Sunday, May 06, 2007

But, We HAVE a War Czar!

Help wanted: War czar with clear vision - Yahoo! News


"The problem is not broad strategy and policy, it's that the bureaucracy is so inefficient and there's been so little follow-up that the machine doesn't work," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said.

Let's be blunt We HAVE a "War Czar" - we refer to him as "Commander in Chief." He HAS a National Security Adviser. There IS a Secretary of Defense, as part of a cabinet - and it is the President's job to keep all these ducks in a row to implement his "broad strategy and policy."

The problem is, he's trying to sell a "broad strategy and policy" that is intended to impress and convince the ignorant and uninformed, ideologues and authoritarians to people within a worldly, well-informed and highly sophisticated microcosm of careerists. You can't fool ANY of these people most of the time, so any "broad strategy and policy" that boils down to "trust me, I know what I'm doing," and which runs counter to the informed common sense and established practice of, say, the State Department, FBI or Treasury is going to be scrutinized and then, if implemented at all, implemented in such a way as to minimize blow back onto those suck with the duty.

This is, of course, assuming they cannot figure out how to bury the directive under a basement filing cabinet. So, when problems like this manifest, even though they manifest in the way Gingrich observes, it's beside the point. Ordinarily you would expect our bureaucrats to operate much more efficiently. What Gingrich needs to ask himself is why there is such an ongoing and obvious "white mutiny."

This is a failure of leadership, manifesting in systemic, passive resistance to the implementation of idiot ideas - probably complicated by internal disagreement as to which ideas are idiotic. This is made even more critical by the resentment created by the Bush Administration's practice of appointing reliable fools to head critical burocracies, people who's only qualification is that they have known George Bush a long time and still trust his judgment.

The fact is that there are very few people who are genuinely qualified to to hold such an office even in the best of times - and none of them are people who are primarily motivated by politics or so blinded by ideology that they cannot tell "a hawk from a handsaw."

So, bet that whoever Bush finds for this office, it will be someone who is either inept, corrupt, vulnerable to pressure or a combination of all the above. It's pretty clear that honor, ethics and honesty are qualities that are stark deficits to a career in Bush-Style politics.

Our Civil Service employees have been very badly served by such appointed masters and as a result those appointees are being "handled," "managed" and "Mushroomed*" with the goal of at least preserving the institutions themselves, even at the expense of current Administration policies. Appointing a "fall guy" will not change this in the slightest, it is a case - in the immortal words of Steven Colbert - of "rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg."

There is nowhere this can be seen more clearly than in the current scandal erupting in the Justice Department, where the battle lines are clearly drawn between the political masters and the professionals they supposedly oversee and direct. This situation is particularly illustrative of the problem, as it's becoming apparent that the goal was to subvert the Justice Department into a political apparatus of reward and punishment. Of course, the first step would have to be a general purge of those who value the law and the constitution above party affiliation and loyalty to the Adminsitration.

Bush's refusal to ask for Gonzolez's immediate resignation is nothing less than a clear declaration of war upon the Civil Service in general; implicit and direct support for the ideal of a completely docile and politicised Civil Service.

We can only speculate at the moment to what degree this agenda has been successful in other agencies, but it's clear that something is rotten at the core of the Department of Homeland Security, and that little has been learned from Katrina. We must prudently assume that what is now evident at the Department of Justice is ongoing in every other branch of federal government, with equally damaging outcomes yet to be widely revealed.

Aside from the loss of critical staff, remaining prosecutors could not possibly ignore the stain that would leave upon the credibility of their offices, or the increased difficulty in gaining convictions against those who's convictions will have political implications.

The Justice Department is filled with people that you don't want to meet in the dark alley of procedural maneuver or upon the dueling grounds of public opinion. When they cannot act directly, they have networks of allies that can speak pointedly, directly and without much fear of political reprisal, such as James B. Comey, the Justice Department's second in command from 2003 until August 2005.

[Comry]... told a House Judiciary subcommittee that although he was the "direct supervisor" of all U.S attorneys, he was never informed about an effort by Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and his aides to remove a large group of prosecutors that began in early 2005.
That strikes me as being remarkable, and obviously improper. Clearly, Comry himself is honked off enough about it to take great public exception to the Attourny General's efforts to justify these firings.

The testimony from Comey, a highly regarded former prosecutor who is now general counsel for Lockheed Martin, further undermines assertions by Gonzales and his aides that dissatisfaction with the prosecutors' work led to their dismissals. It also underscores the extent to which the firings, which originated in the White House, were handled outside the normal chain of command at Justice.

Comey's appearance followed revelations Wednesday that the Justice Department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility are investigating whether a former Gonzales aide, Monica M. Goodling, illegally considered political affiliation in reviewing candidates for the positions of career assistant prosecutors in the offices of interim or acting U.S. attorneys.
But, aside from defending the fired prosecutors from what he characterized as "smears," he put his thumb directly upon the more critical principle.

Comey said it was "very troubling" to hear allegations that political considerations may have been taken into account in the hiring of assistant U.S. attorneys, or AUSAs.

"I don't know how you would put that genie back in the bottle, if people started to believe we were hiring our AUSAs for political reasons," he said.

This nation cannot function without the essential safeguards represented by a system of justice that is as untainted as humanly possible by bias and politics. Right now, there are hundreds, if not thousands of cases being re-examined by lawyers who are considering the possibility of politically-motivated prosecutorial misconduct.

The more diffuse but even more damaging impact is a cynical public perception that our current government is as corrupt as any South American oligarchy, where the system of "justice" exists for the benefit and convenience of the oligarchy, and that it's various "wars on" are waged solely for the social and financial benefit of those at the top with no actual consideration of the impacts, benefits or deficits endured by ordinary citizens.

This leads to a general contempt for the law and a willingness to ignore, subvert and circumvent it.

In the absence of a large, powerful and ruthless federal secret police presence, the view that the law exists for the convenience of the Administration, an administration that has evident, manifest contempt for the law and Constitution when it inconveniences them, there is but one outcome - the eventual dissolution and extinction of the rule of those who champion such a form of governance. The only question is, will it be the "hard way," or the "easy way."

Whether by ballot or bullet, by impeachment or Constitutional convention, the general direction is clear. An increasingly obvious public revulsion is manifest and evident, there is a demand for the return to ethical and Constitutional governance that is of direct benefit to ordinary citizens, and not just the cronies of whatever faction of the political elite hold sway.

I've been stating with increasing urgency over the last year or so that Civil War is becoming a distinctly possible future outcome, and it becomes more and more possible with every single such revelation of the mindful and deliberate subversion of the public trust.

*Mushroomed: "Kept in the dark and fed bullshit;" the approach to appointed or elective leadership clearly incapable of making reliable judgments based on fact, precedent and tradition. See also "Yes, Prime Minister."

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