Friday, December 03, 2004

Kerik Is Not Fit To Serve As Homeland Security Chief

A few reasons why Bernard Kerik is not fit to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security...

1. Kerik has furthered the lie that Iraq was involved with 9/11:

New York Newsday, 10/20/03 (reposted here)

"Saddam didn't do 9/11. But did Saddam fund, and train al-Qaida? The answer is yes. Then ask yourself, who hit the towers?"
2. Kerik does not believe in the right to free political expression:

Also from New York Newsday, 10/20/03 (reposted here)

"Political criticism is our enemies' best friend."
3. Kerik may have perjured himself before the 9/11 Commission:

New York Times, 5/20/04

"On Tuesday, the first day of the hearings, Bernard B. Kerik, the former police commissioner under Mr. Giuliani, offered a version of events that conflicted with the accounts of virtually every senior official in the Fire Department. Mr. Kerik testified that he saw police officers serving as liaisons to the Fire Department at the main fire command post on West Street. Mr. Kerik identified only one of those officers, a police sergeant who died in the collapse."
4. Kerik has extensive ties to the terrorist-funding Saudi royal family:

BBC, 5/16/03

"Mr Kerik says he speaks a smattering or Arabic - from four years spent in Saudi Arabia training security staff."
Update: As Michael pointed out in the comments, this is kind of weak as criticism goes. To a certain extent, he's right. However, considering both the Saudi royal family's history of funding terrorists and their history of brutal repression of their own people, the fact that Kerik worked for them in security is pretty unattractive. Were Kerik looking at a job heading up security for a major international corporation, I'd shrug it off. But we're talking about the future Secretary of Homeland Security here. The Saudi ties are not something to be taken lightly.

5. Kerik's tactics as head of security the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority disturbed our British allies and inflamed tensions with Iraqi citizens:

London's Financial Times, 7/10/03

"Some UK officials have been appalled by the language and tactics used by the US security supremo, Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner dubbed the "Baghdad terminator" because of his uncompromising style.

"The Americans need to learn that civil policing is not about 'kicking ass', it is about democracy. There are going to be problems if we continue with our different philosophies and different approaches to law enforcement," one UK official said."
6. Kerik's term as head of security the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority was abruptly cut short, with no explanation, contradicting months of statements Kerik had made about his long-term commitment to the job:

May 2003: "I will be there at least six months - until the job is done."
June 2003: "By the time he leaves -- in three to six months -- Kerik must create a police force that understands, as he puts it, 'the principles of a free and democratic society,' but has enough public respect to maintain order
"No one, not even Kerik, thinks the task will be complete by then."
August 2003: " 'We've only been here for 100 days and you want what? Come on!'
"He predicts his job will be completed in the next two months, and then he will leave."
September 2003: "The Bush administration's top security adviser in Iraq has completed his stint and is returning to the United States, the Pentagon said Friday.
"Kerik's departure comes amid severe security problems in Iraq.
"[D]efense officials said Friday that Kerik was scheduled to leave this summer and actually had 'extended his stay to finish his ongoing projects.'
"A spokeswoman for Kerik in New York said his job was supposed to have lasted only 90 days."
7. During the recent Presidential campaign, Kerik openly employed fear as a political weapon, such as in this op-ed column:

New York Post, 11/1/04

"... the next plot might not be against our skyscrapers but our schools, that the next Madrid could be Penn Station and the next Beslan, Russia could be Bayonne, New Jersey."
8. Kerik's tenure as the head of NYC's Department of Corrections was marked by scandal:

New York Times, 12/3/02

Bernard B. Kerik, the man atop the Correction Department, administered Mr. Giuliani's unapologetic zero-tolerance approach faithfully, and his work in the jails ultimately led to his appointment as police commissioner in August 2000.

But now, a range of investigations into the conduct of some of the top lieutenants credited with the transformation of the city's jail system is threatening to sully one of Mr. Giuliani's accomplishments.

Mr. Kerik's successor, William J. Fraser, who had been one of Mr. Kerik's top officers, resigned last week after reports surfaced that he had used correction officers to do work at his house in Belle Harbor, Queens.

Both the Manhattan district attorney's office and its Bronx counterpart are also looking into concerns about senior officers at the jails.
9. Kerik's tenure as the NYPD Commissioner was also marked by scandal:

New York Post, 7/15/04 (reposted here)

The NYPD has launched an investigation into the purchase and disappearance of four high-tech security doors bought while Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was in command, a high-ranking police official said yesterday. The $50,000 doors, which were built by Georal International and ordered in June of 2001, were to be placed in the lobby of 1 Police Plaza, but turned out to be too heavy for the floors.

