Friday, January 11, 2008

Permanent government

The only question about an opening passage like this from the Wall Street Journal (subs. req'd) today (the usually sane, news side of the paper, article by Siobhan Gorman) is whether it'll bother Ron Paul even more than it should bother any other person waiting for January 20, 2009 --

As the presidential campaign accelerates, Homeland Security has begun an unusual -- and potentially controversial -- effort to smooth the transition to a new administration, a time in which the country has traditionally been vulnerable.

The department is already beginning to position career staffers to move into some of the key jobs held by political appointees set to depart with President Bush in January 2009. The change in power will mark the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that the reins of government will change hands.

So whoever comes in will have people who moved up the system through 8 years of Bush sitting at security desks on the first day. And there until they can get their own people installed, which takes time.

What's the rationale? That elections are a time of vulnerability --

Transitions can be highly partisan, even childish, affairs. In 2001, staffers damaged or removed "w" keys from White House computer keyboards. Frequently, outgoing officials leave little more than empty desks for their successors, particularly when another party comes to power. That period is "an area where traditionally there's a danger," Mr. Chertoff said.

President Clinton faced the 1993 World Trade Center bombing within his first two months in office, and Sept. 11 came within President Bush's first eight months. Mr. Light estimates that half the political appointees relating to terrorism were not in place that day. The 2004 Madrid bombings and the botched car bombings in the United Kingdom last summer occurred within days of national elections.

The facts: The Madrid 11-M bombings occurred with Jose Maria Aznar's PP government still in power, and thus with zero transition in the security apparatus. And there was no election in the UK last summer. There was the transition from Blair to Brown, the only candidate to replace Blair. And the entire apparatus below the Cabinet in the UK remained unchanged (unlike in the USA, where the top civil service spots are political appointments).

But worst of all, note the free pass given to Bush. 8 months is not just after an election. It's a long time. And some of the instability was caused by Bush himself, when he dumped Clinton's anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan because it "wasn't part of a strategy". The phrase was ABC -- anything but Clinton.

And now it's the excuse to keep the Bush hacks sitting in homeland security into the next administration. Or else a set up to blame the next administration for "instability" if something bad does happen.

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