headline of the day

[describing the imminent establishment of a "Department of Homeland Security"]

"ESTABLISHING NEW AGENCY IS EXPECTED TO TAKE YEARS AND COULD DIVERT IT FROM MISSION"

Even if the NYTimes relegates it and the entire story to page 14, reservng the front page lead story to a glorious account of the overwhelmingly successful passage of the bill through the Senate.

Ooops! The paper just altered/censored itself. The headline which now appears on their website article reads, "ESTABLISHING HOMELAND SECURITY AGENCY IS EXPECED TO TAKE YEARS," making a subtle distinction from the original, much more alarming text.


So, why is this thing being done in Washington. I think we know. Senator Byrd has the words.

While his colleagues have debated the fine points of the domestic security bill, he has been virtually alone in asking the larger question: Why is this new department suddenly so necessary? What will the largest and hastiest reorganization of the federal government in half a century do besides allow politicians to claim instant credit for fighting terrorism?

"Osama bin Laden is still alive and plotting more attacks while we play bureaucratic shuffleboard," Mr. Byrd told the Senate. "With a battle plan like the Bush administration is proposing, instead of crossing the Delaware River to capture the Hessian soldiers on Christmas Day, George Washington would have stayed on his side of the river and built a bureaucracy." Mr. Byrd imagined Nathan Hale declaring, "I have but one life to lose for my bureaucracy," and Commodore Oliver Perry hoisting a flag on his ship with the rallying cry, "Don't give up the bureaucracy!"

Do we feel safer yet?

By the way, the comments of one Democratic Senator who didn't have the courage of his (conviction?), declining to be named, should be enough to explain why there are virtually no principles still visible in that body.

"More and more of our members feel he's dragging it on and on ad infinitum, which is not necessary," that senator said. "Make your point. Have a vote. And move on. He's not willing to do that. He's from a different school. At some point you have to say, `Enough is enough.' "
But the issues at stake in Congress are not those of a club or prom committee, and we should expect some people to take them very seriously.