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Strange Times on The Border

Senate's 'Smoke and Mirror' Immigration Bill














John W. Slagle
August 1, 2007

As a concerned voter, many news outlets were available on the Senate floor including live coverage on the defense spending bill which I observed, as a “bleary eyed” American.

The Senate ended its day-and- night debate over Iraq with a vote at 11 a.m. ET, 7/18/07 on a Democratic amendment to the defense spending bill that would force President Bush to bring most combat troops home by May.

"Although Democrats expect to fall well short of 60 votes today, they hope that the all-night session will show antiwar voters that the party is not relenting, despite continuing to fall short in its efforts to force the White House to change course," The Washington Post stated.

"We will come back to this bill when it's clear we can make real progress," Reid told a hushed and unusually crowded Senate, with most lawmakers in their seats.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., defended his party's use of Senate rules to extend deliberations on the Iraq war. McConnell argued that Congress should give President Bush and his commanding officer in Iraq more time to pacify Baghdad. "We need to give General (David) Petraeus until September to do his work," McConnell said.

Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., called the all-night debate a "colossal waste of time" and an "indignity." Reid engineered the rare, round-the-clock session leading up to Wednesday's vote and required opponents of the Levin-Reed amendment to remain on the Senate floor to defend their position.

As a result, bleary-eyed senators trooped to the floor during the night to deliver speeches to a largely vacant room. Cots were set up in offices near the Senate chambers, although only a few Senators appeared to have used them. Most went home after Reid agreed to soften the all-nighter by not scheduling roll-call votes in the wee hours that would have required Senators to be on hand. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., speaking shortly after 3 a.m., called the all-night session a stunt that did little to end the stalemate over Iraq. "Instead of this gamesmanship, we should be trying to put together a unified position," Alexander said. ***

Cable T.V. is always appreciated by audiences nationwide that take the time to view the elected officials of the House or Senate in action. Cots and pillows for a very rare late night session is humorous to say the least. Many of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan don’t have the luxury of either and sleep when time is available under battle conditions.

Time off for month long recesses, enjoying holidays, constant R&R is also not an option for our troops who sacrifice all for this nation. For anyone that has served in wartime, a standard day is as long as it takes. There are no time clocks and duty can be 24 and 7, with brief rest periods for G.I.s. There are no ”Thank God for the weekends “ enjoyed by working class American’s, nor the outstanding benefits enjoyed by U.S. Elected Officials. “Bleary-eyed Senators “ that have to deliver a speech, do their jobs after “Happy Hour” is not a supreme sacrifice nor working weekends if needed on important issues in the United States. That is why our collective Senators were voted into office in the first place as Civil Servants, representatives of the people, not special interests groups. For millions of former and current military veterans who observed reality through many events in the history of this country-- “mud Marines, Army, Navy, or Air Force are not overly impressed with a politician’s “lack of sleep” or “Gut Feelings” from any political appointee. It comes with the job and oath of office and does not end with normal business hours. As a former Agent with the Anti-Smuggling Unit, my partners and I were on call day and night, Sector wide in Arizona seven days a week, with pagers and early portable phones. Our small unit was never “off duty” unless on official annual leave status. When the “crap” hit’s the fan, you respond with no excuses. Our military troops are in a position few can understand unless they have been there which includes most politicians.

War is literally “ Hell” as well as “ taking a human life” in law enforcement which in many situations offers no other recourse of action. In a combat situation with our search and entry people in Iraq or Afghanistan, or stateside with many police agencies requires instant decisions and equal response. Insurgents, terrorists, criminal elements of society whatever the political correct terminology are very dangerous people. The number one entry team member with the “ram” is basic “cannon fodder” upon entry and determining “friend or foe”, fight or surrender. This is a “pucker factor” experience I knew personally in 1991 as a member of the Border Area Narcotics Group. There were few “firefights” but illegal alien guards, stash house security were always “well armed”, AK-47s, to all manner of firearms which has been documented, case after case. The cartels were not overly concerned with Federal Law Enforcement but rival gangs who were in a deadly constant conflict for power, c ontrol over a region, and monetary gains from illicit narcotics. The drug wars has been a constant never ending situation from 1972.

I’m very proud of our military forces who serve their country in war and peace and to the best of their abilities accomplish a mission. The politicians that send America’s finest into War should also know their responsibilities and oath of office. Leadership is the experience of an individual, stance on issues, not political propaganda and million dollar PR campaigns. There is something very wrong in this country when only the super rich from both parties can make an attempt for a high level civil service position.. In years past, long before the Morse Code telegraphy method of communications, people wrote letters and were well informed by elected leaders in their districts. In this electronic age, the www, email to faxes, the voters of the U,S. have access to instant communications, current events including actual Senate and house discussions on T.V. to contact with military veterans . I personally appreciate snail mail and email from Vets on the line, no SNAFU, just people tha t have given all for their country in many tours of duty since 911, before and after, no politics, just service to this nation. Instead of a “crude bed and no doubt” catered prepared supply of nourishments, coffee for "speeches” on the beltway, politicians should take a “walk on the wild side” beyond the Green Zone in Iraq and actually see a different world.

Lt. .Colonel Allen West currently serving as a D.O.D. adviser for Afghanistan forces wrote the following statement re: Our U.S. Senate Debate.

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“If our elected officials would take heart and remember the heroics of a certain Professor of Rhetoric from Bowdoin College in Maine, a Colonel of the 20th Maine Regiment, Joshua Chamberlain at Little Round Top, they may gain knowledge. Maybe they could read of Major Wellesley, a New York lawyer, who led the famed, "Lost Battalion" in the Argonne Forest during WW I, never surrendering while surrounded. And if that is not enough perhaps a reminder of B.G. MacAuliffe's reply to the Germans when asked to surrender while surrounded at Bastogne, December 1944. And who can forget the bravery of the Americans at Chosin Reservoir, Korea fighting their way through withering fire under the harshest of winter conditions. Lastly, outnumbered some 5 to 1 in the La Drang Valley , LTC Hal Moore led his Air Cal troopers to victory in the first major engagement between U.S. and North Viet Nam Army regulars. If our elected officials could just reflect and perhaps find just a drop of courage which these great Americans displayed we would not need wasteful political antics such as what recently occurred in the Senate. We would have elected persons united to defeat an enemy and give the American people vision and solutions to Victory, regardless of how dire a situation may seem. That I submit to you is the American Way, John.” Allen West, Kandahjar, Afghanistan.

God Bless our troops and many thanks for their service.

© 2007 John W. Slagle - All Rights Reserved

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John W. Slagle is a U.S. Navy Aviation Veteran, Commercial Pilot, Multi-Engines rated and was a Firefighter, Engineer Lt. prior to United States Border Patrol service spanning 30 years. Duties included Agent/Medic, Special Tracking and Rescue Unit, Intelligence Officer, Sector Pilot to Criminal Investigator.

Slagle spent 12 years in undercover operations nationwide as a Special Agent, Anti-Smuggling Operations involving organized human trafficking, narcotics, certified Master Gun Smith and second degree Nidan black belt Goshin Iaido.













Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., called the all-night debate a "colossal waste of time" and an "indignity." Reid engineered the rare, round-the-clock session leading up to Wednesday's vote and required opponents of the Levin-Reed amendment to remain on the Senate floor to defend their position.