 distinct entities be coordinated, or are we setting ourselves up for more turf battles down the line?

And doesn't "joint operational intelligence center" sound like made up bureaucratese? That doesn't tell me who will be calling the shots on a day to day basis, or what are these guard troops' rules of engagement on the border. More to learn to understand what's really going on here. (I'll bet Rep. Rick Noriega - whom I should pause to welcome back from his national guard tour on the border and congratulate on his Appropriations assignment -would have some insight into what's happening down there.)

In addition, 48 helicopters and 33 fixed wing aircraft (which come from where? Quien sabe?) will patrol the border, though again there's no word on what they'll do (shoot them down?) if they find someone illegally flying over. Perry also mentioned that up to 35 patrol ships would assist in the "wrangling."

This is the kind of thing where, when I still worked at ACLU of Texas, I'd just file a big honking open records request to find out what they're saying behind the scenes. But I don't really have a budget for such things anymore, so I hope some enterprising MSM reporter picks up the mantle and tracks down what the hell's going on down at the border: the story for sure hasn't been fully written yet.

Anyway, now that the election is over, all the politicized rhetoric has finally (thankfully) reduced: Perry's press release this time focused on securing the border against "smugglers," not "terrorists." Part of his new kinder, gentler, possibly even vice presidential (?) look, I guess.

The financing of the thing remains another matter. El Paso Mayor John Cook says local governments are participating at their own expense in exchange for a federal IOU. "Why is Texas, Texas taxpayers paying for this?," he asked. Reported a local news station, "Cook says protecting the border from illegal activity is the federal government’s job."

An earlier article I saw said this would be paid through a federal DHS grant, so the financing of Operation Wrangler will be another item to watch.

It's going to be an interesting year, huh? Let me know what else you hear out there about "Operation Wrangler."

UPDATE: Sen. Shapleigh's website has more details. NUTHER UPDATE: Mexican consulate blames profiling on Wrangler.

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