The current administration is looking for qualified applicants to fill positions in its new agencies, departments, task forces, offices, appointments, organizations and bureaus spawned from the war on terror. (No. Of course this is not big government. We are a Republican administration, for chrissakes. We call it: Operation Never-Ending Small Government.)
Aging white men, responsible for an assortment of wrongdoings and misconduct in former administrations given top priority. Persons convicted of multiple felons involving, say, illegal arm sales to foreign guerillas, let off on technicalities; those involved in egregious corporate transgressions; and human rights violators and individuals considered war criminals by many at home and abroad who were once integral in the preemptive “secret” bombing and killing of millions of civilians in a country in Southeast Asia or in a deadly South American coup that happened on another tragic September 11th in 1973 are welcome to apply. Misdemeanors okay, too. A proven track record of lying to/withholding information from/misleading Congress and the American people in the name of national security (or not), a huge plus. Willingness to continue doing so is extremely desirable. References from current or past foreign dictators and Geedubya’s daddy favorably received. (An Axis of Evil leader’s recommendation acceptable. If US corporations find it kosher to continue doing business with these anointed evildoers, that’s good enough for us.) Established, direct ties to industry an absolute must. Ability to work shredder and delete button on computer required. Space in private home to store sensitive, sought-after governmental documents from past administrations puts you at a real advantage. Your conflict of interest is not a conflict for us.
Commensurate with what can get away with. While Bush just limited federal employee raises (below what Congress asked for), he has now reinstituted cash bonuses for political appointees. This practice was banned during the Clinton era due to questions of abuse and of rewarding political loyalty. But like the daily resurrection of other long-gone, dearly departed policies, practices and people revived in this administration: it’s back.
A Justice Department memorandum explains that the bonuses “will be limited to truly outstanding performance that contributes directly to achieving the president’s and the attorney general’s national goals and objectives.” So, just play nice with John and Geedubya and you’re golden. Literally.
Unparalleled power veiled in a cloak of secrecy. We’re in the process of eviscerating the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Sshhh. It’s a secret. We know what a great tool it is for the American people to use to find out what we’re up to. And we don’t particularly want people to know these things. So back in October 2001, Ashcroft assured agency heads that the Justice Department would back any FOIA denials they made to the public.
Then White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card gave instructions in a March 2002 memo that agencies should restrict access to “sensitive but unclassified” information requested through the FOIA. “Sensitive” is a boundless umbrella. Already this has resulted in the deletion of over 6,000 Pentagon documents. And there are more deletions on the way, to be sure. And now the recently passed Homeland Security bill includes a provision that lets agencies exempt themselves from certain FOIA requests without any judicial review. So, there are almost no checks and balances in place.
Cloak of disinformation. It’s true that Rumsfeld’s Office of Strategic Influence was shut down after public outcry about an office whose blatant purpose was to generate disinformation and propaganda abroad and at home. But, this fall he created a new position: Deputy Undersecretary for Special Plans. “Special plans” are deception operations that control public information. So, basically these special plans will do what the Office of Strategic Influence was to do under a different guise.
We do that all the time: change the name of something objectionable so the American people will think the objectionable thing has gone away. But we really keep it and repackage it under a new, obfuscated, sanitized name. Remember the School of the Americas and the Department of War? Still here. Same objectives. New names. (Corporations who have gotten bad press do that, too. Lawsuit-ridden Philip Morris will soon be the benign Altria Group, Inc.)
If you want a perk we haven’t mentioned just let us know and we’ll get it for you by burying it deep in the pages of a long-winded bill, like we just did for our good friends at Eli Lilly & Co. We slid in some language in the midst of a domestic security bill that Bush just signed making Lilly all-but impervious to lawsuits regarding a preservative in its vaccines that many claim causes autism. At first glance, this clause may not seem to have a thing in the world to do with national security. Just trust us.
The fact that Bush I sat on Lilly’s board in the 70’s, and White House budget director, Mitchell Daniels, is a former Lilly exec, and that Lilly contributes more to political campaigns than any other pharmaceutical company, and this past summer Bush appointed Sidney Taurel, Lilly’s Chairman and CEO, to the Homeland Security Advisory Council is, needless to say, immaterial.
We also slid in additional perks for other industry people, like the secrecy clauses that will make it a lot harder for people to get information about the dangerous chemicals that might be near their homes. We know congresspersons don’t often read through all the pages upon pages of all those tiresome bills.
But, somebody caught the Lilly clause. And currently nobody will claim ownership. Apparently, in America we can pass laws without lawmakers completely reading them and understanding their full consequences to the American people, and without anybody having to take responsibility for them. (Another perk.)
Soon the question of who authored and inserted this clause will fade away like the lawsuit to obtain documents about Cheney’s energy task force and its meetings with lobbyists and industry executives; outrage about corporate scandals; urgency to find Osama bin Laden; concern about rebuilding Afghanistan; and the memory of Bush’s dubious military record. It’s a good thing the American people have a mercifully short memory. We are getting away with things we could only imagine in our wildest dreams just a couple of years ago. (A colossal perk.)
The US Government Is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Unless you are those translators we let go. We are painfully short on people who can translate Middle Eastern languages and we said we desperately, desperately need them to help fight the war on terror. But they were, well…you know…(g-a-y)…and we don’t want to win our terror war THAT bad.
And we also don’t employ too many women or people of color – except those high profile few we can keep in our pockets like Condi and Colin and Katherine. (Yes, the people elected Ms. Harris. But we recently named this freshman congressperson Assistant Majority Whip because she was just an absolute peach during the 2000 election in Florida.)
You also probably need not bother applying if you aren’t rich. Almost every one of our upper-level appointees are multi-millionaires. And finally, all you thousands of people we just canned from the federal jobs we are privatizing to help out our industry friends absolutely need not apply. No exceptions.
If interested please send resume, organization memberships, voting record, schools attended, all websites visited, email content and address book, DVDs rented, medical history, religious affiliation, CD purchases, book purchases, protest and activist history, library transactions, grocery list, content of questionable and not-so questionable telephone conversations, ATM/banking transactions, travel history, and all credit card transactions to…
…Never mind. We already have them.
CAROL NORRIS is a freelance writer and psychotherapist. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.