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Federal Abuse Has No Borders

Wednesday June 25th, 2014   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 7:20am PDT   •  

USCustomsLogo_200The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a component of the Department of Homeland Security, deploys a budget of $12.9 billion, an increase of 6.45 percent from fiscal year 2013. CBP has an internal affairs division to deal with misconduct, but according to an investigation by McClatchy news service, CBP’s internal affairs division “is being investigated for falsifying documents, intentionally misplacing employee complaints and bungling misconduct reports as part of a cover-up to mask its failure to curb employee wrongdoing.”

The investigation deals with “recurring accusations that Customs and Border Protection personnel have abused migrants, including children, taken bribes and conspired with drug cartels.” One CPB official told Marisa Taylor and Franco Ordonez of McClatchy’s Washington bureau, “There were so many allegations of wrongdoing involving the internal affairs division you’d need a flow chart to sort them all out. It’s insane because this division is supposed to be looking into employee misconduct, yet it is being accused of the very same corruption it is supposed to be investigating.” The problems are not limited to the border region but showed up in Miami, Detroit, Dallas, Houston and San Francisco.

The Obama administration has removed James Tomsheck, a former Secret Service agent who has headed the CBP internal affairs division since 2006. But as Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times observed, Tomsheck was not fired. Rather, “He was given a temporary assignment in another job in Customs and Border Protection, which is the parent agency of the Border Patrol.” Bennett also noted a 2013 study by the Police Executive Research Forum that criticized CBP for lack of diligence in investigating incidents of deadly force. “Agency officials prevented lawmakers from seeing its conclusions,” but the study was leaked to reporters.

The CBP thus confirms that abuse of power and bureaucratic obstructionism do not stop with the IRS, NSA, EPA and VA. Indeed, in the federal government they have no borders.

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June 2014