the suzi parker files

Politics, Pop Culture and Ponderings

Sen. Mark Pryor Prods Janet Napolitano for Answers on Border Corruption

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Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) may be getting tired of prodding Department of Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano. He’s been dealing with her bureaucracy since spring on the issue of Mexican border security.

On Thursday, Pryor nudged again.

As chairman of a subcommittee of the Department of Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Pryor sent Napolitano a letter requesting she answer a series of questions surrounding corruption of U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) agents.

In July, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee passed Pryor’s legislation, the Anti-Border Corruption Act, to help prevent rogue border agents from being hired or retained. It requires the Custom and Border Protection agency to give polygraph tests to all applicants for law enforcement positions. The requirement has to be implemented within two years, providing the agency time to hire and train examiners. The bill also requires the agency to initiate background checks on all backlogged employees within six months.

In an April letter to a group of senators that included Pryor, Napolitano wrote: “We are engaged in a thorough review of the issues raised . . . and a long-term solution to ensure that we root out corruption and effectively prosecute those who threaten our country.”

She added, “We are also assessing our integrity policies to ensure they include adequate background and checks on CPB employees.”

The Department of Homeland Security did not return phone calls Thursday about Pryor’s new letter to Napolitano.

Internal corruption cases have escalated in recent years. Since 2003, there have been 129 corruption arrests of CBP officers. Last year, there were 576 allegations of corruption. Many centered on drug smuggling.

In his letter to Napolitano, Pryor cited that President Obama signed a bill into law on Aug. 13 that would provide emergency supplemental appropriations to hire more border security agents.

“In that vein, I remain concerned about the failure to conduct polygraphs on new hires, as well as the growing periodic reinvestigations backlog,” Pryor wrote.

He wants Napolitano to clarify the link between the background check measures and the current investigations by Sept. 21. Pryor’s is the sole signature on the letter.

“As we increase the number of agents patrolling our borders, we need to be confident that these men and women have been thoroughly screened and are fully committed to protecting our country,” Pryor told Politics Daily. “If we don’t seal the cracks in our hiring process now, we risk wasting taxpayer dollars and creating a false sense of security.”

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Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm

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