Monday, September 23, 2002

The administration's blank check draft war resolution isn't the only security-related matter before Congress these days. The Homeland Security agency bill still languishes under a veto threat from Dubya. The new agency would sweep up huge amounts of the federal government, some of which have little or nothing to do with security per se. The veto threat comes from Dubya's demand that none of the government employees in this department should have civil service protections. He cites the need to rapidly respond to changing conditions in a security emergency, but that's at best disingenuous --- existing national security exemptions to civil service rules would almost certainly apply, and if not, the cure is broader exemptions, not ditching civil service. (And, as Max Sawicky has noted, he has yet to cashier even one major officer at the FBI or CIA for their increasingly manifest failings before Sept. 11th).

In the meantime, criminal justice scholars are noting that the Justice Department's statistics collection groups are getting thoroughly politicized. And they're doing the same thing to science panels throughout the government. Some of the Justice statistics jobs are being privatized; one of the major complaints about ex-Gov. Weld's privatization initiatives here in Massachusetts was that Weld seemed to be using it as a way to steer state boodle towards his friends, which civil service rules kept him from doing within the government.

Which brings us back to Homeland Security, where Dubya stands pat, threatening a veto unless Congress waives civil service rules entirely, even though they've given him just about everything else he asked for --- thus opening another battlefront in the war that this administration has been fighting hard since it entered office, the War on Accountability. How much longer does this have to drag on before it becomes obvious that for Dubya, ditching civil service rules is the point of the bill, and all that security stuff is an afterthought?

(Links via Atrios, Uncertain Principles, and others).


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