The dust is still settling over WikiLeaks and its gradual release of U.S. diplomatic cables not intended for public consumption. Yet, thus far, barely more than 1% of the quarter-million trove of dispatches has been released.
Every organization, public or private, including WikiLeaks itself, has its information it doesn't want revealed to the public. Diplomacy, with its network of informants and useful relationships, requires a certain level of secrecy. And that was breached here.
However, Julian Assange and the people at WikiLeaks don't obtain this information themselves. They get it from insiders who pass it on to them. Bradley Manning, a homosexual U.S. soldier serving in Baghdad, is believed to have been the one who passed the documents on to WikiLeaks. But then again, the Army can't prove it.
But even if Manning wasn't the culprit, there were plenty of others who could have downloaded the cables from SIPRNet, the "Secret Internet Protocol Router Network", a Department of Defense internet system. SIPRNet put military and diplomatic data into the hands of 3 million people (!), who had authorized access to it.
Sounds as though we need to tighten up our security.
On the other hand, since this information is out there, we may as well talk about it. It's interesting and entertaining at times. Much of the statements revealed by WikiLeaks are hardly surprising—just embarrassing to those who said or wrote them. (For example, who knew that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was "vain"?)
The first batch of WikiLeaks relating to Mexico did not make the Mexican government happy, dealing as it did with failures in the war on the drug cartels. (See my On Wikileaks, Confidential Cables and Mexico's Drug War, Mexidata, December 6, 2010).
A more recent batch of leaked cables, filtered through the El País newspaper in Spain, sheds some light on the current immigration situation.
It revealed that U.S. agents of the FBI and other agencies have been secretly allowed by the Mexican government to interrogate detained illegal aliens in Mexico. (That is, illegal aliens from countries other than Mexico who were detained by Mexican authorities).
This information is found in a secret cable sent from the U.S. embassy in Mexico City to the State Department. It's dated May 16, 2008 and its identification number is ID 154291. Here is the relevant excerpt:
"3. (S) Mexican authorities are receptive to concerns raised by foreign governments regarding potential infiltration by foreign groups, stepping up security and surveillance when circumstances warrant, investigating special interest aliens and taking action against human trafficking and smuggling operations that might be exploited by terrorists. (A March 2007 procedural change, however, has complicated this picture. Instead of holding SIAs [Special Interest Aliens, the government's term for aliens from terrorist-producing countries] in one central facility near the capital, migration authorities now detain and release such individuals where they are originally found, complicating our ability to investigate and track them. CBP [Customs and Border Patrol] has been working with senior migration officials, who are sympathetic to our concerns. On a positive note, CISEN [Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional, the Mexican CIA], which is our primary interlocutor on counterterrorism, has allowed USG [U.S. government] officers to interview foreign nationals detained at Mexican immigration detention centers dispersed around the country for potential CT [counterterrorism] information of interest.)"
(Cable Sobre el Acceso de EE UU a Los Centros de Detención Mexicanos, published by El País, January 23rd, 2011. Headline in Spanish but text in original English).
The information from 154291 was quickly denied by Salvador Beltran del Rio, the chief of Mexico's INM [Instituto Nacional de Migración, the Mexican immigration bureaucracy]. When asked if U.S. agents were interrogating migrants he said "No", and when asked if the information was false, he said "Yes".
However, Francisco Blake Mora, Interior Minister, admitted that it was true and said that these interrogations were A-OK. [Contradice INM a Segob: no se interroga a migrantes, El Universal, January 27, 2011]
Cecilia Romero, who was the head of the INM from 2006 to 2010 (and thus at the time of Cable 154291), also confirmed it. [FBI sí interrogó a inmigrantes, reconoce Romero, January 26, 2011]
So, what do we make of it? Is there a terrorist threat on our border?
Of course there is. In fact, terrorist infiltration has already been detected, but the U.S. government (or at least the Bush Administration) has been desperate to play it down.
A porous border is a porous border—and not only for Mexicans entering the U.S. It's also porous for "OTMs"—"Other than Mexicans". Not every illegal crossing the border is Mexican. (See my 2003 article Yes, Raoul, There is a Terrorist Threat from Mexico ).
Several recent border incidents underscore that fact
There was the case of the suicide bomber book. According to Fox News:
"A book celebrating suicide bombers has been found in the Arizona desert just north of the U.S.- Mexican border, authorities tell Fox News. The book, In Memory of Our Martyrs, was spotted Tuesday by a U.S. Border Patrol agent out of the Casa Grande substation who was patrolling a route known for smuggling illegal immigrants and drugs. Published in Iran, it consists of short biographies of Islamic suicide bombers and other Islamic militants who died carrying out attacks.
"According to internal U.S. Customs and Border Protection documents, 'The book also includes letters from suicide attackers to their families, as well as some of their last wills and testaments.' Each biographical page contains 'The terrorist's name, date of death, and how they died.' Agents also say that the book appears to have been exposed to weather in the desert 'for at least several days or weeks' …."
Apparently, somebody crossing the border was toting a suicide bomber book. Light reading to while away the hours? Or an instruction manual?
And it's not all that Fox reports law enforcement authorities have found:
"Authorities would not release a picture of the book to Fox News, or reveal how long they believe it was lying in the desert. Immigration officials have previously discovered items along the U.S.-Mexico border from Middle Eastern origin, including Iranian currency in Zapata, Texas, and a jacket found in Jim Hogg County, Texas, that was covered in patches including an Arabic military badge that illustrates an airplane flying into a tower."
And look where some of these illegal border crossers come from:
"Just last year, the Department of Homeland Security had in custody thousands of detainees from Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. U.S. Border Patrol statistics indicate that there were 108,025 OTMs [Other than Mexicans] detained in 2006, compared to 165,178 in 2005 and 44,614 in 2004."
[Iranian Book Celebrating Suicide Bombers Found in Arizona Desert , by William La Jeunesse, Fox News, January 27, 2011]
Another recent case: a Muslim imam being smuggled into the country in the trunk of a car. According to the U.K. Daily Mail
"U.S. border guards got a surprise when they searched a Mexican BMW and found a hard-line Muslim cleric - banned from France and Canada - curled up in the boot ["Boot" is British English for "trunk"].Said Jaziri, who called for the death of a Danish cartoonist that drew pictures of the prophet Mohammed, was being smuggled into California when he was arrested, along with his driver Kenneth Robert Lawler."[Controversial Muslim cleric caught being smuggled into U.S. over Mexico border, Daily Mail, January 28, 2011]
That incident, by the way, took place at the San Diego border crossing.
Obviously, we have a big problem with illegal immigration. But it's not only Mexicans. The growing percentage of OTMs [Other than Mexicans] crossing the border illegally is indeed a big problem and another aspect of the disaster on our border.
Interrogating suspicious illegal aliens captured in Mexico who might be involved in, or know about, terrorism is certainly a prudent thing.
But it's also an admission by our authorities that a lot of such people are getting into the United States.
Since we know that, why not put our resources and manpower where it really counts—on the border.
And we shouldn't apologize for it.
Let's seal off that border and keep those without permission—Mexican or otherwise—out of our country.
It's as simple as that.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) recently moved back to the U.S.A. after many years residing in Mexico. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.