Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ridge resignation linked brewing scandals, inadequate resources, failed vision

Quick tip Kleinman's mistreatment in US Customs shows there are many problems relative to this criteria. It is no wonder agents are looking for new positions outside DC and want transfers to Russia.


Think of the Ridge resignation as part of the wider White House's strategy to target those in the know.

The White House can ill-afford to have the brewing DHS scandals turn into the needed excuse for the Congress to appoint a special counsel to find the facts in the DHS basement.

The President asked for Ridge's resignation because the White House needs better damage control to hide evidence of White House links to war crimes which both DoJ's JTTF and DHS intelligence centers can provide to a special prosecutor.

Don't be fooled by the simple explanation that, despite 9-11, Tom Ridge resigned as leader of Department of Homeland Security because, the resources and talent were far less than the requirements. But that's only the tip of the iceberg.

DHS has an entrenched, diseased culture which needs not simply new leadership, but more effective Congressional oversight. DHS has been plagued by a series of infighting, whistleblower allegations, and corruption scandals dating back years. Ridge did nothing substantive to change the downward descent.

Indeed, Ridge's legacy will be marked by mediocrity. He also faced the task of leading a poorly defined agency, with inadequate resources and an entrenched management system that proved glacial and unresponsive.

Wanting Congressional oversight DHS doesn't need just a new leader. It needs a complete overhaul. Rest assured, Congress is not up to the job.

Senators Richard Shelby, Charles Grassley, Joseph Lieberman led largely ineffectual probes into DHS scandals. Senator Grassley had called for a special counsel into the Kleiman scandal.

9-11: Not the catalyst for change We might have though things were turning around post 9-11. Under Ridge, simple things like consular cards were never adequately targeted to combat corruption.Ref

Ridge had such a contempt for the constitution that he did little to challenge repeated DoD incursions into programs once under the exclusive control of domestic law enforcement. Ref We can thank the DHS Legal Counsel for failing to act.

Pervasive Corruption Corruption remains pervasive within Customs, despite the corruption-battle getting "high priority" in the 1990s. Ref

The scandals brewing within DHS were largely glossed over for "lack of evidence." Ref Ref It's clear that the evidence has proven too overwhelming for even the masterful Ridge to make go away.

Yet, there is mounting evidence of pervasive corruption at the highest levels of DHS management. Diane Kleiman, has a civil rights lawsuit pending against the government in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. Ref Two other Senators also had asked for information about the scandal. Ref

Kleinman alleged that her boss, Thomas Flood, told her to "Shut up" about the evidence destruction. Ref

Kleiman was sent to psychiatric care because she dared reveal senior managers in the New York Customs office were destroying evidence. Kleiman had kept copies of her personnel performance evaluations, which DHS senior management then changed and falsified. 2002 culture inside DHS has not changed, and an internal investigation within DHS has corroborated Kleinman's allegations that evidence was destroyed. Ref

Finances Also, under Ridge the finances got a real shredding. McNamara spoke eloquently about financial controls. Such a shame DHS didn't seem to be able to allocate the funding when it was needed.

Sure, the budget authority increased substantially, but don't take that as evidence of effective management. Need to look at results.

Post 9-11, the priority was "supposed" to be on better management of information. Indeed, when Ridge announced last year the appointment of Amit Yoran he outlined lofty goals and a daunting task.

Yet by 2004, Yoran resigned citing ineffective support for the department's information technology needs.

DHS has gutted the experience within its rank. In the 1990s, management they was "so concerned" about problems that they cut manning by 1/3. Ref To learn more about ineffective budget priorities within DHS, talk to John McNamara and Andy Maner. Ref

Program management. Another sign of ineffective planning and resources was the consistent inability to meet program milestones. For example, in a public report issued in April 2004 milestones identified as being "on track" for completion in September, but had to be slipped to December 2004. Ref

The problem wasn't simply a failure to allocate funding and resources. The department was so worried about audits that overreacted when a photographer took pictures of a bridge.

Compromised investigations Customs has always been one to twist the evidence to match the "priority of the week." Post 9-11, even the most benign offenses like cash smuggling, previously "evidence" of drug courier activity, suddenly shifted as "proof" of terrorism.Ref

The situation got so precarious when DHS undercover agents got "too close" to Senior government officials, that an undercover agent's identity was revealed. Ref

Operation Firestorm was an example of Treasury IG agents getting blocked when they got too close. Ref Special Agent Juhasz was involved.

Compromised DHS auditors The DHS internal auditors were also investigated by the US Senate. Confidential DHS intelligence data was sold to drug dealers.

Section 8 of this guide applies to DHS. Ref The auditors have some explaining to do: Why the cursory audits; and the failure to go back and verify management statements in response to inquiry letters were supported by bonafide results and information.

The Senate called for an investigation into allegations that the DHS IG was giving advance notice to internal affairs during auditsRef; and that internal affairs personnel along the Mexico-US border were allowing drug smugglers through in exchange for sizeable bribes.Ref Ref

The President has four years to hide the evidence. Rest assured Tom Ridge knows where the skeletons are.