The Department of Homeland Security apparently ignored the sequester and decided to order armored vehicles and 1.6 billion bullets. Republicans on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee are questioning why Homeland Security has not done more to reduce costs leading up to the sequester deadline March 1.
The TSA budget has almost 66,000 employees and 10,000 administrators and Representative John Mica (R-FL) said, “This is one of the most shameful things I’ve seen any agency do, and you are bloated beyond control. We never intended Homeland Security to bloat to this extent.”
When put to the question, Homeland Security Undersecretary of Management Rafael Borras claims that the federal agency had not expected the automatic sequester spending cuts to take effect at all.
Despite this expectation, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed that a reduction in TSA agents would cause lines to increase dramatically at many airports. But officials from those airports said they were not experiencing any unusual delays, only confusing the matter further. In response, the DHS attempted to clarify these comments by saying that overtime would be reduced for customs lines TSA agents, so lines might be longer under certain circumstances.
Homeland Security releasing dangerous criminals before the sequester was scrutinized next to a $141,000 “Chinese research program.” Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) asked, “Could you not find $12,000 somewhere else in the DHS budget other than releasing level one aggravated felons as part of your cost-saving measures? Don’t act as if you didn’t have any choice but to release aggravated felons.”
Homeland Security is ignoring the sequester in other ways that make many uneasy. The department is expanding its activities beyond terrorism to something it calls “public safety,” where Homeland Security unmanned drones will be used in “first responder” and “law enforcement” types of “scenarios.” Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster became famous because he demanded to know whether the Federal government planned on allowing drone strikes on US Citizens, which received a response that went back and forth on the issue.
Homeland Security stockpiling 1.6 billion bullets, or 450 million depending on the source, for “target practice” has Sarah Palin concerned. Palin claims the United States debt will cause the US to “default eventually and that’s why the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest.” The official response is that buying in bulk is cheaper and that many of the federal agencies will using the large quantities of ammo for training, using as many as 15 million rounds every year.
Essentially, they’re saying that they’re buying enough bullets for the next 107 years. But defense contracts don’t work that way, and many of these bullets will likely not be delivered over the years. Still, others claim that 1.6 billion bullets is enough ammo to last for more than 27 years in a war.
In addition to the 1.6 billion bullets, Homeland Security also purchased 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles, and it has overseen the retrofitting of more than 2,000 light tanks. There are also reports of various agencies besides the DHS purchasing hollow point bullets.
Why all this spending by Homeland Security? Some say the orders come from the top. Back in 2008, President Obama said this about his plans for the country:
“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.”
What do you think about Homeland Security ignoring the sequester to purchase drones, vehicles, guns, and ammo while still releasing dangerous criminals and overstating airport security risks?