Friday, July 15, 2005

Bartleby at DHS

Do you miss Bernard Kerik?

I heard Michael Chertoff (head of DHS -- Dept of Homeland Security) on the radio this morning talking about how the states and cities of America are basically on their own as far as protecting mass transit systems from terrorism -- the feds have no money for this Blue state problem.

Meanwhile New York's MTA -- who run the buses and subways here -- are being chided for having spent about 10% of the $500 million they actually did get from Washington....

Between indifference and incompetence, nothing gets done.

I find the intersection of these stories with the news from London to be much more disturbing than the President's non-response to that August briefing about bin laden planning to attack. After all, here is a very specific threat -- the kind public officials are always complaining they never get -- and not only is nothing being done, but the guy who runs our DHS is on the airwaves saying, in essence "not my job, man".

Chertoff made a point of bemoaning the fact that people riding the MTA system are not responding to the message that they should be vigilant about suspicious packages left in trains and buses and in related public spaces. He was saying how important it is that people are vigilant and observant and ready to report anything out of the ordinary. Can you imagine what it would be like if New Yorkers started phoning in everything they saw that was strange or suspicious? Is he seriously suggesting that people on the train have to take responsibility for security, as if we were in some wild west frontier town without a sheriff?

I thought he and Bush were the sheriff? Did they quit, or as in the case of dear old Bartleby, is it simply their preference not to do their jobs?

Meanwhile, the story from London is that the attacks were perpetrated by suicide bombers who did not leave a bomb lying about in a suspicious package, but carried the bombs on their persons. So all this crap about keeping an eye out for a stray package is rather odd -- at best an incomplete and inadequate response, and more than a little insulting.

Chertoff may not have been paying attention, or maybe as he passed the funding problem to the states and cities, he suddenly realized he needed to dump some responsibility on the poor slob on the train too.

Great strategy, Mike. If my train blows up tomorrow, I will know it's not your fault.

Maybe Mikey would like to go to the UK -- I'm sure the families burying their dead will enjoy hearing from him. At least they will be comforted in the knowledge that their homeland security efforts are not in the hands of such incompetents...

--- Neil

See also my earlier post at The Blue Voice on this subject...

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