Homeland Security Demands “Obedience” in Message to Agents
The word “obedience” was defined on the official TV screens as: “quickly and cheerfully carrying out the direction of those who are responsible for me.”
Reliable sources inside the agency confirmed to Ramirez, who also serves as president of the Law Enforcement Officers Advocates Council (LEOAC), that the controversial message demanding “obedience” was displayed for agents on TV monitors in the San Diego and Tucson sectors last week. In his explosive video for LNN exposing the scheme, Ramirez also provided a picture of the “propaganda” graphic that he obtained from a source within Customs and Border Protection (CBP) who requested anonymity (see photo above).
“This ‘Obedience’ order just continues a long recent history of intimidation going back to the 2004 ‘gag order’ by then-Chief David Aguilar,” Ramirez told The New American in an interview, referring to a controversial non-disclosure agreement purporting to bar agents from releasing important information to lawmakers and the media. “The primary point of this all is to purge the patrol of experienced agents who refuse to go along to get along.”
Calling for congressional hearings to investigate the controversial “obedience” message, Ramirez said the scheme was frightening. “Cheerfully?!” he exclaimed about the graphic, sounding bewildered. “Responses I’m hearing from sources at the Border Patrol include the words Orwellian, creepy, sickening, craziness, Nazi handbook — and those are just the ones I can actually repeat.”
Ramirez also wondered what happens to Border Patrol agents who do not “cheerfully” engage in “obedience” upon demand, especially if orders included instructions to violate the Constitution, for example. “Do they go to one of the long-rumored FEMA camps guarded by employees and DHS armored personnel carriers?” he asked. “Perhaps we hear loudspeakers playing ‘Deutschland, Deutschland Uber Alles’ — something out of Hitler’s Nazi Germany?”
Alternatively, Ramirez speculated half-seriously, there could be an even more chilling fate awaiting those who refuse to carry out unlawful or unconstitutional orders. “Are they now classified as domestic terrorists, in which case a yet-to-be-identified official at the Department of Justice can have them taken out with a drone strike?” he wondered. “As we just heard in recent congressional hearings, that’s pretty much what can now happen; a drone strike on an individual who is considered a terrorist on U.S. soil.”
According to Ramirez, both the Border Patrol and Customs have already engaged in a number of “purges” where agents close to retirement were forced to retire even though they still had room for advancement. “They want employees who are loyal to DHS and CBP, which is why the old BP logos and decals have been pretty much removed off the vehicles,” the LNN correspondent told The New American in an exclusive interview.
“Agencies like CBP, ICE, TSA, and the like were placed under DHS' roof for command and control purposes,” Ramirez continued. “However the real purpose has been to keep the facts from reaching the public. In point of fact, DHS is a propaganda ministry in its own right, given the blatant misinformation released by top officials. In the wrong hands it could easily act in a way similar to ‘State Security’.”
In addition to exposing the controversial image used to condition Border Patrol agents into blind obedience, Ramirez took the opportunity to blast the agency’s leadership as well. “As the Border Patrol enters its 89th year since it was established, there is no figure who has done more to destroy this honorable agency than David Aguilar and his handpicked cronies, including current national Chief Mike Fisher,” he said.
The longtime advocate for Border Patrol agents, who has testified before Congress on multiple occasions, also noted that management was destroying morale. Among other concerns, Ramirez pointed to pay increases for top leadership amid sequester even as agents face potentially massive pay cuts. He blasted what he said was top officials’ efforts to prevent agents from enforcing U.S. immigration laws, too.
Another concern highlighted by Ramirez was the U.S. government’s willingness to “sacrifice agents as scalps through the Justice Department upon request of the Mexican government.” He was referring, of course, to the now-infamous prosecution of Border Patrol agent Jesus “Chito” Diaz, Jr., after Mexican officials complained that the agent had allegedly pulled on the handcuffs of a young drug smuggler.
Indeed, the Mexican government seems to be rapidly expanding its influence on the American side of the border. Ramirez slammed what he described as the U.S. federal government ceding control over the border to the Mexican military, drug cartels, and human smugglers. Notoriously corrupt authorities from Mexico now have “virtual oversight impunity” at U.S. Border Patrol facilities, he explained.
Finally, Ramirez lambasted top officials’ participation in the cover-up of the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, who was killed by drug smugglers apparently armed by the Obama administration under operation “Fast and Furious.” While the explosive scandal and the subsequent cover-up eventually resulted in Attorney General Eric Holder being held in criminal contempt of Congress, justice has yet to be served.
“It’s no wonder morale has been broken at the Border Patrol,” Ramirez concluded.
The New American reached out to the Department of Homeland Security with a number of questions about the “obedience” scandal. Who approved this? Is it from DHS, CBP, or some other agency? Are such messages being used in other DHS components? How does DHS respond to criticism from Ramirez and agents about this message? Does DHS consider this type of messaging to be appropriate? Are there any exceptions to "obedience"? What happens if agents do not “quickly and cheerfully" carry out "the direction of those who are responsible” for them?
While most of the questions were left unanswered, Bill Brooks with the CBP Office of Public Affairs offered a brief statement about the issue. “Information Display System slides are meant to communicate important and useful information to personnel,” Brooks told The New American in an e-mail. “This example falls short of that criteria, and has already been removed.”
For Ramirez, however, though he was glad to hear that the offensive slides have already been removed, the official “non-denial” response was not enough. “Well apparently CBP has responded to the Obedience slide, but refused to comment on who ordered it, and the other facts I reported for LNN,” he said. “Clearly they're not denying it.”
Still, even though the slide is supposedly gone, Congress needs to get involved and provide real oversight of DHS, Ramirez explained. The other alternative is to continue allowing the “out-of-control bureaucracy” to run roughshod over their employees, the rights of Americans, and constitutional principles. For Ramirez, doing nothing should not even be an option.
“Congress needs to publicly investigate this ‘Obedience’ slide as well as the DHS purchase of over 1 billion rounds of ammo, FEMA camps, and armored personnel carriers, for there are many serious implications involved here,” Ramirez concluded, calling on officials to make a public apology to agents. “Also, the officials responsible for this blatant attempt to intimidate our Border Patrol agents must be terminated with the same loss of benefits as employees who get terminated on trumped up charges I've documented over the past eight years.”
Alex Newman is a correspondent for The New American, covering economics, politics, and more. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.