Republican Senator-elect Tom Cotton maintained twice this week that Islamic terrorists could be collaborating with Mexican drug cartels to gain entry into the United States, a claim that he was first reported to have made during the election. In response to a BuzzFeed News question at a roundtable discussion outside the Foreign Policy Initiative's annual forum, Cotton said, "They could collaborate, and our southern border, because it's so porous and defenseless, could easily be used by terrorists to infiltrate our country and attack us."
Even in a campaign season burdened by a little too much nonsense, Arkansas' Tom Cotton went a little over the top in October, trying to scare the bejusus out of voters.
"Groups like the Islamic State collaborate with drug cartels in Mexico who have clearly shown they're willing to expand outside the drug trade into human trafficking and potentially even terrorism," the right-wing lawmaker said. "They could infiltrate our defenseless border and attack us right here in places like Arkansas."
Though Cotton arguably deserved points for creativity, there is literally nothing to suggest ISIS militants are coming to North America, partnering with Mexican drug cartels, plotting terrorist strikes, and targeting land-locked states in the middle of the country with no major population centers.
Two months later, Rosie Gray reports that Cotton, now a senator-elect, isn't backing down, though he's giving his demagoguery a little touch-up.
That's not exactly what he was telling voters in October, when he made it seem as if ISIS and Mexican drug cartels were already thick as thieves, but the far-right Arkansan's basic point seems effectively the same.
Which makes it all the more unfortunate that Tom Cotton still has no idea what he's talking about.
For one thing, there's still no evidence to bolster his imaginative warnings. It's nice that the Republican added a "could" to his theory -- it's tough to disprove a hypothetical -- but the GOP lawmaker is still just making stuff up.
But more important is Cotton's belief that the U.S./Mexico border is "porous and defenseless." Given his apparent interest in the subject, it's amazing the congressman still hasn't bothered to learn the basics: border security is at its highest levels in the modern era, and just in the last budget year, Border Patrol agents arrested roughly 420,000 people, most of them along the Southern U.S. border.
So here's the question: is Cotton (a) deliberately saying things he knows to be untrue because he finds the facts politically inconvenient, or (b) simply ignorant of an issue he claims to take seriously?