WTF: Guardsmen Can Patrol The US Border But Can’t Look Across It?!

The New Mexico Army National Guard Liaison Team visited the U.S. Border Patrol El Paso Sector to meet and coordinate preparations for their upcoming deployment in support of border security operations April 7, 2018.
Photo by U.S. Border Patrol Agent Marcus Trujillo

The National Guard troops standing watch along the United States’ southwest border may find themselves curious to know what great mysteries lay beyond the muddy waters of the Rio Grande... but alas, federal law forbids them from using their state-of-the-art surveillance equipment to find out.

While the roughly 800 guardsmen holding the line in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona are permitted to use their naked eyes to peer across the divide, the legal basis for President Donald Trump’s National Guard deployment prohibits the troops from peeping southward through a pair of binoculars — or any other piece of technology that makes things appear closer than they actually are.

Trump mobilized the National Guard in April to help staunch what the president termed a “drastic surge of illegal activity on the southern border.” Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis authorized Title 32 duty status to deploy (and pay for) as many as 4,000 National Guard personnel in support of the Department of Homeland Security.

“Always Ready, Always There! Moving up to 500 #NationalGuard troops immediately on the SW border security mission,” tweeted Air Force Gen. Joseph L. Lengyel, the chief of the National Guard Bureau, in response to Trump’s order. “Vehicles, equipment & helicopters on the way tonight.”

Upon their arrival at the border, the National Guard jumped into action, providing helicopter support to Border Patrol agents, paving roads, performing vehicle maintenance, and monitoring surveillance footage for suspicious activity north of the border.

“The troops stood on rocky, muddy cliffs on the river’s edge, peering through binoculars and focusing most of their attention on the banks and the brush on the American side,” a reporter with The New York Times wrote of a recent visit to a National Guard observation post in South Texas’ Rio Grande Valley. Rulebreaker!

They say curiosity killed the cat. In this case, it could earn a soldier a letter of reprimand. Title 32 provides that the National Guard can operate “up to” the United States-Mexico border, but that’s it. No peeking across! “We are not doing foreign intelligence collection on the border,” Col. Jamie Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, explained to the Times.

In addition to the surveillance restrictions, the troops are also prohibited from apprehending people or having any physical contact with migrants. Those duties are left to the Border Patrol, which is not shackled by the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the post-Civil War statute that limits military involvement in civilian law enforcement.

National Guard and Border Patrol officials describe the mobilization as a “force multiplier” and are already hailing it a success. Officials say the troops have helped arrest more than 1,600 illegal border-crossers and assisted in the confiscation of more than 1,000 pounds of marijuana. That’s a whole lot of grass.

But not everybody is so impressed.

Representative Vicente Gonzalez, a Texas Democrat, said in an interview with The New York Times that he thinks the money being spent on the National Guard mission should instead be used to hire more Border Patrol agents — in part because the citizen-soldiers are so constrained in what they can actually, legally, do out there.

“They have their hands tied,” Gonzalez said. “This is not what the National Guard Was designed for.”

A Marine wanted for killing his mother's boyfriend reportedly escaped police by hiding inside an RV they'd spent hours searching before towing it to a parking lot, where he escaped under the cover of darkness.

It wasn't until more than two weeks later authorities finally caught up to Michael Brown at his mom's home, which was the scene of the crime.

Brown stuffed himself into a tight spot in his camper during an hours-long search of the vehicle on Nov. 10, according to NBC affiliate WSLS in Virginia. A day earlier, cops said Brown fatally shot his mother's boyfriend, Rodney Brown. The AWOL Marine remained on the lam until Nov. 27, where he was finally apprehended without incident.

Read More Show Less

No motive is yet known for last week's Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard shooting tragedy, which appears to have been a random act of violence in which the sailor who fatally shot two civilian workers and himself did not know them and did not plan his actions ahead of time, shipyard commander Capt. Greg Burton said in an "All Hands" message sent out Friday.

Machinist's Mate Auxiliary Fireman Gabriel Antonio Romero of San Antonio, an armed watch-stander on the attack submarine USS Columbia, shot three civilian workers Dec. 4 and then turned a gun on himself while the sub rested in dry dock 2 for a major overhaul, the Navy said.

"The investigation continues, but there is currently no known motive and no information to indicate the sailor knew any of the victims," Burton said.

Read More Show Less
A projectile is fired during North Korea's missile tests in this undated picture released by North Korea's Central News Agency (KCNA) on November 28, 2019. (KCNA via Reuters)

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea said it had successfully conducted another test at a satellite launch site, the latest in a string of developments aimed at "restraining and overpowering the nuclear threat of the U.S.", state news agency KCNA reported on Saturday.

The test was conducted on Friday at the Sohae satellite launch site, KCNA said, citing a spokesman for North Korea's Academy of Defence Science, without specifying what sort of testing occurred.

Read More Show Less

Since the Washington Post first published the "Afghanistan papers," I have been reminded of a scene from "Apocalypse Now Redux" in which Army Col. Walter Kurtz reads to the soldier assigned to kill him two Time magazine articles showing how the American people had been lied to about Vietnam by both the Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon administrations.

In one of the articles, a British counterinsurgency expert tells Nixon that "things felt much better and smelled much better" during his visit to Vietnam.

"How do they smell to you, soldier?" Kurtz asks.

Read More Show Less
Erik Prince arrives for the New York Young Republican Club Gala at The Yale Club of New York City in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., November 7, 2019. (REUTERS/Jeenah Moon)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Erik Prince, the controversial private security executive and prominent supporter of U.S. President Donald Trump, made a secret visit to Venezuela last month and met Vice President Delcy Rodriguez, one of socialist leader Nicolas Maduro's closest and most outspoken allies, according to five sources familiar with the matter.

Read More Show Less