Opinion

Obama’s executive order directs NSA to combat wildlife trafficking

susanricePresident Barack Obama expanded Susan Rice’s duties on Monday, which was also her first day on the job as National Security Advisor, by appointing her to ride herd over the trafficking of wildlife into the United States.

Rice barely got settled into her new position when she was charged with keeping track of the illicit trafficking of wildlife, according to The Weekly Standard.

President Obama signed an executive order “to address the significant effects of wildlife trafficking on the national interests of the United States,” and ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. The poaching of protected species and the illegal trade in wildlife and their derivative parts and products (together known as “wildlife trafficking”) represent an international crisis that continues to escalate. Poaching operations have expanded beyond small-scale, opportunistic actions to coordinated slaughter commissioned by armed and organized criminal syndicates. The survival of protected wildlife species such as elephants, rhinos, great apes, tigers, sharks, tuna, and turtles has beneficial economic, social, and environmental impacts that are important to all nations. Wildlife trafficking reduces those benefits while generating billions of dollars in illicit revenues each year, contributing to the illegal economy, fueling instability, and undermining security. Also, the prevention of trafficking of live animals helps us control the spread of emerging infectious diseases. For these reasons, it is in the national interest of the United States to combat wildlife trafficking.

The order also provides, “There is established a Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking (Task Force), to be co-chaired by the Secretary of State, Secretary of the Interior, and the Attorney General (Co-Chairs), or their designees, who shall report to the President through the National Security Advisor.”

With government secrets leaker Edward Snowden seeking asylum in Russia, Syrian rebel forces as well as Syrian government forces terrorizing Syrian citizens, and the situation in Egypt rapidly escalating into what may be yet another Middle East civil war, one would think that the National Security Advisor’s plate is already pretty full.

In an update, The Weekly Standard’s Daniel Halper posted a response by “a friend of the government,” who suggests that this is a good idea, and notes that “Some terrorist groups in Africa are known to get financing from the sale of African animals, and mostly the tusks of elephants and rhinos.”

I submit this would have been an excellent idea — four years ago, when we could have nipped the problem of terrorist financing in the bud. But the bud is in full bloom now. The time to consider beefing up home security isn’t when the house is being invaded by armed intruders. First deal with the burglars, then change the locks.

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