Screw up; move up in play again in Customs and Border Protection

In another clear screw up move up policy set to purge the Legacy Customs representatives from the agency in order to foster a new ‘Global Patrol’ –CBP moves to appoint a well known insider with liberal leanings regarding amnesty to the top post of Acting Deputy Commissioner of CBP.

David V. Aguilar hails from U.S. Border Patrol where he served under Congressmen Silvestre Reyes (D-TX) and has followed the coattails of ‘friends in high places’ all the way to the CBP Acting Deputy Commissioner slot.

“As Chief of the U.S. Border Patrol, David has successfully provided leadership and guidance through a period of unprecedented growth and tremendous change while at the same time strengthened control of our nation’s borders,” says Jayson Ahern outgoing CBP Commissioner. “As Acting Deputy Commissioner, he will bring to the position more than 30 years of border security experience, management, and leadership. He is a tested and proven leader and I have the utmost confidence in his abilities to take on this new role.”

No Confidence

In a memo from Ahern, Aguilar receives high praises for his career in law enforcement. However, Aguilar’s record is rife with controversy, power consolidation, and failures.

First, in February 2007, delegates to the National Border Patrol Council’s biennial convention unanimously endorsed a vote of “No Confidence” in Chief Aguilar.

“The vote was the result of increasing frustration by front line Border Patrol Agents in the decisions of their senior leadership,” T.J. Bonner, NBPC National President, said in a statement. “This lack of leadership has caused morale to plummet, which in turn has accelerated the attrition rate among experienced agents. Unless drastic changes are made soon, the goal of securing our borders will remain as elusive as ever.”

Aguilar again received a “No Confidence” vote from his rank and file agents on February 25, 2009.

According to the representatives of the National Border Patrol Council they unanimously supported a vote of “No Confidence” for Chief Aguilar due to his lack of leadership abilities. Hardly the glowing recommendation Ahern described and another example of the ‘screw up and move up’ policies plaguing the CBP and Department of Homeland Security.

“We at the NPBC are very concerned about this ‘acting appointment’ becoming permanent,” says Shawn Moran, Vice President of the National Border Patrol Council. “Chief Aguilar is the first chief in the history of Border Patrol to ever receive the vote of ‘no confidence’ and he has received it twice.”

The NBPC contends his agenda has resulted in bad management by SES level managers, compromising security for trade, commerce, pro-open border and protect the illegal alien agenda of corporate America which has led to diminished security at the U.S./Mexico borders.

One of the reasons Aguilar has created tension within his rank and file coworkers is the shortening of the training time required to complete the Border Patrol training Academy “Lack of training coupled with late back ground checks” is yet another example of Aguilar’s inexperience or worse negligence with what Border Patrol agents require to perform at the best of their abilities says Moran.

The mission of Border Patrol is to control immigration and secure our borders, yet Aguilar supports amnesty and couches it with the responsibility of catching terrorists. “Our goal is to stop drug cartels and illegal aliens. Terrorist apprehension is secondary and we do that once we’ve done our primary job,” Moran explains. “How can we have a leader that doesn’t even know the mission of Border Patrol?”

“Chief Aguilar has done more damage to moral than anyone. To reward him is ridiculous,” Moran finished.

Moran’s statements are echoed by a number of sources who say that agent morale is the lowest ever and how agents used to talk about how they’d take a bullet for this agent or that agent. Now under Aguilar there is such a fostered mistrust and fear of “monkeyboys,” which are described as those who “kiss asses who go along to get along,” get away with everything and are protected while good agents are sold down the river.

Another issue that keeps coming up about Aguilar’s BP Academy is the violent practice of stacking (or hazing) in which a trainee at the academy goes into a room with a number of PT instructors and once they are finished some trainees have to be transported to medical facilities due to severe injuries.

Project 28, a Controversial Money-Pit

Another failed program that Aguilar attaches to his resume is the “Project 28” virtual border fence fiasco. In February 2008, U.S. Representative Chris Carney, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee’s Management, Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, said the system “works about 30 percent of the time.” During a visit in January of 2008 to the El Paso region, Carney explained that he witnessed an incident where two illegal immigrants crossed in front of a project camera. Carney then explains, “That a technician tried to electronically reposition the camera to track them (illegal aliens), but the picture was out of focus, the camera moved too slowly and the illegal immigrants got away.”
Project 28 was deemed the “smart” virtual fence that would close the borders without building a physical fence and the early detection would direct Border Patrol agents to illegal border crossers quickly and efficiently, however the system has suffered numerous glitches resulting in lack of apprehensions.

