|Meet the new Boss at DHS|
|Meet the new Boss at DHS|
|Written by Mark Nichols|
It’s high times over at DHS, the sprawling big-government solution to national security created after 9/11. John Gotti may have been the “Teflon don,” but he’s nothing compared to the PR machine at the Department of Homeland Security. Despite a pretty impressive overtime scandal, high profile criminal activity by employees and serious questions about the agency’s effectiveness, DHS currently enjoys a 66 percent approval rating. After Barrack Obama announced that he would be nominating Jeh (not a misspelling) Johnson to run DHS in the wake of Janet Napolitano’s departure, the reaction from law enforcement and the public was identical. “Who?”
Basically Johnson’s a government lawyer and a democratic fundraiser who was one of Obama’s key money men in New York in 2008.
After the current administration was re-elected, he served as a part of President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team before being appointed as the top lawyer for the Department of Defense.
Johnson recently testified before a Senate committee about what he would do in terms of running an agency with a quarter of a million employees and an annual budget of about $60 billion.
The Pentagon lawyer played it safe and stuck to the script.
Johnson says the US was facing a “more diffuse” threat of terrorism.
Diffuse means: spread or cause to spread over a wide area or among a large number of people.
Isn’t that why they used to call it the “global war on terror?”
Johnson told politicians that he feared that the US faced a “blind spot” in tracking the foreign travel of suspicious Americans.
Some might remember outgoing DHS Sec. Napolitano’s answer to questions posed by lawmakers as to why DHS was in the dark about the alleged Boston bombing Tsarnev bothers travel to Chechnya.
Napolitano said, “The system pinged.”
“We have a problem with suspicious individuals laundering their travel,” Johnson said according to multiple media reports on the hearing.
Travel laundering? Is that like money laundering? Who knows? But it sounds pretty scary and official so they’re running with it.
“I’m not necessarily saying we need to track the travel of every person that leaves this country,” Johnson said. It's unclear if the FBI, the NSA and others already do that or if there's a system in place for those agencies to communicate about such redundancies.
Obviously impartial critics are worried that a political appointee, who also happens to be a big-time lawyer and a prolific fundraiser, might be beholden to the guy that got him the gig. The job is a fast track stepping stone to big money private sector positions with University systems and defense contractors.
The lawyers cleverly tried to put those concerns to rest by saying he was an outlier in terms of the Obama national/homeland security complex.
“It felt like it was eleven to one, and I was the one,” Johnson said.
It’s unclear if he thought the administration was going to far on “counter-terrorism,” or not far enough.
If anything, Johnson looks like a very crafty political pick that will be impossible to pin down on specifics, say all the right things and keep a tight lid on what it is DHS does, what it spends and if it actually does anything in the way of stopping terrorism.
Johnson has a reputation as one of the most “liberal” members of Obama’s counterterrorism team. It’s hard to figure out exactly what that characiture is designed to imply. Not only is he one of the architects of Obama’s so-called “targeted killing program,” he does not seem particularly interested in due process when it comes to American citizens.
In a 2011 speech Johnson argued that “belligerents who happen to be US citizens do not enjoy immunity” from killing program
But the key for someone like Johnson in trying to land the position is basically sticking to the script.
On “self-actualized” or “lone wolf” terrorists Johnson hit all the right notes while saying almost nothing of substance whatsoever.
“Those threats in my view are even harder to detect, [and] we’re going to have to be vigilant,” Johnson said.
But you really have to admire the language Johnson used when responding to serious questions about whether or not the surveillance state and stalker economy are completely out of control, useless and grotesquely expensive big government spending. Particularly when considering redundancy with the NSA, FBI and other outfits.
Rand Paul, the Kentucky Republican and civil libertarian tried to get Johnson to actually say something as to whether or not he thinks a current adminsistration can order the assassination of a US national without a trial or evidence but came up short.
As to concerns about privacy, killing programs and other issues, Johnson dropped this gem:
“Getting to a better place obviously involves a balance, and I recognize that.”
Based on such an impressive performance, seasoned observers say he’s a shoe-in.
There’s also the fact that DHS officials stick together like Marine Recon units.
All three previous DHS secretaries – Republicans Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff and Democrat Janet Napolitano – issued a letter to the committee this week endorsing Johnson.
Once DHS, always DHS apparently.
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