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A recent inspector general report found that the Department of Homeland Security is shockingly negligent and incompetent at holding on to sensitive materials, like guns, badges and secure immigration stamps. They reported between FY 2014 and 2016, the agency’s personnel lost a total of 228 firearms, 1,889 badges and 25 stamps.
These were agents’ personal weapons issued to them, not guns given to a foreign government. Notably, the U.S. transferred nearly $1 billion in weapons to Afghanistan and Iraq, many of which have been diverted, sold, stolen, or have been used against U.S. forces by ISIS. This debacle is squarely in the lap of the Obama administration, which oversaw the giveaway.
What the DHS IG found is not that kind of problem. It’s the kind of problem where agents didn’t properly secure or care for their weapons. In the military, these kinds of breaches result in what’s known as an Article 15. The offending soldier is punished according to the UCMJ. And the Army and Marines in particular are almost manic in their keeping of weapons inventory and discipline among soldiers. A soldier practically has to die to justify losing even a pistol.
The report cited various examples where officers left their weapons unsecured in cars, in bags, backpacks, and hotel rooms. But that’s not the worst part: in nearly half of the cases, officers received no punishment or oral counseling. In 30 percent of the cases, a suspension or removal resulted.
Additionally, none of the officers received any type of remedial training for failing to safeguard sensitive assets. Although, the Department’s policy does not require officers to attend remedial training, at a minimum, training reinforces component’s policy on proper behavior and conduct. Each component is responsible for setting its own table of penalties and disciplinary action is left to the supervisor’s discretion. Without proper disciplinary action and training, officers may misinterpret poor safeguarding as acceptable behavior and these practices will go uncorrected. The Department has a responsibility to oversee the program and take corrective action to ensure compliance with safeguarding requirements.
If a local police department had such a poor record of safeguarding firearms, badges and other sensitive material, the chief’s head would be on the chopping block, if not in a courtroom fighting prosecution. But this is the DHS, which includes ICE and the ever-efficient TSA, which can never do wrong.
At a TSA office, 11 firearms stored in the storage vaults were not included on the inventory. The property custodian had possession of some of the firearms for more than a year without updating the property records.
And there’s the file cabinet full of guns at a Customs and Border Patrol office.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Since President George W. Bush’s administration began this leviathan federal takeover of law enforcement at all levels, the mishmash of agencies inside DHS has tallied over 259,000 weapons, 174,203 badges and over 67,000 secure immigration stamps. You might think just a few hundred missing guns is an acceptable number in such a huge arsenal. But that’s the whole point.
Why have this enormous bureaucracy, armed to the teeth, where 417 guns are allocated to the Science and Technology Directorate (is that like the apocryphal “Q Branch”?). And if there’s going to be such a gigantic government kingdom that’s larger than most countries’ militaries, why can’t they do at least as good a job as the military itself in making officers responsible for their weapons?
Somebody needs to go to jail.
Homeland Security officials lost 228 firearms, 1,889 badges over three-year period: Watchdog
Employees with the Department of Homeland Security lost more than 200 firearms and nearly 1,900 badges over a three-year span, according to an audit from the agency’s Office of Inspector General. The audit found Homeland Security personnel lost 2,142 “highly sensitive assets” between 2014 and 2016. Included in that total is 228 firearms, 1,889 badges, and 25 secure immigration stamps.
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I don’t think we should turn incompetence into a jailable felony, but perhaps that’s the implicit point: These missing weapons aren’t the product of incompetence, because someone’s willingly stealing them from the inside!