Thursday, December 22, 2005

Bush Obstruction of Homeland Security

Yesterday Bush made it clear that Democrats were to blame for obstruction of the Patriot Act and that action placed American lives in danger.
The Senate Democratic Leader recently boasted about killing the Patriot Act. This obstruction is inexcusable. The senators obstructing the Patriot Act need to understand that the expiration of this vital law will endanger America and will leave us in a weaker position in the fight against brutal killers.
Therefore obstructing Homeland Security was inexusable. With that in mind it is stunning to read the first of a series of articles by the Washington Post on the undermining of The Department of Homeland Security much of which could have been stopped had the Bush administration shown leadership and had not itself obstructed the department's efforts. It is a long article but well worth the read.

Bush never wanted this department. As much as Bush complains of playing politics with homeland security WaPo reports Bush only moved to create it because Republicans "did not want to cede the homeland security issue to the Democrats." Once in place the department was hindered by bureaucratic turf wars but did not receive help from the White House in cutting through the mess. In fact the White House often blocked homeland security organization efforts as Hill Republicans and WH staff feared the development of an "ineffectual behemoth." It thus became a self fullfilling prophecy as the department could not count on "political support" from the White House.......

One stark example was the White House's blockade of a Ridge-supported plan to secure large chemical plants. After Sept. 11, Whitman had worked with Ridge on a modest effort to require high-risk plants -- especially the 123 factories where a toxic release could endanger at least 1 million people -- to enhance security. But industry groups warned Bush political adviser Karl Rove that giving new regulatory power to the Environmental Protection Agency would be a disaster.

"We have a similar set of concerns," Rove wrote to the president of BP Amoco Chemical Co.

In an interagency meeting shortly before DHS's birth, White House budget official Philip J. Perry, who also happens to be Cheney's son-in-law, declared the Ridge-Whitman plan dead.

"Tom and I would just throw our hands up in frustration over that issue," Whitman recalled.

WaPo gives numerous examples of White House obstruction of Ridge's efforts and as one of Ridge's top advisors put it..."The White House did not support us. That occurred repeatedly. It was as if the White House created us and then set out to marginalize us."

It is rich to hear the Bush administration rail at supposed Democrat obstruction and throw out "playing politics" with security given he undertook the largest reorganization of government for political reasons and then torpedoed that very project for other political considerations. Republicans pre-emptively placed blame on Democrats for any future terrorists attacks for debating parts of the Patriot Act. Let's talk proportion and justification. The Democrats obstruct the Patriot Act until parts that threaten civil liberties be dropped or amended. Republicans obstruct the entire Department of Homeland Security for political power. Given that who are you going to blame????

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