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DHS Head to America: Shut Up, Be Terrified, and Do What You’re Told

Secretary John Kelly wants you to know that the problem is you, not them.

John KellyLenin Nolly/NOTIMEX/NewscomDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly has heard all of that criticism from Americans who are upset at the way his employees treat them and other people, and he has a response for all of you ingrates: Shut up.

If you've ever dealt with surly Transportation Security Administration (TSA) staff who treat you as though you work for them and not the other way around, such behavior goes all the way to the top. In a wide-ranging speech designed to reinforce President Donald Trump's attitude that America is under siege, Kelly spoke told an audience at George Washington University and pretty much told them that without the aggressive approaches of the DHS we'd all be murdered by drug cartels and terrorist groups. So can it with the criticism.

The whole speech is watchable here at C-Span for the so-inclined. His speech was essentially a combination of every single post-9/11 security state speech combined with every single '80s and '90s drug warrior panic speech. The media responses are highlighting his defensiveness to criticism. Via The Hill:

Personnel are "often ridiculed and insulted by public officials, and frequently convicted in the court of public opinion on unfounded allegations testified to by street lawyers and spokespersons," Kelly said.

"If lawmakers do not like the laws they've passed and we are charged to enforce — then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines," Kelly said, to a burst of applause in the auditorium.

These comments came toward the end of his prepared speech, so it's useful to provide some context with the other things he talked about. He described the way Americans are treated by TSA when we travel as "a little bit of an inconvenience." He was not being sarcastic. He still believes that marijuana is a "gateway drug" and said so. He added that DHS will continue to force federal law on marijuana as long as it's against federal law, regardless of whatever the states may want. So keep that in mind if you're thinking of bringing some on a flight to anywhere. He also, incidentally, made a big deal that DHS employees swear an oath to defend the Constitution, which is notable inasmuch as there is no sign that the DHS has any respect for the Fourth Amendment whatsoever when it comes to searching Americans anywhere near the nation's borders.

Even further, a good chunk of his speech was full of fearmongering about drug cartels and recent increases in drug-related deaths to emphasize the rhetoric that our nation is under attack. He says at one point more people are dying from drugs than died during World War I, but his idea of dealing with increasing drug deaths is a "comprehensive plan to reduce drug demand." The problem is us, not them, you see. They have to figure out how to stop us from wanting to use drugs.

Kelly has a very typical cognitive dissonance issue we see a lot with law-and-order types. He insists that his people are enforcing the law, true enough. But his comments also make it very, very clear that he supports the drug war, though he does acknowledge at some point that America "can't arrest our way" out of the drug problem.

But who are the biggest opponents to changes in drug laws to maybe stop arresting people? Time and time again it's law enforcement lobbyists, whether we're talking about police, prosecutors, or prison representatives, who oppose any and all attempts to scale back their authorities to arrest and imprison people. The same folks who say "We're just enforcing the law" will fight tooth-and-nail any effort to crank back those laws. There's a tremendous amount of grant money and funding involved in "enforcing the law." They have strong incentives not to permit changes.

Similarly, Kelly therefore has every incentive to exaggerate the threats America faces, because his budgets depend on it, and President Trump is looking to spend, spend, spend on DHS and border security. In his speech he tries to suggest that DHS's budget has been cut to the bone. Though DHS's discretionary budget was cut during the sequester in 2008, DHS budgets and spending have been inching upward year after year (Check out this chart and read the text below to see which DHS agencies have been seeing the biggest boosts).

Kelly and his agents have every reason in the world to scare Americans into total compliance, every reason to insist that the drug war and terrorism is a constant threat, and every reason to suspect every traveler coming into the country could be a threat, and every reason to treat us as though we citizens are merely subjects of government authority. This also means that many of the domestic terror threats he mentions having prevented in his speech were frequently the result of undercover FBI stings that frequently are encouraging people to act out so that they can bust them, and it's not clear (and will never be clear) how many of these men would have actually done anything had undercover agents not been helping them along.

