Thursday, July 19, 2007

Homeland Security Down the Toilet

My gut tells me it’s probably a good thing the Department of Homeland Security is feeling the heat again. I hated that communist sounding Slavs-in-a-wheatfield name anyway. Americans have celebrated their country for 231 years, but hardly their homeland. You don’t see Yanks dropping to their knees to kiss the ground of the homeland when they get off airplanes. Mostly they’re just relieved to still have their shoes and the belt-buckle they got on with.


Kissingtheground My gut tells me it’s probably a good thing the Department of Homeland Security is feeling the heat again. I hated that communist sounding Slavs-in-a-wheatfield name anyway. Americans have celebrated their country for 231 years, but hardly their homeland. You don’t see Yanks dropping to their knees to kiss the ground of the homeland when they get off airplanes. Mostly they’re just relieved to still have their shoes and the belt-buckle they got on with.

So, Michael Chertoff’s shortchanging of America’s cities, as reported in today's papers, is okay with me. The sooner we get back to letting the FBI and local police guard our well-being, the better I’ll like it. I admit Patriotact I'm not a big fan of Mike’s. Co-author of the foolish, rushed and ill thought-through USA Patriot Act, Chertoff has almost nothing to recommend his heading the 215,000 people who bump into each other in the halls at the Department of Homeland Security.

Ugh, that name just chills my blood.

Anyway, in a reversal of last year’s decision to eviscerate New York’s and Washington D.C.’s security funding in favor of theme parks and shopping malls, the nation’s Patriot-In-Chief (PIC) boosted those key areas to almost 20% less than they got in 2005.

“Less is more,” architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Nysteamexplosion Wow. Was that eruption in mid-town Manhattan yesterday just the city blowing off steam?

The PIC admitted in an interview in the Washington Post that

"his announcement was meant to tamp down criticism that erupted last year when DHS reduced aid by 40 percent to the two targets of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. DHS allocated more funding this year to the cities considered at the highest risk of attack and also stopped basing grants on such considerations as the location of national monuments, tall buildings and shopping malls -- a much-derided formula whose main creators have resigned."

Chertoff It’s surprising that Patriot-In-Chief Chertoff even noticed those gone missing, what with resignations fairly spinning the doors at DHS, which currently has 138 vacancies among its top 575 positions. This administration, unlike almost any in memory, is made up of the most flagrant opportunists, and amateurs at that. Opportunists bail when the boss becomes unpopular. No wonder PIC can’t find willing designees this late in the game.

If DHS was a horse, you’d have to take it over to the side of the road and shoot it.

Cobbled together from 22 separate agencies and approved 45 days after 9-11 by a Congress that hadn’t even the vaguest notion of what they were doing—but was steadfastly determined to do something significant—this new and strangely named organization failed its first test.

Bushkatrina No terrorist act required, every single departmental response (or lack thereof) failed during Katrina. The PIC soldiered on as if he knew what he was doing and he hasn’t yet got it right, two years after the fact. Nor does his boss seem to have a clue.

The most embarrassing part is that he still doesn’t understand or acknowledge the failure. Chertoff is a bona fide, magna cum laude Harvard law graduate, pot-lickin’ yes-man who can’t find his ass with both hands. As head of the Justice Department's criminal division, he advised the CIA on the outer limits of legality in coercive interrogation. Advice based on you catch ‘em, we’ll waterboard ‘em. Torture, plain and simple. Additionally, the PIC

  • lead the prosecution's screwed-up case against terrorist suspect Zacarias Moussaoui
  • prosecuted accounting firm Arthur Andersen for destroying documents relating to Enron
  • resulting in the collapse of the Anderson firm
  • and the loss of 26,000 Anderson jobs.

The Supreme Court overturned the Anderson conviction, but the company was already bust, so it was a meaningless reversal, particularly for the pink-slipped.  The mishandling of that Chertoff prosecution resulted in new legal guidelines preventing just such attack-dog conduct before juries.

Bushchertoff2 Unfortunately, it is beyond the jurisdiction of the Court to make the PIC go to the blackboard and write “sorry I lost your jobs” 26,000 times. But it would be an appropriate lesson to thuggery, huh? Like so many in the Bush administration, Chertoff’s reward for failure and bad judgment was to elevate him to the job of Patriot-In-Chief.

It was a gut call. Another confirmation of the Peter Principle.

Seven high-risk cities received a total of $410 million, or 55 percent of the money set aside for an Urban Area Security Initiative, while 39 other cities shared the remaining $337 million.

But Chertoff warned that he does not consider the annual grants an entitlement and said that high-risk cities should not assume they will continue to receive large amounts. The Overall state and local grants have declined by about $1 billion, or by roughly one-third, since 2004.

Well, certainly the PIC wouldn’t want to give the impression that high-risk cities will continue to be included in the homeland he purports to protect. That might make them think he and Bush were serious. With a $45 billion annual budget, the PIC Scrooged $747 million (less than 2% of their dough) to the most at risk 46 cities in the country.

The Decider wastes that amount in four days in Iraq.

This mis-administration headed by Cheney’s office took a reasonably configured and half-ass successful intelligence community and turned it into something that

  • pisses away $45 billion each and every year,
  • advises the nation on ‘gut’ feelings,
  • elevates threat levels to support political moments,
  • under-funds the nation’s anti-terrorist infrastructure and
  • gathers so much information it hasn’t the vaguest idea of how to sort through and use it. Or even find it.

Separately, DHS and the Commerce Department announced $1 billion in grants yesterday to fix longtime emergency communication problems underscored by troubled responses to the 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Almost six years after 9-11, the PIC is finally going to help firefighters talk to police.

And they call that a program.

We are saddled with a Congress made up of romantics. Not intellectually capable of making themselves conversant with the Constitution of the United States, they shoot from the hip with ill-advised reorganization. It’s romantic, this Department of Homeland Security. Hollow, but sounds solid. The USA Patriot Act. What could be more inspiring than a subversive piece of user-unfriendly law that configures each and every word to inspire lip-trembling allegiance?

Davidaddington An Act. We’re acting, by god. Whether or not we’re acting in your individual (or collective) best interests is another matter, you’ll just have to trust us. We’re not only acting, we’re acting as Patriots. Not a single Representative or Senator read the entire USA Patriot Act before it was muscled through the machinery of government by David Addington. Not one!

Nor did they read it after it was passed. Nor did they read the revised, new and improved version that Alberto Gonzales shoved in front of their campaign-weary eyes before these nit-wits reauthorized it. By that profound malfeasance in office, the Congress itself spawned the current fired-attorney flap that embarrasses everyone but George Bush and (presumably) Congress.

Michael Chertoff is an incompetent manager, a party hack and a danger to the United States, as is his ridiculously named organization. Rather than trying to fix what was (and is) a tragically conceived and mistaken response to a very real terrorist threat, the Congress needs to take back its failed effort. Chertoff's 215,000 employees throwing money is a prescription for fraud and thievery as well as terrorist attack.

Firefighter Congress needs to immediately flush the DHS toilet and redirect money and support to existing agencies whose long-term employees know where and how to tighten security. There’s not a mayor, port authority, fire or police chief in the nation who wouldn’t benefit from that approach.

Who would you trust with your family’s safety, the PIC or your local authority?

________________________________________________________________
Media comment;