Not long ago, Liberty Nation asked the question: Could the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) thwart another 9/11? Conditions at the southern border — with all manner of potential terrorists streaming into the states bordering Mexico — indicate a leadership and management fiasco of monumental proportions. Biden’s DHS seems to have opened a “terror highway” into the American heartland.
On Sept. 7, the Heritage Foundation presented a video conference, The 20th Anniversary of 9/11: DHS Has It Eyes Off the Ball. Participating were Chad Wolf, former acting secretary of Homeland Security; Chris Swecker, former assistant director, Federal Bureau of Investigation; and host Lora Ries, senior research fellow, Homeland Security, Heritage Foundation.
A compelling topic was Joe Biden’s Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ April 26 memorandum advising his personnel that he is going to “begin a review of how to best prevent, detect and respond to domestic violent extremism threats within DHS.” According to Wolf, who said that he would have never sent such a memo, its impact has been highly demoralizing for the people assigned to Homeland Security. With 80,000 law enforcement professionals out in the field, he charged that “when you issue that kind of a memo, essentially what you are saying is that all of you are under investigation.”
Swecker added that the documents he’s seen coming from Mayorkas indicate a “pretty scary doctrine that he’s putting out.” Such efforts by DHS infringe dangerously on First Amendment rights that “can go very quickly into a witch hunt, if it hasn’t already.” Also, referring to the disproportionate emphasis on right-wing criminal activities, Swecker explained that he is troubled by references in DHS bulletins to “conspiracy theories” and “discontent with COVID policies of this government.” In addition, DHS leadership is going after other “types of political thoughts that they think are preludes to some act of domestic terrorism.” Such activity is “extremely scary,” showing the department getting into political ideology issues where DHS has no business being for the purpose of “weaponizing the criminal justice system.” He described the disparity between white insurrectionists and leftist terrorism:
“You see no mention of left-wing domestic terrorists … Throughout 2020 in the DHS threat assessment, we had 300 DHS officers attacked and injured in about a 3-month period. The major city police chiefs’ association documents over 2,000 injuries and assaults on police officers, over 200 arsons, 90 police cars torched. All kinds of violent acts, 16,000 arrests, taking over whole city blocks by people who are advocating their political ideology. For example, ‘police are all racists.’ That’s a political ideology. It’s something they were pushing on society through intimidation, arson, attacking police. That’s domestic terrorism.”
If your only source of information is the current administration, you might get the idea that threats to the homeland are limited to right-wing insurrectionists and COVID. That is not the case. The fact is, as Wolf explained, the dangers posed by Russia and China and other global actors who wish the United States harm are far more dire.
Wolf pointed out that recent events in Afghanistan are concerning because of:
“ … the disastrous nature of the way we withdrew from Afghanistan. But the primary concern is that the Taliban is reconstituting a new government; are they going to continue to provide a safe harbor for terrorist organizations, ISIS-K or others? What does that do in the medium to long run for the security of the homeland? We had a difficult time when we had boots on the ground; when we had a diplomatic mission there, we had an understanding of what these groups were doing throughout the country. You remove all our diplomatic presence and our intelligence capability there, and it’s going to be a black hole. We’re not going to know what’s going on there until it’s too late.”
Terrorist organizations that have the opportunity to grow in Afghanistan under Taliban rule are now of rising national security concern, which hasn’t been the case for the last 10 to 15 years, Wolf said. If they do develop a capability to strike the homeland, they now have a “blueprint for entering the US through the border.”
Swecker picked up on the theme, agreeing that America’s capability to know what’s going on in the region, let alone Afghanistan, has been lost because of the Biden administration’s plummeting credibility after the bungled retreat from Kabul. He laid out the problem the United States now faces:
“So, in the long term, that’s how international terrorists look at things. They want to establish a caliphate across the globe, and they don’t care how long it takes to do it. If we take our eye off that ball, in 1993, we had an attack on the World Trade Center; they weren’t successful. Guess what? They came back in 2001, eight years later. And they will continue to come at us if we don’t remain vigilant. We just gratuitously gave up all the eyes and ears that we had in that entire region.”
The discussion turned to America’s southern border and the opportunity for transnational criminals and terrorists entering the country to threaten U.S. citizens. Wolf painted a grim picture of the cartels and crime lords getting rich because of our border sieve:
“The Mexican cartels are getting more and more emboldened and more and more enriched from the policy we have here in the United States. When you have 200,000 apprehensions in one month, that is astronomically high. Each one of those individuals paying the cartels between five and ten thousand dollars. The current policies of this administration embolden these TCOs [transnational criminal organizations].”
This conversation of security experts underscored that the Department of Homeland Security must be vigilant and work to shore up the capability lost in the hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan. But, more importantly, DHS needs to focus on the real and dire threats facing the country and not the politically based, imaginary dangers feared by a few. DHS may have its eye on a ball, but not the right one.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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