Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Much Ado About Almost Nothing

Has a weapon of mass effect been found by law enforcement in San Diego sometime in the past? What ever that is. Probably a bomb of some sort. Obviously not a nuclear weapon, dirty bomb, or nuclear based device.

A San Diego official's acknowledgment to a local TV reporter that "weapons of mass effect" were found in the city has local and federal authorities scrambling to explain the comment.
San Diego assistant port director Al Hallor, an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, told ABC affiliate KGTV that authorities have uncovered "weapons of mass effect" in an interview that aired Feb. 11.
"Yes," Hallor said when asked by a reporter if such weapons had ever been found in San Diego.

Hallor declined to indicate where, exactly, the weapons were located, saying only that they had not been found at the port of San Diego. Hallor also did not go into detail about what the weapons consisted of or when they were found.

"At the airport, seaport, at our port of entry we have not this past fiscal year, but our partner agencies have found those things.," he said.

Hallor went on to say that San Diego, like any major U.S. city, remains a target for terrorists looking to sneak weapons into the U.S.

"Given the open waterways and the access to the Navy fleet here, I'd say, absolutely, San Diego is a target," he told the station.

Hallor's interview, part of a behind-the-scenes look at safeguard measures taken at the city's ports, was interrupted by a public affairs officer who said Hallor could only speak about items found at the port of San Diego.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials were quick to respond to Hallor's remarks.

"CBP has not specifically had any incidents with nuclear devices or nuclear materials at our ports of entry," a statement read.

Well, yeah, CBP's "partner agencies," which can mean anything from the San Diego Police Department to the FBI, found something of a mass effect. A pipe bomb can have a mass effect. A large store of precursor chemicals for methamphetamines is a weapon of mass effect. There are alot of things that can have a mass effect. Someone experimenting with ricin can have a mass effect.

But the most interesting aspect of this little brouhaha is that CBP hasn't found any terrorist device since its inception. No surprises here. It has found alot of rocks that emit radiation, but nothing much else related to terrorism. CBP hasn't even arrested alot of terrorists. Only one comes to mind, a South African woman arrested by the Border Patrol in southern Texas. Not much else. Most terrorists enter legally like Faisal Shahzad. Or the 9/11 hijackers. Despite the fact that CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement play up their counter terrorist mission, in fact that is not their actual mission. The mission of CBP and ICE is the same old mission of their successor agencies, customs and immigration law enforcement. The FBI has jurisdiction over terrorism. ICE and CBP continue to this day the mundane dealings with illegal aliens and illegal drugs. It is very unlikely that either will ever find the nuclear weapon from The Sum of All Fears.

While our hapless CBP Assistant Port Director appears to know much more than he is letting on, what he does tell us is that nothing of import has been found, although there might be something of interest being hidden by another agency. But that could be as mundane as a pipe bomb, or as major as a car bomb. Just remember, CBP did intercept a car bomb before 9/11 coming from Canada. That is a weapon of mass effect as well. He could be referring to something similar. Perhaps the cartels are expanding their car bombs. But also remember whatever was found was not this year, but possibly last. There is something, but it only distracts from CBP's primary mission of the day-to-day enforcement of immigration and customs laws.

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