Tales of Terror
The Mexican Army and Navy … are determined to respect human rights during their operations, and have been eager to gain insights from our own hard-earned lessons in this area.
Admiral James Winnefeld, USN Commander, United States Northern Command
Sort of, like, you know, the insights the U.S. Army seems to have learned from… oh…maybe… Chapo Guzmán y Asociados, Sociedad (in)Civil?
(Rolling Stone, “The Kill Team Photos” [photo slightly modified not to gross anyone out]
Sorry to be so snarky, and I hope I didn’t ruin anyone’s breakfast with the photo (which, really shouldn’t be all that shocking to anyone who reads the Latin American press), but I don’t think people realize how serious the threat of U.S. intervention is in Mexico.
I’m rather disappointed in Bloggings by Boz for giving any sort of credence to Texas Congressman Mike McCaul’s legislative proposal to label Mexican drug transit groups, “terrorists”, but absolutely appalled that Boz supports the idea. Perhaps he’s unaware that McCaul has been trying to make a name for himself by claiming the Mexican narcotics deals are “terror-ed up” with… take your pick… Iranians, Al Qaida, Venezuelans (no doubt bent on selling oil), Fidel Castro… for years. His “dog and pony show*” Congressional “investigation” back in 2006 (“A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border“) brought him to my attention back when I wrote for the short-lived Alpine Texas “Border Hotline News”. Oh course, it wasn’t “terrorists” as defined in the law at the time, but “illegal immigrants” that could be terrorists that had McCaul’s panties in a twist.
McCaul is usually dismissed as a flake, and a xenophobe when it comes to immigration and border issues, although his district is far from the border, and has a much smaller percentage of minority residents (including “Hispanics”) than most of Texas. McCaul is identified as an “Austin” congressman, which is true… The 10th district includes a couple of square blocks within the Austin city limits, but stretches out to the north and east … being gerrymandered to create a safe seat for conservative Republicans in the 2005 Texas redistricting. He is an open supporter of the Minutemen and similar vigilante-type groups (openly referred to as “terrorists” in 2005… by FOX news, no less!)
It’s bizarre enough that McCaul is taken seriously, but this — together with the Admiral’s remarks (and the “Kill Team” revelations) might mean we have to take this seriously. Of course, anyone who reads this site knows the “drug war” has been a handy rationale for militarizing the government, and a means of preventing legitimate dissent — at the cost of consuming more government resources and activity than it deserves, but then, so has the U.S. “war on terror”. Neither has been particularly productive… except maybe to military suppliers, and their supporters.
What the Admiral is saying is that the Mexican military SHOULD, or will, be subsumed into his “Northern Command” (the U.S. military structure with responsibility, whether they like it or not, for Canada and Mexico as well as the United States) and could learn from the U.S. experience in the “war on terror”.
Boz’ argument is that “Mexican criminal organizations should be placed on the list because they use terrorism as a tactic and it would give investigators and prosecutors additional tools to fight them.” The United States Army obviously uses the same tactics, but I don’t think Boz (or anyone else) would seriously propose calling them a “terrorist organization”… .. even if their tactics in Afghanistan and Iraq (and… coming soon… Libya… include blackmail, shootouts with rivals that endanger civilians, kidnapping, leaving banners on dead bodies (as above) and … oh yeah… narcotics production. The Minuemen can be labeled “terrorists” with equal justice, but then, any group that uses criminal tactics could be. While this is a problem with a loosey-goosey ill-defined term like “terrorism” it is also an open invitation to increased miltarization in this country, even less oversight on the military and undermining what progress has been made in legal reform. Not to mention even further consuming the Mexican governance in one issue more a symptom than a cause of the nation’s present difficulties.
(On the other hand, there is something of poetic justice in the proposition that IF McCaul’s nutty idea was implemented, U.S. gun dealers would be in a heap of trouble under the PATRIOT Act and other anti-terrrorism statutes).
* The description of McCaul’s roving investigation of “terrorism” is a direct quote from Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia (at the time a Houston City Councilman) who testified at the hearing.