“Project 28 is nothing more than a hair-brain scheme,” says 50-year veteran Chief Border Patrol Agent Bill King, who was Chief of the Border Patrol Academy about 30 years ago and remains active with border issues.

This DHS project includes nine towers complete with radar cameras along a treacherous canyon filled area of the Arizona border region where Chief Aguilar serves. But with a price tag of $800,000 per tower and a thirty-percent effectiveness rate, one questions the wisdom of such a program. Project 28’s so-called virtual fence system is part of the Secure Border Initiative and consists of a multibillion-dollar government contract intended to slow illegal border crossings.

Government officials predict the $7.6 billion price tag is far to low as the program continues to meet with malfunctions and missed deadlines.

The radar cameras attached to the towers are supposed to trigger a beam of high-quality images when movement is detected at the border. At this point agents are able to determine if the incursion is something as simple as lost hikers, drug smugglers or illegal immigrants. However, the response time is much too slow for agents in the field to detain the human trafficking as they are often long gone by the time Border Patrol agents arrive on the scene.

Despite the documented failure of the virtual fence Aguilar contends this $7.6 billion project is worth it. “We are living the dividing line between the old Border Patrol and the new patrol of the future,” he said in an interview with the New York Times. The article continued to dog Aguilar regarding the lack of Border Patrol agents even when a reporter stood at the foot of the towers waiting to see a response time. “No guards were in sight,” they said.

Passing the blame along, Aguilar shrugged it off and stated that the cameras must have been turned off. This begs the question as to why such an expensive program would be “turned off” during high traffic hours.

Experts state that Project 28 is similar to the Secure Border Initiative and the awarding of contracts to Boeing that were extremely secretive, lacking any transparency. They say there were other border monitoring programs available that were vastly more effective like Raytheon’s Project Athena, which gave results that surpassed all expectations when tested along the northern border over 3 years ago.

Retired BP Chief King chimed in on this issue; “Look if we wanted to stop illegal immigration and drug smugglers from coming into this country we could. A virtual fence is certainly not going to do the job here. We need to put the U.S. military along the borders and all traffic would halt.” King also knows this bright idea would never happen as he has been told by Washington D.C. ‘no way.’ “I’m thoroughly disgusted with Democrats and the GOP. They don’t want to stop illegal immigration, the political morass in unbelievable.”

Conduct Unbecoming: The Imperious Ruler Says One Things Does Another

A third area where Chief Aguilar has fallen short is the documented disconnect within the agency, and he clearly says what he pleases while firing employees for significantly less.

There must always be a nexus (connection) between the misconduct (on or off duty) and the efficiently of the service as written by the National Border Patrol Council (BP agents union).

Local 2544 of the National Border Patrol Council (representing Tucson agents) documented a number of infractions by Aguilar during a 2-day muster in June of 2007 held at the Tucson and Nogales (AZ) Stations. The antics reported by the union include; discriminatory behavior including leading agents to pick on a disabled civilian’s physical appearance, disruptive and extremely unprofessional behavior, while lying about his official statements before Congress, the public, and during these meetings misrepresenting the facts before his own employees. These acts are all punishable under the CBP’s Table of Penalties.

Some of the offenses committed as posted by the union fall under the following: Discriminatory Behavior, Disruptive Behavior, Falsification (of information), Integrity, Neglect of Duty (considering his support of amnesty and the discussions of the “new mission of CBP”) Safety/Health (considering how he has compromised his employees and the public’s safety), and Security (given the amount of statements from active and retired agents addressing how Mexico runs the stations).

Of course, it was his former boss Congressman Silvestre Reyes who during an August 2007 Congressional hearing in El Paso stated, “When you pin a badge and gun on, you should be held to a higher standard.” This is clearly something that applies to all but Aguilar and the Tucson Mafia as it is known by agency insiders. Something that has led many CBP employees to comment that the only difference between organized crime and their superiors are the badges and service issued firearms.

It is also of note that when Aguilar has appeared on Capitol Hill to testify before Congress, he has worn his sidearm into the hearing room. One such occasion was when he testified in July 2007 before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing into the Ramos and Compean case, which was prosecuted by former U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton. Several sources felt it was inappropriate for him to be packing heat at the Capitol during an official hearing, and yet another example of arrogance and contempt.

