Several Bush-defending pundits are saying Democrats wont dare oppose his nomination of General Michael Hayden for CIA director, because homeland security is Bushs one remaining strong card with the American public. It doesnt matter how the legality debate turns out on Bushs end run around FISA, with warrantless wiretaps, and NSAs misappropriation of massive database records from AT&T, Bell South and Verizon that reveal customer-calling patterns. Given his empty rhetoric, the publics alleged confidence in Bushs homeland security performance is not sustainable.
His actual performance, as coordinated by what he has invested in homeland security, is so disgraceful it crosses the line from Katrina-like incompetence to criminal neglect. Although he likes to remind us that protecting the American people from another terrorist attack is his highest priority, the facts speak otherwise.
As often as he tells us that his prying policies and procedures have prevented another attack, there is no evidence to support this claim. His speechwriters are smart enough to know you cannot prove a negative, but he and they are counting on you and me not being aware of this axiom. To compound their lies, Cheney and others in the Bush administration declare that if and when another attack occurs, it will be the fault of all those who have questioned or challenged his clandestine abuse of power. In other words, Bushs cronies have fabricated a fail-safe hatch for themselves. No matter what does or does not happen with future terrorism on U.S. soil, they will take credit for the good, and blame their critics for the bad.
What is Bushs actual record on homeland security, based on quantifiable facts rather than absurd claims that defy both logic and reason? In the first place, Bush adamantly opposed the creation of a Department of Homeland Security. Only after his handlers convinced him of its political expediency did Bush claim it was his idea all along. What he hastily cobbled together, of course, was a grossly underfunded archetype of organizational disarray.
According to Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a ranking member of the Senate Appropriation Committee, the White House has opposed no less than 11 homeland security bills between November 2001 and September 2003. Here is a recap of the 11 instances he documentsall for homeland security:
1. In November 2001, he opposed and his Republican Senate blocked $15 billion for the homeland.
2. In December 2001, he pressured his Congress to reduce a $13.1 billion request to $8.3 billion.
3. In June 2002, a senior adviser to Bush recommended he veto $8.3 billion for homeland security.
4. In August 2002, Bush responded to a request for $2.5 billion by saying, Well spend none of it.
5. In October 2002, Bush instituted arbitrary spending limits that stalled homeland security funding.
6. In December 2002, Bushs Justice Department announced it was not releasing first responder funds.
7. In January 2003, Senate Republicans rejected $5 billion for ports, borders and nuclear plant security.
8. In April 2003, five amendment requests for boosting funding from $4.8 to $9 billion were refused.
9. In July 2003, an amendment for fiscal year 2004 funding of $1.75 billion for security was rejected.
10. In July, a request for $292 million for port security, firefighters and the Coast Guard was dumped.
11. In September 2003, an amendment for $1.25 billion for port security, etc. was defeated.
Need I remind anyone that FEMA is part of the Department of Homeland Security? Their dismal performance with Hurricane Katrina certainly proved that Bushs real priorities had absolutely nothing to do with homeland security. Its no wonder that so many Republicans finally went ballistic over the Dubai Ports World deal.
Theres no longer any need to connect the dots on Bush; his presidency has become one huge and growing stain on Americas proud heritage and reputation for being a beacon of hope to the world.
W. Harrison Goodenow is a Rockford resident.
From the June 14-20, 2006, issue