ICE: Fair and Unfair Indictments
Reader comment on item: ICE: "Intelligent, Competent, Enforcement?" Not Quite

Sep 11, 2008 04:59

Mr. Vara's article appropriately indicts a policy and the procedures employed by ICE. It identifies a problem and points out that the system, at least in this case, not only didn't work, but potentially harmed the country and certainly makes the agency look bad, if not incompetent.

That said the comments indicting the agency as a whole are inappropriate. The vast majority of ICE employees are hard working, patriotic, professional law enforcement officers and support personnel with a strong desire to "do what is right". They are not political appointees and their authorities are determined by Congress. Implementation of the law is codified in the Code of Federal Regulations and by court decisions and agency policy. ICE is a part of the Federal law enforcement community, not a part of the U.S. Intelligence Community.

ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They conduct investigations into violations of immigration and customs laws and other offenses directly related to immigration and customs, from document fraud to aliens involved in violent gangs to counterfeit medications to the exchange of child pornography to stolen antiquities to trafficking in human beings. Their outstanding expertise in these areas is unparalleled and, for the most part, they discharge their duties professionally, often in the course of enforcing very grey areas of law, for which passionate arguments about morals and ethics can be made on any number of sides. If you look at criminal prosecution statistics of cases presented, indictments and convictions, you'll find ICE (and the former INS and USCS) to be among the most successful Federal law enforcement agencies.

Our national and homeland security is about all of this, not just about terrorists. Anyone who thinks that counterfeit medications filled with arsenic and brick dust or criminals preying on children or the unlicensed/illegal sales and transfer of U.S. military technology and weapons or the illegal employment of workers with false identities in our food supply system are not important aspects of protecting our homeland is incredibly naive. As Mr. Vara points out, by Presidential Proclamation, the FBI is the principle agency involved in combating terrorism in the United States. The creation of the Department of Homeland Security and ICE did not change that. If the President wants ICE to take the lead in this area, he can so state.

Often the FBI, the U.S. Attorneys Office and others push their "unprosecutable" cases to immigration court to deal with. While I'm not familiar with the Qatanani case, I am familiar with dozens of other cases in which this happened. Sometimes it's because the Intelligence Community isn't willing to declassify the information and the government's lower burden of proof level in immigration court makes a successful outcome more likely. Sometimes the criminal investigation has been bungled by ICE or the FBI or whoever and it's a way to save face by dumping it on someone else. Sometimes the AUSA doesn't feel comfortable prosecuting certain aspects of a case or is just plain lazy and is happy to let someone else deal with it. These are the exceptions, not the rule, but they do happen.

Either way, decisions like Qatanani are double edged. While they make the alleged "bad guy" appear to be okay and a victim of government excess and to make future prosecutions, in immigration or criminal court, more difficult, they also do have some positive side effects too. They disrupt the "bad guys" operations and put them on notice that we know they are bad guys and are watching them. Thus, if they truly are "bad guys", we have hampered their ability to continue their behavior. If we were prosecuting them, particularly on terror-related grounds in either immigration or criminal court, we have moved from the covert to the overt anyway, so the fact that we have "intel" on them is no longer a secret. What the "bad guy" doesn't know is just how much we do know; were we unwilling to disclose it because we lacked anything really credible or because it would give up sources and methods that are still effective? The "bad guy" doesn't know and now we get to watch him/her/them to see what he/she/they do next. While it's not the "win" we were trying for, it's not the total disaster that is usually portrayed either. In this case the "we" is the government as a whole, be it law enforcement, intelligence community or both.

The real message to all this is that we have this wonderful thing in the First Amendment to the Constitution called "freedom of speech". Let's use it to attack the problems, as Mr. Vara does, in the hope that it is taken as constructive criticism and it triggers positive reform. Using freedom of speech to attack entire groups, be it ICE or the Muslim community or any other organization, community or group, with broad, sweeping indictments is not productive to real and positive change, but serves to polarize and put people/organizations/groups on the defensive. When the problems are the leadership in Washington, the special interests that they are beholden to, the prevalent "good old boy" network and a litigious culture of political correctness, making any meaningful and positive change is darn near impossible. If enough of us demand it, we will be heard. Let's stick to the issues and the people that are the problems and avoid broad attacks on groups of people trying to do their job in a difficult and often hostile environment.

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    Title By Date

    In other words, convict him at all costs [209 words]


    Oct 7, 2008 17:28

    Blindingly Obvious [56 words]


    Sep 15, 2008 15:17

    Is it not now blindingly obvious that there is no credible evidence against this man? [71 words]


    Sep 15, 2008 08:14

    ⇒ ICE: Fair and Unfair Indictments [908 words]


    Sep 11, 2008 04:59

    ICE: "Intelligent, Competent, Enforcement?" [6 words]

    Muslims Against Sharia 

    Sep 10, 2008 16:21

    Angry Americans will take the reins [88 words]


    Sep 9, 2008 17:23

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