Inconvenient News,
       by smintheus

Friday, December 08, 2006

  Savor the victories

Yesterday, George Bush announced that he's withdrawing two rather nasty nominations: David Laufman, to be the Inspector General of the Defense Department; and Tracy Henke, to be Executive Director of the Office of State and Local Government Coordination and Preparedness in DHS.

These are significant victories. Both Laufman and Henke have fashioned ugly careers by enforcing Bush dogmata. Yawning pits can be found where their integrity ought to be. And the job in the DoD will be particularly critical to all manner of investigations of Bush Co. in the next two years, not least those involving the NSA.

So say your goodbyes to two bums. You can just feel the tide carrying cast-off cronies out to sea, one after another.


When I first began agitating against Laufman's nomination in June, it didn't seem likely it could be derailed. Laufman had no real credentials for the IG job, but when had that gotten in the way of Bush's appointments?

At the time not a single journalist thought it worthwhile to comment on this nomination. Not one. Shocking. Only bloggers were on the story, as I summarized recently here.

What Laufman did have were plenty of skeletons in his closet. As a very partisan Republican lawyer in Congress, he helped to sweep under the rug two damaging allegations against Bush pere in the early '90s. Right after the terrorist attacks in 2001 he encouraged the illegal detention of hundreds of suspects in Brooklyn, as an official in Dubya's Justice Department (ah, the irony). None of those suspects were terrorists, evidently. Promoted to U.S. Attorney in Virginia for his vigorous disdain for law, Laufman has pursued and won draconian sentences against several terror suspects in highly dubious cases. One of these, for example, involved a confession extracted under torture in an Egyptian jail.

Laufman's scores in the 'Unqualified' and 'Unscrupulous' columns, then, are astronomically high. These were the things that the professional journalists were content to ignore.

Under questioning from Sen. Levin at his nomination hearing, he said he would defer to and consult with the Secretary of Defense on a range of potential IG investigations. That was enough to get his nomination blocked permanently.

Laufman went crying to the media; he was a super-spiffing investigator, John Solomon (who else?) assured us, and that mean old Sen. Levin was trying to wreck all of Laufman's plans to end corruption as we know it. Didn't work, so yesterday the WH withdrew Laufman's nomination. Solomon greeted the announcement by taking another potshot at Levin.

Regarding the original WH announcement of the nomination, I noted that it suppressed the info that Laufman had once worked for the CIA. Yesterday's withdrawal announcement added another fact the WH never let on—Laufman's another damned Texan. A prime qualification in this administration.


Tracy Henke is another infamous crony. A political hack from Missouri, she rode into the Justice Department on John Ashcroft's coattails. You can follow her career of bungling via Source Watch and Carpetbagger Report.

Some highlights.

* In Oct. 2001, she helped to insert language in the Patriot Act undercutting the indepence of the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and National Institute of Justice.

* In April 2005, she pressured the author of a BJS study on racial profiling, Lawrence Greenfield, to eliminate evidence that police treat blacks and hispanics disparately in the news release for that study. Greenfield refused, was hounded by superiors in Justice, and then called to the White House and threatened with dismissal. He eventually was demoted. Eric Lichtblau told the sordid tale last summer.

Ms. Henke, who was nominated by Mr. Bush last month to a senior position at the Department of Homeland Security, said in a brief telephone interview that she did not recall the episode.

* Henke was nominated by Bush in July to be Exec. Dir. of the Office of State & Local Government Coordination & Preparedness in DHS. Unsurprisingly her nomination went nowhere, so in January 2006 Bush gave her a recess appointment--along with a bunch of other administration cronies, including the notorious Julie Myers. In February and in September 2006, Bush nominated Henke a second and third time for the same post.

* In June 2006, Henke was the genius at DHS who decided to cut anti-terrorism grants to New York City and DC, in favor of bigger grants to, well, places like Missouri. This drew almost universal ridicule upon her

Henke's department judged that the nation's capital is a "low-risk" city and that the Statue of Liberty, Brooklyn Bridge and Empire State Building are not worthy of "national icon" status. By contrast, those terrorism magnets of Kansas City and St. Louis -- both by happenstance in Henke's home state of Missouri -- received boosts in funds. Other winners: the horses of Louisville, the cattle of Omaha and five cities in Jeb Bush's Florida.

Wouldn't you know, that pleased the Great Man:

After six months on the job, Henke is already on President Bush's radar screen - he thanked her by name yesterday for help on immigration reform, even as her anti-terrorism funding handiwork was being pilloried.

All the good it did her. Her nomination has been dead for a year, but yesterday she and Bush finally admitted defeat.

Savor it.


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