Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Politics of 9/11: Bush Administration Talks the Talk, But Hasn't Followed Through On Anti-Terror Measures

When a key figure in the Bush Administration says the administration is doing "everything we can" to protect the homeland from another terrorist attack, should we believe them?

Bush and others in the administration use this bit of rhetoric a lot -- especially as last year's presidential election grew near.

For example:

-- Last July, Bush said, "Our government is doing everything we can to stop another attack. ... In the past three years, we have taken unprecedented steps to defend the homeland, to increase security."

-- The previous October, Vice President Cheney said : "So our task is to do everything we can to achieve our objectives and to make this nation much more safe and secure for our kids and grandkids."

-- Then-National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice, testifying last May to the 9/11 commission, said: "We must and we will do everything we can ... those charged with protecting us from attack have to succeed 100 percent of the time."

-- During last year's Republican National Convention, televised speakers mentioned 9/11 nearly 200 times. And, as would be expected, every televised speaker praised the administration for its "leadership" in making the homeland safe again.

But as JABBS readers know, with this administration, action speaks louder than words. The administration has always shown an aptitude for knowing what to say -- what talking points will comfort the faithful, what spin lines will work best for television, radio and print media audiences.

So, is the administration following up its words with actions, or a bunch of excuses?

According to an Oct. 30 Associated Press report, the administration far too often has failed to meet homeland security deadlines. And rather than admit this shortcoming, the administration instead has offered excuses.

Is the administration doing "everything we can"? Apparently not. Let's remember, in most cases, the Republican-led Congress set the deadlines. Anyone who spins this into a partisan battle isn't paying attention to their dance card.

And the deadlines missed weren't for minor issues, the AP reports.

For example:

-- A Homeland Security study on the cost of giving anti-terrorism training to federal law enforcement officers is three years overdue. Its plan to defend ships and ports from attack is six months late. Its rules to protect air cargo from infiltration by terrorists are two months late.

-- A Coast Guard report on cargo container security is eight months overdue. A national security plan for marine transportation is well past its April 1 due date.

-- The Transportation Security Administration missed a March 17 deadline for a plan to deploy bomb-detection machines at airports.

Why are so many deadlines being missed? Amazingly, the official excuse is that there are too many deadlines.

Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke told the AP that the department goes to great lengths to work with Congress. But, he said, "there is an extraordinarily high number of reporting requirements." The department has to submit 256 reports to Congress every year, while the TSA alone has 62 reporting requirements, Knocke said.

That includes deadlines imposed by President Bush. The missed Coast Guard deadlines were established by a law signed by Bush on Nov. 25, 2002.

***

Additionally, in one recent example, Homeland Security asked Congress for a deadline extension, then failed to meet the new deadline.

As the non-partisan General Accountability Office reported last month, at issue was the deadline for a TSA transportation sector-specific plan, as established in the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004. The GAO reported:

"In an April 2005 letter to Congress addressing the missed deadline, the DHS Deputy Secretary identified the need to more aggressively coordinate the development of the strategy (of a transportation sector-specific plan) ... The Deputy Secretary further stated that DHS expected to finish the strategy within 2 to 3 months. However, as of July 31, 2005, the strategy had not been completed. In April 2005, senior DHS and TSA officials told us that in addition to DOT, industry groups such as APTA and AAR would also be more involved in developing the (transportation sector-specific plan) and other strategic plans. However, as of July 2005, TSA had not yet engaged these stakeholders in the development of these plans."

Too many deadlines? How about too many excuses. In this case, TSA didn't start its project.

***

Why isn't Bush using the bully pulpit to insist that his government do "everything we can?" Because he doesn't have to. It's so much easier to use spin lines.

And when Bush and other senior cabinet members aren't touting their desire to do "everything we can," the conservative noise machine picks up the slack.

Let's face facts. It's easier to trumpet a slogan like "doing everything we can," then to fact-check that slogan. And even if one could turn the laundry list of missed deadlines into a meaningful soundbite, the administration and the conservative noise machine would quickly denounce that soundbite as "partisan," or perhaps "Bush-hating." Television viewers and newspaper readers would be left scratching their heads.

