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June 2, 2006

Further annals of DHS incompetence
Posted by Teresa at 05:38 PM * 30 comments

The DHS has come up with an explanation for its slashing cuts in funds allocated to protect NYC from terrorism: it’s the city’s fault.

This is disgraceful. Inept. You don’t play paperwork games with essential national assets.

Comments on Further annals of DHS incompetence:
#1 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 05:50 PM:

I wonder how well that would fly, if, say, a 911 operator blamed the caller?

#3 ::: neotoma ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 06:03 PM:

Good lord, could the MisAdministration be any more pathetic in their attempt to fob off the blame onto the city. My neice was a better liar at the age of two than these people.

Hint -- if the city you're claiming filed improperly has written documents that *you* gave them saying that their application was submitted okay, you've got no leg to stand on.

#4 ::: Misha ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 06:25 PM:

I love that headline, "City Has Itself to Blame for Terror Cuts, U.S. Says."

I can almost imagine Uncle Sam saying "I don't want to hit you, baby, but you just don't behave."

#5 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 06:26 PM:

Maybe DHS was expecting New York to submit their application in the form of a question?

#6 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 07:59 PM:

Misha, I saw Dolores Claiborne on the telly last night, and I just flashed on David Strathairn beating on Kathy Bates while yelling, "Why do you make me do this?"

#7 ::: Grant Barrett ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 08:10 PM:

Huh. I went to high school with Tracy Henke. The same one. She was in the year above mine at Buchanan High School in Troy, Missouri, though she was from a smaller town a few miles away, Moscow Mills (at least, the newspapers say that's where she's from). She was in the same grade as my sister.

#8 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 08:20 PM:

I don't know why this surprises me.

Didn't they basically resort to the same sort of excuse in the aftermath of Katrina, blaming the governments of Louisiana and New Orleans? Didn't FEMA say then that the governor of Louisiana had to send in special forms and request their presence?

#9 ::: PiscusFiche ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 08:31 PM:

Further thoughts: That sort of rules lawyering doesn't make sense in a world where you are dealing with large masses of people. It's not like entering your local supermarket sweep or grading middle school papers--if there's something wrong with the submission at the time of submission, mention it THEN. Don't wait until some deadline has passed and then blame the people who submitted it. Or as The Boy says, "It's not like New York City is some eight year-old who'd better learn to follow the rules next year."

I mean, if I'm applying for some form of government aid to which I am legally entitled, and I fill out the forms wrong, it behooves the person accepting the forms to point it out. To use a very loose analogy, the driver's license division doesn't wait two weeks after my test to tell me that I accidently put my city and state on the second address line and therefore, whoops, no license. No, they tell me right then, and I fill out the form again, and I get my license. Sweet Baby Jeebus.

#10 ::: MikeB ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 09:24 PM:

Q: Why can't the Bush administration be bothered to obey the Fourth Amendment?

A: Too much paperwork.

Q: Why can't the Bush administration be bothered to rescue New Orleans and protect New York?

A: Insufficient paperwork.

[Incidentally: does this mean that every single town that got an increase in funding filed all the forms correctly, with every comma in its proper place? If New York finds an error in Omaha's form, can the city claim Omaha's money? Sharpen your red pencils! The game is afoot!]

#11 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 10:42 PM:

Lessee, there were Friends of Bill...
what does one call the [seven letter offensive term] incompetents appointed by Schmuck to federal patronage positions that used to be occupied by people who had some training and expertise and pertinent knowledge and clues?

IIRC, Clinton's appointees had some degree of clue and competence and experience relevant to the positions there were appointed to...

#12 ::: Steve Buchheit ::: (view all by) ::: June 02, 2006, 11:14 PM:

(start sarcasm) Yeah, I mean, if it’s not in the proper format, and doesn’t have everything filled-out, well the slush-readers shouldn’t bounce it because of that (end sarcasm). Folks, they’ll bounce it if you don’t sign it with the proper color of ink (blue, in case you’re curious). And just because you have a receipt that all is filed properly, well, that doesn’t mean they reviewed it to find those errors. Do I agree this is all a political game, most certainly, and I haven’t even heard the real reason. Hillary Clinton. Gee, you think the current administration maybe trying to find things to tarnish her reputation before 2008? Would I also be a nutbar conspiracy theorist to think of that?

#13 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 02:22 AM:

Steve: I do think Hillary-hate is at the root of this clusterfuck, but for more than just the reason you state. It's not just about lowering her chances of making a good run in 2008, it's also about punishing NY for having elected her in the first place. There are still plenty of people out there who will not be satisfied until Bill Clinton and anyone connected with him are completely ruined, and an awful lot of them are Bush appointees.

#14 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 05:47 AM:

My favorite line in the article is this one:

The grants will be reconsidered each year and could change if "some grand and unforeseen need arises," said Tony Snow, the White House press secretary.

Grand and unforseen need? What, like a terrorist attack? Isn't this money spent so that no grand or unforseen need will arise?


#15 ::: Scott Martens ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 11:50 AM:

You don't play paperwork games with essential national assets.

Yes, you do, as long as you don't actually want them protected. I realize that it's become cliché to complain about how the Bush administration makes people sound like conspiracy theorists, but there is no war on terrorism. The Bush administration has profited enormously from terrorist attacks. Second only to Islamic fundamentalism (actually, maybe not even second to them - they've been losing ground in plenty of quarters), the Bush administration has been the major beneficiary of terrorism.

