National Security

Border Patrol Union President Targeted for Criticizing Lax Directive and Condemning Corruption, Claims DHS Retaliating

“Just a few weeks ago, [Secretary] Kelly stripped ICE agents of their independent enforcement authority by implementing a new policy that requires a supervisor’s permission to issue a detainer for illegal aliens suspected of crimes.”

Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC) and its 18,000-member union, is being investigated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Inspector General (OIG) for condemning corruption and for criticizing a directive pertaining to voluntarily leaving a 40-mile stretch of Canadian border territory unsecured, vulnerable, and counter to President Trump’s executive orders delineating national security initiatives.

With the seeming enormous success rate being achieved at our nation’s southern border fringe, supplemented by reports that illegal crossings have abated significantly, one would think that DHS would want to enforce the same policies along the northern border as well. Instead, DHS ordered Border Patrol agents to forfeit patrolling a stretch of our northern border where Canada meets Montana, leaving it open like a barn door.

As has been reported previously on OpsLens, the sheer volume of agents required to carry out the border security mission is significant, and the Trump administration has allocated $374 million to pillar our national security sovereignty. Albeit grateful for the federal dollars to adequately equip and effectuate the enormous job, the NBPC and its union delegates acknowledge how arduous it is going to be to fill all the requisite agent slots.

In its press release, the Border Patrol emphasized “the eight years of under-investment from the Obama Administration” while also recognizing the “already more than 1,700 Agents below the congressionally mandated floor of 21,370 agents and [how] the lack of manpower is already impacting Border Patrol operations. Adding an additional 5,000 agents will be a logistical challenge, but will have a tremendous impact on border security.”

So, by virtue of understaffed ranks, is it implicit that DHS is cutting corners by choosing the Montana/Canada borderline as a low-priority region? Perhaps, but they also know quite well that criminal syndicates have their own ubiquitous spotters and logistical plans, and will readily seize upon any unmonitored avenue to peddle contraband for their economic riches. For cartels, the fallout in America is of no concern whatsoever.

To take up the fight, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has kicked around some rather unorthodox ideas to fill the thousands of agent vacancies. Nevertheless, filling the roles is essential and failure to do so only emboldens bad elements who take advantage of outlandish directives such as not plugging holes in our border.

Despite the hiring push for new blood, old ways still pollute the air.

“Corruption Chronicles”

In its “Corruption Chronicles” blog, Judicial Watch, whose mantra “Because No One Is Above the Law” illuminates things such as this, chomped on this morsel and posted intriguing findings. Via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, JW watchdog attorneys opened their own review of the DHS investigation of union President Brandon Judd and cited the following synopsis:

“National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for reporting corruption and misconduct in agency management, including a disturbing order issued to officers [agents] directing them not to patrol a vulnerable stretch of the northern border with Canada. Judicial Watch has obtained government documents and interviewed numerous sources with direct knowledge of the situation, which appears retaliatory.”

In a nutshell, Border Patrol union-chief Brandon Judd feels Obama-era holdovers still occupying roles in CBP’s upper-echelon managing the swath of the Montana/Canada border section in-question are immersed in corrupt practices rooted during the prior administration. Moreover, field agents patrolling the border believe lax, sanctuary-friendly border policies stemming from the Obama administration are still in-play and largely enforced by Border Patrol managers who filled supervisory roles before the Trump presidency.

Breitbart Texas purports to have an exclusive with border agents directly involved in this border impasse and conveys some gut-rending testimonials from rank-and-file federal agents who, by seeming consensus, back union President Judd. Addressing the do-not-enforce-this-sector order, an anonymous front-line agent summed it up well: “Criminal cartels exploit our weaknesses on a daily basis and they’re certainly going to exploit such a large area of open and unpatrolled border.”

Another unidentified border agent said: “From a border security standpoint, this directive makes no sense, but there has to be a reason so I don’t think it’s a far stretch to conclude it’s due to corruption.”

Any DHS directive to leave vulnerable any stretch of border is tantamount to shooting ourselves in the foot. One wonders whether the order stems from the deficiency in border agent staffing levels. It is wise to assume the drug cartels monitor federal agency press releases and any information pertinent to border security (or lack thereof). Therefore, a publicized point-of-access in our country’s defenses becomes gold bullion for the lords of criminal enterprise to capitalize on. If we invite trouble in, trouble will surely arrive. If we wave a white flag to poison, poison will flow.

Acting with integrity and moral character, Border Patrol Union President Judd concisely telegraphed what is brewing behind closed border doors when he posited that when managers are permitted to investigate same-level managers for wrongdoing, findings culminate in “no cause of wrongdoing found.” Hence he purports the wall of silence in more ways than one: Corrupt border patrol managers cover for each other while an unsecured border section is left vulnerable by order of those same seemingly nefarious managers.

As Judd put it, “Managers who sit behind a desk and never patrol the border should never dictate operations and policy, otherwise, this is what you get.” I agree with his message, but I do not hesitate to include that these managers have field experience, and are likely compelled by twists and binds in the political realm, not necessarily lacking situational awareness.

In Judd’s own words, “I believe [DHS] Secretary Kelly’s constant praise of former [Obama DHS] Secretary Jeh Johnson is an endorsement of his open border policies. There are so many good managers in the Border Patrol, but when Secretary Kelly condones his predecessor’s failures, he opens the door for the bad managers to act like this and bring shame on the entire organization.”

