The War on (T)error
Earlier this year the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General decided it was no longer going notify the press when it issues a report. In other words, the IG’s office would quietly post the reports to its site (as required by Federal law), shut its eyes tight and hope no one noticed.
I bet you didn’t know that the DHS has an Inspector General’s office that issues regular reports on fraud, waste, and mismanagement in the fight against terror. And if you’ve ever read any of the reports, you’d understand why they keep such a low profile.
- A 4200-square-foot gym for the building’s 79 employees, which works out to 54 square feet per employee, assuming everyone works out at exactly the same time;
- Commercial cable TV service in 45 of the 55 lavish offices (tuned to Fox News, no doubt); and
- Seven kitchens, some equipped with $3,000 Subzero refrigerators. (Because if there’s anything terrorists hate more than our freedoms, it’s our refrigerators. If you’ve ever tried to chill a six pack in the Saudi desert, you’d understand.)
But wait, it gets better. The manager of the construction project spent $500,000 on artwork and silk flowers, then tried to bury the cost in invoices marked “tools and equipment.” The beneficiary of this largesse was a local tool company with whom the manager had “a prior business and personal relationship,” according to the report. Said project manager soon left the
Unfortunately for the DHS, this report got picked up by the New York Times and CNN, though it failed to achieve the media saturation of a severed finger in someone’s custard,
This is hardly the first time the pigocracy has lavished taxpayer money on creature comforts or been caught with its snout in the trough. But snorfle the IG report archive (some six clicks down from the DHS home page) and you’ll find a basketful of such truffles.
Here’s a small sample:* On
* In 2002, the
The questions weren’t exactly head-scratchers, either. To quote the
One question asks "why is it important to screen bags for IEDs? (improvised explosive devices)." Multiple-choice answers included "ticking timer could worry other passengers," "batteries could leak and damage other passenger bags," or the wires could "cause a short to the aircraft wires." The correct answer is that "IEDs can cause loss of lives, property and aircraft."The IG’s August 2003 report concludes that “The protocol that
* In a report issued this March, the IG exonerated the
“In 2003 and 2004,In other words, they lied, but they didn’t know they were lying, and even if they did know they were lying, it wasn’t their fault.
TSAofficials made inaccurate statements regarding these transfers that undermined public trust in the agency. These misstatements were apparently not meant to mischaracterize known facts. Instead, they were premised on an incomplete understanding of the underlying facts at the time the statements were made.”
There are more examples, available to anyone willing to dig deep into the DHS Web site to find them. While the Inspector General’s office continues to air the DHS’s dirty laundry, they’re hanging it in a dark basement in an unmarked building. That’s standard operating procedure for most government agencies, particularly in the Bush Era.
But the DHS isn’t your run-of-the-mill $40 billion bureaucracy. This is the most invasive agency we have. The odds of having the FBI do a sneak-and-peak on your home are slim, but the chances of having your bag riffled by the
We’ve given up basic civil liberties – such as the ability to travel within our own borders without showing identification, or to avoid searches without probable cause – in order to feel safer.
Public scrutiny is vital to making sure the agency does its job without abusing its power. Sweeping embarrassments under the carpet only makes us less safe.