"It's a Friggin' Embarrassment"
Not really something you'd hope to hear from a source at Homeland Security. It seems that that the top job which was once occupied by Frances Fragos Townsend, is being turned down by everyone who is qualified and suited to the position.
Townsend had been the assistant to the president for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism but announced her resignation last November.
However, Townsend stayed on till January - mostly to give President Bush ample time to find a replacement - which to date, seems to have been an abysmal failure.
More about Frances Fragos Townsend: A Field General Departs
On the day the White House announced her impending resignation, Frances Fragos Townsend, President Bush's top counterterrorism adviser, said the country is still facing a "very serious and continuing threat from Al Qaeda" that will only become worse if Congress does not pass a controversial measure giving the U.S. government expanded surveillance powers.
People qualified for the job (and declined) included:
The information had been provided by three sources, who the original report claims are ".. sources knowledgeable about the issue." All three people have requested anonymity when discussing White House personnel moves.
Abizaid and Loy did not respond to requests for comment.
The stumbling block seems to be the approaching end of Bush's final term as our president:
"It's a friggin' embarrassment," said one source who is involved in the recruitment process.
He did confirm however, that the administration was "still in the process" of finding a replacement for Townsend. Luckily for Bush and by extension even the public, Joel Bagnal, a low-profile former Army Colonel continues to serve as acting Homeland Security adviser.
Asked at a news conference three weeks ago whether the failure to find a replacement for Townsend has made the country "less safe," Bush testily replied that Bagnal was "a real good guy" and a "fine professional" who "knows what he's doing.
"Some administration officials say Bagnal may end up being offered the post by default. But they note that he is little known inside the government and lacks the clout or stature of Townsend, a savvy inside operator.
That could make it far more difficult for him to convene high-level meetings and move issues to the top of the White House agenda.
It could also handicap the administration in the event of another terrorist attack or natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina, situations in which the White House's homeland security adviser is formally in charge of formulating a policy response.
I have to wonder how many terrorists will realize that this is a possible window of opportunity for them - and if so - can we expect some serious acts of terrorism in America in our near future?
As if this wasn't seriously worrying, earlier this month the public were to discover that the Bush administration are also having trouble filling the post of the head of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
The job was left vacant by Retired Vice Admiral John Scott Redd, who claimed that he had to leave for health reasons last October. But it was an odd resignation - which came on the heels of Redd speaking to a TV., interviewer and saying:
... that the invasion of Iraq "probably" did not make the U.S. safer from terrorism.
Also odd, since the post hasn't been filled, is the fact that no-one else has applied for the job (or no-one has been good enough,) and no-one has been nominated.
It's unfortunate for everyone, that "several highly experienced candidates" have already turned down the job to become NCTC director.
Since October, the acting chief has been Michael Leiter, a former federal prosecutor and Navy pilot. He's been highly praised in the role and many expect that once Senate confirmation comes through, it will only be a matter of time before he's named as the NCTC's permanent director.
But this decision should have been considered and put into place months ago, instead of conducting what has turned out to be a wild goose chase in attempts to find someone better. One supposition as to why he wasn't offered the job earlier were his political credentials:
According to his official biography, Leiter, a Harvard law graduate, once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, a liberal Bill Clinton appointee.
by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball
Antiterror Help Wanted
by Mark Hosenball
by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball (separate article)
A Field General Departs
by Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball