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‘Homeland Security USA’: The Outtakes

Posted on Jan 9, 2009

By G.W. Schulz, Center for Investigative Reporting

(Page 2)

The report pointed to a 2007 incident in which customs officials suffered a major network outage at LAX that halted operations for hours and disrupted the travel of thousands, stranded on the airport’s tarmac and elsewhere. An aging IT infrastructure apparently exacerbated the problem.

In another segment of the show, Border Patrol officials inspect vehicles at the southwest border and execute a drug bust while cameras are rolling. Multiple large packages of marijuana spill out of the spare tire and gas tank of the car as border agents grin broadly nearby. Later at Washington state’s border with Canada, 77 pounds of cocaine are found stuffed inside baby diapers after Shapiro’s protagonists grow suspicious of a Ford Explorer.

“The money that funds narcotics also funds terrorism, and the more of that we can stop, the better,” one agent tells America following the seizure.

But when reporters Lowell Bergman and Andrew Becker teamed up for a project with Frontline/World and The New York Times last May, they found that there were roughly 200 open corruption investigations at three major homeland security components with border responsibilities: Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Citizenship and Immigration Services.

The journalists (one a Center for Investigative Reporting co-founder and the other currently a staff reporter) profiled nine customs officers and border agents who’d been arrested between 2005 and 2008. Two of them, brothers named Raul and Fidel Villareal, disappeared for several months while under investigation before being captured in Tijuana last October and charged with smuggling Mexicans and Brazilians into the United States, using a government-issued vehicle to transport illegals to San Diego and laundering money.

Another man, Michael Gilliland, admitted receiving between $70,000 and $120,000 in bribes to wave cars piloted by smugglers through his inspection lane unmolested. A former Marine who joined the Department of Homeland Security is believed to have taken as much as $80,000 in such bribes. Others sprung detainees from ICE detention facilities.

One FBI agent told Becker and Bergman: “There’s more pressure on the other side of the border from the smuggling organizations to elicit the help of a corrupt border official. The pool of individuals who are susceptible to corruption has grown.”

Becker then reported for the Times in November that police arrested a veteran customs inspector in Del Rio, Texas, for allegedly helping to smuggle 3,000 pounds of cocaine into the United States over five years. Media outlets in Texas all but missed the story because the press release announcing his indictment sent out by the regional U.S. attorney’s office neglected to mention the man was an employee of the Department of Homeland Security. But a standard note at the bottom disclosing that the department’s inspector general was involved in the probe provided a crucial tip. The customs officer also is accused of accepting $30,000 to falsify a passport application.

As producer Shapiro resides in an editing room melding together rapid-fire segments of brilliant television that portrays law enforcement technology as infallible and witless criminals and terrorists as sure to be caught, others have filed Freedom of Information Act requests, studied little-noticed congressional reports and interviewed disenchanted whistle-blowers to show that while the multibillion-dollar Department of Homeland Security does protect America from the world’s dark side, it also persists as a sinkhole for taxpayer dollars and a revolving door for government executives who turn their civil service jaunts into lucrative private-sector careers.

U.S. News & World Report in 2005 described the seamless transition for top homeland security officials to corporate positions. Just before Tom Ridge took over as head of the new agency, two of his top aides joined a lobbying firm that represents major homeland security contractors, including Boeing and BearingPoint. At least six others with big titles at the department, including Ridge himself, who eventually joined the board of a firm developing security technology, made similar moves.

We probably won’t learn it from “Homeland Security USA,” but the department is continually battered by corruption, including reports in 2007 that former FEMA officials charged the federal government double what their private consulting firms paid for subcontracted employees during the Hurricane Katrina cleanup, rates they insisted were “industry standard.”

In fact, the first episode didn’t touch the department’s heavy reliance on private contractors, which made up a whole 40 percent of its activities last year.

Then there are the department’s widespread problems with mismanagement. In one extraordinarily ironic case, homeland security officials had to totally scrap a $52 million computer system that was supposed to better enable it to manage an annual budget of approximately $50 billion. The department had originally intended to spend $229 million creating the failed eMerge2 program. There was “little to show for it” despite the amount already poured into the system, according to one Government Accountability Office report.

Like the once wildly popular reality show “Cops,” Shapiro threatens to create the false impression that police are not vulnerable to corruption or breaking the law to enforce it and that the law enforcement lobby in the United States always acts in the best interests of the American people and their taxpayer dollars.