So, with his candid and forthright views about potential mismanagement at the very least, and embedded corruption at the most…union President Judd echoes his and rank-and-file sentiments of a monumental law enforcement undertaking being hampered by old-school folks urinating on President Trump’s Border Security Executive Order.

There is no arguing against what, why and who rankles rank-and-file agents who are immersed in a vastly dangerous and perpetually unfriendly climate with bulls-eyes on their backs. When it is from within, no cop can be conscionably settled to perform duty while an administrative belch is lodged in the operational throat. Cops struggle when leadership heads are wittingly buried in sand. Potential perils arise and shackles are around the wrong wrists.

It is an all-or-nothing package. Like anything else in law enforcement practices and principles, you give a full throttle with whatever resources are available. And when logistics seem insurmountable, you try harder, steadfastly, without relinquishing any operational controls. The bad guys notice things like this Montana/Canada border thing, and they enjoy the buffet of watching cops with otherwise-preventable egg-on-face. Emboldening the bad guys is not what the Border Patrol is intended to do.

When any operational deficiencies beckon attention, someone must sound the trumpet…perhaps like Judd chose to do.

And for his part he is being blacklisted and investigated by his own superiors instead of being heralded for his integrity in bringing truth to the fore. After all, his sacred oath is to the United States of America, not ostensibly-wayward managers at CBP and its parent agency, Homeland Security.

It is the DHS’s contention that Judd betrayed his authority. Homeland Security started investigating him for “unauthorized disclosure of law enforcement information.” In essence, DHS’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) was charged with examining whether Judd—in his whistleblower revelations—did in fact expose specifics of where the border remains unsecured.

It appears Judd mentioned a 40-mile portion within a “456 linear miles of international border” range. Touching upon that in a riveting legal representation letter, NBPC attorneys stipulated that, regardless of whether Judd did or did not expose exact locations of vulnerable border area, any perceived “disclosures were protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act (WPA) as well as the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act (WPEA).”

Via the NBPC legal team representing Judd, rebuttal argues he never specified where the 40-mile stretch of exposed territory is, and that DHS and CBP upper-echelon are retaliating for blowing the whistle on publicizing weaknesses in national security and those responsible for directives causing such public safety hazards.

It is amazing how some administrators choose to use their time when they are body-checked by a hard-charging player.

History of Corruption

Portions of a recent article here on OpsLens discussed the sordid history of corruption in the Border Patrol. Indeed, the dangers are prevalent whereas handsome salaries are not. Nevertheless, there is no justification to betray an oath. However, some have gone to the dark side, became a failsafe for crime syndicates, and bedded with drug cartels while lining their pockets with criminal currency.

In the context we are analyzing here, it seems some in the mix of management may be discomfited for some reason.

Did Judd’s astute concentration and vigor in publicizing definitive flaws in CBP policies and directives effectively jab at a beehive?

Is the larger story here that Mr. Judd, a federal agent, felt compelled to highlight wrongdoing amounting to huge political implications…or that a breach in our nation’s border is unsecure and we are fully aware of that fact? Is this related to the significant staff shortages we already acknowledged, or does it stem from a politicized phantom in the closet keen on tripping-up immigration enforcement?

But Wait, There’s More

In a related corruption-based pursuit also spearheaded by Judicial Watch, DHS Secretary John Kelly reportedly ordered ICE agents in Nogales, Arizona to “negotiate” with illegal immigrants in that particular border crossing sector. In a JW press release dated June 16, 2017, the following activities transpired with enormous implications:

“Upon crossing the border, the group of illegal immigrants entered what the feds refer to as a ‘Samaritan camp,’ according to a Border Patrol official who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s management team.”

The JW findings included that, “Instead of entering the [Samaritan camp] property as legally allowed and removing the illegal aliens, agents were ordered to ‘negotiate’ with the occupants.”

A very telling tidbit mimicking the stretch of unsecured Montana/Canada border scenario is as follows:

“Veteran agents say, that although [President] Trump promised to toughen up security along the porous and increasingly violent Mexican border, for unknown reasons his DHS secretary continues to implement Obama sanctuary policies. There is a great concern among rank-and-file agents that these passive, limited enforcement policies increase the risk to agents and decrease the deterrence of the Trump border strategy. Just a few weeks ago, [Secretary] Kelly stripped Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents of their independent enforcement authority by implementing a new policy that requires a supervisor’s permission to issue a detainer for illegal aliens suspected of crimes.”

Here again, we have a field agent witnessing what appears to be anti-border security activity, per DHS orders. That same enforcement agent also fears retaliation for publicizing national security misdeeds. A growing trend in regression? Perhaps. Is this symbolic of Obama holdovers undermining President Trump’s executive orders? Will he nip it in the bud? I suspect we’ll find out soon enough, since Judicial Watch attorneys are always on top of their game, no matter who the players are.

We have plenty of leakers lately. We also have whistleblower laws in place? We have public servants like Judd, and some others under the blanket of anonymity, who are signaling national security woes at risk to themselves, like-minded federal agents, and the American public. How do you see this crack in the wall? Do we need to ramp-up our swamp-draining efforts? Are Obama’s fingers still in the American fridge?

Stephen Owsinski

Stephen Owsinski is a Senior OpsLens Contributor and retired law enforcement officer whose career included assignments in the Uniformed Patrol Division and Field Training Officer (FTO) unit. He is currently a researcher and writer. Follow Stephen on Twitter @uniformblue.

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