New York City didn't vote for Bush and is more or less lost ground for the Republicans anyway. Y'all voted in Hillary. Voting for Osama bin Laden himself wouldn't have made you more enemies in the GOP. So, it makes perfect sense to screw New York on anti-terrorism funding when you have everything to gain from seeing them hit by terrorists and you don't really care if New Yorkers live or die anyway.

#16 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 12:00 PM:

(adjusting tin-foil hat)

Could it be that NYC has been too successful in their anti-terrorist efforts? That the busheviks were counting on another attack to cement their grip on power, and it just hasn't come?

One way to help make sure that everyone is still properly terrorized is to cut the funding that's keeping the attacks from happening.

(readjusts tin-foil hat)

#17 ::: emeraldcite ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 12:52 PM:

"I'm sorry, NYC, you didn't file the AT-4 Blue form and the AT-4 Yellow form."

"But they're the same thing!"

"I apologize, but you must correctly submit the proper forms in order to receive funding. No forms, no protection. Application denied."

"Son of a..."

#18 ::: Bob Devney ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 04:59 PM:

DHS Asst Secty Tracy Henke was on C-SPAN's call-in/interview show WASHINGTON JOURNAL on Friday morn, June 2, discussing the DHS allocations and defending the cuts against NYC, Washington, etc.

Her appearance starts 45 minutes in, a little less than halfway through this long Real Player clip: rtsp://

She was friendly, earnest, repetitive, and ultimately fairly unconvincing.

Apparently has no professional background in security or risk assessment, just a political science degree from UMissouri and a long history of employment by Missouri Republican politicians. Worked for Senator Jack Danforth, then Senator Kit Bond, then Attorney General John Ashcroft, all of that state.

When the interviewer asked if the big funding jump for St. Louis this year had anything to do with her Missouri background, she said making that connection was "impossible."

When the interviewer remarked that she had had an important job at the Department of Justice (resume at says she managed a $4 billion portfolio of grant and research programs) yet he saw no law degree on her resume, she basically replied it was easy to find lawyers at DOJ whenever you needed one.

After she claimed big funding cuts for NYC and DC weren't screwing those cities and their citizens at all, because they weren't really big funding cuts, just big funding cuts ... Maybe I missed something there ... Anyway, her raison d'foutre amounted to three points:

1) The budget for everybody got cut this year (no mention it was to pay for her gang's wars of choice and tax cuts of privilege).

2) NYC got plenty in previous years, now it's other burgs' turns.

3) Uh, never mind previous years after all: It was all fair and scientific-like, totally based on her rigorous new risk assessment formula, the best they'd every used (she claimed that repeatedly). No politics here, folks; move along, now.

I feel so much more secure now ...

#19 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 06:48 PM:

No professional background in security or risk assessment, no law degree, long history of giving it up for the Republicans, resulting in a high-ranking position for which she is manifestly unqualified. Are we looking at another case of Chenoweth Syndrome?

(Okay, who doesn't know the line, and who wants to explain it?)

#20 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 07:00 PM:

I don't know it. Enlightenment, please!

#21 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 03, 2006, 08:27 PM:

What has Kirstin done (or not done) that she got a syndrome named after her?

#22 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 07:44 PM:

Linkmeister: I suspect the Chenoweth in question is Helen.

#23 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 07:46 PM:

Bush to New York: Drop Dead.

#24 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 09:19 PM:

Wow. I'd never heard of Helen, so I Googled. Goodness, what a piece of work.

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 04, 2006, 09:33 PM:

Linkmeister: Absolutely! Piece of work is the precise term.

#26 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 02:07 AM:

As a descendant of Chenoweths, I am delighted to note that she married into the name.

(Almost all American Chenoweths are descended from one Cornish couple. There's a certain amount of family feeliing about the name, even among those of us who don't bear it ourselves.)

#27 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 09:03 AM:

Abi: I wouldn't want to be related to her either. I'd no idea about nearly all Chenoweths in the US being descended from one couple.

Of course, all the Ledgisters in the world today seem to be descended from two brothers...

#28 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 09:53 AM:

Would that not mean that, going back slightly further, the Ledgisters are likewise descended from a single couple?

(To put it another way: Is there a reason you put it the way you did?)

#29 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 10:00 AM:

Paul A: Yes, there is. All the Ledgisters (and, I think, Legisters) in the world today appear to be the descendants of two Englishmen, William and John Ledgister, who settled in Jamaica in the early 18th century.(Or, I should add, the descendants of their slaves, though the former seems more likely.)

#30 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: June 05, 2006, 01:14 PM:

There's a BBC TV series called Who Do You Think You Are, which traces the ancestry of one or another well-known person, who semi-presents the program. Stephen Fry, for instance, traced the European branch of his family, Austro-Hungarian Jews who didn't exactly vanish into the Holocaust. IIRC, his grandfather, a decorated veteran of WW1, came over to England to help establish a beet sugar factory in Bury St. Edmunds. For the rest, the trail ends with the records of their deportation from Vienna.

Last week, the first series was being run on the UKTV History channel, and one of the subjects was Moira Stuart, a BBC newsreader who happens to be black. Her grandfather trained as a Doctor in Edinburgh. Her grandmother's father, a schoolteacher in Dominica, scraped together the money to come to London in 1899 and train as a Barrister.

What the program reported (and the web page doesn't) is that her great-great-grandfather was born in Antigua, and it was very likely that he was the child of a slave-owner and one of the slaves. It wasn't just that he took the same name as one of the plantation-owning families, he had the literacy that gave his descendants their start.

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