Stand up for faceless bureaucrats!

Here’s Peggy Noonan in the WSJ reaching high indignation and alarm, after reviewing a general lack of federal preparedness for the aftermath of a WMD attack:

After the inspector general’s report, Paul McHale, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania who also served as an assistant secretary of defense under George W. Bush, told the Los Angeles Times: “There is a sense of complacency that has settled in nearly a decade after Sept. 11.” The paper also quoted Randall Larsen, the former executive director of the commission that gave the government low marks in January: “They just don’t see the WMD scenario as most likely,” he said.

They don’t? They must be idiots. They must not be reading all the government reports of the past eight years, declaring terrorist attacks on U.S. soil not only likely but virtually certain.

There are undoubtedly many faceless bureaucrats making poor decisions  for the government, over-matched by their tasks.  There are also a lot of people who used to work in and around the government whom we could also describe as… not possessed of greatly impressive analytical skills.

Noonan seems to have missed the difference between “terrorist attack” and “WMD scenario.” Extending this confusion, she focuses throughout her piece on 9/11, but never pauses to note that the weapons about which she says she is worried – nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons – weren’t involved in 9/11.  Jumbo jets were converted into WMD, by operatives exploiting specific vulnerabilities – easy access to the cockpit, instructions always to cooperate with hijackers, etc. – that for the most part no longer exist.

Other than garbling whatever she’s heard, or has read, or thinks someone else may have read, or thinks she herself would have read, in “all of the government reports,” Noonan relies on highly non-specific musings from Ronald Reagan and Henry Kissinger.  “What happens,” Kissinger is said to have asked rhetorically, “if we woke up one morning and found that 500,000 people had been killed somewhere?”  Well, what indeed – but how exactly is this event supposed to have been brought about – by whom, and to what end and with what expectations?  It obviously can be “conceived of,” but conceiving of a likely scenario, a real weapon really available to real people used to achieve real objectives in the real world, is a different matter.

Maybe the idiots are adequately well-informed after all.

7 comments on “Stand up for faceless bureaucrats!

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  1. This government can’t properly relay a tip from a concerned father that his son has gone ‘walkabout’ in Yemen, it downplayed the connections of Shahzad, despite the potential impact of what such
    an event would have done, symbolically and in real terms, it fired the
    only halfway competent intel guy in Admiral Blair, the one Buckley fils
    vouched for. They were surprised at AQAP’s determination despite
    the Prince Nayif debrief, do they give the slightest notion they could
    handle any crisis, whatsoever

  2. do they give the slightest notion they could
    handle any crisis

    The Crisis is that Crisis is now the Standard everyday Reality,and SUPER CRISIS is what we can’t handle. The Economy is in a super crisis,I call it Great Depression 2(Early Stage),the Enviroment is in a Super Crisis,and the Near East is in a Super Crisis/Israel-Iran. That part of the World that is in the system of Floating Currency(G22) is in a Super Crisis,early stage World Wide Great Depression 2.
    The Great Leaders don’t Preempt Great Events,they react to and tame them ex post facto. We have great people here that are capable of handling major worldclass problems,our tragedy is that not one of them resides in the Government,and not one of them is currently trying to get elected.

  3. Are you speaking of Ixtoc 2, yes that could be a problem specially in my neck of the woods, I forget where you live, the solution being
    preferred is like the cure that kills the patient, we’re talking of simple
    management, preeemption is way beneath there ability

  4. we’re talking of simple
    management

    Even Simple management isn’t possible when you’re operating under conditions of Bankruptcy. Job 1 is to become solvant. No one in the Government is discussing that much less doing something about it. I would suggest that we start the process with a 50% cut on all Federal Government expenses,every Dept gets a haircut,while at the same time,we restructure all of our Government Debt,to fit our new model of Solvancy. Everyone needs to get an equal Crew style haircut. If our Government,way of life can survive that, we then,have earned the title,EXCEPTIONAL.

  5. Actually Bankruptcy is an honest acknowledgement that one can’t pay one’s bills, not the pretense we are under now

  6. narciso wrote:
    Actually Bankruptcy is an honest acknowledgement that one can’t pay one’s bills, not the pretense we are under now

    Yes,step one is the Acknowledgement,and Step Two is an across the Board reduction in expenses,if its not Across the Board,if it appears to be political: example/cut Social Costs 50%,cut Military Costs 10%,its dead,everyone must suffer equally.

  7. I’m being sayin for a while that one way to get the economy reeved up is to have a massive debt forgiveness program,public and private. It appears that something similiar is going on in its stead.

    Number of the Week: Default, Not Thrift, Pares U.S. Debt
    “The falling debt burden conjures up images of a nation seeking to repent after a decade of profligacy, conscientiously paying down mortgages and credit-card balances. That may be true in some cases, but it’s not the norm. In fact, people are making much more progress in shedding their debts by defaulting on mortgages and reneging on credit cards.”
    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2010/06/12/number-of-the-week-default-not-thrift-pares-us-debt/

    The comments are worth checking out.

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