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‘Baghdad Bob’ rides again in administration border claims

Cal Thomas, syndicated columnist

When I heard Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas say last Sunday on “Meet the Press” that the southern border “is closed,” it immediately brought to mind claims by Iraq’s former information minister — dubbed “Baghdad Bob” and “Comical Ali” (aka Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf) — about Saddam Hussein’s superior military forces.

During the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, al-Sahaf said with a straight face that U.S. forces were “not even (within) 100 miles (of Baghdad),” as TV images showed the truth. It also reminded me of statements by some reporters that last summer’s riots were “mostly peaceful.”

Secretary Mayorkas is asking us to ignore what “our lying eyes” see. Television pictures show thousands of migrants crossing the border. Adding to the mess is the Biden administration’s authorization for ICE to spend $86 million to house migrants in American hotels. Will they also get hotel promotional points?

Predictably, Mayorkas defaulted to the administration’s position of blaming Donald Trump for not controlling the border. In fact, illegal border crossings declined substantially — more than 70 percent — during the final two years of Trump’s presidency. The Washington Times quoted then-acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Mark Morgan saying as economies in Latin American worsen from COVID-19, he expected “unprecedented” numbers to attempt to cross the border. “Get ready,” he warned. The Biden administration either wasn’t ready, or OK with the invasion.

When certain members of the media, who opposed the Trump presidency, start hammering President Biden for his administration’s failure to control the border you know the worm is turning. “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd said, “It’s fair to call the deteriorating situation at the U.S.-Mexico border a crisis — even if the Biden administration refuses to use that word. But it’s more than that: It’s a political crisis for the new president, with no easy way out.”

Sure, there is. Finish the wall and electronic detection systems. Deport adult migrants, as President Obama did.

Adding to the warning signs for the Biden administration was this comment from ABC reporter Martha Raddatz on “This Week”: “The number of unaccompanied children and teenagers in border patrol custody reaching record numbers. Children forced to stay longer in overcrowded facilities. The media not allowed inside. The administration restricting access despite promising transparency, citing COVID and privacy concerns. The issue that at times plagued the previous administration now presenting a challenge to the Biden administration, one that shows no sign of abating any time soon.”

One is even beginning to read criticism of Biden’s immigration non-policy in the editorial pages of The New York Times and Washington Post. When that happens, you know that claims by Mayorkas, Press Secretary Jen Psaki and other administration officials are being seen for what they were from the start — lacking in credibility.

No country can long endure if it refuses to control its borders. Because of the pandemic, most European nations are closed to foreigners, as is Canada. Only the U.S. southern border remains porous.

To reject the obvious is the ultimate denial. Baghdad Bob said it best, though in a completely different context, as he admonished the American media in 2003: “Search for the truth. I tell you things and ask you to verify what I say…”

That is a challenge the supportive press, at least up until now, should adopt when examining statements from members of the Biden administration.

Editor’s note: Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribpub.com. Look for Cal Thomas’ latest book “America’s Expiration Date: The Fall of Empires and Superpowers and the Future of the United States” (HarperCollins/Zondervan).

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