The Corner

Danger at the Southern Border

Two claims perpetuated by the Obama administration — that the border is secure and we’re now safer than we’ve been since ( 9/11, 2008, take your pick) — imploded yesterday during a hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) asked Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson whether he was aware that four known terrorists were caught attempting to cross the border in Texas on September 10, the eve of the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11. Johnson equivocated, “Sitting here right now, no specific case comes to mind. That doesn’t mean there is none.”

Johnson was pressed by Chaffetz, stating that he had reason to believe four individuals with ties to known Middle East terrorist groups were apprehended along the southern border on the day in question. This apparently jogged Johnson’s memory a bit. He responded, “I’ve heard reports to that effect. I don’t know the accuracy of the reports or how much credence to give them . . .”

Johnson’s claims are, of course, implausible. For the last several weeks, Americans have seen Islamic State terrorists behead two Americans and make repeated threats to strike the United States. Senior administration officials have declared the group a threat like we’ve never before seen. Islamic State videos promise to visit death and destruction on America and urge lone-wolf terrorists to strike soft targets in our country. Intelligence and law-enforcement agencies report Americans are being radicalized and hundreds, if not thousands, of them are fighting as jihadists in Iraq and Syria. And the president himself has given a speech stating his intention to take some form of nebulous action against the threat. Under such circumstances, reports of suspected terrorists entering the country don’t get buried with low-level staffers.

Johnson’s diffident response to Chaffetz isn’t yet another manifestation of this administration’s ineptitude regarding matters pertaining to the Islamic State. Rather, it’s a perpetuation of the administration’s long-standing effort to minimize concerns regarding border security in order to lessen resistance to amnesty and the continued massive influx of illegal aliens. After all, in advocating for the Gang-of Eight bill, Johnson’s predecessor, Janet Napolitano, assured senators that the border was “as secure as it’s ever been.” This, despite the fact that nearly 500,000 individuals were apprehended attempting to illegally cross the border in the preceding year alone, yet the Government Accountability Office reports that we have operational control of only 6.5 percent, or 129 of 1993 miles, of our southern border (Not to worry: Another 744 miles are considered “managed.”) How many more illegal crossers, then, escaped detection?

Political imperative trumps national security. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, it frequently was said that the terrorists only have to be successful once. Let’s pray we continue to dodge bullets. And that they’re only bullets.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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