Looks like the White House has already traded in its recently adopted motto, "Let's Roll," for a new slogan: "Let's Roll Over."
With a submissive stroke of President Bush's pen, nearly 30,000 airport screeners gained lifetime public employment this week. President Bush wanted a more limited government role, but he immediately gave in to Democrats' insistence on mass federalization of the entire airport security workforce.
In addition to this gargantuan government gobble-up, the law also creates a new agency under the U.S. Transportation Department, headed by a new undersecretary for airport security. When fully staffed, the agency payroll could top 45,000 -- making it larger than the State Department, Commerce Department or the entire federal court system. The law also mandates a new "enplanement" tax of $2.50 every time a passenger boards a flight.
Do you feel safer now?
President Bush promises that if any of these new federal workers "do not perform, the new undersecretary will have full authority to discipline or remove them." He will demand excellence and accountability. That's what every bright-eyed bureaucrat promises at the beginning of his tenure.
And then reality bites.
Bush's new transportation safety undersecretary will quickly learn that no one ever gets fired from a government job -- unless, of course, he or she blows the whistle on corruption, bribery or abuse. Look no further than the Immigration and Naturalization Service for a glimpse of how the feds really handle bad workers who endanger the public and undermine the
Last week, I chronicled the rise of Walter Cadman, the INS' counterterrorism coordinator in Washington, D.C., who participated in an elaborate scheme to intentionally deceive members of Congress during a 1995 visit to the Miami airport and Krome detention center for illegal aliens. Cadman and his co-workers in management released criminal aliens into the general population to alleviate overcrowding, instructed underlings to lie about workplace operations, and hired immigration inspectors on overtime to reduce airport lines.
What happened to the rest of Cadman's colleagues? Valerie Blake, then-deputy director of the INS' Miami district office, spearheaded the deceptive plot six years ago. The Office of the Inspector General called Blake "the single person most responsible for orchestrating the effort to present a false picture" to Congress. Yet, during the OIG investigation, Blake was promoted to district director for Minneapolis and received a $5,000 service award.
The Justice Department later recommended that Blake be fired, but after winning an appeal from the federal Merit Systems Protection Board, she received a scant 60-day suspension and a single pay-grade demotion.
Constance "Kathy" Weiss, administrator of the Krome camp, helped execute Blake's order to empty the detention center before the congressional visit. She wrote an e-mail noting that several alien detainees had been "stashed out of sight for cosmetic purposes." Instead of a Justice Department-recommended removal, she was exonerated by the board because she was just "following orders." She returned to her old job and was awarded back pay and attorney's fees.
Eastern Regional Deputy Director Michael Devine, whom the OIG faulted for failing to cooperate and providing inconsistent testimony, was also exonerated and transferred to the INS San Diego office as director of investigations.
Another Krome conspirator, Carol Chasse, was shuffled from her position as INS Eastern Regional director to director of INS Law Enforcement Support Center in Vermont.
Take Robert Moschorak, the former INS district director of Los Angeles, who allegedly choked a subordinate for blowing the whistle on his attempts to get special citizenship treatment for his immigrant wife -- who had a criminal record. He received no punishment and retired with full benefits.
Or Robert Scofield, a supervisor of special agents in the Washington district, whose sexual involvement with an illegal alien prostitute from Taiwan undermined his own agents' investigation of an Asian crime ring. According to The New York Times, Scofield received a token demotion but was not dismissed because of "excellent performance" and a "crisis in personal life contributing to impaired judgment."
There's an old saying among INS insiders that sums up the management philosophy of the government workforce: "Screw up -- move up." Now, add 30,000 federalized airport security workers to the mix.
Not exactly a recipe for safer skies, is it?