America’s Top Border Agent Supports Amnesty

As the country heads into the national debate regarding amnesty early next year it is important for voters to understand Aguilar’s position on this hot-button issue. During Congressional testimony, Aguilar clearly supported the Bush administration “comprehensive immigration plan” that included amnesty and temporary worker cards.

During his April 2007 testimony to Congress Aguilar said; “To most effectively secure our border, we must reform our immigration system to relieve this pressure. We need comprehensive immigration reform… The Administration is dedicated to comprehensive reform of America’s immigration laws…” He goes on to say that we should be “addressing the millions of illegal immigrants already in the country… The Administration’s plan will bring illegal immigrants out of the shadows without providing amnesty.”

However, Friends of the Border Patrol founder Andy Ramirez, who has investigated border security and testified before a number of Congressional Committees, states, “According to my sources inside the patrol, David Aguilar has made misinforming the public as well as destroying the agency internally a top priority. Everything he says or does is staged and clearly is at odds with my own testimony before the same House Committees. He is well known for being soft on incidents involving Mexico, and has previously ordered subordinates to pretty much let the Mexican Consulates run the stations. I’ve long contended that as our statements so completely contradict each other, Congress has long needed to swear him both in, as I was sworn in by Sensenbrenner when he was Chairman, and ask him questions under oath while referring to my testimony. Of course we won’t get a hearing without Silvestre Reyes, Aguilar’s pro-amnesty former boss in McAllen Sector (South Texas), running interference for him as usual.”

As Chief of the Border Patrol, Aguilar explains his agents are not just immigration officers and as such they shouldn’t focus on illegal immigration, but focus on terrorists, criminals and dope smugglers. However, once you cross the border illegally a law has been broken and the illegals have now committed a crime. This is the first crime in a string that continues when they work illegally in the U.S.

Such statements are personified by sycophants who have bought into the philosophy and been rapidly promoted to high ranking positions, including many Sector Chiefs who were appointed during a purge that began in 2006. The purge involved a number of Chiefs and other high-ranking agents who were not pro-amnesty, and retired well ahead of the mandatory age retirement of 57. Many of the new chiefs were graduates of the elite BORTAC (Border Patrol tactical unit) program. Two such fast-track cronies (subordinates of Aguilar’s when he was the Tucson Chief) include current El Paso Sector Chief Victor Manjarrez, and former Laredo Sector Chief Carlos Carrillo, former subordinates of Aguilar’s in Tucson Sector. Both, like Aguilar, support amnesty.

In fact, it was the following statement to local Texas media by Chief Carrillo that led to his quick retirement at age 55, “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Border Patrol’s job is not to stop illegal immigrants. The Border Patrol’s job is not to stop narcotics…or contraband or narcotics…..the Border Patrol’s mission is not to stop criminals. The Border Patrol’s mission is to stop terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the country.”

But this all starts with the example set by Reyes, who stated the following at his June 2007 border conference in El Paso, “besides being a former Border Patrol Chief and a resident of the U.S.-Mexico border, as Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I have a vested interest in ensuring that we allow those who are in our country illegally to come out of the shadows and identify themselves through an earned path to legalization, making it more difficult for those who want to do harm to our country to hide.”

Border expert Ramirez says Aguilar’s command has been insulated from within and is akin to what has been going on in the Customs service.

Aguilar Denies Military Incursions by Mexico’s Soldiers

Another problem plaguing the Border States is the increased border incursions.

According to Ramirez, “Over the past 10 years (through Spring 2006), the Border Patrol has reported more than 250 incursions by Mexican military and police units into the U.S., including incidents where U.S. civilians, Border Patrol agents, and other law enforcement came under fire from the uniformed Mexicans.”

While Sheriff’s in Hudspeth County continue to fight on the front lines along the U.S./Mexico border region, aggressive incidents have continually been downplayed by Aguilar and Congressman Reyes; even when these incursions are documented with video.

In 2006 the Hudspeth County Texas Sheriff’s deputies and Texas state troopers ran into a convoy of Mexican vehicles transporting rugs on the U.S. side of the border. “As you know, our law enforcement chased them back to the border where they were met by heavily-armed Mexican military units in Humvees, with machine guns, who escorted the drug smugglers back into Mexico. Again, our government covers up for Mexico’s involvement and plays down the incident,” Ramirez said.

