What does the Department of Homeland Security spend billions on? Before you read on, you might want to think about whether you really want to know the answer to the question. The Washington Examiner has an article with a truly unique lede:
America is prepared if pumpkin-starved zombies that can only be killed with flavored snowballs invade, thanks to billions of dollars in federal grants to harden the homeland against terror attacks.
What’s not clear is whether the United States is any better protected against more conventional attacks by actual humans using guns, bombs or chemical weapons, according to report on wasteful spending of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) money issued today by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.
The disaster of 9/11/2001 came about for two simple reasons: (1) clever enemies seized an asymmetric vulnerability and hit it as hard as they could, and (2) excess bureaucracy, duplicative repetitive redundancy (yes, that’s synonymia or some related figure of speech. Deal with it) and stovepiping meant that, even though US agencies had sufficient intelligence information to envision, predict, interdict and prevent the coming cataclysm, if they put the facts together, they never actually pooled the facts, and so were unable to do much except cover their asses when the buildings came tumbling down.
This ass-covering, and Congress’s great moral imperative to Be Seen Doing Something For Christ’s Sake, made the principal outcome, organizationally, of 9/11 be one that slavishly followed the Hognose Rules of Bureaucratic Crisis Response:
- The burdens of any crackdown must fall upon those who were not responsible (there are more of them and they are more readily to hand) .
- When too much bureaucracy or too many rules cause a disaster, the answer is to apply more bureaucracy and rules.
- The bureaucracy will not tailor its response to the crisis, but use the crisis to double down on what it was doing beforehand.
Remember that there were two causes of the original disaster, and one of those, being in the hearts and minds of our enemies, is rather inaccessible to us. The only one that we could address was the dismal performance of our security and intelligence organs, and yet we addressed it in such a way as to make an already dreadful performance worse and another disaster more likely.
We created two massive new encumbrances, the DNI and DHS (along with many smaller encumbrances, like the TSA, which despite a staff of tens of thousands still does not employ a single good, decent, moral or intelligent person).
In a book beloved of software and process engineers, The Mythical Man-Month, IBM’s Fred Brooks noted that adding people (let alone organizations) to a project to try to speed or improve it often has the opposite effect. One of the reasons Brooks identifies is the opportunity cost of coordination. If it takes, say, three percent of your time to coordinate with one other entity, it takes six percent for two, nine percent for three, and so on until your progress drowns in a sea of coordination meetings and conference calls. The post-9/11 intelligence community, with its 16 (!) independent fiefdoms, is more bureaucratic, more sclerotic, , more inward-focused and vastly less useful than its 2001 forebear
Consider this: there are over 10,000 percent more intelligence officers involved in the Afghanistan war than in December 2002, and we’re much less informed now about who and where the enemy is, what he’s up to, and when and why he’s doing it — the basic 5W’s of information.
Still not ready to kill the DHS? Here’s a kicker. Just about every day there’s some monstrous violation of all common sense by the mouth-breathing cretins at the Transportation Security Administration. No one is ever punished or held accoutable. Today’s news is that, after ten years of incompetent flailing, the TSA finally caught a terrorist bomber: Shelbi Walser of Texas. Walser was on her way to Florida with her mother when TSA’s payroll patriots detected explosive residue on her. The family was delayed, harassed, and abused until a bomb expert came and concluded that, no, Ms Walser was not a suicide IED. He based this determination upon his bomb expertise, and the fact that she was a crippled 12-year-old in a wheelchair. Asked by CBS’s Joe Gomez to explain themselves, the TSA fobbed him off with the usual nonpertinent boilerplate, marked down Shelbi as another ace terrorist apprehension, and awarded each other cash bonuses.
Still need another kicker? We got it. Senator Robert Menendez had a teenage illegal alien as an intern. (We know why senators and congressmen really have young interns and pages). The illegal alien thing is very controversial, but it turns out this kid, Luis Abrahan Sanzhez Zavaeta of Peru, is a registered sex offender. Exactly for what, is not certain; they’re saying Sanchez’s privacy rights are more important than protecting the public from him. Menendez’s staff appears to have been unaware of his conviction(s) when they recruited from a Latino gay-rights group, “Fierce.” When New Jersey officials discovered that Sanchez was on the loose, they flagged ICE, but ICE was ordered not to arrest Sanchez until “after the election.” Hey, who is DHS there to protect, the public or office holders?
Somewhere in North Waziristan, Gulbuddin Hekmatayar is laughing his ass off at us.