Cover up Mistakes by Creating a New Government Ministry

18 July 2005
Saul Landau

Cover up Mistakes by Creating a New Government Ministry
Saul Landau
Radio Progreso Weekly, 20 June 2002

The White House has proposed the creation of a new Ministry of Homeland Security. I think: Department of Perpetual Anxiety. Imagine, we need yet another security agency! We have just on the federal level the CIA, the DIA, the FBI, various and sundry drug and treasury police agencies, the INS, and the panoply of defense and nuclear security agencies.

George W. Bush, who swore to shrink government, now stands unabashedly for enlarging the very government he wanted to reduce. Has he suddenly become enthusiastic over Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal where government agencies proliferated like mushrooms in mulch? Except those agencies tried to bring economic recovery, not increase police power.

Or, has he implicitly conceded victory to the terrorists? Remember his explanation of the 9/11 events: "They hate us because we’re free". Well, thanks to his new rules that limit our liberties we’re less free. And, recall his promise: "we’re gonna smoke ‘em out". Notice he doesn’t mention the "bin man" anymore.

OK, compare how our nation stands as we contemplate what seems like the onset of a perpetual war against the Klingons, I mean terrorists. The fiends who hit the WTC, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field with four of our jumbo jets spent some $500 thousand to carry out their perfidy. Thus far analysts estimate that our government has spent some $100 billion to combat them and the fat lady of spending limits has yet to sing.

Have the Republicans forgotten Ronald Reagan, who established the political lesson for the 1980s? US Citizens should love the private sector bidness and hate their government, deem it unworthy for the purposes of paying taxes (except to the noble military of course). Even the Democrats began to sing this hymn. Now, Bush apparently plans to erase from the political blackboard half the teaching of the man who reestablished the Republican Party as conservative and take up the legacy of the free-spending and imperial Democrats.

Bush has already extended the empire abroad to places that the most hawkish expansionists never dreamed of, places Bush couldn’t have identified even by continent - like Georgia, which he thought was part of the United States until Condy Rice gave him a few geography lessons. (She forgot to mention, however, before Bush met with Brazilian President Henrique Cardoso that Brazil had more blacks than the United States. When they met last month, Bush asked the Brazilian chief if Brazil had any blacks).

So a man without many facts about the modern or any other world refuses to share information with Congress. As president he of course cites national security as his reason for withholding. He also instructed his recently appointed Home Security boss, Tom Ridge, to refuse information to the body that used to make the laws. Indeed, Ridge finally and reluctantly made his appearance before Congress, but revealed little.

So what’s going on? Every few weeks a high official warns us of an imminent terrorist attack. But the official offers no details about where and when or how to prepare. Presumably, that information, like most government information these days, is classified - known only to the security people and the terrorists. Or, have the Bushies turned into the little boy who cried wolf on one hand and into nuclear bullies threatening to take preemptive bombing strikes on the other.

On June 10 Attorney General John Ashcroft announced that the government had arrested on May 8 - note the month plus discrepancy - a former Chicago gang member and charged him with plotting as an Al-Qaeda agent to explode a dirty (nuclear tipped) bomb. Just as skeptics raised questions about a new government agency, the President’s advisers and followers gloated.

"See", they insisted, "we told you it was a dangerous world".

But even former CIA Chief and Defense Secretary James Schlesinger asked how the US government manufactured an immediate Al-Qaeda threat out of an uneducated US citizen who had no access to radioactive material or know how to make a bomb. A June 11 New York Times editorial accused Ashcroft of exaggerating "the likely damage when he said such a bomb could cause `mass death and injury’". But read the Ashcroft-spun headline "US Says It Halted Qaeda Plot To Use Radioactive Bomb". Does it not drive up one’s anxiety level?

Instead of enjoying a mediocre president who would follow the predictable and uneventful course of Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s, we have an imperial chief who outstrips those presidents, all Democrats, by the way - who launched the nation into the great 20th Century wars: from Woodrow Wilson (World War I), FDR (World War II), and Truman (Korea) to Kennedy-Johnson (Vietnam). The so-called 1991 Gulf War, on reflection, appears more of a technological massacre than a war, given that the enemy didn’t fight back.

But now our previously underachieving President has revealed the imperial leitmotif of the 21st Century. By declaring war against terrorism he has discovered both a formless and presumably ubiquitous foe. Hey, the Drug War has endured for a century. Think of the money we’ve spent in that futile quest! The Republican Party, no longer conservative by any definition that Edmund Burke could have accepted, now redefines itself a day at a time.

