The Failure of Homeland In-Security: The Government's Dirty Little Secrets from an Insider
The insider mentioned in the subtitle of this book is me, federal whistleblower Cathy Harris. I wrote this book to inspire and encourage other trailblazers facing crossroads in their lives to listen to their hearts. Do what’s right! Stand up for justice! Not only will others’ lives be enriched, so will your own. More
My fight with U.S. Customs was long, hard, and fierce but I was sent angels. I was sent angels in the form of Whistleblower attorneys, EEO attorneys, legislators, media entities, civil rights leaders, community activists and advocates.
I remembered what my parents instilled in me about being respectful, doing the right thing, and telling the truth. Knowing my life would change forever and realizing my decision would affect my family, impact my livelihood, and derail my career, I was willing to risk it all to make a difference.
I could no longer sit idly by watching atrocities and injustices being committed against international travelers especially against women. I knew it was time to “make a stand.” In October 1998, I made a life-altering decision. I became a Federal Whistleblower (truth-teller).
Americans love to travel abroad. Whether an experienced world traveler or preparing for a first trip aboard, all travelers love to venture beyond the boundaries of the United States. They enter into a world of passports, visas, consulates, foreign currency, immunizations, Customs, and importing areas about which most travelers have little knowledge or experience.
Picture This: You’ve worked hard and decide to reward yourself with a trip to a sunny destination beyond America’s shores. At the end of your wonderful vacation, you board the plane for your return trip home. You arrive at the airport, but instead of making your way quickly and routinely through U.S. Customs, you find yourself being subjected to an abusive pat-down, intrusive strip-search, x-rayed, probed internally, fed a laxative, and handcuffed to a hospital bed for up to 4 days in a search for contraband. If you are African American, especially an African-American female, this scenario, it turns out, is all too likely.
After witnessing first hand a type of denigration against African-American travelers particularly women and successfully putting reforms in place to protect them, I realized something even more sinister was about to happen to the American people.
In March 2003, the Department of Homeland Security merged 22 federal agencies totaling over 180,000 employees. This included my agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Over 73,400 of these employees were armed, making this new department the MOST MASSIVE ARMED department ever in the history of the government.
What was more alarming is that the new department operated with excessive secrecy. Excessive secrecy could be just as dangerous as a terrorist entering this country, so I set out on another journey to educate the American people about the practices in this new department.
I realized that unless some type of oversight was put into place, such as Citizen Review Boards, Independent Panels or Commissions --that my co-workers would eventually go back to their old ways of “singling out” or “targeting” certain international travelers and Department of Homeland Security employees who were speaking out against any and all types of injustices.
This book will make you aware of the extent of racial and sexual profiling—the blatant mismanagement, abuses of authority, prohibited personnel practices, corruption, nepotism, cronyism, favoritism, and other unethical practices carried out by federal law enforcement officials, what is being done to combat it, and how current attempts at reforms and legislation don’t go far enough.
I will continue to fight for the rights of international travelers passing through U.S. Customs and Border Protection as well as the rights of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees themselves. This is a fight none of us can afford to lose!