And the security theater driving the TSA's searches has long been exposed as ineffective, insulting, and incomprehensible. Their failures in catching actual threats compared to the inane overreactions they have to perfectly harmless objects are well known, and the result has been to actually dumb down procedures and make searches even more invasive rather than more effective.

Hey, Kelly, want to know why people hate you and your employees? Watch this video from ReasonTV. This is what you're telling Americans and lawmakers they should support:

Photo Credit: Lenin Nolly/NOTIMEX/Newscom

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  • Crusty Juggler aka "Chad"||

    Thank you for your service.

  • SchillMcGuffin||

    I actually have to agree with him on the second part of that pull quote. The way Congress hands out blank checks and then hand wrings over they way they're cashed, without ever seriously taking action on it, is at least as contemptible as the abuses of a Kelly or a Clapper.

  • rudehost||

    Oh I don't know about that. Contemptible? Yes. In the same realm as a criminal scumbag like James Clapper? Not quite.

  • LarryWilson||

    And the reason he has a job; because both democrats and republicans are on board with that philosophy being applied in all scenarios to American c̶i̶t̶i̶z̶e̶n̶s̶ slaves.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly has heard all of that criticism from Americans who are upset at the way his employees treat them and other people, and he has a response for all of you ingrates: Shut up.

    ... Kelly spoke told an audience at George Washington University and pretty much told them that without the aggressive approaches of the DHS we'd all be murdered by drug cartels and terrorist groups. So can it with the criticism.

    Christ, what an asshole.

    I hope this fucker ends up dying in an unfortunate wood-chipper "accident." After he gets Lou Gehrig's disease.

  • MarkLastname||

    Man, now that Preet's gone too guys think you can say anything.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    I know, right? What do we think this is, a free country?

  • LarryWilson||

    Ass cancer sounds like a cliche...but I'm a hospitalist (inpatient medicine physician) who admits a lot of patients with cancer and those who are dying the most miserable existence are the one's with rectal cancer.

    So I hope this fucker ends up with ass cancer.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I was hoping to confer complete immortality on him and then seal him in a barrel of sulfuric acid for all eternity, while forcing him to wear indestructible headphones playing an endless loop of John Kerry speeches.

  • LibertarianScientist||

    Here's hoping if the DHS ever does stop a terrorist it's with this asshole's life and no one else's.
    If I ever see him at a TSA checkpoint I will be sure to give him my full disrespect.

  • Nick W B||

    "If lawmakers do not like the laws they've passed and we are charged to enforce — then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines," Kelly said, to a burst of applause in the auditorium.

    I actually agree with that. Lawmakers should change the laws. Passing a law that lets TSA employees take naked pictures of you and then acting surprised when some low payed airport rent-a-cop abuses it is just silly.

  • Unemployed Armenian Tranny||

    But like most things, Congress passes a law that creates an bureaucracy, the bureaucracy then begins its slow and steady regulatory creep - a guidline here, a regulation there, a conditional ban there, a restricted item/measurement/state of matter etc... and after a short time you have an oppressive behemoth protecting you from you.

    We can probably number the number of laws agencies that have been closed by the repeal or passage of over-riding laws on no more than two hands. The people in office are when this needs to happen are never the same people that created the problem, so nobody will touch it.

    In short, I agree, it Congress' fault and problem to fix, but do you really expect them too, and does that mean that there is no use in pushing back on the regulatory harassment itself?

  • wareagle||

    Yup; criticizing him for something a lot of us have said is wrongheaded. Nothing stops Congress from undoing the mess it created but bitching about people doing the job they were told to do is a bit much.

  • clay@plan9design.com||

    So as long as your job is legal it makes it ok and absolves you of accountability? Fuck that. The people running the nudie scans and groping 9 year olds are shitbags too.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Passing a law that lets TSA employees take naked pictures of you and then acting surprised when some low payed airport rent-a-cop abuses it is just silly.

