Why Play the Blame Game When You Can Play the Name Game?


After 9/11, Congress decided we needed a department dedicated to defending Americans from foreign attacks. Since we already had a "Department of Defense" (what is it they do again?), the new bureaucratic entity was dubbed the "Department of Homeland Security." Now, in response to criticism of the government's failure to prevent the September 11 attacks, the White House is contemplating a plan to appoint a central authority to coordinate U.S. intelligence. Since the title "director of central intelligence" is already taken, the administration is considering "director of national intelligence" instead.

Similarly, prohibitionists periodically complain that our so-called drug czar, who runs the Office of National Drug Control Policy, lacks real authority to direct anti-drug efforts. Perhaps what we need is a drug tsar, in charge of the National Office of Drug Control Policy.

NEXT: Canadian Crack

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Eric,
    Didn’t one of the ill-fated South African “homelands” (There’s that word again.) have a system in which you had to get rid of one law for every new one you put into effect. I don’t share all of your optimism. I think that, rather than replacing a mature bureaucracy with a smaller one, you would have no new bureaucracies due to the constituency defending the old one. That would still be an improvement, of course, but I fear that the State would make an exception for “emergencies” and the State never runs out of emergencies to justify its own expansion.

  2. Republicans: the party of small government! The party that believes government should not interfere with American’s everyday lives, unless they’re gay or want an abortion or want to listen to Howard Stern on the radio or watch pornography or see Janet Jackson’s booby. But otherwise, no government interference!

  3. I’d join the crackpots in satirizing the attempts at securing our country, but I can’t help but notice that there have been no successful domestic attacks since 9/11. Coincidence, or some credit due? Just a little? C’mon, you can do it.

    Yelp, ye crackpots!

  4. If “Director of National Intelligence” is seen as too similar to Director of Central Intelligence, a new name could be thought of to focus on this person’s roll in ADVISING the President BASED on the gathered intelligence. I would suggest “National Security Advisor”.

    What? Really? Oh, never mind then.

  5. Eric, good idea. The cabinet is supposed to be able to function as a body, and it’s gotten too unwieldy.

    keith, split up BIA’s functions between State, Interior, HHS, Commerce…there’s a lot of duplication, as I understand.

  6. Move most CIA functions into the Pentagon, divided between Special Operations Command and DIA. Return the CIA to its roots as a coordinating office.

    Make EPA a cabinet post, move environmental stuff out of Interior, and give Interior the duties currently carried out by Homeland Security.

    Use everything with the fascist word “homeland” for compost.

  7. How about a Department of Redundancy Department?

  8. PDD-62 (signed by Clinton in 1998) already established such a person. Also look at FEMA’s “Terrorism Incident Annex” from 1997; PDD-63 (sets out the policy to protect critical infrastructre); and CONPLAN – the latter refining the TIA and what TIA was based on – PDD-39. Anyway, this is one more attempt to create something that was created sometime ago.

  9. BTW, this is what Bush had to say about Ridge’s “office” when he was appointed head of the “Office of Homeland Security” on Sept. 20, 2001 (before Bush waffled on whether it would be “cabinet-level” or not:

    He was to “lead, oversee, and coordinate a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any attacks that may come.”

    President Bush’s Address on Terrorism Before a Joint Meeting of Congress, New York Times, Sept. 21, 2001

    The office was originally created under E.O. No. 13,228; it can be found at 66 Fed. Reg. 51812 (2001).

  10. BTW, I should say that the PDDs above are partly (mostly) classified.

    The President also has with him at all times – along with the “football” – Presidential Emergency Action Documents (PEADs); PEADs are “standby executive orders” – such as an order declaring nation-wide martial law, orders to detain aliens, etc. Most of the documents are premised on what lawyers call his “implied authority” as President.

  11. Joe:

    The Soviet Union had a Department of the Interior. Similarly, they managed the internal passport system. National ID cards? I suppose it’s not fascist history though.

    One question re the proposed Interior-to-EPA shuffle: Who gets Bureau of Indian Affairs? State?

  12. Well, with all of these new departments and coordinators, we’ll probably need somebody to coordinate the various coordinators. So how about a National Security Coordinators Coordinator?

  13. How about this? For every new department that Dubya feels he has to have, another department has to get whacked. So give him his “director of national intelligence” and whatever department that position oversees, but get rid of another department. And the whacked department has to cost more than the new one, so the govt ends up spending less.

  14. Isn’t this the way we got the C.I.A.? As I recall it, Truman appointed someone to be Director of Central Intelligence to co-ordinate (as another commenter said) the extant agencies’ product, but it was quickly used as a way of reconstituting the O.S.S. under him…leading me to think that this is step 1 (not necessarily plotted, but set in that direction) of creating our very own MI-5/6 combo under the new Director.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.