Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Of Bubbles and Eyebrows

Al Kamen - An Administration Ally Goes Off-Message -

Sensing GOP vulnerability, the Democrats' campaign ads focus on voter unhappiness with the Iraq war. The Republicans, in turn, prefer to talk about keeping us safe from terrorism.

So eyebrows popped up last week when none other than Richard Perle, former Reagan assistant secretary of defense, former Bush brain-truster on the Defense Policy Board, and a key promoter of the war to find Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, blistered the administration as "dysfunctional" when it comes to stopping someone from bringing "a nuclear weapon or even nuclear material into the United States."

"Knowing that there are people who wish to do that," Perle said, "knowing they are seeking weapons of mass destruction, you would think that we would have put in place a system or at least be working assiduously in the development of a system that would allow us to detect nuclear material entering the New York Harbor or Boston Harbor or what have you.

"But we haven't done that," he said at a Center for Strategic and International Studies gathering [wmv 1.25 hr]. "And the reason we haven't done that is hopeless bureaucratic obstruction. Somebody needs to shake that loose." Perle added that while some have tried to overcome the bureaucracy, no one has succeeded.

"I think we have an administration today that is dysfunctional," Perle said. "And if it can't get itself together to organize a serious program for finding nuclear material on its way to the United States, then it ought to be replaced by an administration that can."

But President Bush , Perle emphasized, is not to blame for this sorry state of affairs. "I haven't the slightest doubt that if one could . . . put this proposition to the president, he would first be shocked to learn that we don't have the capability. Secondly, [he] would immediately order that we develop it."

[Editorial Comment: The buck stops with the president. If a president runs his administration in such a way that news of this sort doesn't reach him, then he is to blame in the most fundamental way. Especially for a so-called unitary executive president. Ultimate responsibility is a concomitant of ultimate power. This does not minimize in any way the responsibility of others, especially those who, as Mr. Perle believes, are responsible for distorting the president's view of reality to such an extent as to produce the present "sorry state of affairs." There is no plausible deniability here.]

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