View Full Version : Homeland Insecurity

Ian McColgin
12-04-2004, 10:16 AM
Let's not say we were not warned by those who know him best.

Published on Friday, December 3, 2004 by the Long Island, NY Newsday

by Ellis Henican

Campaign bodyguard to Rudy Giuliani.

Errand boy for the Saudi royal family.

Energetic exploiter of Sept. 11th tragedy.

Tough-talking publicity-hound vowing to bring law and order to Iraq - then hightailing it out of there after a disastrous 14 weeks, leaving the place far less safe than he found it.

Oh, the bullet points on Bernie Kerik's real-life resume just go on and on. But is this really the guy we want standing between us and the terrorists?

George W. Bush apparently thinks so.

White House sources were saying last night that Kerik, the scandal-scarred former commissioner of the New York Correction and Police departments, will be named today to take Tom Ridge's job as head of homeland security.

For now, let's give the Bush folks the benefit of the doubt: Maybe they've been wowed by Kerik's shameless swing-state Kerry-bashing in Bush's behalf. ("I fear another attack, and I fear that attack with ... Senator Kerry being in office responding to it.")

Maybe they've been bullied by Giuliani's bulldog lobbying for a loyal business buddy and after-hours pal. ("OK, Karl," you can almost hear Rudy say, "I won't be attorney general, but you gotta take Bernie at homeland security!")

Or maybe it's just that the FBI background check isn't back from the field.

Whatever the reason, the White House personnel office really ought to ask some probing questions around New York. You can bet they'll get an earful of heads-up about this hard-charging, thick-necked, shaved-head lightweight.

Let this be a warning from someone who's followed the man's ladder-climbing career: He's a personal and professional time bomb the Bushies will learn to regret. Don't say I didn't warn you, guys!

hat's certainly the message that smart law-enforcement professionals in New York were exchanging yesterday, as they shook their heads in disbelief at Kerik's latest career goal.

"He couldn't run the Rikers commissary without getting greedy and making a mess, in a jam," one correction veteran said. "Now he's gonna be in charge of the Department of Homeland Security? Let's just hope the terrorists don't decide to come back."

This former subordinate was referring to just one of many petty scandals that have hung over Kerik's career. When he ran Correction, nearly $1 million of tobacco-company rebates were diverted into an obscure foundation Kerik was president of. This was for cigarettes bought with taxpayer money and then sold at inflated prices to jail inmates. But this rebate money - would kickbacks be a better word? - got spent entirely outside the normal rules for public funds.

No one was criminally charged. But a whole rash of IRS rules were seemingly violated. One board member quit in protest when the foundation treasurer refused to provide him with financial reports. And no one has ever explained where all the money went.

It was a typical Kerik deal. He behaved from start to finish like normal rules didn't apply to him.

It isn't possible in so little space to give an adequate tour of the man's rise from Jersey high-school dropout to prospective anti-terror boss.

As a public service, however, let me suggest a few ripe areas of personal inquiry that someone in Washington might like to pursue.

Along the way, don't lose sight of this: The homeland security chief stands between Osama bin Laden and our good-night sleep.

Why did he pull out of Iraq so suddenly? Does he think he did a pretty good job teaching the Baghdad police how to keep order and how to behave in "a free and democratic society," to use his words at the time?

Was Sept. 11th Commission member John Lehman on to something when he called Kerik's leadership after the terror attack "scandalous" and "not worthy of the Boy Scouts."

What exactly does he do at Giuliani Partners? How's that anti-crime campaign in Mexico City going? What companies and foreign governments are on his client list?

Why did Kerik send a New York City homicide detective to rouse TV hair and makeup artists in the middle of the night when his book publisher (and workout-partner) lost her cell phone?

What new job does he have in mind for John Picciano, his perennial chief of staff? Could Picciano really pass a federal background check? What about the complaint (later dropped) that he'd beaten up his correction-officer girlfriend and waved his gun around?