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By samosamo, May 21, 2010 at 3:19 pm Link to this comment


“”“Homeland Security USA” is the latest iteration of reality TV
that like the show “Cops” romanticizes actual working police
catching bad guys, except that now the cops aren’t just
snagging small-time drunks and corner crack dealers. They’re
federal agents from the Department of Homeland Security with
far greater power using the latest technology to keep America
safe from terrorists and stop international organized criminals
from trafficking massive quantities of narcotics into the United

America in general is the world’s clearing house of narcotics and
if these federal agents from dhs do catch any caches of dope it
will be to redistribute them to their cartels. Just like the creation
of the cia or taxes, once made, they don’t go away just as I
would be willing to bet the cia and dhs are in cahoots with one
and the other and I also find it hard to believe that the cia would
so easily give up their already recognized drug dealing
operations from the olive north days of selling drugs in america
to pay for the iran contra scandal to pay for other covert
operations, you know just another hidden tax.

If anyone had the nerve to investigate the leaders of the current
drug cartels, I would not be at all surprised to learn most of
them lived here in the u.s.a. and went to church every sunday
and that they live in washington d.c. because it just seems how
so very too convenient that the military industrial congressional
complex that has more than just a little to do with ‘protecting’
the poppy crops in afghanistan are all HQed in the same place.

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By Timestyx, May 21, 2010 at 7:37 am Link to this comment

Homelands security USA sounds like a great show, we should have an MI5 or MI6 reality show, beats watching James Bond….

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By Folktruther, January 11, 2009 at 7:37 pm Link to this comment

This piece sanitizes and diverts attention from the main purpose of Homeland Security, which is to spy, imprison and threaten American dissidents.  With the 9/11-antrax homicides, the Bushite regime led a political counter revolution in the US, centralizing anti-Terrorist institutions.  A Terrorist is any one who opposes US imperalism and the enormous class inequality it engenders.

The courrption of the police is totally beside the point. Police or the military in every country are instrumental in the delivery of hard drugs. The purpose of Home Security is extolling the oppression of political opposition, espectially in a time of enormous and increasing class inequality.  Truthdig has leant itself to this purpose, helping to get people to identify with their own oppression and the oppression of other people.

Patrick Henry, you got better in distuishing between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism and now you are bigoted toward Latinos.  You’re better than that.

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By samosamo, January 11, 2009 at 6:46 pm Link to this comment

What is sad is that this is what a lot of people don’t want people to be able to do, defend themselves. Taking all these abilities, defend, feed, clothe, shelter and educate, away has been a main goal of the media control that the elite and government maintain to insure the reliance on government by the people to do the jobs families had done for centuries but just like our constitution that has been shredded, these other things are much too dangerous to the elite and the current government to leave in the peoples hands. Plus it gets rid of the scum that crawls over the earth reeking havoc.

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By PatrickHenry, January 11, 2009 at 6:02 pm Link to this comment

Thought i would share this with you as I was born in Montana and have many family there.

BUTTE, MT—Two illegal aliens, Raphael Resindez, 23, and Enrico Garza, 26, probably believed they would easily overpower home-alone 11 year old Patricia Harrington after her father had left their two-story home. 
It seems the two crooks never learned two things: they were in Montana and Patricia had been a clay shooting champion since she was nine. 
Patricia was in her upstairs room when the two men broke through the front door of the house. She quickly ran to her father’s room and grabbed his 12 gauge Mossberg 500 shotgun. 
Resindez was the first to get up to the second floor only to be the first to catch a near point blank blast of buckshot from the 11-year-old’s knee crouch aim. He suffered fatal wounds to his abdomen and genitals. 
When Garza ran to the foot of the stairs, he took a blast to the left shoulder and staggered out into the street where he bled to death before medical help could arrive. 
It was found out later that Resindez was armed with a stolen 45 caliber handgun he took from another home invasion robbery. That victim, 50-year-old David Burien, was not so lucky. He died from stab wounds to the chest. 
Ever wonder why good stuff never makes NBC, CBS, PBS, & MSNBC, CNN, or ABC news… 11 year old girl, properly trained, defended her home and herself…...against two murderous, illegal aliens .......and she wins, she is still alive. 
Now that is Gun Control. 
Thought for the day: 
Calling an illegal alien an ‘undocumented immigrant’ is like calling a drug dealer an ‘unlicensed pharmacist’

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By jr., January 11, 2009 at 5:05 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Homeland security may turn out to be nothing more than a modern day witch hunt with a sale to pitch.

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By jersey girl, January 11, 2009 at 3:08 pm Link to this comment

The title should be… Martial Law coming to your Hometown soon!

