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Mark Rivera

FBI-CJIS Security Policy Compliance Officer

Mark Rivera, Customer Retention Manager and CJIS Security Compliance Officer with Vigilant Solutions, served for sixteen years with the Maryland State Police, retiring at the rank of First Sergeant with thirteen of those years at the supervisory and command level. He holds a Master of Science Degree in Management from The Johns Hopkins University and Secret clearance through the FBI, Baltimore.

Columns : Editorial

Dear Mr. President

You have to do a lot more to protect your federal officers than send cabinet members to funerals.

April 11, 2011  |  by - Also by this author


Your predecessor Harry S. Truman famously had a sign on his desk that read: "The Buck Stops Here." For Truman it was a reminder that whatever problem faced the United States, it was his decision and his responsibility.

In truth it's actually kind of unfair to blame a president for everything. But unfortunately for everyone who has ever sat behind the so aptly named Resolute desk, one of the badges of your office is a big sign that says: "It's All My Fault."

President Obama, your federal agents are dying in the field. And it's because you're not taking care of your troops.

Whether they carry the title of agent, officer, or marshal, your federal officers are being sent into the teeth of a war without weapons and with rules of engagement written by fools. Worse, one of your agencies tasked with the job of keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals has actually been supplying those criminals with weapons.

Let's look at the savage and totally unnecessary deaths of two federal officers under your command and under the command of Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano.

On the night of Dec. 14, U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian A. Terry was shot and killed near Nogales, Ariz. Terry was a member of an elite tactical unit called BORTAC.

Around 11:15 p.m. in Peck Canyon, Terry's unit happened upon a group of illegal border crossers, including men armed with AK-47 rifles. The BORTAC officers ordered the men to drop their weapons. And when they didn't, the officers opened fire on them with...bean bags.

How is that sound tactics?

The only conclusion that one can draw from this incident is that the BORTAC officers were under strict orders not to use deadly force unless fired upon. And only a bureaucrat who has never been in a life-threatening situation could have composed such a policy. Which means the order came from Ms. Napolitano or the desk jockeys on her staff.

For some inexplicable reason, the law of the land, as set by Graham v. Connor, no longer applied to the Border Patrol. They couldn't use deadly force on the reasonable belief that they were facing serious injury or death; they had to wait until being fired upon and first engage with less-lethal force.

Which may have even escalated the situation. You see, Mr. President, when cops open fire on bad guys with shotguns in the dark of night, those guys are going to shoot back. They have no way of knowing the cops are only firing bean bags.

So you sent Brian Terry on a dangerous mission in a dark Arizona canyon with all the weapons of his office and didn't allow him to defend himself until it was too late. But at least he was luckier than Immigration and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Jaime Zapata. At least Terry was armed when his life was endangered by misguided federal policy.

On Feb. 15, Zapata and another ICE agent were working in central Mexico when they were ambushed by the Los Zetas cartel. Zapata was killed and the other officer was wounded. Neither officer returned fire.

And for a very good reason. They and all of the other American federal officers in Mexico are unarmed. Because they are advisors and the Mexicans don't want them armed. You and Secretary Napolitano have endorsed these rules. But you asked the Mexican government to provide more security for your officers.

Mexican "security" is a misnomer, Mr. President. These guys are poorly paid, and the cartels can back up dump trucks full of Benjamins, pay them off, and kill every American officer they want to. I ask you, Mr. President, would you leave the Secret Service behind and rely on Mexican security for your safety next time you're in Mexico City?

It's bad enough that you are sending brave men and women into the Border War with no guns and hazy rules of engagement. But now we recently learned that Agent Terry was killed with a gun that the ATF let "walk" into Mexico. To trace gun runners, the ATF, which is commanded by Attorney General Holder — despite protests from its agents — has been letting known death merchants sell to the cartels.

Mr. President, you need to kick some butts and take some heads. Namely, Napolitano and Holder.

I know that firing people is unpleasant and it makes headlines you don't want. But the first duty of the President of the United States is to protect the American people. The second is to protect the men and women who provide that security and give them the policies and the tools to do their jobs. You wear that "It's All My Fault" sign. And if you didn't want it, you should have stayed the junior senator from Illinois.

Related:

Use of Force on Prisoners

Border Patrol Agent Shot, Killed in Southern Arizona

Napolitano Unaware of ICE Agent's Link to Letting Guns 'Walk'


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