Doubts about whether Mexico will stay the course against organized crime after a change of government later this year are rampant in Washington.
Here’s a bit of interchange between Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper at a hearing yesterday before the Senate Armed Services Committee on world wide threats.
MCCAIN: Quickly, is -- in the situation in Mexico, do you believe that -- as you know 50,000 Mexicans have lost their lives as a result of drug related violence. Is your assessment that these violent criminal organizations pose a threat to the United States, including states along the border?
CLAPPER: Yes, sir they do. There -- there is always the prospect of spillover and that's one reason why we were working closely with the Mexican government and that's particularly true with respect to intelligence initiatives that we're working with them, which I can -- happy to discuss in closed session. But there is a profound threat to both countries.
MCCAIN: Have you seen any indication that the top candidates vying to succeed President Calderon will alter the way the Mexican government addresses the threat of the cartels
CLAPPER: I believe, sir that -- I can't do a one by one assessment, but I believe that the -- no matter who succeeds President Calderon, they -- they will be committed to continue this -- this campaign.
MCCAIN: Well, I suggest you look a little more carefully because I think that may not be the case, at least with one of the candidates.
Set upon by journalists after the hearing, McCain declined to say whether he was referring to Enrique Pena Nieto, the front-runner in polls. Pena Nieto belongs to the Institutional Revolutionary Party which ruled Mexico for decades and has a history of accommodation with organized criminal groups.
“Do you think I am so stupid to give names?” McCain told the reporters.