There are answers for all of it, I am sure. Answers to these few questions and many racier ones.

Over the weeks to come, Kerik will have a chance to answer all of them.

I, for one, am waiting.

So are a lot of people who've gotten to know the man in New York.

Copyright 2004, Newsday, Inc.


12-04-2004, 05:02 PM
But he's loyal. Nothing else matters. I'm worried that there will not be enough toadies to fill all the critical positions.

12-04-2004, 05:43 PM
The article is long on accusations, and short on hard evidence. Nothing new, both sides do it all the time...

[ 12-04-2004, 05:45 PM: Message edited by: BrianW ]

12-07-2004, 03:07 PM
Just the facts BrianW. When Kerik came over to Iraq to start up the Iraqi police training program there are enough statements from him that he would be in for 6mo. or more. That the task would take at least 18mo before there was a usable police force. These are factual statments that can be corroborated. There could be anyone of number of reasons why he left in less than two months but if you look at his career it involves getting on rising programs. He's obviously successful and goal oriented. My OPINION is that it became evident to him that the task of training the police would not be a rising program. As a civilian he had the option of getting on or off the bus. He got off.
The more important point to Ians post is that Kerik is a confirmation of GWs desire for loyalty above all else.
Remember GWs answer to the reporters question "is there anything you would have done differently?". GW: "I might have made a mistake hiring some people"
If the president is wrong at least he'll have someone to take the fall.


12-07-2004, 03:13 PM
fined $2500 for using police inspectors to do investigative work for his memoirs/book. Kinda young to be writing ones memoirs.


12-07-2004, 03:16 PM
Well Lee, you have to admit he's Shrub's kind of guy: an advanced degree in BS and a pechant for playing fast and lose with other people's money. Kind of like the Man himself! ;) :D

12-07-2004, 03:23 PM
An out-of-context quote from A Word A Day:

The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. -Thomas Carlyle, writer (1795-1881)

12-07-2004, 04:19 PM
Kat,,these details in and of themselves shouldn't tank a person anymore than GWs speaking ability or Kerrys self-promotions (in a politician?) but i find the short stint in Iraq more interesting as a possible hint (in hindsight)thatthe position wasn't beneficial to his career,,the short stint could indicate it wasn't.
When Ashcroft sent over a bunch of prison officials to assess the prisons a few turned right around as the job turned out to be assess and implement changes. This is an interesting piece http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Abu_Ghraib:_private_military_cont ractors

Khidir Hamza (another Chalabi expert providing testimony Saddams nuke programs were close) earned a reward position in the CPA then promptly was canned.

[ 12-07-2004, 04:34 PM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

12-07-2004, 04:48 PM
more questions.


it could be that the CPA/Iraq environment was just too messy to be worth the the effort of working $140,000/yr where you could get assasinated while contracted security guards could be earning $200,000/yr.


[ 12-07-2004, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: LeeG ]

Ian McColgin
12-14-2004, 09:53 AM
I just wanted to flog the dead horse by pulling this one up and bookend it with Henican's tongue-in-cheekily disingenuously entitled:

Published on Monday, December 13, 2004 by Long Island, NY Newsday

by Ellis Henican

I tried to save the president from all this embarrassment. Believe me, I tried.

I got started a full nine days ago, even before George W. Bush had formally nominated Bernie Kerik as head of Homeland Security for the whole United States. I warned the president and his people in no uncertain terms.

Here's what I wrote about the former New York police commissioner in the Newsday for Dec. 3:
"He's a personal and professional time bomb the Bushies will learn to regret. Don't say I didn't warn you, guys!"

Could I have been any plainer than that?
So now, I'm trying to think of a nice way to put this. How 'bout:

Tick, tick, tick ... KA-BOOM!

