Pentagon Restricts Use -Troops in Border Drug War!

Pentagon Restricts Use -Troops in Border Drug War!
Posted by FoM on February 05, 1999 at 14:13:12 PT

The Pentagon has issued new rules requiring special permission for armed border anti-drug patrols, a move that experts predict all but ends the use of military personnel in such operations.
 Military anti-drug border missions henceforth will not take place as a matter of course, but only with the specific permission of the Secretary of Defense or his deputy, according to DOD spokesman Lt. Col. Mike Milord. The Pentagon first proposed ending its border anti-drug patrols in January of last year, following the fatal shooting of Esequiel Hernandez, a high school sophomore from the border town of Redford, Texas, by camouflaged Marines on a secret anti-drug patrol. An internal Pentagon review cited "systemic failures at every level" of the fatal mission, and a report from U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), charged that the Justice and Defense departments withheld information from the criminal investigations of the case. The Hernandez shooting did not dissuade U.S. Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) from introducing legislation to increase the number of troops on the border by 10,000, from the several hundred on patrol previously. The legislation was passed 261-150 by the House of Representatives in a vote taken in September, 1997. Troop increases were opposed, however, by Rep. Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), a former Border Patrol agent, as well as the Justice and Defense departments, and the measure did not come to a vote in the Senate. Timothy Dunn, author of The Militarization of the U.S.-Mexico Border, told The Week Online, "Getting these border missions to go through the Secretary or his deputy is very significant. That's about as close as we can get to them saying, we're not going to do this, without them saying that. It is unfortunately just up to them, at their bureaucratic discretion. There's not a strong public control over it, or even public input into it, and that's unfortunate; that makes it less secure. But it is nonetheless a very significant change. And it should not have taken the loss of this boy's life to make that change." See our interview with Timothy Dunn, below. Also check out the following related links: Week Online coverage: 
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