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By Thomas Mc, January 11, 2009 at 8:40 am Link to this comment

I wouldn’t watch this show if it were the only thing on television.

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By jr., January 10, 2009 at 10:43 pm Link to this comment

People won’t find homeland security so entertaining when THEY are the ones being harrassed for “looking” suspicious.

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By KDelphi, January 10, 2009 at 5:16 pm Link to this comment


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By 1twenty1, January 10, 2009 at 2:19 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Authoritarianism reigns supreme in these Unquieted States o Amerika.  If you want to be a “hero” you’d best be wearing a uniform and I’m not talking bellhop togs either.  For the most part our police type authorities are honest, competent and duty-bound.  They should be well compensated for that.  However, in this age of mandatory sentencing and “tough on crime” draconian laws I would favor automatic doubling of sentencing for “authorities” caught using those positions of authority to abet their crimes.

Also tasers should be banned at once.

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By hippy pam, January 10, 2009 at 2:09 pm Link to this comment

Who was it that made the statement about “give them bread and circus”????????I’d say most Americans are satisfied with that!!!!!!

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By freeyourmind, January 10, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power in our country.”  Edward Bernays, Author-Propaganda Nephew of Sigmund Freud

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By samosamo, January 10, 2009 at 12:48 pm Link to this comment

With a new incoming president with smarts, one would think that this is one governmental department that has to go the way of the dodo. I would be surprised if obama did the right thing and dismantled DHS, but I bet that he will not.

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By devi, January 10, 2009 at 2:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Another typical piece of crap for the “Stupid Morons -
called American Gentiles” Bedtime consumption,at best
another attempt to feed the general public “Horseshit”.

A better way to demonstrate this is to inform oneself:

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By Virginia777, January 10, 2009 at 12:35 am Link to this comment

wow, our tax dollars at work!

forcing right-wing propaganda down the throats of couch-potatoes…


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By jr., January 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm Link to this comment

Life in a prison state, YUK!!!

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By knute, January 9, 2009 at 3:04 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I watched a portion of this first episode out of curiosity. It was exactly what I expected. It showed the camo garbed heros with their assault rifles and their huge support network tracking down a small mexican family in the desert. Just one example of the ridiculous waste of taxpayer money in a disproportionate responce proving nothing but that america has become a police state. I was discusted, but not at all surprised. Just another example of a media that has long been the lap dog of this administration.

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By mill, January 9, 2009 at 11:55 am Link to this comment

the Bush Administrations spin-fiction machine keeps churning out the gibberish, enabled by the Arnold Shapiro’s of the world.

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By abdo, January 9, 2009 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

when are we going to see unexciting reality shoes about like single parents? farm worker illegal or not or even more boring like how to hold your government accountable after they broke international lows defied the constitution lied to the nation and destroyed to country ? wouldn’t that be fun?

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By Maani, January 9, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment

Is it just me, or is the entire concept of a “reality” TV series about DHS employees so bizarre that even Kafka would not have considered it?

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By davidperi, January 9, 2009 at 8:16 am Link to this comment

New reality programs along with a new administration…hope these programs can give some security to Americans.

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By bruce radley, January 9, 2009 at 8:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I am afraid that it’s only a matter of time before America embraces the goosestep as it’s newest dance craze.

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By eileen fleming, January 9, 2009 at 7:24 am Link to this comment

After the dot-com bubble burst in 2000, Israel’s economy was devastated, but then came 9/11, and “suddenly new profit vistas opened up for any company that claimed it could spot terrorists in crowds, seal borders from attack and extract confessions from closed-mouthed prisoners…

“Many of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel’s status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of twenty-four-hour-a-day showroom—a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war…Israel now sends $1.2 billion in “defense” products to the United States—up dramatically from $270 million in 1999…

“That makes Israel the fourth-largest arms dealer in the world…Much of this growth has been in the so-called “homeland security” sector.

“Before 9/11 homeland security barely existed as an industry. By the end of this year, Israeli exports in the sector will reach $1.2 billion—an increase of 20 percent.

“The key products and services are precisely the tools and technologies Israel has used to lock in the occupied territories.

“Israel has learned to turn endless war into a brand asset, pitching its uprooting, occupation and containment of the Palestinian people as a half-century head start in the “global war on terror…

“Israel’s policy of erecting walls and checkpoints to seal off the occupied territories are also “laboratories where the terrifying tools of our security states are being field-tested Palestinians—whether living in the West Bank or what the Israeli politicians are already calling “Hamasistan”—are no longer just targets. They are guinea pigs…”-Naomi Klein

The Rest:

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