Accurately and vividly, I sounded my alarm about this "hard-charging, thick-necked, shaved-head lightweight" and his relentless career climb.
Kerik was, I wrote in that first column and a second one, a "campaign bodyguard to Rudy Giuliani," an "errand boy for the Saudi royal family," an "energetic exploiter of Sept. 11th tragedy" and a "tough-talking publicity-hound vowing to bring law and order to Iraq -- then hightailing it out of there after a disastrous 14 weeks, leaving the place far less safe than he found it."

Hey, I'm not here to mince words!

Kerik, after all, was Bush's choice for a pretty important position. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he'd have been the man who "stands between Osama bin Laden and our good-night sleep," to quote myself again.


So of course, I had no choice but to lay out in efficient language and appropriate detail a few ripe questions that the people in Washington would have done well to ask.

There's not enough room here to recount every misjudgment, scandal and power grab that characterized the man's rapid rise. I don't believe in wasting bullets on dead guys. As far as I can tell, Bernie isn't moving anymore.
Too bad the people in the White House didn't pay attention when it could have helped them. Too bad the members of the Senate, including the two from New York, also turned away.

Everyone in Washington was saying Kerik was the guy for Homeland Security. Hero of 9/11. Slasher of crime in New York City. A man who could really get things done. You have to figure all of them were blinded by the strong endorsement from Giuliani, Kerik's current business partner and longtime after-hours pal.

And now look at the mess they're cleaning up.
It came as a big surprise to some when Kerik's time ran out Friday night, but not to those who really know the man. Any more than his explanation did.

He tried to blame his nanny for everything. He said that he'd just discovered that the nice woman caring for his children might be in the United States illegally. He said he'd also just discovered that he hadn't been paying the taxes he owed on her.

Certainly, that could raise some questions for a high government official whose duties included supervising the nation's immigration laws. He'd be locking up hardworking immigrants for doing exactly what was happening in his very own home.
Try explaining that to some Nigerian cabbie or Mexican gardener.

But truth to tell, Kerik's "nanny problem" was about the least-explosive item on his real-life resume. That at least could be chalked up to humanity or forgetfulness.

It was all the other questions that made Bernie Kerik so wrong for the job.

He had a great rags-to-riches story: Son of a prostitute. High-school dropout. Ambitious law-enforcement boss. Rake-it-in businessman. But a tangled personal life and all the questions about his career are what really did Kerik in. Everywhere you looked around him was a new pile of stink.

A daughter he'd abandoned in Korea. A lawsuit over a subordinate he'd allegedly taken a shine to at the Correction Department. A swirl of ugly stories about his dating life.

There was that $6-million stock bonanza from a stun-gun company he got without investing a cent. There was nearly $1 million in public tobacco rebates funneled into a foundation he ran. There were city ethics penalties for assigning on-duty police detectives to research his autobiography. There were homicide detectives turned into a personal lost-and-found squad the night his publisher's cell phone disappeared.

Oh, the stuff just kept coming. The personal bankruptcy. The unexplained withdrawal from Iraq.
Given all of it, if this were me or you, wouldn't we want to blame the nanny?

Kerik put it blandly in the letter he sent to President Bush.

"I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people."

Thanks, Bernie. You got that much right.

2004 Newsday, Inc.

Besides this, we have two remaining Kerik files.



km gresham
12-14-2004, 09:56 AM
Kerik is out - Lieberman is in?

Joe (SoCal)
12-14-2004, 09:59 AM
Presidential decision making abilities still in question ;)

12-14-2004, 12:37 PM
the part that's bizarre about this is he was asked to take the job,,someone picked him. For HOMELAND SECURITY. You know,,to protect us agains mushroom clouds on the Potomac,,from terrists creaping through the scrub in Arizona or the foreigners up north,,,,the disconnects are striking.
If terrorism is a threat...
Given GWs previous statement "there are some people I shouldn't have hired.."

So either terrorism is a threat,,or maybe it's not,,good time to re-read Richard Clarkes book for a clue on how GW views terrism pre and post 9/11.

12-14-2004, 07:07 PM
maybe supporting democratic trends is important,,,,maybe not.