In Congressional testimony, Congressman Reyes stated there were no Mexican military incursions and the Hudspeth County Sheriff’s deputy was mistaken. Reyes concluded that because he served in the U.S. military and resided in the border region most his life there was no Mexican military crossing the international border. This echoed the statements by the Mexican government later parroted by representatives of the Bush Administration including Aguilar.

However, in sworn testimony from Kelly Legarreta, Deputy Sheriff in Hudspeth County and first on the scene when the alleged incursion took place stated, he too had served in the U.S. Marines and he knew what he saw –Mexican military illegally crossing the U.S. border assisting two vehicles loaded with contraband back into Mexico.

In an April 2006 story by The New American, Ramirez explained in complete detail the incursion and how law enforcement felt about Aguilar’s down playing of the Mexican military incident. “It was a gross insult to the law enforcement officers who were involved and who were there on the line looking down the barrels of the Mexican military, because there were no Border Patrol agents there guarding the border! Aguilar and the (Bush) White House are responsible for leaving that border vulnerable. Then when the sheriffs do the job that the Border Patrol is supposed to be doing, the administration tried to discredit them and made it sound like they’re exaggerating the danger.”

He also pointed out that Aguilar appeared on local El Paso TV news station KFOX and said it was not the Mexican Military involved in the Hudspeth County incursion. Former El Paso Sector Chief Luis Barker than appeared before the Texas Border Sheriffs Coalition and said Aguilar never said any such thing, and that it was ICE was responsible, which was a blatant lie as the coverage clearly showed Aguilar. ICE had not issued any statement prior to the Sheriffs meeting.

“Barker had just been appointed National Deputy Chief of the BP and appeared at the Border Sheriffs Conference in order to take the heat off Aguilar who didn’t have the stones to appear. So he sent Barker as the former sector chief to take the heat for him,” according to Ramirez.

It was but a few months later when Ramirez testified as an official witness before a Congressional field hearing when he exposed an internal BP card given by the public information office in Tucson Sector pertaining to Mexican Military incursions.

The card said, “Remember, Mexican military are trained to escape, evade, and counter-ambush if it will affect their escape.” However, the “SALUTE” card also advises agents to hide from Mexican soldiers that may be operating, and to “avoid” confrontations with Mexican soldiers. It was issued initially in 1997 as Ramirez understood it, and continued to be issued to agents during Aguilar’s tenure as Sector Chief, and later as National Chief. This is definitive proof that the Border Patrol knew but refused to do anything about it, even after firefights resulting in injuries to agents. In one widely known incursion in Santa Teresa, New Mexico, El Paso Sector Chief Barker refused to call in the FBI after such a firefight, though policy dictates that the FBI is notified about any U.S. – Mexico border incidents. Reyes was silent about this matter.

Detonate and rebuild

Clearly the agencies that fall under the Department of Homeland Security are not on the same page and they may be in different stratospheres. The reason for the disparity between departments could be classified as infighting. This is because the mission of DEA is different than Border Patrol-and ICE’s mission (often redundant) would be different than Customs so having all these agencies under one umbrella is self-defeating.

Ramirez contends that DHS, something George W. Bush was adamantly opposed to, gave the worst kind of opportunity to the wrong people. The creation of DHS put those agencies responsible for domestic border (CBP) and internal security (ICE) under one roof with a single top chain of command in comparison to the legacy or pre-DHS days where Customs (including their Immigration Investigators) and Secret Service were at Treasury, while the Border Patrol and Citizenship and Immigration Service (Legacy INS) were at the Justice Department.

“In the wrong hands, America’s Security could easily be subverted especially if the chains of command were structured with cronies instead of America’s best. Given what we know today, that has taken place, and all benefiting those who do not have America’s best interest and at a pretty hefty cost to taxpayers. Just remember that they’re still working on implementing what they call one face at the border, which will allow for greater internal corruption including further compromises with no way to stop it unless Congress acts now,” concluded Ramirez.

A simple solution presents itself for the American people- dismantle DHS. Chief King sums this up best, “DHS is an error, internal politics is rampant and political nepotism has ruined what was once a good form of law enforcement, and therefore it is DHS that has to go in order restore integrity.”
For more stories;

National security breeches include discovery of bombs and missiles;

Acting CBP Commissioner Ayhern retiring, leaves a stained legacy;–retires-leaves-stained-legacy

Corruption in Juarez connected to bridges;

House of Death part one-a dozen murders;

House of Death part two-the cover up;–US-Government-coverup-unveiled

House of Death part three-keys to amnesty;

About thekdreport

Investigative journalist

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