200-Fold Increase in Spending… for What?

Who’d think the US Department of Health and Human Services would make for such interesting fodder? While its not near so glamorous as the resignation of, say, John Ashcroft or Tom Ridge, the closing comments of the outgoing Tommy Thompson raise some compelling questions of their own. Here’s what I found interesting:

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson resigned Friday, warning of a potential global outbreak of the flu and health-related terror attacks. “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do,” he said.

That’s not surprising in and of itself, since there’s a dire prediction of impending doom coming out of DC approximately once every 30 seconds. But when we combine that with the interesting fact that

The former Wisconsin governor has warned about food safety issues since before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and pushed for more money for safeguards. Spending on food security has increased from $800,000 to $150 million during Thompson’s tenure, and there are eight times as many food inspections now as in 2001, according to HHS figures.

So we start with a problem that doesn’t exist, namely, terror attacks against the food supply. They literally pour money into the program, an almost 200-fold increase in funds and an eightfold increase in manpower to prevent future attacks, even though past attacks have never happened. And now what?

Now we’re warned, by seemingly the only man who even considered this a problem in the first place, the same man who fought tooth and nail to get this incredible increase in funding that now he “cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do”.

Is it just me or did Tommy just get away with admitting he wasted hundreds of millions of dollars without even a hint of an apology?

We Can‘t Win: Addendum

It took him a little more than the 24 hours one emailer predicted, but G.W. has indeed waffled on yesterday’s proclamation that we can’t win the terror war.

In his best impersonation of Matt Hasselbeck, George has now promised a victory he can’t possibly deliver. The question yet remains, will it be a costly interception, or are we just waiting for the turnover on downs?

Bush on Terror War: We Can’t Win

George W. Bush was on the Today Show today.

During the course of talking about how we mustn’t dare end the war on terror… ever, because it’d make us look weak, he was asked “Can we win?”.

In a rare moment of candor, Bush admitted no, “I don’t think you can win it”.

Of course, just because the threat of terror hasn’t actually shrunk, and just because the US military is already stretched well past its limits, and just because civil liberties are increasingly a distant memory… and now we’re also admitting that we’re never actually going to win, that’s no good reason to stop.

I’m sure that’s one thing Bush and Kerry can agree on.

It just keeps getting better

I hadn’t even originally planned on doing a blog entry this week, but I can’t pass up a chance like this:

Timeline on Jonathan “call me Jack” Idema:

July 7: Three Americans and four Afghans arrested for operating private prison

July 8:One of these men is identified as Jack Idema. An early report from Afghan officials says Afghan prisoners were hung by their feet.

July 9: Idema claims he’s the inspiration behind George Clooney’s Role in Peacemaker

July 21: Idema Says he was working with the knowledge of the DoD. His Trial begins,the US military denies knowing anything about what he was doing.

July 23: Idema’s lawyer claims to have video proof he was working with the US. This is at first questioned, but later US Military spokesman Major Jon Siepmann admits that they did indeed receive prisoners from Idema’s group. They claim this was an isolated incident and they had no idea of anything else he was doing.

July 27: Knight-Ridder releases a story about Jack Idema’s career as a part-time journalist.

August 6: Idema’s dubious history is discussed in the article.

August 11: Idema’s lawyer complains that he can’t get a fair trial in Afghanistan.

August 16: Idema’s trial is delayed for a week when he claims the FBI is withholding evidence that could prove his innocence. The FBI agrees to hand over the huge collection of files relating to Idema and his group.

August 23: After a week, Idema complains that he hasn’t been given access to everything, and that the documents would prove he was working for the US Army. The defense shows video of Afghanistan’s former Education Minister congratulating Idema and his group for capturing “terrorists” and promises to help them continue their work. One of Idema’s cohorts, Mr. Caraballo enters the courtroom with a crutch, and badly bruised feet. The prosecution claims he “slipped”.

August 24: The US investigates the treatment of Idema’s men while in custody, and decides that it was acceptable.

August 25: The US once again denies any contact with Idema outside the single incident with the prisoners reported on July 23. They claim Idema had delusions of grandeur, and that any contact he claimed was entirely in his head.

August 26: The Department of Defense, after over a month of denials, finally admits that they were in contact with Idema, and that Acting Director of Security Heather Anderson had telephoned him.

This obviously isn’t over, but at the month and a half mark, I thought it would be a good time to review. I don’t know if the Pentagon is in contact with a lot of would-be A-Teams, but how could it take them nearly two months between the time of the initial arrest and the time where they finally remembered “oh yeah, we called him?”

And at any rate, why lie (multiple times at that) about it? The story barely registers on the mainstream American press’ radar. The average American barely cares about the vast amount of torture the US military has performed itself… surely the whole truth about Jack Idema can’t be that serious a threat.