Monday, May 26, 2008

The Alice In Wonderland Tea Party

The Department of Homeland Security is a real piece of work. It has an enormous budget and has absorbed all sorts of disparate agencies. It's job is allegedly to keep the United States safe and secure, and to do that job it dispenses millions upon millions of dollars to states to accomplish that mission. Unfortunately, the DHS, especially as led by Michael Chertoff, only sees one threat to our security: Al Qaeda. A fine example of that narrow focus was presented in this article published in today's NY Times.

Juliette N. Kayyem, the Massachusetts homeland security adviser, was in her office in early February when an aide brought her startling news. To qualify for its full allotment of federal money, Massachusetts had to come up with a plan to protect the state from an almost unheard-of threat: improvised explosive devices, known as I.E.D.’s. ...

The demand for plans to guard against improvised explosives is being cited by state and local officials as the latest example that their concerns are not being heard, and that federal officials continue to push them to spend money on a terrorism threat that is often vague. Some $23 billion in domestic security financing has flowed to the states from the federal government since the Sept. 11 attacks, but authorities in many states and cities say they have seen little or no intelligence that Al Qaeda, or any of its potential homegrown offshoots, has concrete plans for an attack.

Now I can well imagine Ms.Kayyem's astonishment. As the article noted, it is far more likely that Massachusetts highways will be the scene of chemical spills than planted explosive devices, but the DHS doesn't consider chemical spills caused by traffic accidents to be particularly important from a safety and security standpoint. That's too much of a local issue. And Al Qaeda wouldn't be involved.

Now, Mr. Chertoff's refusal to allow for "mission creep" would kind of make sense (sort of) if the Department of Homeland Security hadn't sucked FEMA into its portfolio, and if a whole lot of money that used to go to assist state and local police departments in dealing with such issues as drug trafficing and multistate gangs hadn't also been sucked into the DHS budget.

It also would kind of make sense (sort of) if the DHS had some solid information about Al Qaeda plans for another attack and had transmitted that information to the appropriate agencies in the states. Whether Mr. Chertoff has such information is moot, since he hasn't bothered to tell anyone who would need to know anything about such attack plans.

Here's what I suspect this is all about. During a DHS meeting, or (and this is more likely) at the water cooler, somebody remarked about how many of the US troops were killed or injured around Baghdad by I.E.D.s. Mr. Chertoff overheard the conversation, slapped his forehead and said, "Oh, my God! I.E.D.s. That's what they'll do. We'd better put together a program to stop those infernal Al Qaeda operatives, and quick. Somebody get the White House on the phone. I need more money."


239 days.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home