Wednesday, July 12, 2006

More quickies

The Inspector General of the Department of Fatherland Security released a report of the data that was used to determine funding from the department for cities and states in the U.S. Among the sites listed were a flea market, an Amish popcorn farm, and a petting zoo. Looking at the chart provided in the link as to the number of sites listed, it's clear that some states are playing fast and loose with potential terrorist targets. For instance, Montana had more listings than did Massachussetts or New Jersey. What can we conclude from this? Well, there are several possibilities.

One might surmise, for instance, that there is a lack of a standard in determining what type of sight qualifies as a target. I think that's a fairly easy one to determine. In Washington State, for instance, our Seatac airport cannot run it's video cameras pointing at the loading and unloading ramps due to lack of funding, yet the Auburn Supermall got a grant for a sophisticated digital surveillance camera system from the federal government because it was a potential terrorist target. Leaving aside the argument as to whether or not the Supermall is potentially a target, which would be the higher priority - the Mall or the airport? Most sane people would agree that the airport should be given a system first before the Mall (if it got one at all).

Secondly, one might surmise that paranoia runs deep amongst the state planners who judged these sites. That's a generous explanation as to why a petting zoo made the list. Another explanation may be that these planners were looking at any gathering spot in order to increase their share of the federal monies as if national security were some sort of competition. That's a cynical reading of it and one that might create cries of "Fraud" for planners that led such bad practices. Indeed, if it could be proven, I'd like to see prosecutions. Unfortunately, a more likely explanation is paranoia coupled with incompetence.

Third, one might surmise that, for some reason, the federal agents at the Department of Fatherland Security decided that it wasn't their place to second guess the lists presented by the state planners. Isn't that their job, though? I mean, didn't a red flag go up when Washington State listed twice as many monuments as the District of Columbia? Shouldn't they be reviewing these issues, educating state officials, setting priorities, and providing guidance in these areas? Isn't that their level of expertise? Finally, who in Congress is going to hold hearings on this debacle and fix this mess? No one...because Congress is often more ignorant that the people they oversee. Remember, the Internet is made up of tubes.

A good obit for Syd Barrett.

The last U.S.-backed warlord in Somalia gives into the fundamentalist regime there. So, let's look at the military record of the Bush administration. Afghanistan? Mixed - the Taliban was defeated, but still exists as an insurgent group, the capital is the only area that the President truly runs, warlords are still rampant, and bin Laden is still free. Iraq? Mixed - Hussein was overthrown and captured, but an insurgency is rampant, civil war has taken hold, the government only exists under heavy guard in the green zone, and the infrastructure is still a mess (worse, in fact, than before we got there). Somalia? Complete failure. Iran? Too early to tell, but we have appropriated large sums of money for opposition groups which is bound to lead to great enmity towards us in the region furthering the recruitment by terrorist groups.

In other words, the Cheney/Bush regime has proved as (in)effective at military matters as they are at economic matters. They have been effective at propaganda and fear mongering and seizing power for the presidency. As we approach the elections in November expect a new military campaign even while we bring troops home from Iraq and also while terror alerts start popping up every week.

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