The deal involved some highly unusual practices, including the lightning-like speed with which the doors were ordered and delivered and the decision to not issue specs on the doors to make sure they would work, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

"Because of the lack of paperwork and apparently incomplete recollections of potential witnesses, the police commissioner decided to direct the Internal Affairs Bureau to investigate the matter," Browne said yesterday.

Alan Risi, the president of Georal, has already been indicted on separate charges after the city Department of Investigation found he was submitting inflated invoices while supplying doors to the Department of Citywide Administration.

After Kerik left as commissioner, he joined the board of the holding company that owns Georal.

posted by Scott | 12/03/2004 | |

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Meet The New Homeland Security Director

In late July, I did some digging and wrote about former NYC Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik, who had proven himself an incredibly vitriolic Bush campaign attack dog. To be blunt, Kerik is scary. Well, the word on the street is that Kerik is Bush's pick to replace Tom Ridge as the Secretary of Homeland Security.

I would suggest you go back to my July post to get the background on the man, from his days as a security official for the Saudi royals to his tenure at the top of the NYPD and his handling of the Amadou Diallo shooting.

There is one thing you absolutely need to know about Bernard Kerik right now, however. He is not fit to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security.

Kerik has spewed too much bile, has propagated too many lies, and is far too political to be a trustworthy steward of the nation's safety. Here's the most damning evidence, as I wrote in July.

And it's interesting that the Bush-Cheney campaign would trot out Kerik as one of its spokesmen when he's said so many things that the Bush administration has supposedly disavowed. Right on the White House website, from June 2004, President Bush is quoted as saying, "This administration never said that the 9/11 attacks were orchestrated between Saddam and al Qaeda."

Someone had better tell Kerik that. As a member of the CPA, doesn't Kerik represent the administration? "Saddam didn't do 9/11. But did Saddam fund, and train al-Qaida? The answer is yes. Then ask yourself, who hit the towers?" The hanging answer Kerik's question is, "Saddam," even if he doesn't say it outright. So he gets to have his cake and eat it, too.

And the cherry on top?

"Finally, Kerik had this to say to critics of the war: 'Political criticism is our enemies' best friend.' "
I've been hearing that the Democrats need to ease off the administration, quickly approve his cabinet appointments and move on. For the most part, I agree. Rice is qualified for State. Gutierrez is qualified for Commerce. But Kerik is different. He will stop at nothing to destroy his domestic political enemies, and the Department of Homeland Security is no place for this brand of vicious partisanship.

Kerik must be stopped.

posted by Scott | 12/02/2004 | |

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Networks Ban Inclusive Church Ads

Since when do the television networks align their advertising guidelines with the political bent of the White House?

The United Church of Christ is a long-standing inclusive, dare I say liberal denomination with a rich history in pursuit of social justice and progressive principles. Today, they're hoping to expand their appeal to those who have been made to feel unwelcome by the politically conservative leadership of so many modern Christian churches. With that in mind, just two days ago they announced a television ad campaign to run through December which would highlight that the UCC, in accordance with Christ's actual teachings, welcomes everyone in their churches.

Somewhat shockingly, however, two of the major networks, CBS and NBC, along with another smaller Viacom owned network, UPN, are refusing to run the ads, calling them "too controversial". According to the networks, the "controversy" stems from the fact that, while the ads specifically talk about welcoming people of different "sexual orientation". From the UCC's press release on the matter:

According to a written explanation from CBS, the United Church of Christ is being denied network access because its ad implies acceptance of gay and lesbian couples -- among other minority constituencies -- and is, therefore, too "controversial."

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations," reads an explanation from CBS, "and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

Similarly, a rejection by NBC declared the spot "too controversial."
In other words, it's "unacceptable" for the networks to accept advertising that implies that anyone should not support any policy the White House proposes. This is really the end product of years of right-wing agitation against the so-called liberal media. The muzzling of free speech here is absolutely frightening.

It's not as if the UCC was running an ad that explicitly promoted gay marriage or that advertised that its churches would perform gay marriage. In a way, that would have been understandably too controversial at a time that the President has come out in support of criminalizing same-sex marriage.

But that isn't the case. The UCC was merely trying to send the message that they welcome gay people to worship God in their churches. Only an extremist would see this as de facto support for the legalizing of gay marriage. But that's the chilled free speech atmosphere the networks are operating under. If it contradicts the far right wing, it's liberal. And if it's liberal, it gets banned.

This also really exposes the hypocrisy of the networks, as one UCC official points out.

"We find it disturbing that the networks in question seem to have no problem exploiting gay persons through mindless comedies or titillating dramas, but when it comes to a church's loving welcome of committed gay couples, that's where they draw the line," says the Rev. Robert Chase, director of the UCC's communication ministry.
In other words, gay people are fine as friendly clowns on television (i.e., Jack on Will & Grace), but not in real life. And certainly not in church!

