Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Can you imagine living in 2013 and actually living to see the day that there is a tarpaulin thrown over the ash heap remains of a former ABC federal agency? Oh, the joy of seeing that, my friends. Oh, the bliss of seeing that. I can’t afford it, but I’m gonna go out and buy me a couple bottles of White Star champagne to celebrate and maybe some 16-year-old Lagavulin Scotch if I can get my hands on it. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: Charles Kenny writing at Bloomberg Business Week under the subsection of Global Economics, let’s take a look.
On Friday, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano resigned to take up a post running California’s university system. With her departure, there are now 15 vacant positions at the top of the department. [Mike: There are 15 jobs that they can’t even fill. Gee, but our national security state seems to be plodding along with them, doesn’t it?] That suggests it would be a particularly humane moment to shut the whole thing down. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security was a panicked reaction to the Sept. 11 attacks. It owes its continued existence to a vastly exaggerated assessment of the threat of terrorism. The department is also responsible for some of the least cost-effective spending in the U.S. government. It’s time to admit that creating it was a mistake.
Mike: Whoever’s idea this was, I suspect Tom DeLay or someone of that ilk who was running the House of Representin’ at the time, they’re not around so they don’t have to take the fall for it. I wonder if anyone would like to take the credit, though. [mocking] “Ooh, ooh, Mitter Kotter, Mitter Church, I wanna to be the first one. I wanna be the first one to pull the plug on an agency.” Can you imagine living in 2013 and actually living to see the day that there is a tarpaulin thrown over the ash heap remains of a former ABC federal agency? Oh, the joy of seeing that, my friends. Oh, the bliss of seeing that. I can’t afford it, but I’m gonna go out and buy me a couple bottles of White Star champagne to celebrate and maybe some 16-year-old Lagavulin Scotch if I can get my hands on it.
In 2002 the George W. Bush administration presented a budget request for massively increased spending on homeland security, at that point coordinated out of the Office of Homeland Security. “A new wave of terrorism, involving new weapons, looms in America’s future,” the White House said. [Mike: You mean new weapons like crock pots? We could never have imagined a crock pot war, could we? I mean no disrespect to those tragically maimed or killed in the marathon bombing.] “It is a challenge unlike any ever faced by our nation.” In proposing a new cabinet-level agency, Bush said, “The changing nature of the threats facing America requires a new government structure to protect against invisible enemies that can strike with a wide variety of weapons.” Because of “experience gained since Sept. 11 and new information we have learned about our enemies while fighting a war,” the president concluded that “our nation needs a more unified homeland security structure.”
Mike Church Show Transcript – Americans With Guns Are Dangerous But Terrorists With Tanks And Jets Are Safe, Really!?
Mike: We had this massive federal leviathan, and it was massive when Bush took over. With all of the things that it had and all the rules and programs and surveillance and agencies, all of that assorted stuff, all that assorted government make-work busybodiness, it was unable to detect or unable to do anything after it had detected some of the 9/11 bombers. The answer to the problem of trying to avoid future attacks similar to September 11 wasn’t to admit that government had failed in the endeavor, partially because it was too large, too out of control, and because it was so large one hand didn’t know what the other hand was doing. Instead it was to say it needs to be bigger. If it’s bigger and we have this big, giant, fat guy in the middle here, we’ll clone him. He’ll have 16, 18 hands. He’ll be able to hold everybody’s hand all at once. Yeah, then they’ll exchange information. [mocking] “You just wait and see. When they exchange information, them terrorists are gonna get it.” As Mr. Kenny points out, that too has been exaggerated….
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More than a decade later, it’s increasingly clear that the danger to Americans posed by terrorism remains smaller than that of myriad other threats, from infectious disease to gun violence to drunk driving. Even in 2001, considerably more Americans died of drowning than from terror attacks. Since then, the odds of an American being killing in a terrorist attack in the U.S. or abroad have been about one in 20 million. The Boston marathon bombing was evil and tragic, but it’s worth comparing the three deaths in that attack to a list of the number of people in the U.S. killed by guns since the December 2012 massacre in Newtown, Conn., which stood at 6,078 as of June. [Mike: This is the point I’ve been making as well.]
This low risk isn’t evidence that homeland security spending has worked: It’s evidence that the terror threat was never as great as we thought. [Mike: I would say, Mr. Kenny, it was never as great as we were propagandized into believing.] A rather pathetic Heritage Foundation list of 50 terrorist plots against the U.S. foiled since Sept. 11 includes such incidents as a plan to use a blowtorch to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge and “allegedly lying about attending a terrorist training center”—but nothing involving weapons of mass destruction. Further, these are alleged plots. The list of plausible plots, let alone actual crimes, is considerably smaller. From 2005 to 2010, federal attorneys declined to bring any charges against 67 percent of alleged terrorism-related cases referred to them from law enforcement agencies.
That hasn’t stopped a bonanza of spending.
Mike: Of course it hasn’t. None of this was ever about security. That’s just the guise under which they do the corporatism. At every stage of this: We’re gonna have to order new chairs. Don’t we have a chair guy that donates to our camp? As a matter of fact we do. We’re gonna have to have new computers. Hey, don’t we have a computer guy or 16 that contribute to our campaign? Well, as a matter of fact we do. Hey, we’re gonna need some new buildings. Do we have any contractors? Of course we have contractors. Our contractors have contractors who have contractors. Ladies and gentlemen, it has always been about the grift. This is a grift of the largest order, and these people who perpetrate it are grifters. If you don’t know what a grifter is, get a dictionary out and look it up.
The grants made by DHS to states and cities to improve preparedness are notorious for being distributed with little attention to either risk or effectiveness. As an example, economist Veronique de Rugy has highlighted the $557,400 given to North Pole, Alaska, (population 1,570), for homeland security rescue and communications equipment. “If power companies invested in infrastructure the way DHS and Congress fight terrorism, a New Yorker wouldn’t be able to run a hair dryer, but everyone in Bozeman, Mont., could light up a stadium,” de Rugy complained.
The problem with DHS is bigger than a bloated budget misspent. An overweight DHS gets a free pass to infringe civil liberties without a shred of economic justification. John Mueller, a political science professor at Ohio State University, notes that the agency has routinely refused to carry out cost-benefit analyses on expensive and burdensome new procedures, including scanning every inbound shipping container or installing full-body scanners in airports—despite being specifically asked to do so by the GAO.
Mike: Isn’t that interesting? You people thought that the airports and the airlines had to buy the porno scanners, didn’t you? No, you and I had to pay for the privilege of having our private parts looked at by TSA agents. There’s more on this. The upshot is it is time, way beyond time, to begin eliminating some of this stuff. Don’t make a friend with it, eliminate it. Get rid of it!
End Mike Church Show Transcript