The El Paso Times today reports that the 1,200 National Guard troops President Barack Obama is sending to the border will be authorized to do…well, nothing. Can’t patrol it, can’t interdict aliens crossing the border, can’t use deadly force. From the Times’ story: The Posse Comitatus Act, a federal law, prohibits federal military forces from doing law enforcement work. Instead, they will watch the border, repair vehicles and assist with communications and intelligence. Starting in January 2009, Rick Perry has kept up a steady criticism of Obama and the federal government generally for its failure to secure the Border. It is a staple of his speeches and a feature of his media advertising. Now that he has gotten what he asked for, and troops are presumably on the way, the question that stands out is, “What’s the point?” Why have them here at considerable cost–$1.8 million–to the taxpayers if they are just ornaments? Did Perry know that the troops he has been asking for would be subject to the restrictions of the Posse Comitatus Act? This is just another gimmick, like the cameras, that is all about securing his political future. Not the Border. So what are the troops going to do other than repair vehicles and collect intelligence (about what?) El Paso congressmen Sylvestre Reyes, a former Border Patrol chief in the El Paso sector, doesn’t appear to be thrilled over the prospective arrival of the troops. “We need to have assurances that these National Guard units are going to be out there at the request and under the supervision of the Border Patrol,” he told the Times.
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