Josh Marshall has, once again, done an incredible job of covering this story at Talking Points Memo. I, and I'm assume many other voices in the blogosphere, will continue to cover it as well. We can't let repression like this stand if we want to continue to argue that no one owns God -- not the right-wing and certainly not their toadying media conglomerates.

posted by Scott | 12/01/2004 | |

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Google News Runs Parody Headline: Bush Arrested For War Crimes

I couldn't make this up if I tried...

It's been about a half hour since I first noticed this headline and it's still going strong. As I diaried at dKos, I fully expect Drudge and the right-wing media machine to grab this and run with it, claiming outrage at the liberal bias of the bots that act as Google's news aggregators.

But until then, let's all just have a good chuckle.

posted by Scott | 11/30/2004 | |

'Blog' Is The Word Of 2004

Merriam-Webster has named... something close to all of our hearts as its 'Word of the Year' for 2004, based on online searches.

Blog noun [short for Weblog] (1999) : a Web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer
Why am I so proud right now? I feel like I should be giving some sort of overwrought, Oscar-style speech.

I certainly didn't invent blogging, but I've been doing it in one form or another for the better part of the last five years or so. I'm incredibly happy to see that it's caught on the way it has.

I would like to see an expanded definition, however, explicitly addressing the political aspect of many blogs. The political blogs, for better or worse, really propelled the word into common usage this year, prompting all of those online searches.

posted by Scott | 11/30/2004 | |

Another One Bites The Dust -- Ridge Resigns

Well, the election's over, so there's no longer a need for someone of Ridge's credibility to issue unwarranted terror alerts. All kidding aside (was I kidding?), this punch was pretty well telegraphed, so it's not much of a surprise.

Equally unsurprising is the fact that Bush seems poised to name a White House staff insider, homeland security adviser Fran Townshend, to the position. Every name being thrown about at the moment is that of a Bush crony or campaigner, so expect more of the same 'echo room' strategery that's marked all of his other cabinet appointments.

No word yet if there's a qualified Hispanic interested in the position. If there is, though...

posted by Scott | 11/30/2004 | |

Pentagon Report Blasts White House Handling Of Terror War

Much has been written about the newly released report from the Pentagon's Defense Science Board. I imagine much more will still be written. The unclassified report (available from the Pentagon as a PDF) is a bit over 100 pages, none of it filler.

Rather than dredge up the most anti-Bush segments -- other bloggers already have that covered -- I'd like to reprint a few of the sections that really strike me as groundbreaking re-examinations of policy. The report does not address military tactics directly, instead focusing on communications strategy -- winning hearts and minds. Still, this is the type of stuff that would not only make neocons gasp, but it's also the type of stuff mainstream Democratic politicians wouldn't be caught dead saying.

All emphasis, of course, is mine.

America's negative image in world opinion and diminished ability to persuade are consequences of factors other than failure to implement communications strategies. Interests collide. Leadership counts. Policies matter. Mistakes dismay our friends and provide enemies with unintentional assistance.
To succeed, we must understand the United States is engaged in a generational and global struggle about ideas, not a war between the West and Islam. It is more than a war against the tactic of terrorism. We must think in terms of global networks, both government and non-government. If we continue to concentrate primarily on states ("getting it right" in Iraq, managing the next state conflict better), we will fail.
Nothing shapes U.S. policies and global perceptions of U.S. foreign and national security objectives more powerfully than the President's statements and actions, and those of senior officials. Interests, not public opinion, should drive policies. But opinions must be taken into account when policy options are considered and implemented. At a minimum, we should not be surprised by public reactions to policy choices. Policies will not succeed unless they are communicated to global and domestic audiences in ways that are credible and allow them to make informed, independent judgments. Words in tone and substance should avoid offence where possible; messages should seek to reduce, not increase, perceptions of arrogance, opportunism, and double standards. These objectives mean officials must take full advantage of powerful tools to measure attitudes, understand cultures, and assess influence structures – not occasionally but as an iterative process. Policies and strategic communication cannot be separated.
Worldwide anger and discontent are directed at America's tarnished credibility and ways the U.S. pursues its goals. There is consensus that America's power to persuade is in a state of crisis.
Negative attitudes and the conditions that create them are the underlying sources of threats to America's national security and reduced ability to leverage diplomatic opportunities. Terrorism, thin coalitions, harmful effects on business, restrictions on travel, declines in cross border tourism and education flows, and damaging consequences for other elements of U.S. soft power are tactical manifestations of a pervasive atmosphere of hostility.
There is consensus in these reports that U.S. public diplomacy is in crisis. Missing are strong leadership, strategic direction, adequate coordination, sufficient resources, and a culture of measurement and evaluation. America's image problem, many suggest, is linked to perceptions of the United States as arrogant, hypocritical, and self-indulgent. There is agreement too that public diplomacy could be a powerful asset with stronger Presidential leadership, Congressional support, inter-agency coordination, partnership with the private sector, and resources (people, tools, structures, programs, funding). Solutions lie not in short term, manipulative public relations. Results will depend on fundamental transformation of strategic communication instruments and a sustained long term, approach at the level of ideas, cultures, and values.
The number and depth of these reports indicate widespread concern among influential observers that something must be done about public diplomacy. But so far these concerns have produced no real change. The White House has paid little attention.
The information campaign — or as some still would have it, "the war of ideas," or the struggle for "hearts and minds" — is important to every war effort. In this war it is an essential objective, because the larger goals of U.S. strategy depend on separating the vast majority of non-violent Muslims from the radical-militant Islamist-Jihadists. But American efforts have not only failed in this respect: they may also have achieved the opposite of what they intended. American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.
Muslims do not "hate our freedom," but rather, they hate our policies.
That's a lot to digest. But I would suggest that everyone download this report, print it out, and read it cover to cover. The Christian Science Monitor has a great run down of the report, but even they don't fully do it justice.

