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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'

Tags: U.S.-Mexico Border, Barack Obama, Mexican Drug Cartels


Comments (17)

Displaying 1 - 17 of 17

Willaim Ames @ 4/11/2011 4:41 AM

Dear Mr. Editor,

I read the editorial with an "open mind". With all due respect, it sounds like a powder puff fight. This president has reneged on a large portion of his campaign promises, has appointed dubious candidates for strategic positions of national security, and is more interested in his socialist agenda with his Politburo henchmen, Pelosi and Reid, more than protecting his police officers or the vast majority of Americans.
So as I sit hear cleaning off my computer screen of spit-out coffee after reading "Mr. President, you need to kick some butts and take some heads. Namely, Napolitano and Holder " in the editorial, I'm convinced your either being NAIVE, politically correct or a big dose of both.
You will not convince me that this year's rash of Police Killings in the United States DOES NOT have it's roots in this administrations UTTER contempt for it's Military, and Law Enforcement.
Quite frankly any foolish policy, decision, or order that Holder or Napolitano or any other political hack appointed by this President makes, does not surprise the MAJORITY of your readers. Come on MR. EDITOR, take off the gloves, you're not running for re-election.

Al Dion @ 4/11/2011 8:08 AM

Dear Mr. Griffith, Please tell us that this is not just an editorial in this webzine/ezine and that you did actually send this as a formal letter to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW. If not, the only people who see and read it will be all of us who visit policemag.com, having the same mentality as you, agree with you & understand that something has to be done fro the top down. God Bless & Drive On!!

Jeffrey @ 4/11/2011 6:09 PM

About time you cops speak up to Obama's weakness!! Obama is just steamrolling over you with psuedo promises! Wake up! Enuf said!

Morning Eagle @ 4/11/2011 8:33 PM

The theme of your editorial is well taken and comprised of things that need to be aired publicly. But I must agree with Mr. Ames. You are far too polite and addressing that fraud living the White House as Mr. P.......t is impossible for me to swallow. Most people are not aware of many of the utterly stupid policies coming from Washington that are effectively hamstringing field operations and increasing the deadly danger already faced daily by agents on the border as they go up against people that have no rules of engagement. Those ridiculous policies and all those who insist on adherence to them are clearly responsible for the needless deaths and other injuries that have been inflicted on our officers by the lawless scum that are invading our country every day.

Holder and Napolitano should have never been appointed in the first place but they are doing their part to advance the destructive socialist agenda of their fearless leader so you know he will not fire either of them. In addition, not only will obama never take any responsibility for this situation, he could not care any less about what happens to field officers because of rules imposed by bureaucrats sitting in a nice office safely inside a well guarded facility back east. He has never had to work at a real job and the same goes for many of those writing the rules that are costing lives and everlasting grief to the surviving families.

Bernie @ 4/11/2011 8:40 PM

Perhaps the President's Secret Service agents should follow the same rules of engagement. If a threat is made on the President - say someone gets close to the President and points a gun at the Commander-in-Chief, the Secret Service can only yell "drop the gun." If the offend refuses, the agents can only try to subdue him/her with less than lethal. Only after the offender actually shoots at the President can they use lethal force. I would propose that the President be exposed to such a scenario for training purposes. He would not be informed when such an training exercise would take place or even that it was a training scenario. The mock "assassin" could pull a gun, the Agents would ask him kindly to rethink his position or they might need to use the power of persuasion to dissuade him. He would fire a blank, and the Agents would go into action. After the Commander-in-Chief had a chance to change is undies, perhaps a proposal to change the rules of engagement might be presented to him.

Bernie @ 4/11/2011 8:52 PM

After I posted my earlier comment, I have changed my mind. I am sorry to have insulted my fellow officers with such an improper attitude toward the President. So, I will correct my prior posting by saying "The Commander-in-Chief should be presented with a proposed change in the rules of engagement BEFORE he has a chance to change his undies."

wolfva @ 4/11/2011 9:44 PM

The President's former cheif of staff was famously quoted as saying, "Never let a good crisis go to waste." Meaning, when a crisis occurs use it to your best political advantage. Saddly, to this administration Agent Terry is just a good crisis that they haven't let go to waste by blaming his death on America's 'gun culture' as opposed to the reality that he died because of asinine rules of engagement and his own Government supplying his executioners with the weapon of his demise. This President will do nothing that does not benefit him and his party politically. And he will do so secure in the misguided belief that what is good for him is good for the country, and even the world. After all, when he was elected did not the oceans recede and the Earth itself begin to heal?

Rick @ 4/12/2011 9:16 AM

He doesn't care; he's spent $2 million to hide his travel records on an Indonesian passport, his birth certificate and his social security number that belongs to a dead guy. Once he's done running the country into the ground to promote socialism/communism, he'll probably merge us into an American Union like the EU and the African Union.

