More hypocrisy from scumbag Dumbya

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June 8, 2002

Department of Homeland Insecurity

By FRANK RICH

When it comes to striking terror in a White House waging a war on terrorism, Osama bin Laden has nothing on a forthright American woman spilling her guts on daytime television.

This week began, you may distantly recall, with George W. Bush telling Americans that the F.B.I. and C.I.A. were now in "close communication" even as they seemed to be mainly in close communication with the press, with each agency rabidly planting leaks to scapegoat the other for pre-Sept.-11 incompetence. As further reassurance, Mr. Bush added that he had "seen no evidence to date that said this country could have prevented the attack" even though less than a week earlier his own F.B.I. director, Robert Mueller, had said his agency might have been sitting on just such evidence.

Mr. Bush presented this rosy picture on Tuesday. On Wednesday Arlen Specter, a Republican, told CBS that the government possessed not just unconnected dots before Sept. 11 but a "veritable blueprint" for impending terrorist acts. On Thursday morning, just hours before the F.B.I. agent Coleen Rowley began to testify about why that blueprint was ignored, the administration announced the creation of yet another new scheme to fix everything the White House had previously claimed to be already on the mend.

Is the new Department of Homeland Security an antidote to a broken system? Or is it merely a hastily contrived antidote to Ms. Rowley's TV debut, knocking her out of the evening-news lead lest she wreak damage on this Bush administration akin to what Anita Hill, appearing before the same committee, inflicted on the first? It's not Ari Fleischer but Al Qaeda that will ultimately provide the answer.

What is clear is that the White House has lost control of a hagiographic story line that, as codified everywhere from Annie Leibovitz's triumphalist photos in Vanity Fair to a multipart series co-written by Bob Woodward at The Washington Post, portrayed it as a steely, no-nonsense team of razor-sharp executives running government like a crack Fortune 500 corporation. When it comes to domestic security, the administration turns out to mirror America's C.E.O. culture all right but not that of Thomas Watson's I.B.M. or Jack Welch's General Electric so much as that laid bare by the dot-com crash. It's a slipshod business culture in which arrogant C.E.O.'s, held accountable by no one (including their own boards), cash out just before their own bad deals take their companies south. It's the culture that has wrecked Americans' trust in the market and that this week prompted Henry M. Paulson Jr., the chief of Goldman Sachs, to speak out, chastising "the activities and behavior of some C.E.O.'s" and concluding, "I cannot think of a time when business over all has been held in less repute."

Mr. Paulson, whose firm's clients include Global Crossing and Tyco, didn't name names. I'll name one: Dick Cheney, who from 1995 to 2000 ran Halliburton, the energy services company whose stock collapsed after he went to Washington. Halliburton has suffered not because of Mr. Cheney's departure but because of the damage he inflicted while there. It was his disastrous decision to merge with Dresser Industries, a company whose huge asbestos liabilities were somehow minimized during the due diligence that was his responsibility. It was also on his watch that Halliburton allegedly pulled a cute, Enron-like accounting trick, now under S.E.C. investigation, that allowed it to inflate revenues.

"C.E.O.'s are the ones who know what's going on in their companies," said Paul O'Neill, the Treasury secretary, in a blistering February speech. "There's no excuse for them not to know." But this tough talk doesn't apply to Mr. O'Neill's own peers in the administration. We are asked to believe that Mr. Cheney didn't know what was happening at his own company he was a "hands-off" manager, says one Halliburton crony much as Ken Lay, in the words of his wife, Linda, "wasn't told" about what was going down at Enron.

For those of us without a stake in Halliburton, it's not our problem. What is everyone's problem is the extent to which Mr. Cheney brought his management style into the White House. No one seems to remember anymore that President Bush put Mr. Cheney in charge of not one but two task forces last year. The first, of course, was the energy task force, whose secret deliberations have landed the vice president in court. But even more intriguing is the second. On May 8, 2001, the president charged Mr. Cheney with overseeing a "national effort" to coordinate all federal programs for responding to domestic attacks in league with a new Office of National Preparedness at the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

That day the vice president went on CNN to explain his duty. After noting that "one of our biggest threats as a nation" may include "a terrorist organization overseas," Mr. Cheney said: "We need to look at this whole area, oftentimes referred to as homeland defense. The president's asked me to take on the responsibility of overseeing all of that, reviewing the plans that are out there today."

Did Mr. Cheney take on that responsibility with the same urgency with which he met with Enron executives to develop energy policy? A FEMA spokesman this week said that the Office of National Preparedness was up and running by early last summer; Tom Ridge said on the "Today" show yesterday that the new Homeland Security Department would "continue the work the vice president started back in May of 2001." But when Ari Fleischer was asked to list the vice president's policy portfolio at a press briefing on June 29, 2001, he made no mention of such work, according to the White House transcript. When a reporter then specifically asked him if he could recall what task force Mr. Cheney had been appointed to head "after energy," Mr. Fleischer answered, "No." After Sept. 11, Barton Gellman of The Washington Post reported flatly that the government-wide review that Mr. Bush had entrusted to Mr. Cheney had never taken place. Even if it did, history will deem it about as successful as the Halliburton-Dresser merger.

Were the vice president to be quizzed about his pre-Sept.-11 efforts at preparedness, he'd likely either invoke secrecy or impugn the questioner's patriotism. But he's not the only one who avoids accountability for past inaction. After Mr. Mueller told the Judiciary Committee on Thursday of the F.B.I.'s primitive DOS-era computer capabilities, Charles Schumer, the Democrat from New York, indignantly asked, "But how was it we were so far behind the curve that it was almost laughable?"

