Saturday, December 11, 2004

Managing Terror

In their post on Bernard Kerik's withdrawal from consideration as Secretary of Homeland Security, Powerline makes a rather interesting statement:
I hope the administration will come up with a replacement who, like Kerik, has a background in law enforcement and security rather than management.

What should I gather from this? First of all, I'm a bit curious as to why, after 18 months of assailing Democrats for viewing terrorism as a "law enforcement" issue, Powerline suddenly is deciding that law enforcement background is a prerequisite for fighting terror. Kind of a...oh I dunno, flip-flop, wouldn't you say?

But far, far more important is why Powerline is opposed to someone with a management background. The New Republic points out that the immediate problems with the DHS are mostly bureaucratic in nature; a fact that would suggest that an effective manager might be just what the doctor order for the DHS:
Overseeing a huge change in the bureaucracy while also trying to fend off terror attacks is a bit like juggling knives in the middle of the freeway. But even given realistic expectations, DHS has been a fiasco. Among other things, the department has failed to deliver on its original promise of consolidating the government's disparate terrorist watch lists. Its intended role as a clearinghouse for all terrorism-related intelligence--originally meant to be a core DHS mission--has largely been abandoned. And Homeland Security has been the site of never-ending personnel turmoil. Most recently, the department lost its thirtysomething cyber-security czar, Amit Yoran, after just one year on the job--he reportedly quit out of frustration with his lack of authority and limited budget. Aren't those sorts of bureaucratic headaches just the sort of thing DHS was supposed to eliminate?

Now, obviously someone with both management/bureaucracy experience AND security experience would be ideal (ironically, as TNR points out, the man who bests fits that bill is former counter-terrorism czar Richard Clarke. But snow will fall in hell before Powerline supports his nomination to a cabinet position). But there appear to be precious few men and women who fulfill both categories. Since its not as if the Bush administration contains a dearth of people who focus on National Security, perhaps it would be better if Bush appointed someone who could focus on cleaning the DHS' house.

1 comment:

  1. Why can't they get Joe Lieberman to do It? I'm not sure he would turn them down.