Big South @ 4/12/2011 12:44 PM

There is no need to argue with you all. I have been a police officer for 8 years and a long time reader of Police mag. Most of the comments made are so full of hatred. I understand everyone is entitled to their opinion, but most of the resposes have so much hate for minorities and demacrats.

Deadman @ 4/12/2011 1:37 PM

Napolitano is just another name for Reno,remember her?Don't just look at obama,look at the moronic supervisor that instructed his men to load the shotguns with beanbags or for that matter to even use shotguns,they should have had assault rifles.Keep voting for this numbskull and there were be more bodybags.Tell your unions to stop throwing money at them,they're not in your corner.The next time,an officer gets killed because of federal policies,government mandated policies or F.B.I. dictated to local police department R.O.E.somebody on that department should grow a pair and speak out to the local media and point fingers at them.

Bernie @ 4/12/2011 6:43 PM

Deadman, I was a police officer for 21 years and and am now retired. I worked the jail, dispatch, county sheriff and then finally city cop. I have a life subscription to police magazine and have read it consistently since the early 1980's, when ever it first came out. I don't see any racial bias in these comments. Nor is a political party mentioned that I remember reading. The President's policies are what have been objected to - strenuously. Tell me: do you agree with a policy that requires officers to first be fired upon before using lethal force. If during your next traffic stop, the driver gets out, pulls a handgun, points it at you and then starts charging toward you, you would agree with a policy that says you must wait until he fires a round in your direction before you can defend yourself? If one of your fellow officers got killed during your next shift, when he or she was standing next to you, because of a policy handed down by someone who has never worked the street, would you be at least a little perturbed by that? I am not full of hatred, but its policies like these that helped me to decide to retire, so that I can still be in one piece today and read the next issue of Police.

Sheriff Frank J Provenzan @ 4/17/2011 7:29 AM

David,

I read some comments and feel it is a waste of time to send your "Great" letter to 1600 Penn. Ave. It should be email and sent to our Congressman, only the ones that care for the men and woman who are protecting this country. And I just heard Napolitano on TV this morning stating that our southern border is safer then ever. More B.S.

PS. I am suprised he didn't give rubber bullets to my son when he served 2 tours in Iraq.

Harvey Macy @ 4/17/2011 2:28 PM

This is an atrocity and this man and his appointees should be charged with negligent homicide and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This is what our world has come to. These no good, good for nothing's would rather give illegals in state tuition and free health caare than take care of our law enforcement community. Then they have the nerve to show up as the speaker at National Police Week. This is how it really is.

Deep Undercover @ 4/20/2011 5:17 PM

The tacked thread at the link below has the ATF's Phoenix Division's insider view of operations "Fast & Furious" and "Gunrunner".

cleanupatf.org/forums/index.php?/forum/3-discussion/

Ima Leprechaun @ 4/26/2011 5:08 PM

Here's the problem with this one sided Editorial view. While George W Bush was President 1,626 Police Officers were killed in the line of duty. Not at any time did Mr Griffith wonder why President Bush did nothing in those 8 years to help Law Enforcement officers from being massacred on our City Streets. It's Cops like this that give us all a bad name! No wonder the public thinks we can't be fair, when we are so easily blinded by conservative BS!

TimFromLA @ 7/12/2011 4:21 PM

I share your concerns for LEO safety, but with the Republican Congress holding up the budget in order to have a Republican in the White House, Congress and SCOTUS, your aim (no pun intended) falls short. The President is not responsible for budgeting the DOJ which in turn, budgets the LEOs. http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/10/25/126242/mcconnell-obama-one-term/ So by making Obama a one-term president, he will vote no on everything Obama asks fir which includes fudning the DOJ which funds you.

Go after the Republicans in Congress, not the president

TimFromLA @ 7/12/2011 4:28 PM

Socialist agenda? What are you people talking about? It is OUR tax money that pays for your equipment. It is our taxes that pay for your training. It is our tax money that pays for your POST certification. We the People COLLECTIVELY (a socialist terminology) pay to keep OUR LEO functioning. It is our tax money that funds tyyour medical. It is our tax money that pays for the funeral services. It is our tax money that pays for your retirement. YOU ARE ALL SOCIALISTS! And I am willing to double my taxes to make sure this continues. But if you're offended by my comments, well guess what? Resign from your SOCIALIST LEO. Drop your SOCIALIST UNION we are funding. Take away your SOCIALIST PENSION that tax payers are paying for and join Blackwater or Halliburton and put your SOCIALIST retirement in the stock market. No? Then please, do not misconstrue socialism as a bad thing

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