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Mind Bytes: Haitian Hangover - November 1, 2002

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

A couple hundred Haitian refugees that were fleeing the Clinton-created island "paradise" turned up on a crowded Florida coast just days before the election.

Is it simply favorable timing for the Florida Democrats? Or is it just an untimely random event for Jeb Bush and the Republicans?

Last July, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide told the New York Times that, due to the poor economy in his country, thousands of Haitians might come to Florida. He noted that, in an election year, "Governor Bush wouldn't want that."

DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe says that the Florida governor's race is the No. 1 priority.

A number of facts need to be examined as we try to figure out the cause of the 2002 Haitian boat incident:

  • Early reports described the refugees as disheveled, saying they had spent 18 days at sea. The New York Times trimmed the trip number down to eight days. Now other reports say the journey may have taken only four.
  • If they had really wanted to come ashore unnoticed, the refugees could have landed at night in an area less trafficked.
  • Rep. Carrie Meeks, D-Fla., immediately and publicly confronted Jeb Bush with the accusation that the policy of treating Haitians differently from non-blacks is racist.
  • Haitians in Florida managed to organize protests in record time.
  • Federal authorities continually warn us of ongoing terrorist threats, but apparently the Coast Guard hasn't gotten the word yet.
  • The Coast Guard didn't see the boat until it was two miles off the U.S. coast. Even after supposedly spotting the vessel, the Coast Guard didn't stop it, despite the fact that the ship could have contained terrorists, explosives, bioweapons or worse.
  • Our nation has mobilized personnel and equipment to intercept suspicious vessels on the open seas, far away from local news cameras.
  • The boat was seemingly able to navigate past sand bars, shoals and competing harbor traffic.
  • The boat landed in a spot with 4 feet of water, the perfect level for diving, jumping or back-flipping exhibition.
  • The people's appearance didn't match the profile of poverty-stricken refugees who had spent a lot of time braving the elements.
  • Thousands of Haitians live in the Bahamas and could easily have made the trip within a few days.

Whether or not one comes to the conclusion that any parts of the event were staged, two things are clear:

1) The incident has been politicized and exploited by leading Democrats, and

2) At a time when our country is in serious danger of attack from enemies seen and unseen, this was one gigantic bungling of national security.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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