it accurate to say that the Pentagon has effectively ended their border
Dunn: I don't know
if they've ended them, but they've set themselves a much higher threshold
to meet in determining whether or not they will do them. They haven't
said that they won't do them, but they have said they will have to get
the permission of the Secretary of Defense or one of his deputies.
It's going to take something pretty extraordinary for them to decide that
it's worthy of the Secretary's attention. We might do it, but we
probably won't, I think that's what they're saying. So in practical
terms, it probably won't happen. But they're leaving the door open
that they can, and they won't have to notify anybody or tell anybody.
WOL: To what extent
does this new policy address the border drug policy problem?
Dunn: Well, I think
it affects the most obvious and the most clearly dangerous parts of the
posting of armed troops along the border. The other parts of the
relationship, the institutional relationship between the military and law
enforcement communities, is not affected. And as you may recall from
my book, I noted that Joint Task Force 6, the military unit that coordinates
all the military support for anti-drug efforts of the various police bodies,
they provide a vast array of types of assistance. They have 19 different
types of missions, and only four or five involve the use of ground troops.
So all of those other types of assistance are left on the table, things
like engineering and construction support, building the border walls that
have been put up in Arizona and California, road building so the Border
Patrol can get in certain areas more easily.
Besides that, more serious
types of militarization left are training and intelligence support.
In training, they're allowed to teach everything from first aid and map
reading and rifle marksmanship, which sounds pretty modest, to things like
suspect interrogations and the use of pyrotechnics and booby traps -- you
know, some really gruesome stuff that law enforcement has no business in
the world getting involved with. And you can imagine, in suspect
interrogations, law enforcement at least has to wave at the Constitution.
Military, in their operations abroad, do not. And all the allegations
that have been lodged about training of torturers, and so forth, at the
military's School of the Americas at Ft. Benning, involve that kind of
stuff, suspect interrogation.
So that's a very dangerous
area to be getting involved with in law enforcement and the military, and
that's on the books, we can do that for you. And all sorts of other
stuff included, like raid planning, which is reminiscent of Waco, and all
those kinds of things. So again, the law enforcement people have
no business planning a raid to look like a military program, and the military
certainly can't help plan a police raid, because that's not what they do.
WOL: What about the
Border Patrol? Is there a danger of another incident as occurred
in Redford, but involving, say, Border Patrol or other civilian agencies,
that have become more similar to the military in the way they function?
Dunn: Well, had the
Border Patrol been out there instead of the military unit that was out
there when that shooting occurred of Esequiel Hernandez out in Redford,
I don't think the Border Patrol agents would have shot at him. Like
the military guys responded, you know, dramatically, overreached and misread
the situation, and Border Patrol agents are less likely to do that.
In fact, earlier that year, some Border Patrol agents were in the area
when Hernandez was firing his rifle. Worrying that they could get
hit by a stray bullet, they drove over and told him to knock it off.
He didn't know they were there. So, the situation was resolved without
the use of force; that's the positive side.
On the down side, the Border
Patrol has a long record of very questionable shootings along the border
of people whom they viewed as threatening, and it's very questionable in
certain instances whether there was a significant threat, or any threat
at all. Going back to 1992, in the most famous case, a Border Patrol
agent using the civilian equivalent of an M-16, an AR-15 semiautomatic
rifle, out on a drug patrol near Nogales, Arizona, shot a Mexican, undocumented
border crosser in the back, as he was running back toward the border to
get away. And the guy was unarmed, and he had no drugs on him.
There are a lot of incidents like that. In fact, there've been a
couple in these last six to nine months in California and Arizona, where
undocumented immigrants were shot by the Border Patrol.
WOL: So how do things
need to change?
Dunn: Ultimately, the
relationship between the Border Patrol and the military, or the military
and civilian policing bodies generally, needs to just end. Because
it's a dangerous relationship. You shouldn't have the police
being trained by the military and starting to act more like the military,
which can still happen under current guidelines. And you shouldn't
have the military getting involved in domestic police matters. That's
wholly inappropriate on both sides, and ultimately it's a threat to democracy.
We should return to the status
quo before the early 1980s, when this new law was passed that allowed military
collaboration with the police. You did not see military collaboration
with the police on a regular, ongoing basis. Failing that, they ought
to at least keep the relationship limited to the less militaristic end
of the continuum.
WOL: Is there anything
you'd like to add in conclusion?
Dunn: Well, I don't
want to downplay the significance of this decision. 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. You don't have to be a genius to see that the
use of ground troops along the border, people who have no clue about what's
going on out there and are heavily armed, it didn't take a genius to see
that could lead to some kind of human rights catastrophe. Any common
sense could have judged the same thing, and sure enough, that's what happened.
And it shouldn't have taken the loss of that boy's life for this to happen.
WOL: Common sense is
not the hallmark of our national drug policy.
Dunn: Not in the least,
WOL: Thank you for