Rich Galen

On September 2, 2005, after his delayed trip to the Gulf Coast to view the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush said of Michael Brown, head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Brownie, as we now know (and which I knew at the time because I was actually in the FEMA command trailer watching him) was an abject failure in organizing the post-hurricane recovery operation to the point that the United States Army had to be sent in to take control of the situation in New Orleans.

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FEMA is a sub-unit of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The Secretary of DHS is Janet Napolitano, the former Governor of Arizona (GovAz - ok, I made that up).

Janet Napolitano was interviewed on CNN's Sunday show "State of the Nation," following the failure of the Tightey-Whitey-Bomber to bring down a flight just outside of Detroit on Christmas Day and said,

"One thing I want to point out is that the system worked. Everybody played an important role here. The passengers and crew of the flight took appropriate action."

Of course that is preposterous. The system pretty obviously did not work because if the system had worked "the passengers and crew of the flight" would not have had to take any "appropriate action" other than whining about the agents taking too long to bring the jet bridge up to the plane.

According to Napolitano the system that "worked" had allowed Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (UFA), a guy from Lagos, to take time out from sending me spam e-mails about how I had won the Nigerian national lottery because my e-mail address had been selected out of the 87 trillion e-mail addresses on the planet and if I would just send (1) a signed copy of a check showing my account and bank routing number, (2) a credit card number (including the security code and expiration date), and (3) the last four digits of my social security number, he would be happy to send me the $125 million which is now sitting in a bank in Cote d'Ivoire in an account with my name on it.

That same guy went to terrorist band camp in Yemen where he learned how to: Put on a pair of panties which had a very powerful explosive sewn into them;

Talk his way onto airplanes in Lagos and Amsterdam having paid only cash and having only a small carry-on even after his father had told U.S. authorities that his son was crackers;

Get the seat most likely to set the plane's fuel on fire, and;

Inject a liquid into his … well where the explosives were located, which was supposed to blow the plane out of the sky.

That's the system which Secretary Napolitano thinks worked.

Checking on the Delta website last night, a one-way coach ticket from Lagos to Detroit was priced at $3,654.30. The unit of currency in Nigeria is the naira. One US dollar is worth about 152.29 nairas. So, that ticket to the U.S. would have required UFA to cough up 556,513.35 nairas. In cash.

Hefting more than a half million nairas up on the counter to pay for his ticket must have required UFA to be wearing a truss, in addition to his Big-Bang-Briefs, but that raised no eyebrows anywhere in Napolitano's well-oiled, highly-effective system.

Nor did the fact that he had been refused a visa to return to the U.K. where he had lived long enough to get a college degree, yet has been granted a valid US visa, where he has never lived for any length of time. Ok. Maybe that system needs a little tweak.

It took about 24 hours for Secretary Napolitano to come up with a clarification of her shockingly stupid statement. After calling in all the geniuses in the Administration's stable of communicators, "Nappy's" explanation of saying that the system worked was: It was taken out of context.

I was at CNN on Monday and spoke with a reporter who was in the Bureau when Nappy was on the air.

"It was a live interview," the reporter said. "How can it have been taken out of context?"

Nappy did a heck of a job.


Rich Galen

Rich Galen has been a press secretary to Dan Quayle and Newt Gingrich. Rich Galen currently works as a journalist and writes at Mullings.com.