Via: Houston Chronicle:
Improvised explosive devices have claimed the lives and limbs of thousands of American soldiers across Iraq and Afghanistan.
And now officials say the devilish devices are posing a growing threat across Texas and the United States.
The accused shooter in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater massacre, James Holmes, allegedly deployed IEDs in his apartment, prompting federal law enforcement agencies to look into possible links to domestic or foreign-based terrorism.
The incident follows disrupted IED attacks in 2010 — a car bomb disarmed in New York City’s Times Square and explosives detected in ink cartridges aboard two U.S.-bound commercial cargo planes.
And with Mexican drug cartels using car bombs in cities bordering Texas, officials along the southwest border are increasingly concerned about ready-to-go devices being smuggled into the United States.
“The domestic IED threat from both homegrown terrorists and global threat networks is real and presents a significant security challenge for the United States and our international partners,” Army Lt. Gen. Michael Barbero, director of the Pentagon’s so-called Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization, warned Congress in classified testimony in mid-July.
Terrorists remain committed to deploying IEDs “in traditional as well as new and creative ways” because the devices remain “a cheap and easily accessible means to achieve high visibility effect,” Barbero says.
The growing concern is prompting urgent cooperation between U.S. military experts who are familiar with the devices and civilian law enforcement officers who are not.
But legal restrictions on the activities of U.S. armed forces are slowing crucial collaboration, insiders complain. Federal laws dating back to the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 limit the use of U.S. armed forces in domestic law enforcement and training — impediments some members of Congress are pressing to change.
The Pentagon’s specialized $1.9 billion-a-year IED organization has “saved many servicemen’s lives by teaching lessons learned in blood on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan,” report Reps. Peter King, R-N.Y., Daniel Lungren, R-Calif., and Michael McCaul, R-Austin, leaders of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
“Their hard-won knowledge should now be shared with American lawmen facing these same deadly threats at home,” the lawmakers add.
“To me it’s crazy that the guy who is the expert on IEDs overseas can’t coordinate with the Texas Rangers,” emphasizes McCaul, a former counterterrorism official with the Justice Department. “The military is unable to coordinate with state and local law enforcement, leaving a gaping hole in our security.”
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