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Were Chertoff’s Recent Comments Another Attempt to Equate the Undocumented with Terrorists?

LatinaLista — The blogosphere is “abuzz” with the comments made yesterday by Secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.
It seems the Secretary, during face-time with the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune, stated matter-of-factly that the United States was under increased risk of terrorist attack this summer — based on a “gut feeling” he had and past summer attack trends of Al-Qaeda.
The White House was quick to denounce Chertoff’s gut.
Maybe it was coincidence, or one of those ironic things again (see previous post) that happens in life, but funny that Chertoff should make such a statement when he was in town to address the national conference of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).

At his appearance before the membership of LULAC, Chertoff made it clear that there would be no moratorium on the immigration raids being conducted across the country.
He again made the expected comment that the United States could suffer a terrorist attack.
“We can’t have a safe country without a secure border,” Chertoff told the LULAC audience.
Of course, the implication is that if there was an attack, it would be because the terrorists were able to sneak across the US-Mexico border with all the others who sneak across the border.
Somehow, I get the distinct feeling that Chertoff is trying to link the undocumented for enabling terrorists to slip into the country.
Though domestic terrorism tied to al-Queda is a serious threat, it’s curious that analysts and the White House aren’t taking Chertoff’s comments more seriously. In fact, as someone whose “gut feelings” should be paid attention to, after all, he IS the Secretary of Homeland Security, he’s just not getting any respect.
One person that seems to be yawning at Chertoff’s statement is David Heyman, Homeland Security Program Director at the Center for International and Strategic Studies. He said:

It is being widely reported that Secretary Chertoff has a “gut feeling”—not intelligence reports—about a potential terrorist attack against the United States this summer. The historical data do not substantiate the Secretary’s comments.
It’s important that we base our threat assessments and analysis on available intelligence and other information, not guesswork or ‘gutwork’. Of the 33 or so Al Qaeda inspired or linked attacks since the 1993 First World Trade Center bombing, most (20 out of 33 or 60%) occurred in the fall or spring, not the summer (see attached chart).
It’s also very odd for Chertoff who is so disciplined with language and so pronounced on ‘risk’ based security to comment publicly this way. While there are strategic and tactical reasons why al Qaeda may pose a greater threat in the near term, it is troubling that the government is informing the public and raising concerns (and fears) based on the Secretary’s feelings, as opposed to intelligence. Public confidence in the government and skepticism over threat warnings is already low. If there’s intelligence, the Secretary should make that clear. Guesswork or ‘gutwork’ does very little to bolster confidence of an already threat-weary public.

Or of an audience whose known support of undocumented immigrants’ rights conflicts with the practiced tactics of a Departmental mission of indiscriminate sweep raids that target the least likely spots where terrorists would be plotting.

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  • Horace
    July 12, 2007 at 7:42 pm

    Can ahyone categorically say that terrorists come across the border in the guise of undocumented Latin Americans. And how about Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan dictator that hates the U.S.A. Can anyone say that this man hasn’t sent his agents by way of the the Mexican-U.S. border? Most of you only care for your own ethnic interests and are willing to overlook my country’s interest for your personal agenda. We hear nothing about the corrupt Mexican government that drives its citizens across the border in an effort to relieve itself of political pressure for internal change. None of you express concern for those in Mexico who can’t or won’t move north because the actually have affection for their country.

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