Of course, it doesn't help that only a handful of newspapers nationwide carried the AP story. When facts are not made available, it's much easier to spin the American people.

Still, while the Bush team and its conservative cohorts congratulate themsleves for all the hard work they are doing, some in Congress are actually pushing to get the various late reports and studies completed.

Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY), chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees Homeland Security spending, put a provision in the Homeland Security spending bill signed into law last month, withholding $5 million from the department until it submits its plan for deploying bomb-detection machines at airports.

It's a start.

11 Comments:

Anonymous daphne08 said...

Can we please refer to our country as the United States
of America... and NOT as The Homeland?

I despise that term.

Thanks for the links.

3:05 PM  
Anonymous cloud_chaser1 said...

I also cannot stand....
motherland, fatherland, Disneyland,

question......

If there is a motherland and fatherland, does that mean

Canada is our cousinland?

3:06 PM  
Anonymous ayeshahaqqiqa said...

I don't see how Bush can spin a terrorist incident as anything positive with all this information about how he HASN'T gone ahead to protect the country. After Katrina, the people are wary of anything he does.

3:06 PM  
Anonymous kevinmc said...

JABBS, Nice Blog

3:06 PM  
Anonymous mindpilot said...

More proof that this whole terrorism thing is a scam
the government has no intention of keeping us safe from anything. They will keep us afraid, take our money, and do with it what Xians have done for centuries, "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

Just carrying on the tradition of bringing love and peace to savages.

3:24 PM  
Blogger don dzikowski said...

I agree with above that Bush never cared about protecting America from terrorists. This whole Iraq thing is a related manufactured sham as well.
So what are Bush's REAL motivations? To keep his party in power and to make its corporate suck-ups even wealthier.
TELL ME THIS. AFTER THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA HUGELY PLAYED UP BUSH AS A BETTER CHOICE THAN KERRY TO KEEP US SAFE FROM TERRORISTS, WHY IS THAT SAME MAINSTREAM MEDIA NOW FAILING TO FOLLOW UP AND HOLD BUSH AND ITSELF ACCOUNTABLE?

7:01 PM  
Anonymous goddess40 said...

They took our money and ran they gambled we wouldn't need "protecting" and bush's cronies pocketed the cash they were given to set up protection.

Makes you wonder if they "knew" there wouldn't be any more attacks on our soil

11:49 AM  
Anonymous leftofthedial said...

"terror" is a strawman

yes, there are terrorists.

with an incompetent government in place, they can even be a serious threat.

but with reasonable diligence (and no MIHOP-LIHOP desire for "Pearl HArbor-type events"), terror is a nuisance on a par with bank robbery. It certainly is FAR less a threat to global well being than corporatism's white-collar crime.

They sold us on the strawman, flog it unmercifully every time they open their pie holes, but they don't know what to do to fight this phantom of their own creation and are so grossly incompetent that they can't fight the much smaller actual problem.

and yes, they took the money and ran.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Significantly, the Reich-wing has been pretty quiet on this issue.
They have found the issue of Brown's incompetence reflecting Bush's Crooniehood almost unspinnable.
But how have they have tried. First of all the Bushies attempted to deflect blame on Katrina to state and federal authorities. Then it was yet another pathetic attempt to switch the discussion to Clinton.
They lied that Clinton made similar croonie appointments, even when it is generally true Clinton only had appointed well-experienced individuals in top-level government posts.
If Bush was running a corporation and pulled a stunt like putting in place a total incompetent into a critical security post in a time of a terrorism crisis, he would have been thrown out onto his ass by the Board of Directors long ago.
The board of directors of a corporation called America would do the exact same thing if the MSM would tell the truth of a genuine scandal instead of intentionally confusing the masses with Reich-wing Goebbels-style spin.

4:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note: I meant the above comment to go after the Brownie Brown Nose-Bush discussion above. I scrolled down to far.

4:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

criticising Bush for not doing enough about the terrorist threat is like raging at Chicken Little for not holding the sky up

5:57 AM  

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