December 12, 2004

Who Are These People?

"Political criticism is our enemies' best friend." - Bush's choice to become Secretary of Homeland Security, former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who has just withdrawn his nomination for the job.

Kerik cites a an immigration issue with a former nanny as his reason for stepping down. But there are many, many more skeletons in Kerik's closet. The Herald article above includes his profitable membership on the board of Taser International, a stun-gun maker, and a New York Times story claiming that in 2002 he paid a fine for using a police sergeant and two detectives to research his autobiography.

More critical, perhaps, is this Newsweek article:
Kerik, who recently made millions in the private sector, once filed for personal bankruptcy as a New York cop. And just five years ago he was in financial trouble over a condominium he owned in New Jersey. More serious trouble than anyone realized: NEWSWEEK has discovered that a New Jersey judge in 1998 had issued an arrest warrant as part of a convoluted series of lawsuits relating to unpaid bills on his condo. The magazine faxed documents, including the arrest warrant, over to the White House around 6:00 p.m. Friday, asking for comment. Neither Kerik nor the White House had any immediate response. At 8:30 p.m., Kerik had submitted his letter to the president.
But there's more mystery to Kerik than just this, as Josh Marshall has previously pointed out. Aside from what Marshall calls "rainmaking" for Rudy Guliani, there's the fact that he left the Riker's Island prison as something very near to a latter-day version of Tammany Hall. Then there's his mysteriously short-lived posting to Iraq:
Kerik arrived in Iraq with a rather open-ended committment. By his own account, it should have carried him at least through the end of 2003. There was even some suggestion that it would keep him in the country through 2004. Yet just after the first two major terrorist attacks in Baghdad reports surfaced that he was about to leave. And only a week later, after major terrorist incidents numbers three and four, he was gone.
As Josh Marshall says, only a president with majorities as compliant as George W. Bush has right now would even consider nominating someone like Kerik for such a senior post. So what's the deal?

Kerik has obviously been a good team player, taking a few hits over the years to help push the big boys' agenda. Homeland Security would not only have been reward for his efforts, it would also have allowed him to continue pushing that agenda aggressively, undeterred by minor obstacles like genuine Law and Order. Unfortunately for him, a little thing called Public Accountability tripped him up along the way.

If only the same Public Accountability standards could be applied to scandal-ridden people like Rumsfeld, Negroponte, Cheney and even Bush himself.

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