How to fix homeland fumbling: Tom Ridge’s to-do list
– Will Vehrs of Quasipundit challenges me on my grumpy post below in which I whine that Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge has done too little. What would I have him do? asks Will. Would I have him pull an Ashcroft and head down the road to martial law (even while I pound Ashcroft, too)? Just what do I want this homeland security swat team to accomplish? Fair questions.
Let’s focus on two words: action and information. I understand that Ridge has, instead, had to concentrate on a third word: politics. That’s reality in Washington — usually. But these are far from usual times. Ridge needs to see that now is the time to step around politics; if you take action and if you inform the people and have them — us — on your side, then you win at politics; that comes along for free. If you bog yourself down in politics for politics’ sake, you lose.
So here is my to-do list for him:
1. Get armed law enforcement on every possible flight — especially long-haul flights, domestic and even foreign: air marshals, cops, federal agents, military police, CIA spies, even private security. Let it be known that we’re armed and ready.
2. Get every pilot and flight attendant trained in security and in the use of stun guns and get them equipped as quickly as possible. The worst that happens is that a mean drunk or a guy with untied shoes gets zapped.
3. Go after the quality of every airport security operation — domestic and foreign — and insist that even before they are federalized, they must meet minimal standards; if they don’t, humiliate them. Start with the French! And if Minetta doesn’t get off his butt and get things done, stun gun him. Show us that you are on the case because somebody has to be.
4. Develop very close communication with law enforcement across the country, especially in target cities. Make sure they know what’s happening. Make them your best allies.
5. Develop and disseminate clear plans for what officials and citizens will do in the event of various kinds of attacks: biological, chemical, nuclear, truck bombs, hijackings…. Be prepared and let us know that you are prepared. Let us know exactly what we can expect so we do not fear the unknown.
7. Work with the CDC and Tommy Thompson (oh, I forgot to include him in my list of bumblers) to have clear plans for vaccinations, antibiotic stockpiles, and stockpiles of other treatments. Make sure that every doctor and every hospital is regularly informed of procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and reporting of anything suspicious (learn from our mistakes, no matter how understandable they were, in the anthrax cases). Be very public about this so that we know what doctors know.
8. Work closely with Justice to have plans for identifying and questioning (and jailing or deporting) suspicious individuals. When gooshy-headed idiots in Oregon refuse to interview Muslim men then ridicule them, attack them, shame them into doing their patriotic duty. If other countries are lax in their security, shame them.
9. Stay ahead of Congress by developing a very clear agenda for homeland security: equipment, training, support, authority, intelligence in every field of battle.
10. Most important, make sure that we the people are regularly informed with constant updates via press conferences and the Web. Tell us about news. Tell us what you’ve done. Tell us what we should do.
So there’s a 10 point plan to start on.
Now go look at Ridge’s wimpy web site and tell me what you see: biographies of Ridge, vague and terribly useless advice (“Be alert and learn where emergency exists [sic] are located”) and only one thing to brag about: Canadian border security. Oh, boy, this makes me feel safe and secure. After looking at this, it makes me want to move to some far-away foreign land — except I’m afraid I might not survive the flight there.
Action, action, action should be your motto, Mr. Ridge. Think Schwarzenegger growling “ection, ection, ection” and make him your role model.
Take action and then tell us about it: Information, information, information.
Let nothing stand in your way.
Will Vehrs also asks in his email to me whether I really think Bush stole the election. Sure, I do. All those bad ballots; all those confusing ballots; all those inadvertant Buchanan votes. Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy today that Bush is in. He and his team — his defense and diplomatic team, not his domestic team — have done a good job. Now the question is, can he keep it up? We’ll see. He still has to win this war. He has to protect us on the home front (see above). He will have to deal with his international IOUs as other crisis appear. and most important, he will have to fix the economy. Would/could Gore do a better job? That’s entirely moot. But if Florida weren’t a corrupt backwater, it wouldn’t be moot or hypothetical, for he would have won.
Shoe boy’s world tour
– The Times of London reports on shoe boy’s travels: Egypt, Jerusalem, Turkey, Pakistan, Brussels, Amsterdam, Paris and possibly Afghanistan. “Last night one senior security source in Tel Aviv said: ‘We can be sure that he did not come here for the scenery.’ ”
– Blogger is back, thanks to Ev. Hell, Blogger is here, thanks to Ev.
– What has Tom Ridge actually done so far? Held press conferences, reluctantly. Tightened up border security … with Canada. Started an uninformative web page. In short: Nothing of note. The Christian Science Monitor tries to make this look like something but it’s not. We should see swat-team action on behalf of our security. We’re seeing slow motion.
Meanwhile, Minetta’s not tearing up the runway, either, trying to get airport security in line; Time reports on the frustration surrounding delays in getting any improvements on security. Shoe boy did these guys a big favor picking France as his launching pad; if he had managed to act from the U.S. — or if one of his accomplices does — there will be an outcry on the lack of domestic security action.
Let’s repeat: Ridge, Minetta, and Ashcroft are no Rumsfeld, Powell, and Rice.
– See also yesterday’s NY Times story on the anthrax investigation: a “tale of missed cues, misread evidence and erroneous assumptions that led scientists and decision makers to misjudge the threat to postal workers and, through the mail system, to the American public.”
– The NY Post reports that during New Year’s Eve on Times Square, cops will be carrying geiger counters to detect radiation and thwart nuclear attacks.
There’s no business like shoe business…
– The NY Times gives us details of the events and mood on the shoe flight. They say the passengers did not know the extent of the danger — the fact that Reid had explosives in his shoes — until much later. They also reveal the name of the heroic flight attendant who saved the day — Hermis Moutardier — though not yet the name of the passenger who first spotted the match and whose scream actually saved the day.
– The Independent was too quick to say that the shoe bomber had no tie to bin Laden. Yesterday, I quoted the Times of London saying that “Reid” went to the same mosque as the alleged 20th hijacker. Today, MSNBC reports that Afghan prisoners recognize shoe boy from their bin Laden terrorist training camps.
– Times of London quotes French television saying that shoe boy took El Al flights to scope out Israeli security.
– The shoe bomb was “very, very sophisticated,” says CNN. Not much doubt that the bin Laden attacks continue…
– The Times of London tallies the changes in the world since Sept. 11, seeing more change for Russia than for America. A pure political perspective, very British perspective. It ends saying that Bush will emerge a lightweight.
Religious? No. Corrupt? Yes.
– The Guardian on the corruption of the Taliban — bribes and even prostitution. “Where the west saw fanatical warriors willing to kill and die for an Islamic utopia, he saw frauds and hypocrites hungry for dollars.” The Times of London also reports on prostitution under the Taliban’s nose and burqa.