Monday, June 10, 2002

HOMELAND INSECURITY - PART TWO: Writing for the New York Times, Frank Rich echoes what I'd said in this space last week -- and more. Here's an excerpt:
The cure Mr. Bush now proposes for such ailments a big new federal bureaucracy with 169,000 employees that stands apart from the F.B.I. and C.I.A. bureaucracies is still another avoidance of accountability and still another repudiation of the efficient, lean-government corporate Republicanism that he supposedly champions. (No wonder Democratic leaders are falling over each other to take credit for thinking of it first.)

This Rube Goldberg contraption will take months to pass in some form and may not be in action before Google arrives at the F.B.I. It allegedly requires no new funds (a feat to be achieved only by Enron off-balance-sheet bookkeeping) and reshuffles the same deck of lightweights we have now. That includes the irrepressible John Ashcroft, who this week announced a plan to have the I.N.S. fingerprint 100,000 Middle Eastern visa holders. The day after he did so, his own department's inspector general testified before Congress that the I.N.S. and F.B.I. were still "years away" from integrating the fingerprint files already in their possession.

Instead of creating a new organizational chart, Mr. Bush might have enlisted one man to hose down our security bureaucracy: Rudolph Giuliani. Instead of speechifying that "only the United States Congress can create a new department of government," he might have followed the suggestion of Stansfield Turner, the former C.I.A. chief who, like others, has called for the president, "with a stroke of the pen," to give the director of central intelligence the authority to coordinate the 14 entities in our intelligence apparatus. Rather than take such old-time C.E.O.-style action, the president wrapped himself in the mantle of Harry Truman. These days that's a sure sign that the buck-passing will never stop.

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