Magazine article Insight on the News

Strong Dissent from Those Who Favor the Department of Homeland Security. (Waste & Abuse)

Magazine article Insight on the News

Strong Dissent from Those Who Favor the Department of Homeland Security. (Waste & Abuse)

Article excerpt

Consider for a moment two headlines recently published on the same day in one Washington newspaper: "Bush Seeks Security Department," announced one; "FBI Whistle-Blower Assails Bloated Bureaucracy," read the other.

What does one have to do with the other? Just about everything, though no one in official Washington seems to have gotten the point.

In the most fateful reversal of course since four hijacked airliners were diverted from their flight paths last September, the Bush administration not only has capitulated to Congress on whether the nation needs a Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Security, but also upped the ante by throwing everything into the pot but the kitchen sink [Security Blanket].

The only agencies seemingly not to be subsumed by the new mammoth department--instantly larger than all others except for the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans' Affairs--will be the Smithsonian Institution and the National Endowment for the Arts.

It was a reversal of course that taxpayers may come to rue. This political "bold stroke" almost certainly will boomerang, as events bear out the self-evident truth that nothing good in the way of effectiveness or efficiency can come from size alone. Big bureaucracies--including the FBI, CIA, National Security Agency and Immigration and Naturalization Service, to name but a few--failed abysmally to detect or prevent the terrorist threat. That anyone in his or her fight mind believes yet another big bureaucracy somehow will do any better in the future is shocking, in the view of waste & abuse.

If history portends anything, it is that months, or perhaps years, will be spent shaping the new agency, working out congressional oversight jurisdiction (and pork-barrel privileges) and integrating its disparate components into a barely functioning whole. Budgets likely will balloon and staffing requirements metastasize. The city of Arlington, Va., virtually will have to be evacuated to make room for its new headquarters. And any promised efficiencies and savings "from consolidations" and "reductions in redundancy" likely will prove illusory.

The resulting chaos and additional costs will not lead to improved communication or coherence of effort anytime in the near future. In fact, they actually could hinder the war on terrorism, at least in the short term. Take what already is transpiring at the new Transportation Security Agency, multiply it by 10, and you have a pretty good picture of what's coming down the road.

Will homeland security actually be strengthened when all is said and done? …

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