PENDING LEGISLATION AS MYSTIFYING AS IT IS FRIGHTENING (WELL, MAYBE NOT)
...as Oregonian Rep. Earl Blumenauer said on the floor yesterday:
"If this provision, the waiver of all laws necessary for quote improvements of barriers at the border was to become law, the Secretary of Homeland Security could give a contract to his political cronies that had no safety standards, using 12-year-old illegal immigrants to do the labor, run it through the site of a Native American burial ground, kill bald eagles in the process, and pollute the drinking water of neighboring communities. And under the provisions of this act, no member of Congress, no citizen could do anything about it because you waive all judicial review."
All the things Blumenauer mentions are genuine possibilities with regard to Smuggler's Gulch; part of the project really does go through a Native American burial ground. Not only that, but according to the Congressional Research Service the provision really does apply to all border areas, and not just Al Capone's old boot-legging route. (I should note here that there are theoretically limits (pdf) on what Congress can waive and pull out of any court's jurisdiction; calling this the "murder at will" provision is probably constitutionally a stretch, but the question is open enough that that's a fair moniker.)
Amidst it all, though, here's possibly the most bizarre part: Smuggler's Gulch is apparently extremely secure according to the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Patrol. I was just told by their public affairs office that it was "not on a very high priority"; since Operation Gatekeeper in the early to mid-'90s, they've "put a stop to the vehicular traffic" and where "it used to take 15-20 agents to have an impact in that area, today we benefit from having possibly one or two agents."
So why the focus? Beats me. As I was told by a House aide:
"I’d have to say that that really baffled us. Just trying to imagine what could possibly be the reason -- there’s got to be a reason here other than the border fence. They’re trying to set a precedent here. … The reason for this coming to Congress is much larger than 3 miles in San Diego. … It’s just inconceivable that we’re using all of this might for these three miles."
If bloggers are getting all hyperbolic and tin-hatted on this one, it's only because the pros are too.
More on this pending legislation here. It should be setting people's hair on fire. We know these people know no bounds, and I've come to the conclusion that they'll do ANYTHING for a price. Question is, what's the price and who's paying it? Gun owners are among the most loyal Republicans; are the Bushies really willing to take them on? Has Bush's "mandate" (not) really convinced him that he's king of the world now that he doesn't face re-election? And how long will Repug legislators go along with his insane notions -- THEY face re-election, even if he doesn't.