Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Is our government learning?


Thomas Lehrman, a political appointee who heads the new office of Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism, advertised outside the State Department to fill jobs in his office. In an e-mail to universities and research centers, a copy of which was obtained by Knight Ridder, he listed loyalty to Bush and Rice's priorities as a qualification.

Lehrman reportedly recalled the e-mail after it was pointed out that such loyalty tests are improper.
Seems things are not going so well at Foggy Bottom.

State Department officials appointed by President Bush have sidelined key career weapons experts and replaced them with less experienced political operatives who share the White House and Pentagon's distrust of international negotiations and treaties.

The reorganization of the department's arms control and international security bureaus was intended to help it better deal with 21st-century threats. Instead, it's thrown the agency into turmoil and produced an exodus of experts with decades of experience in nuclear arms, chemical weapons and related matters, according to 11 current and former officials and documents obtained by Knight Ridder.

The reorganization was conducted largely in secret by a panel of four political appointees. A career expert was allowed to join the group only after most decisions had been made. Its work was overseen by Frederick Fleitz, a CIA officer who was detailed to the State Department as senior adviser to former Undersecretary of State John Bolton, a critic of arms agreements and international organizations.
"The process has been gravely flawed from the outset, and smacks plainly of a political vendetta against career Foreign Service and Civil Service (personnel) by political appointees," a group of employees told Undersecretary of State for Management Henrietta Fore on Dec. 9, according to notes prepared for the meeting.

A dozen State Department employees delivered a rare written dissent to Fore and W. Robert Pearson, the director general of the Foreign Service, on Oct. 11. Some also sought, but failed to get, a stay from the Justice Department to stop the plan.
And if this all seems terribly familiar; well, it should:

In one corner are specialists who argue that negotiated arms agreements help U.S. security; in the other are those who argue that the United States should rely mostly on the threat of force, sanctions and other unilateral steps to curb the spread of dangerous weapons and maintain a credible deterrent against an attack.

When she announced the reorganization, Rice declared that more than deterrence and arms control treaties are necessary to safeguard America. "We must also go on the offensive against outlaw scientists, black-market arms dealers and rogue state proliferators," she said.

Bush has demanded maximum presidential flexibility on national security matters, avoiding major new arms treaties and pushing the limits of executive power on issues from domestic eavesdropping to the treatment of terrorism suspects.
In other words, the Shrub who would be king, would still like to be king. And he really wants his subjects to be loyal to him.

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