Jeff Smith 2:30 p.m., June 26
Bersin and Napolitano Offer Latest Spin on Border Drug War
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin (left), once chief of schools here, hooked up with a bevy of other Obama administration law enforcement bigwigs today to release their Southwest Border Counternarcotics Strategy for 2011.
They claimed progress in coordinating Navy, Coast Guard, Customs and Border Patrol enforcement efforts in San Diego:
"The Joint Harbor Operations Center (JHOC) in San Diego, California is an example of the evolution of joint interagency operations to optimize detection and response," the report says.
"The JHOC is a multi-agency command center with a mandate to coordinate maritime law enforcement operations within its area of responsibility. The JHOC is manned with USCG, CBP, and U.S. Navy patrol watch standers.
"The Maritime Unified Command is chaired jointly by USCG and CBP, and includes representatives from the Maritime Task Force (which is an ICE-centric DHS/DOJ task force), U.S. Navy Third Fleet, Joint Task Force-North, the California National Guard, and local law enforcement."
That description was far more elaborate than last year's report, which contained the following:
"The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) has Sector Commands at San Diego and Corpus Christi controlling USCG air and maritime assets that patrol in these areas. The USCG also provides detection, monitoring, and interdiction of suspect traffic along the maritime (San Diego area/Southern Texas Gulf) approaches to the United States."
A news release that accompanied the Nogales, Arizona event gave passing mention to treatment programs as alternatives to the nation's traditional war against drugs:
"The strategy outlines Federal, state, local, tribal, and international actions to reduce the flow of illicit drugs, cash, and weapons across the border, and highlights the Obama Administration’s support for promoting strong border communities by expanding access to drug treatment and supporting programs that break the cycle of drug use, violence, and crime."
The release added that the administration has beefed up staffing along the border here, saying "the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has allocated nearly 29 percent of its domestic agent positions to the Southwest border, while U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) increased its Federal agents on the border, and the Department of Justice (DOJ) has secured a record number of extraditions from Mexico: 94 in 2010 compared to 12 in 2000 and trained over 5,400 Mexican prosecutors and investigators."
The full document can be downloaded here:
Bersin recently told a Congressional committee that disputes within the administration and the FBI had hindered clean-up efforts against law enforcement corruption along the border.