Above all, the take-away message from this report is that the United States needs to get serious about the war we find ourselves in. Cold War models don't apply here. Empty, yet convenient political rhetoric of the sort that Bush and the GOP have indulged in is as stupid as it may be heart warming. More importantly, it's dangerous to reduce serious, serious issues to overly simple soundbite politics.

It's good to know that, even if Bush is purging the cabinet and intelligence services of any and all who may disagree with him, there are still some damn smart people in the Pentagon. To bad they're all working for Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and Feith at the moment.

posted by Scott | 11/30/2004 | |

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Corzine To Announce Run For NJ Governor

As we've learned over the last few election cycles, holding on to blue seats is just as important as picking up formerly red seats. With that in mind, here's a look at the 2005 Governor's race here in New Jersey.

Despite all of the GOP squawking about 9/11 and McGreevey's scandals, New Jersey went for Kerry in November and has warmly welcomed our new Democratic acting Governor, Richard Codey. The even better news is that Senator Jon Corzine has been out polling every potential Republican candidate, from former gubernatorial nominee Bret Schundler to former Senate nominee Doug Forrester.

Sen. Jon Corzine is the odds-on favorite in an early look at the 2005 New Jersey governor?s race, topping any names on a list of the top Republican contenders by at least 20 percentage points, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Nov. 17.

In a Democratic primary, Sen. Corzine would beat Gov. Richard Codey 60 ? 20 percent, the independent Quinnipiac University poll finds.

Corzine beats several possible Republican challengers:

* 51 ? 25 percent over Diane Allen;
* 51 ? 30 percent over Bret Schundler;
* 51 ? 29 percent over Douglas Forrester;
* 51 ? 24 percent over Christopher Christie.
Whether he was scared off by these poll results or by the results of the Presidential race, Chris Christie (NJ's US Attorney and Bush ally) has already announced that he will not run. Diane Allen has not made her feelings public, but rumor has it she doesn't want to run either. Nor does State Senator Tom Kean, Jr., despite whatever advantage name recognition might give him.

And it's interesting to note that this really is partisanship over personality politics. While Corzine beats all of the high-profile Republicans in the general election match up and acting Governor Codey in a Democratic primary, Codey still beats all of the Republicans as well.

Campaigning the most publicly has been Doug Forrester, who is a millionaire businessman and the former Mayor of West Windsor. (Speaking as someone who has occasion to deal with West Windsor politics every now and then, Forrester must be an idiot.) Check out this ad Forrester's been running at

I have two thoughts about this ad. The image of Forrester holding a broom is one of the dumbest, most over the top things I've ever seen. It looks pretty likely that the photo shoot was the first time in his life he's ever held a broom. "The politicians created this mess. A strong businessman will clean it up," doesn't really work as a political slogan since he's running against another, more successful businessman. Corzine isn't a product of the New Jersey Democratic machine. This is one of the reasons he's so well liked in the state.

Bret Schundler is still the more likely GOP nominee, anyway, despite Forrester's eager campaigning. While he scares the moderate state GOP establishment, the extreme right wingers in Morris and Sussex County and the big money, anti-government crowd love him. Both Steve Forbes and Peggy Noonan, those dahlings of the snooty "tax the poor" country club Republican set, will be in attendance at Schundler's official announcement tomorrow. But Schundler's ties to the national radical right structure will ensure that, as in 2001, the Democrats will once again be the people's choice.

posted by Scott | 11/28/2004 | |
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