Fearmongering at Homeland Security

In Misleading Information, New York Times Editorial On

The United States is as vulnerable to an attack today as it was the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. Information in the press about national security is misleading or flat-out wrong, offering a false sense of security. The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security perform heroic work day and night for a largely ungrateful nation. If members of Congress are unhappy with the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration, they should pass new laws or “shut up.”

Those were the main takeaways from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly’s first extensive remarks about how he intends to lead a vast bureaucracy on the front lines of immigration enforcement, passenger screening and cybersecurity.

“Make no mistake,” he said Tuesday during a speech at George Washington University. “We are in fact a nation under attack.”

. . .

Among the more jarring parts of Mr. Kelly’s speech was his message to lawmakers. Citing the low morale of employees he described as “political pawns” in the nation’s contentious immigration debate, Mr. Kelly said members of Congress should have “the courage and the skill to change those laws,” or “shut up and support the men and women on the front lines” of immigration enforcement.

Mr. Kelly’s choice of words reflects the dismal state of public discourse in American politics. That brusqueness encourages lawmakers to respond in kind, which can only make policy making more fraught and partisan. But even more alarming is his unrestrained fearmongering. If Americans take his discourse at face value, they will be living in a paranoid society willing to trade fundamental freedoms and principles for a sense of security.

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