March 28, 2010

Seriouser and Curiouser

Hatched by Dafydd

Three days ago, we found occasion to praise an Obamic appointee -- Army Major General Robert Harding (ret.), who Barack H. Obama had named to head the Transportation Security Agency (TSA). We praised him for one courageous (and vital) stand he took, during the Senate hearings, in favor of behavioral profiling of passengers, specifically along the Israeli model.

But yesterday, Gen. Harding abruptly withdrew his nomination... and the question is -- why?

Harding has essayed to answer that puzzlement, but his answer raises too many questions of its own to be blithely accepted as the final word. Gen. Harding says that he withdrew because he worked for a military-contracting company that had to return a couple of million dollars in charges to the American government, and he feared this would kill his confirmation:

Harding had extensive intelligence experience that Obama hoped to tap in shoring up airport screening and other anti-terrorism transportation fronts. He retired from the Army in 2001, ending a three-decade career during which he served as the Defense Department's top human intelligence officer, managing a $1 billion intelligence collection program....

Questions arose after his nomination about a contract his company had with the government to provide interrogators in Iraq. After the government ended the contract early, in 2004, Harding Security Associates claimed more money from termination of the contract than the Defense Department's inspector general said it was entitled to get. The firm refunded $1.8 million of that money in a 2008 settlement with the Defense Intelligence Agency.

But this is ridiculous. First, everyone on Capitol Hill has known about this company and the overcharge for two years; it certainly was no secret! The only folks who objected and grilled him over it were the Republicans -- and the odds that all 41 of them would have banded together on this trivial issue to block Harding's appointment to head up TSA are infinitesimal. Some senator -- probably Lindsey Graham (R-SC, 82%) or one of the Maine Twins (Sens. Susan Collins, 20%, and Olympia Snowe, 12%) would have broken ranks.

Second, there's that curious line in the above quotation I highlighted above: If anybody was to object to Harding's contracting, it would surely be the Democrats upset over him providing "interrogators in Iraq," rather than the Republicans -- supposedly unalterably opposed to allowing a former DoD contractor to head up a security agency, merely because the company charged the feds more than the feds themselves thought propitious?

Since when has the GOP seriously objected to higher than expected defense outlays? If overcharging were the big issue, Republicans would have demanded cancellation of every DoD contract since the days of Abraham Lincoln.

Finally, there is the dead body on the tennis court: Everybody tries to play around it, but nobody can think of anything else. Barack Obama himself has in the past denounced "profiling," with the traditional (and chowder-headed) slurring of "behavioral profiling" with "racial profiling." Worse, Harding explicitly based his proposed changes on "the Israeli model;" and I think it well established by now that the only country on Earth that the B.O. administration hates worse than Great Britain is the Jewish state, Israel.

Again, what objection would Republicans have to behavioral profiling? Yet we know the left regularly denounces Israel for its profiling, carefully explaining that "behavior" is code for those darned Jews to "racially profile" Palestinians and other Arabs. Has the Left suddenly found a soft spot in its heart for effective security against terrorist attack, after more than a decade of frantically attacking any and all such security measures... and even sucking up to, allying with, and lionizing those selfsame terrorist apologists, from Edward Said to Sami al-Arian to Lynne Stewart?

With, I admit, no hard evidence to support my gut feeling, I nevertheless believe that the real reason Harding "voluntarily" withdrew was that he was told in no uncertain terms, even if it was by Democratic code, that his recent comments on profiling, coupled with his "complicity" with the "war criminals" in the despised George W. Bush administration was a deal-killer with a sufficiency of liberals who, joined with most Republicans, would easily top 41 hard votes against cloture.

I can't prove it, but it's the only reason that seems to make sense. Take it for what it's worth.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 28, 2010, at the time of 3:17 AM

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