Do We Still Need Our Armed Forces When We Don’t Secure Our Own Borders?

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By Michael W. Cutler

Mike is a Senior Fellow with CAPS and retired INS Senior Special Agent. During his 30-year career with the INS he rotated through all of the squads within the Investigations Branch. He was assigned to the Unified Intelligence Division of the DEA and for 10 years was assigned, as an INS Senior Special Agent, to the Organized Crime, Drug Enforcement Task Force. He has testified at numerous hearings conducted by committees and subcommittees of the House and Senate and provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission.

He hosts "The Michael Cutler Hour" on USA Talk Radio Fridays at 7 p.m. (EST) and is frequently interviewed by broadcast media on various aspects of immigration issues, especially the nexus to national security.

The writer's views are his own.

August 6, 2011

Why does our nation have military services?  Why are we spending so much money on nuclear-powered submarines--both the "boomers" the huge submarines that carry ballistic missiles and the attack submarines that are supposed to hunt down and destroy vessels of adversarial nations?

Why do we have nuclear aircraft carriers--the floating airfields for supersonic fighter aircraft, and the battle groups that accompany them to oceans across the planet?

Why do we have stealth bombers?

Why do we have tanks and other land-based weapons?

You may wonder why I am asking these questions, but I hope that you will quickly see that I have not become a pacifist or a foe of our military.  In fact, I am in awe of the gallantry demonstrated by America's soldiers of all of our military services who routinely go in harm's way on behalf of our nation and our citizens.  Our nation owes these Americans a debt that can never be fully repaid.

I have always believed that successful negotiations should always be conducted from a position of strength and our military certainly provides our nation with considerable strength when dealing with adversaries.

The point is that our military is supposed to exist to protect our nation from our enemies.

Here is the problem: Our nation's borders only exist on maps., and in reality often serve as little more than "speed bumps" that fail to deter unknown millions of illegal aliens whose true identities, backgrounds, possible affiliation with criminal and/or terrorist organizations are unknown and unknowable.

When our troops headed for Iraq, in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 they were accompanied by our United States Border Patrol agents and especially by members of the elite BORTAC Units.  Our military officers certainly understood that it was absolutely essential that the borders of Iraq be secured against the entry of insurgents and terrorists to protect our troops and the civilian population of Iraq.  Our military leaders certainly understood that national security, at least for Iraq depended on border security!

Why then were the borders of the United States not similarly protected?

The purpose of an effective military force is to prevent adversaries from attacking the country for which that military serves.  Generally the military mission is carried out at great distances from the nation they protect.  These operations my well take these valiant soldiers to the far corners of the globe.  However, if the goal is to prevent the bad guys from attacking our nation- with an open border and millions of foreign nationals present in our country, how is our government planning to protect our nation and our citizens from terrorists, spies and transnational gang members that may act cooperatively with one another against the best interests of our nation?

What many Americans may not know is how eight German soldiers were apprehended in the United States during the Second World War.

Here are the first several paragraphs of this fascinating account of this case that could have served as the script for a James Bond film:

George John Dasch and the Nazi Saboteurs

 

Shortly after midnight on the morning of June 13, 1942, four men landed on a beach near Amagansett, Long Island, New York from a German submarine, clad in German uniforms and bringing ashore enough explosives, primers, and incendiaries to support an expected two-year career in the sabotage of American defense-related production. On June 17, 1942, a similar group landed on Ponte Vedra Beach, near Jacksonville, Florida, equipped for a similar career in industrial disruption.

 

The purpose of the invasions was to strike a major blow for Germany by bringing the violence of war to our home ground through destruction of America's ability to manufacture vital equipment and supplies and transport them to the battlegrounds of Europe; to strike fear into the American civilian population; and to diminish the resolve of the United States to overcome our enemies.

 

By June 27, 1942, all eight saboteurs had been arrested without having accomplished one act of destruction. Tried before a military commission, they were found guilty. One was sentenced to life imprisonment, another to 30vyears, and six received the death penalty, which was carried out within a few days.

 

The magnitude of the euphoric expectation of the Nazi war machine may be judged by the fact that, in addition to the large amount of material brought ashore by the saboteurs, they were given $175,200 in United States currency to finance their activities. On apprehension, a total of $174,588 was recovered by the FBI—the only positive accomplishment of eight trained saboteurs in those two weeks was the expenditure of $612 for clothing, meals, lodging, and travel, as well as a bribe of $260.

 

So shaken was the German intelligence service that no similar sabotage attempt was ever again made. The German naval high command did not again allow a valuable submarine to be risked for a sabotage mission.

 

This fascinating FBI report contained many more facts- and, in some ways, what happened back then, closely parallels the way that our nation faces the threat of terrorist attacks today.  Consider how we have seen instances where immigrants from Middle Eastern countries have been enticed into attending training camps in the Middle East to learn how to attack the United States.

Consider these three additional paragraphs:

 

During the early months of the war, the major contributions of the United States to oppose the Nazi war machine involved industrial production, equipment, and supplies furnished to those forces actively defending themselves against the German armed forces. That industrial effort was strong enough to generate frustration, perhaps indignation, among the Nazi high command; and the order was given, allegedly by Hitler himself, to mount a serious effort to reduce American production.