One answer is that the Judiciary Committee, in charge of F.B.I. oversight, was itself asleep. As Ronald Kessler, the author of "The Bureau," points out, it was no secret that the technophobic director of the Clinton years, Louis Freeh, refused even to use e-mail himself, let alone make it viable for his agents to do so.

The cure Mr. Bush now proposes for such ailments a big new federal bureaucracy with 169,000 employees that stands apart from the F.B.I. and C.I.A. bureaucracies is still another avoidance of accountability and still another repudiation of the efficient, lean-government corporate Republicanism that he supposedly champions. (No wonder Democratic leaders are falling over each other to take credit for thinking of it first.)

This Rube Goldberg contraption will take months to pass in some form and may not be in action before Google arrives at the F.B.I. It allegedly requires no new funds (a feat to be achieved only by Enron off-balance-sheet bookkeeping) and reshuffles the same deck of lightweights we have now. That includes the irrepressible John Ashcroft, who this week announced a plan to have the I.N.S. fingerprint 100,000 Middle Eastern visa holders. The day after he did so, his own department's inspector general testified before Congress that the I.N.S. and F.B.I. were still "years away" from integrating the fingerprint files already in their possession.

Instead of creating a new organizational chart, Mr. Bush might have enlisted one man to hose down our security bureaucracy: Rudolph Giuliani. Instead of speechifying that "only the United States Congress can create a new department of government," he might have followed the suggestion of Stansfield Turner, the former C.I.A. chief who, like others, has called for the president, "with a stroke of the pen," to give the director of central intelligence the authority to coordinate the 14 entities in our intelligence apparatus. Rather than take such old-time C.E.O.-style action, the president wrapped himself in the mantle of Harry Truman. These days that's a sure sign that the buck-passing will never stop.

-- bigger federal government (oh boy @ just what. we need!), June 08, 2002

Answers

Sheeesh, I hate to admit that the man who I thought was going to be a good pretzeldent has let me down again, but I have to agree. We sure as hell don't need to spend more money to make another humungous and incompetent department of the federal government. What we need is to make the idiots who were responsible for this fiasco learn how to do their jobs right in the first place. If they can't handle it, fire them and get someone who can.

-- Rush Limbaugh (ditto@that.frank), June 08, 2002.

Editorial: Security / Is reorganization right response?

Published Jun 8, 2002

President Bush is absolutely right in the core message he delivered to the nation Thursday night: Terrorism has replaced the Cold War as the most dangerous threat to U.S. national security, and that reality requires government changes to bring the threat clearly into focus. That said, however, it's not at all clear that the plan Bush has offered -- for a massive new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security -- is the right one, especially in the short term.

Begin with the haste evident in the plan's unveiling. Just a month ago, the White House was rejecting any suggestion that a new department was necessary -- and was angrily attacking anyone who questioned the performance of the nation's security services. Bush's Thursday's speech was arranged so quickly that it caught even the Republican leadership in Congress off guard. The administration's homeland-security proposals weren't expected until fall. That suggests the primary driving force behind Bush's announcement was political haste -- to divert attention from the congressional focus on embarrassing intelligence goofs by the FBI and CIA. Haste raises reasonable questions about substance. To some in Congress, the plan looks haphazard.

Moreover, Bush's plan does nothing to address those CIA and FBI goofs. All Bush would do is create yet another intelligence analysis office that looks over distilled information from the two agencies. It's unlikely such an office would catch what the two agencies missed. No less a loyal Republican than Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor in the first Bush administration, worried publicly that this proposal should not derail efforts to reform the CIA and FBI.

So the congressional inquiry must go on, and it should have the full cooperation of the White House, given the manifold admissions from Bush that the CIA and FBI dropped the ball. Whatever else happens, those two agencies will remain at the front line in the effort to combat terror.

Bush may be right to propose the merger of 22 separate agencies and programs into one Department of Homeland Defense. In many respects, the plan parallels a more modest effort offered by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn. That proposal passed the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee last month, with every Republican voting against it.

But security experts worry that an agency incorporating so many disparate functions will be almost impossible to pull together and very difficult to administer. No existing department will easily give up major chunks of its authority and budget, and they may find easy allies in congressional committees eager to preserve their oversight of specific government functions. Moreover, breaking down walls between elements of this new stitched-together behemoth -- and building lines of communication between it and the Defense Department, FBI and CIA -- will be difficult and time-consuming.

How, it is fair to ask, can the federal government manage the monumental challenges of such a reorganization while actively pressing the ongoing effort against terrorism? Michael O'Hanlon and Peter Orszag of the Brookings Institution make the valid point that reorganization is a means, not an end. Too little attention, they argue, already was being paid to the actual protection of the country in such areas as retrofitting the national infrastructure -- including privately owned assets -- to prevent biological or other kinds of attack.

In other words, there needs to be a simultaneous focus on what the new agency is and on what it does. That's a very difficult challenge, and raises the question of whether the federal emphasis in coming months should be on organizational charts or on actual counter-terrorism performance. That's the very first question Congress should ask when the Bush plan comes before it.



-- Dickhead Cheney (Rush is right @ Dumbya is fucking up again. "big time"), June 08, 2002.


Dumbya has been sucking down pretzels, beer, and Hebrew National hot doggies while his people lose their freedoms.

-- (dumbya@manchild.traitor), June 08, 2002.

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