Post-Modern Journalistic Partisanship

By James R. Edwards, Jr. on May 16, 2011

A Washington Post Sunday editorial is titled "Twisting the truth on the Mexican border". But it's the Post that twists the truth, not the Republican foils jabbed at in President Obama's El Paso speech.

The Post charged congressional Republicans with using "scare tactics" and "trying to distort the debate." Pretty tough language. It might be justified were the charges true. But the president is the one guilty of falsehoods, distortions, and misleading. The Post editorial's calumny displays its partisan bias.

Sure, editorials express a newspaper's opinion. But when the editorial commits the very same sin it accuses political opponents of, someone should cry foul. This blog is confined to addressing the border control issue that's been raised.

The Post attacks Rep. Lamar Smith for criticizing the lack of control over more than half the 2,000-mile southern border. The editorial makes much of the Marfa sector's 510 miles for their "isolation, sparse population and forbidding, deep river canyons." It indicates Rep. Smith makes too big a deal of "operational control."

In fact, we do lack satisfactory control of most of the border. Rep. Smith cited a report finding that only 873 miles of border met one of Homeland Security's two definitions of "operational control." These are: "The two levels of control differed in the extent that Border Patrol resources were available to either deter or detect and apprehend illegal entries at the immediate border (controlled) versus a multi-tiered deployment of Border Patrol resources to deter, detect, and apprehend illegal entries after entry into the United States; sometimes 100 miles or more away (managed)." Only 15 percent (129 miles) of the entire 2,000 miles approaches what most people mean by "operational control," leaving 85 percent of the Mexican border in the effective control of lawless Mexican cartels.

What does it matter if vast stretches of our border with Mexico aren't guarded? What difference does it make if we actually rely on Border Patrol from as far as 100 miles away, on pedestrian-friendly vehicle barriers, a "virtual fence" of technological gizmos that may indicate a border breach by illegals, etc. instead of real, live human agents on site, sufficiently armed and empowered to act with necessary force, and effective deterrent border barriers as now protect the San Diego sector? No less than Adm. Michael Mullen (and other military and national security leaders) have stated what escapes the understanding of the Obama administration and the Washington Post: That "virtual presence is actual absence."

The Post owes Rep. Smith an apology. He and (mostly Republican) colleagues who have called for real border security and taken issue with the shortcomings of administrations of both parties do the nation a service. The Obamas and Posts need to clean up their acts.

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The overreaching claims by Obama and the Post about fewer apprehensions, lower crime rates in border state cities, and Bush-era doubling of the Border Patrol each deserve separate treatment. So does the Post's attack on the most rational strategy, Attrition Through Enforcement. But suffice it to say that the asserted advances don't seem to have convinced the American citizens who suffer daily under the foreign threat of actual border insecurity.

Citizens who live near the overrun border have written a petition. It reads in part:

Seizure of record quantities of drugs may pad the statistics of Homeland Security, but it does nothing to ease the burdens we have been forced to bear. Over the years, as our homes have been burgled or invaded, our fences, water lines and windows repeatedly broken, our businesses driven toward bankruptcy, our natural surroundings desecrated by trash and fire, and our lives even obliterated (neighbor Rob Krentz, murdered by a drug scout), it has amazed us how little note is taken of these tragedies by our government and the press.