German intelligence settled on sabotage as the most effective means of diminishing our input. In active charge of the project was Lieutenant Walter Kappe, attached to Abwehr-2 (Intelligence 2) who had spent some years in the United States prior to the war and had been active in the German-American Bund and other efforts in the United States to propagandize and win adherents for Nazism among German Americans and German immigrants in America. Kappe was also an official of the Ausland Institute, which, prior to the war, organized Germans abroad into the Nationalsozialistiche Deutshe Arbeiterpartei, the NSDAP or Nazi Party, and during the conflict, Ausland kept track of and in touch with persons in Germany who had returned from abroad. Kappe's responsibility concerned those who had returned from the United States.

Early in 1942, he contacted, among others, those who ultimately undertook the mission to the United States. Each consented to the task, apparently willingly, although unaware of the specific assignment. Most of the potential saboteurs were taken from civilian jobs, but two were in the German army.

The apprehension of these eight would-be saboteurs prevented a potentially serious attack against our nation.

On September 11, 2001 our nation was attacked by 19 terrorists who inflicted as many immediate casualties on our nation as were inflicted by the Japanese Navy on our nation at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  (I use the term "immediate casualties" because thousands of more victims were made ill by the toxins they were exposed to when the World Trade Center collapsed.  Many more victims died as a result of their exposure to these toxins and others have suffered horrible debilitating illnesses from those same toxins.)

In the aftermath of the attack at Pearl Harbor, our nation quickly geared up to meet the enemy head on. No challenge was too great!  Fleets of naval ships of all sorts were rushed into production.  "Liberty Ships" were produced in record numbers and in mere weeks to keep the sea lanes open to Europe to ferry supplies to our allies and our troops.  Fleets of aircraft were constructed such as the B-17, B-24, B-25 and B-29 bombers with now legendary names such as the "Flying Fortress," "Liberator" and "Super Fortress" rolling off the production lines along with a wide array of fighter aircraft including the storied P-51 Mustang.  With available labor in such short supply, American women took up tools on the production lines to build those planes. This was how the nickname "Rosie the Riveter" came to be!

Working in close cooperation with our allies, radar installations were produced and aircraft carriers were, for the first time, equipped with steam-driven catapults to hurl heavy aircraft skyward.

Our nation rushed the first nuclear weapons into production with brand new and unproven technology.

No challenge was too great, no obstacle was too high!

"Can do!" became America's resounding motto!

In all of 44 months the war was over!

Today when surveys are conducted and our high school graduates are asked about the Second World War, many cannot even identify the countries America and her allies defeated.  This is not only shameful but worrisome.  The study of history can prevent us from making the same costly mistakes repeatedly.  Where national security is concerned, the costs that are run up are both green and red.

Today our nation's "War on Terror" grinds on.  Expectations of privacy and freedom that had been considered the birthright of every American citizen under the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution has become so diluted that it barely exists- all in the name of national security.

Yet our borders don't protect our nation from the entry of unknown millions of illegal aliens and those among them who may be terrorists and criminals, and their cargos of contraband that may well include weapons of mass destruction.

Our dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy offers little resistance to aliens who are intent on gaming that inept and corrupt system and many of our nation's politicians appear literally hell-bent on offering United States citizenship to illegal aliens who cannot substantiate their true identities or anything else of real significance about them.

I began what I hope will be a thought-provoking commentary by asking about why we spend so much money on our military services and send so many of our young men and women in harm's way.  The point to be made is that on September 11, 2001 all of our soldiers, ships, aircraft and other extremely costly hardware was utterly unable to prevent a horrific attack on our nation when terrorists, not unlike the Imperial Japanese Navy killed approximately three thousand innocent victims.  There are significant differences, however.  I have been to Pearl Harbor and it is a beautiful place- but at the time of the attack nearly 70 years ago, Hawaii was not even a state of the United States.

On September 11, 2001 the attacks were carried out in our nation's Capitol and in our nation's, and the world's, financial capital that the World Trade Center represented.

Once terrorists or saboteurs enter the United States, our military cannot do anything to stop them.  Certainly our fighter planes might be able to shoot down a hijacked airliner, if there is time, but even then there will be many casualties on the plane and on the ground and hence, the goal of the terrorists will have been accomplished--to strike fear in our population.

The securing of our nation's borders and the creation of an immigration system that has real integrity and hence prevents terrorists and transnational criminals from entering our country and then successfully embedding themselves in our country must be seen as an adjunct to the valiant efforts of those who wear the uniforms of our armed services.

In the film, "The Godfather," Al Pacino's character famously advises, "Keep your friends close, your enemies closer."  In point of fact that bit of advice was first provided around 400 B.C. by a famous Chinese general Sun-tzu in his book, "The Art of War."

The advice is worth remembering, but not if you think "keeping our enemies closer" means we should allow our enemies to enter our country.

The resolve of our gallant members of our nation's armed forces must be matched by the resolve of our nation's leaders to protect our nation, up close and in person, where our nation's borders and immigration system are concerned.

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