Rotary hosts ‘Homeland Insecurity’ author
by Wes Mayer
As author of the book “Homeland Insecurity: Failed Politics, Policies and a Nation at Risk,” Bret Braaten was the guest speaker for the Newnan Rotary Club’s meeting on Friday.
Braaten retired four years ago from a career in the U.S. government. Braaten, a Minnesota native, worked along the United States/Canadian border in the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) bureau for 22 years. He then worked for seven years with the Department of Homeland Security. His book is all about what he feels is the current uselessness of Homeland Security. “You have to understand, I’m very passionate about this,” Braaten said. “It is in the nature of our government to have people give up their liberties to be safe. But you never get those liberties back.”
Braaten spoke on how the current government shutdown is hitting the U.S. border patrols hard. Before the shutdown, 97 percent of the entire CBP worked along the Mexican border — the other 3 percent worked along the Canadian border. Braaten then presented statistics from a new study, titled “A Line in the Sand: Confronting the Threat at the Southwest Border,” which looked into the CBP and the Mexican border.
Braaten said there are 1,554 miles along the border — 64 of those miles have fencing. The CBP estimated they controlled 44 percent of the border, when in reality, they only controlled 18 percent. Drone surveillance has revealed that only 49 percent of illegal immigrants crossing the border are ever caught.
Braaten talked about the U.S. practically ceding land back to Mexico with all the crime and drugs entering the states. With the current shutdown, there are no border patrol workers standing in the way of either friend or foe, he said. “Technology doesn’t work,” Braaten said. “We have to put boots on the ground. It has become the Wild West out there, and you have to ask yourself, are you happy about that?”
Braaten also spoke about the politics and egos which ravage the Department of Homeland Security. He showed scenes of 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombings and explained that Homeland Security could have never prevented these tragedies. People in the department are too busy fighting among themselves and trying to get ahead to make any progress or solutions, he said. “All of us are compliant with security,” Braaten said. “We don’t think for ourselves. We sacrifice our liberties and accept it for safety reasons, and the government is happy to take them away from you.”
Braaten also spoke about our educational system.
Studies have shown that American students are only ranked in the middle of other nations in education, and below average in some areas like math, he said. Chinese, Indian and other nations’ students, on the other hand, are motivated to get much better jobs, and rank much higher. They are coming to America and getting hired more often because they are more educated, Braaten said.
“Forget terrorism,” Braaten said.
“We have our next generation to think about.”
Braaten explained how in his book he fleshed out all these problems with details. But, more importantly, he said, it reveals his solutions to the problems.