I don’t know what they put in the water over at BoingBoing today but they seem to be in full panic mode.
Here’s this article which tries to convince us that Mexican cartels are about to launch an armed invasion of America and crush our puny nation (ok, I exaggerate but not by much). The article tries to make the case that events in Mexico should be considered an insurgency which is moving North. I think that may be overstating the political intent of the cartels a bit. I was particularly drawn to a link to this article which quotes a local sheriff as saying:
“We are outgunned, we are out manned and we don’t have the resources here locally to fight this,” said Babeu, referring to heavily-armed cartel movements three counties deep in Arizona.
The author then goes on to provide her analysis of the situation:
I’ve written at length about the debate over border violence “spillover” – the confusion over what it really entails, and whether or not it’s actually happening. The naysayers point to crime statistics, which in several major border cities show that the incidence of major crimes has gone down. El Paso is even considered the 2nd or 3rd safest city in the whole country. However, I don’t believe you can use crime statistics alone to determine whether or not border violence spillover is occurring; there is just way too much anecdotal evidence to the contrary.
I’m seeing red right now. Let me explain why.
This author claims to be an intelligence analyst with eight years experience. And so, this consultant and lecturer on intelligence issues, what methodology does she use to come to her conclusions?
Certainly not ‘facts’ like crime statistics. Oh no. Those pesky things might not prove what you want them to. No need to identify other metrics either since they might end up biting you if they don’t go the way you want. Better to do a Chertoff and just reference you ‘gut instinct’. It’ll say whatever you want it to and will never be wrong.
So, let’s dig a bit deeper. Sylvia is proud of the fact that she’s appeared (twice!) on the Bill Handel show. Who’s Bill Handel? He’s the sort of well balanced radio personality who:
…commented on a show about health care that the U.S. government should “euthanize old people” “sell Glendale to get rid of the Armenians.” and “get rid of the Irish and the Italians too”
Hmmm…yeah, just the sort of place for a well reasoned and thoughtful discourse, I’m sure.
This is what happens when you tailor your analysis to fit what your audience wants to hear.
Look, I’m not saying there isn’t a problem with crime and violence spilling over the border. Maybe there is. I’d just like to have some way of identifying it that doesn’t involve a Magic 8-ball. If crime statistics aren’t any good (and I’d like a hypothesis as to how these cartels are able to engage in a major insurgency and conspire to make it look like crime is going down), than what data should we use? I’d like some way to make sure this isn’t yet another attempt by a law enforcement agency to tap into the federal grant gravy train.
I also don’t mind someone having an opinion, even one opposed to mine (although why someone would do that is beyond me). But to claim to be an intelligence analyst and then declare that your analysis won’t be bound by data is simply outrageous. You, Ms. Longmire, are doing a disservice to the profession.
UPDATE: After Ms. Longmire’s comments allow me to withdraw my final sentence and recommend checking out the comments in which (specifically her final comment) she gets to a point where I can generally agree. I still think she was a bit too dismissive of data in her original post and have a few minor quibbles but I’m sure that’s more a difference based on style than substance.