    Part of the problem is that I don't think Congress passed a law specifically saying the TSA is allowed to naked pictures of people, they passed a law that charged them with airport security and then the TSA, in their infinite wisdom (sarc) decided that the best way to do that was to take naked pictures of people and/ or molest them.

    Although it is true that Congress could fix the problem anytime they want by passing a law that says "no more Rapiscans or feeling passengers up."

  • Paper Wasp||

    Really? Kelly respects laws? Judges found the "travel ban" was unconstitutional, but that hasn't stopped CBP from hassling the shit out of travelers. Pretty clear Kelly and his goon squad only respect "the laws" when they're shitty, fascist laws that let the goons do whatever they please.

    Fuck this jackbooted piece of shit.

  • Charles Easterly||

    Is it possible that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly is cognizant that "Airport security in America is a sham - "security theater" designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists...."?

    Perhaps he doesn't trust the "mainstream media" in general, or ABC in particular when it reported that "An internal investigation of the Transportation Security Administration revealed security failures at dozens of the nation's busiest airports, where undercover investigators were able to smuggle mock explosives or banned weapons through checkpoints in 95 percent of trials...."

  • Fk_Censorship||

    Exactly. I wouldn't mind the lines, and all the inconveniences if I were reassured that TSA's measures actually worked. When I hear that they've been breached 95% of the time, in a controlled test, I'm beginning to doubt the reason for their existence. Placebo deterrence maybe?

  • Juice||

    The whole speech is watchable

    I doubt it.

  • josh||

    He's not wrong. He's not right either. Mostly just another asshole that doesn't quite get it.

  • Ron||

    and the audience that applauded his comments only strengthen his resolve to be a bigger asshole

  • DenverJ||

    Preach it, Shackford!

  • Professor Woland||

    Trump, so much better for liberty than Gary Johnson would have been. I mean, Nazi wedding cakes, right?

  • Inigo Montoya||

    I actually read through more than half this article under the impression this is John Kerry, the former Sec of State, Taxachusetts Senator, and ketchup heiress' horse-faced hubby.

    At some point, my brain finally registered it was reading 2 Ls in that last name, not 2 Rs. And here I was thinking, "Wow. Trump kept him on, but kinda demoted him, and now he's reduced to this."

    So the real John Kerry is actually enjoying that under-taxed yacht of his right now. Good for him. But that doesn't make this Kelly twerp any less of a self-important twit.

    Where do they find all these power-drunk numbskulls anyway?

  • ||

    Sounds like the politics of fear is here to stay. All it took was one tragic event for America to lose its mind.

    What a shame.

  • eyeroller||

    Bush's fifth term.

  • Real Books||

    It's Trump's fault that Obama had eight years to fix this, and didn't.

  • Mark22||

    Actually, I'd say it's McCain's fault, who ran as a senile war monger with an imbecilic vice presidential candidate. It's also the Republicans' fault who didn't manage to nominate anybody better. And it's Bush's fault, who ran the country so poorly and reacted so badly to 9/11 that people were desperate for a change.

  • Longtobefree||

    So for the first time I have noticed, the fake headline is actually contradicted in the article.
    John Kelly told the legislature to shut up, not the American public.
    Here is the quote from the article, showing the headline is false/fake.
    "If lawmakers do not like the laws they've passed and we are charged to enforce — then they should have the courage and skill to change the laws. Otherwise they should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines," Kelly said, to a burst of applause in the auditorium.

  • steve walsh||

    That's my take too. I, for one, appreciate his honesty and clear expression of the facts of the situation. Don't like the situation any better than my fellow freedom loving, government hating compardres here, but the fella does speak the truth as to the law and his agency's responsibilities.

  • Marijuana Packaging||

    They should shut up and support the men and women on the front lines, Kelly said, to a burst of applause in the auditorium.

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