This redefinition of conservative helps to cover up major mistakes by high level office holders like those FBI heavies who last year had memos from their Field Offices on their desks outlining the danger of an attack, but didn’t or couldn’t respond; like President Bush himself who didn’t understand a briefing from the highest officials of CIA about the real possibility of a terrorist strike. So, instead of taking the old conservative approach, accepting responsibility for their failures, resigning and allowing competent people to take their positions, these dunderheads have misdirected blame onto poor government organization and onto the citizens themselves, who had enjoyed too much constitutional liberty.

To disguise their own blunders, the Bushies redefine Republican principles: big government, once evil, turns to essential. The White House demands a new government department to protect the American homeland, secure our borders, transportation, ports, and critical infrastructure. How did we survive without this new agency, which will synthesize and analyze homeland security intelligence from multiple sources and coordinate efforts to protect the American people against bio-terrorism and other weapons of mass destruction? What happened to the old Reagan saw about trusting the private sector? Did that wisdom evaporate after the "Enron scandal"? Oops, don’t mention those naughty words or you might distract the nation from its patriotic course.

"Look", my uncle explained. "The Republican Party stands for the rich. They’re a real party", he insisted, "because they have a clear agenda, not like the Democrats who stand for everyone; workers and bosses, segregationists and integrationists, landlords and tenants, environmentalists and polluters".

"The rich vote Republican", he clarified, "because it means for them lower taxes and fewer problems with their servants. Some frustrated and constipated Midwesterners also vote Republican, but that’s because they don’t like themselves and vote against their class interests. Hey, some people still vote Republican because Lincoln freed the slaves. But remember what H. L. Mencken said: ‘No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.’"

Those explanations may still hold, but by the mid 1960s, Republican strategists began to fear they couldn’t win any more national elections if they remained just the Party of the rich. So, from 1964 on when Barry Goldwater of Arizona won the nomination for president, the Republican Party also began to actively represent fanatics as well as millionaires. We saw them become the Party of abortion foes, prayer in school addicts, and gun lovers. Mean old Dixiecrats like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond from the Carolinas joined with Young Americans for Freedom in proclaiming a new fanaticism, which my uncle understood as a façade for the rich paying less taxes and getting more leverage over their workers.

After World War II, the old conservatives reluctantly accepted the Cold War and the concomitant military buildup. But old Robert Taft of Ohio and the other real conservatives joined with new Cold War Republicans like Richard M. Nixon. The Republicans gave themselves a public image as tough and thus real patriots while casting the Democrats as wusses. Joe McCarthy, the junior Republican from Wisconsin extracted his pound of flesh by accusing government liberals, meaning Democrats, of "coddling" the Communists.

That "limp" label has stuck, in part because the Democrats as a political party lacked a solid definition. Lacking clear class definition, Democrats in the White House became prey for wuss labeling. In the early and mid 1960s, Kennedy and Johnson both worried that if they withdrew US forces from Vietnam the Republican would label them weak. And ergo they remained in Vietnam. In 1991 the Democrats caved and backed the Gulf War. Clinton even talked tough on Cuba because he worried that the Republicans would hit him with the "soft on Communism" charge.

Using the political logic of "don’t let anyone get to the right of you on military and security policies", the Bushies now take the offensive. Under the label of urgent patriotism they cover up mistakes and make a new agency for their own "political security", according to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd.

Vice President Dick Cheney, as hard to find as Waldo on the puzzle box these days, but always impatient with any Democrat who asks embarrassing questions, attacked the skeptics of the new plan to create a Cabinet-level agency as "thoroughly irresponsible". The hiding man, as his pals know him, had sworn he would make the world "unsafe for terrorists". Instead, he has deemed the world unsafe for himself and has pulled a vanishing act as he chastises congressional critics of the Homeland Security Ministry for having an attitude "totally unworthy of national leaders in a time of war".

I would call it a time of wart. Cheney, still clinging to the "worship the private sector uber alles" mentality, covers up the Administration’s role in the Enron scandal by refusing to share files with Congress on Enron’s role in formulating the 2001 national energy plan. Instead of accepting responsibility for his role in promoting thieves and con men as national energy advisers and for the colossal intelligence failures, Cheney now diverts attention from those facts. Hey, with the massive complex Home Security Ministry some 170,000 people will find government jobs. Is this a job creation program or just a vast expansion of police powers?

Bush and Cheney’s erstwhile buddies, the Enron thieves, went belly up after their theft, lying and shredding reached the public eye. Other companies, however, still carry on with similar practices. Instead of investigating business practices, the Bushies invent a need for yet another humongous national security ministry whose primary role seems to be erasing even further the already eroding Bill of Rights. Long Live the War Against Terrorism!

Copyright 2002 Radio Progreso