During the Vietnam War, and probably during every war since the first caveman threw the first spear at the guy in the next cave, there has been the truth as those far away perceived things, and the truth that the man on the ground experienced.
More than once, during my time overseas, small skirmishes in which a shot or two were fired were reported as major encounters, and resounding victories over the enemy were declared in small ambushes where the only thing that got killed may have been a monkey or a hapless peasant. In reading about some of the encounters we were in, after the fact, I saw a lot more fiction than reality. I don’t know what the folks back in the air-conditioned offices someplace were talking about, but it sure wasn’t what we troops on the ground experienced. But what the heck, it looked good for the folks back home, right?
In Arizona, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu has told citizens groups and reporters that things have gotten so dangerous in his area that he is anticipating an armed conflict between his deputies and drug cartel members within the next 30 to 60 days.
Pinal County, located about 70 miles north of the Mexican border, is in the path of major drug routes. Things became so bad last year that the federal government put up signs along Interstate 8 warning drivers and hikers that they were entering an active smuggling area, and that there is a danger of encountering armed criminals.
Sheriff Babeu told the Arizona Republic newspaper that he believes a gun battle between his deputies and drug smugglers is coming, because officers are working hard to intercept the criminals as they make their way through the rugged desert terrain that is part of his area of responsibility. The Sheriff said drug gangs have posted armed guards on their smuggling routes through Pinal County.
In a public statement directed at the drug lords, Sheriff Babeu said “We have had enough. We’re going into these areas and sending a very clear message… we see you and we’re not going to let you through.”
The Sheriff’s comments followed claims by Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano that violent crime is down by 30 percent in American border counties since the Southwest Border Initiative began in March, 2009. Napolitano also said that, thanks to increased manpower and better technology, arrests are down 36 percent on the border, claiming that the government’s actions have proven to be a strong deterrent to criminals from south of the border.
Babeu, an outspoken critic of Napolitano, says she is downplaying border violence and is divorced from reality. “The border is not more secure than before, and this problem hasn’t gone away,” Babeu told reporters.
The sheriff says apprehensions, drug seizures and related pursuits are on the rise in Pinal County. Last year, his office reported seizing 44,189 pounds of marijuana, being involved in 335 vehicle pursuits, and making 370 calls to the Border Patrol for assistance with suspected illegal immigrants. By comparison, deputies seized 28,903 pounds of marijuana, had 142 pursuits, and called on the Border Patrol 188 times in 2007.
Still, Napolitano continues to quote unreal statistics and parrot the “all is good” party line, saying “It is inaccurate to state that the border is overrun with violence and out of control. This statement, often made only to score political points, is just plain wrong.”
Yeah, Janet, we wouldn’t want anybody misstating the facts to gain political points, would we?
I don’t know about you, but given the choice between the Washington politicians who don’t live and deal with the very real problems on our border every day, or the guy who is on the front line, fighting the battle to stem the flood of illegal drugs and aliens streaming north, I’ll believe the man on the ground every time.
Tags: Arizona, Arizona Republic newspaper, armed conflict, Armed criminals, armed guards, Attorney General Janet Napolitano, border crimes, Border Patrol, Border violence, criminals, drug cartel, drug gangs, drug lords, drug seizures, drug smugglers, gun battle, illegal immigrants, major drug routes, Mexican border, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, Sheriff deputies, small ambushes, smuggling area, Southwest Border Initiative, Vietnam War, Washington politicians