Saturday, June 18, 2005

Chronic insecurity under Bush
Chronic insecurity under Bush

President Bush has gotten a lot of mileage out of talking up the job
he's done to protect Americans in the war against terrorism. When it
comes to implementing key security reforms, though, his administration
has put in a lousy performance. This week, the Senate Homeland Security
Committee criticized the White House for missing
headlines> its deadlines for half a dozen national security reforms
that would make the country safer, including imposing stricter port
protections and creating a national transportation security plan.

In a letter to White House chief of staff Andrew Card, senators Susan
Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Lieberman, D-Conn. -- the committee's chair
and ranking Democrat, respectively -- chastised the administration for
its failure to take action. "In the war on terrorism delay can be a
form of failure," the senators wrote, and "the consequences of failure
are unthinkable."

According to the Associated Press, the administration also blew its
deadlines for increasing aviation security staff, and for funding a
civil liberties panel to oversee counterterrorism investigations. The
latter has angered civil-liberties advocates, who blame the
administration for empty talk about prioritizing the panel, but taking
no timely action. Muslim immigrants in America, including a 16-year-old
continue to suffer the consequences.

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is having some
administrative troubles of its own.

According to an article entitled
"Hemorrhaging Money for Homeland Security" in this week's Der Spiegel
-360%20394,00.html>, the department and its various sub-organizations
have been on a two-year spending spree, stocking up on a lot of largely
useless inventions that purport to protect Americans.

"To this day, the harbor nuclear detectors are incapable of
distinguishing between bombs and kitty litter or bananas, leading
frustrated customs officials to simply shut them off," the German
magazine reported. "The new $1.2 billion explosives detectors for the
Transportation Security Administration, a part of Homeland Security,
are equally unreliable."

Despite the fact that the department's 2005 budget is a whopping $50
billion, the article noted that "only four of the Department of
Homeland Security's 33 homeland protection programs are considered
effective." But department secretary Michael Chertoff isn't letting the
private sector's poor track record interfere with doing big business;
at a recent meeting of 400 security industry executives, he told the
crowd, "We need you to make America a safer place."