Friday, August 06, 2004

A Bungler's Dozen 

Margie Burns of the Baltimore Chronicle, noting that the 9/11 Commission report took great pains to apportion blame for the terrorist attacks to both the Clinton and Bush administrations, here enumerates twelve disastrous security failures that the sitting President can rightfully claim as his very own:
The difference with Bush II is that mistakes went from passive to aggressive. The previous administrations, following the end of the Cold War, had their lapses and failed to maintain some protections. But the current administration aggressively took down existing protections, partly with a view to benefiting entrenched interests and partly with a view to launching an attack on Iraq:
  • Reduced the position of National Security Adviser to less importance than before; and appointed a former academic and Chevron company director whose national security experience dated from the Cold War;
  • Upped the profile and importance of a group of Deputies, including the Deputy National Security Adviser; and appointed to sensitive security positions Deputies with a known "neocon" agenda in Iraq;
  • Abolished the inter-agency working groups (February 13, 2001) in the first National Security Policy Directive, and thus impeded coordinating among agencies;
  • Maximized disarray at the top of the Army by not announcing an Army Secretary until April 24, 2001; Secretary Thomas E. White, an Enron executive, then resigned after clashing with Rumsfeld; the Army's Chief of Staff, General Eric K. Shinseki, also retired after clashing with Rumsfeld; and the office of Secretary of the Army is currently vacant;
  • Left the top of the Joint Chiefs of Staff office in maximum disarray for most of 2001;
  • Accelerated "outsourcing" and "privatizing" in government agencies, including security agencies, and in the military, including security contracts, even where the contractors also service foreign governments and foreign companies;
  • Politically impeded reforms or tightening of oversight over financial entities to prevent money laundering, financing terrorism, or offshoring;
  • Steadfastly opposed any move to diminish dependence on Middle East oil; and failed to support developing alternative energy;
  • Politicized or left vacant critical positions in Near East affairs;
  • Failed to tighten or to enforce regulations regarding entry of foreign nationals into the United States by visas;
  • *Failed to implement any of the improvements in aviation security recommended by the Gore Commission;
  • Changed the protocol regarding "shoot-down" orders, increasing the time involved and impeding communications up and down the chain of command.

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