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Homeland Security Down the Toilet

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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

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."

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.

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

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Jim Freeman's op-ed pieces and commentaries have appeared in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, International Herald-Tribune, CNN, The New York Review, The Jon Stewart Daily Show and a number of magazines. His thirteen published books are (more...)
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