a new york education

When I was eighteen years old I met an older woman in Manhattan named Ellen.  Everyone who went to my university knew her.  She was a fixture.  Like Amir’s or Mama Joy’s deli or the Cosmo restaurant.  A small, quick-moving woman always carrying two or three heavily laden bags with a voice that was pure New York…distilled through years of cigarettes and bus exhaust.  Her voice was kind of a female equivalent to Lou Reed’s: smoky, knowing, world-weary.

Ellen was in her late forties.  Her politics were radical.  An advocate for the homeless.  A tireless debater.  An opponent of both Reagan and Bush and everything bourgeois.  She was an inveterate smoker.  Bipolar.  A mother of three.  A veteran of years of New York politics.  And, like tens of thousands of other New Yorkers in 1987,  Ellen had no place to live.  She slept where she could.  She, too, was homeless.

Trouble at Homeland Security?

There was a little piece today in my free morning paper (amNY) that caught my attention.

WASHINGTON — The Homeland Security Department’s former independent watchdog says he was twice summoned to then-Secretary Tom Ridge’s office last year and asked why his reports criticizing the agency were being sent to Congress and whether they could be presented more favorably to the department.

Ridge “was trying to get me not to give things to Congress and also to try to spin reports in a way most favorable to the department, and I resisted both of those,” former Inspector General Clark Kent Ervin said in an interview.

Watchdog Details Confrontations With Ridge  

Ridge denies this:

Ervin’s statements are “untrue and deserve no further comment,” said Ridge, who left as secretary last month.

Read the interesting article, Inspector General Ervin does not mince words:

According to Ervin, Ridge asked, “What can we do to coordinate our messages on these reports so that you and we are saying the same thing about it?”

Ervin recalled: “I said, `I’m not in the spin business. We don’t coordinate our messages with the department. You can characterize it and spin it however you want, but that’s your business, not ours, and we’re not going to coordinate anything with you.'”

AS you will note from the article, IG Ervin is a former inspector general.  I had missed this back in December, but here is what I found.

From USA Today on 27 December 2004:

By Mimi Hall, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The government agency responsible for protecting the nation against terrorist attack is a dysfunctional, poorly managed bureaucracy that has failed to plug serious holes in the nation’s safety net, the Department of Homeland Security’s former internal watchdog warns.

Ervin lost his job this month in mysterious fashion. Appointed by President Bush in December 2003 when Congress was out of session, Ervin was never confirmed by the Senate. Nor was he renominated by the White House this month when his “recess appointment” — which lasted until the congressional session ended — expired Dec. 8.

A key senator won’t say why. Elissa Davidson, spokeswoman for the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, wouldn’t comment on why Chairman Susan Collins, R-Maine, never held confirmation hearings for Ervin. “The decision not to renominate Clark Kent Ervin was purely a White House decision,” she said.

And then there is this: POGO Project on Government Oversight – follow the link to Post 9/11 Security.  The DHS is trying to suppress even unclassified information.  The Inspector General is not reconfirmed because the White House did not want it, yet

Congress created the federal system of inspectors general in response to the Watergate scandal.

(from the above link to amNY).

Now ex-IG Ervin states that Ridge tried to make him spin his reports to Congress.

I profess no knowledge beyond what this amNY-article stated and what I found on some links, but it seems that the DHS and the Administration are extremely eager and vigilant in ensuring a lid on things.
What’s going on?

European Kos equivalent – a call for help

[promoted to the front page. And a big welcome to Jerome a Paris]

As many of you have probably seen, we have started some discussions on whether to have a European Kossacks convention, and whether to create a Euroopean Kos website.

My questions to you guys:

  • it looks like this site could a model of sorts for the site. Could anyone explain to me what it requires to be built (in terms of competences, effort, time, manpower, etc…) and what kind of modularity it has if we want a European site with various flavors yet to be discussed?
  • maybe this could be a place to conduct some slightly more discreet conversations on the topic without boring dKossacks with all the details – nor being swamped by the diary flow. Would you mind?

Feedback and input welcome!

Raw Story: Interesting Interview with Scott Ritter

Raw Story: Do you feel the latest flurry of warnings with regard to biochemical and/or nuclear attacks are part of this strategy–fear–or is something coming down the pike?

Ritter: No, they are using fear. [FBI director] Robert Mueller said he is a 100 percent certain that the US will be attacked by chemical and biological weapons. That’s a stunning statement if you think about it. I am a firefighter here in New York state, if we are going to be attacked by chemical/biological weapons; then why am I and other first responders not being mobilized to be trained in responding to that environment… in an emergency fashion? I mean this is a national security imperative.

Read more →

New Suggestion Box

Here is a new suggestion box.  The site is almost a day old and we have established a few things.

One: a lot of people do not like the default comment titles.  If anyone likes ’em, speak up now.

Two: people are freaking out about the spellcheck feature.  For now, you cannot post in comments or a diary until you uncheck the spellcheck button.

You can turn off the default spellcheck button in Display Preferences.

If you want to use spellcheck, just remember to uncheck the box before hitting post.

Three: we have to fix the New message lights so they don’t count our own posts as new.

Hmmm.  Anything else?

Hunting down the CIA

The CIA has apparently been conducting “extraordinary rendition” operations in Europe and they have left a trail. Police in Italy, Germany and Sweden are in pursuit, according to the Washington Post’s Foreign Service.

The Italian probe is one of three official investigations that have surfaced in the past year into renditions believed to have taken place in Western Europe. Although the CIA usually carries out the operations with the help or blessing of friendly local intelligence agencies, law enforcement authorities in Italy, Germany and Sweden are examining whether U.S. agents may have broken local laws by detaining terrorist suspects on European soil and subjecting them to abuse or maltreatment.

More below the fold…