Vulnerability Gap

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Bush Administration, Democratic Party, National Security

R.J. Eskow discusses a new book by Clark Kent Ervin:

Ervin’s book, “Open Target,” describes an Administration that’s all but indifferent to protecting the American people from further terrorism. Its sole concerns appear to be to use DHS to dole out political pork, create politically attractive news releases, and spin failure so that it looks like success.

This is not news. But notice who Clark Kent Ervin is:

Ervin is the conservative Texas Republican who came to Washington as a personal friend of the President’s after serving in his gubernatorial administration. He became Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and refused to look the other way at the Administration’s incompetence in fighting terrorism.

Yes, another former Bushie tells all. But what got my interest in Eskrow’s piece was Ervin’s use of the phrase vulnerability gap. Computer network security people have been using this phrase for a while. I think the Dems ought to pick it up and run with it.

Once upon a time, boys and girls, a Democrat named John Kennedy used the phrase “missile gap” to discredit Republicans on national security and win a presidential election. The Dems generously larded speeches with missile gap and drizzled the phrase liberally on the electorate. It reminded voters of an allegation — which was not true — that the Eisenhower Administration (including Vice President Richard Nixon, Kennedy’s opponent) had somehow allowed the Soviets to acquire more nuclear missiles than we had.

The phrase vulnerability gap ought to work nicely, too, and it has the advantage of describing truth. Eskow continues,

Ervin dissects the self-serving and misleading statements made by Bush, Ridge, and Michael Chertoff. He’s especially withering on their boasts that the fact we haven’t been attacked on US soil since 9/11 is proof that DHS is effective. He compares it to French confidence in the Maginot Line, the most foolish defense attempt in history, and points out that terrorists operate on a long line. Five years, as he observes, is not a long time to Al Qaeda.

He describes the TSA as a boondoggle gone awry, and his analysis of our ongoing vulnerability to nuclear attack is chilling. Equally frightening are his descriptions of the government’s drastic underfunding of our anti-terror defenses. (He quotes from Congressional testimony in which a DHS intelligence official admits he can’t hire more staff as required because there is no money to pay for their office space.)

Ervin also details the vulnerability of mass transit, schools, and other “soft targets.” He’s fair enough to admit that you can’t defend every possible target, but thorough enough to describe what could be done (and isn’t) to improve their safety.

Vulnerability gap, vulnerability gap, vulnerability gap. The connotations are all there; vulnerability conjures the sensation of being unprotected and exposed. Gap makes us visualize breach or broken, perhaps also left behind or separated from something. Vulnerability gap. While the Bush Administration sends our National Guard overseas and dumps $2 billion bleeping collars a week into Iraq, vital infrastructure and other soft targets are left unguarded here at home. Vulnerability gap.

If the Dems can’t club the Bushies to death with that, there’s no hope for ‘em.

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5 Comments

  1. Swami  •  Oct 18, 2006 @11:00 pm

    Not to mention any names, but the biggest threat to America is internal..Bush mentioned when he signed the torture bill that one of his torturees said he hoped that 9/11 was the beginning of the end for America…well, his hope has come to pass because a certain un-named dolt has inflicted a grievous wound on the foundations of America’s greatness by claiming a false victory in the natural realm while ceding a true defeat in the spiritual realm.

  2. Spades R. Spades  •  Oct 19, 2006 @6:14 am

    The truth of its existence or not, hyping up a ‘vulnerability gap’ would predictably only incite counter charges of ‘playing politics’ and would also, intended or otherwise, conveniently serve to further foster the agenda of The Fear Mongers. Besides that…it would just serve as another distraction to divert attention from the real underlying issue of how US foreign policy ITSELFcreates just the sort of ‘blowback’ that we end up being vulnerable to anyway! And what about the mountains of lies and fabrications that got us into the present mess/mass murder in Iraq and the same tactics now being applied to Iran? What about the media complicity in both cases? What about all the questions that swirl around 911 and how that event has been exploited?
    It would appear there are much bigger fish to fry…if you’ll pardon the expression…and if those issues are simply allowed to bubble on the back burner unattended, no one accountable… things are very likely to bubble over and we can expect a lot more innocents to end up extra crispy.

  3. maha  •  Oct 19, 2006 @7:22 am

    Spades,

    hyping up a ‘vulnerability gap’ would predictably only incite counter charges of ‘playing politics’

    The Right throws a fit over anything the Left does. We could ask them how they like their coffee and they’d call it “playing politics.” We have to stop playing defense and reacting to the Right. It’s time to go on offense speak to the people directly, with our own message.

    conveniently serve to further foster the agenda of The Fear Mongers.

    I thought of that, but in truth it’s only a matter of time before there’s another terrorist strike in the U.S. My biggest fear is that sooner or later there will be multiple suicide bombers in major cities. Just because the Right keeps crying wolf doesn’t mean there aren’t any wolves.

    As for the rest of your post — what you say is true, and I’ve been blogging those same things since, well, I’ve been blogging. But in our current political and media culture those messages are too complicated for the short term. The Dems need a simple, simple, simple, simple message they can pound, pound, pound, pound into the heads of the electorate.

    Once the Dems re-gain some power in Congress they’ll be able to tackle those other issues and bring them to the public. And really, they’re all of a piece.

  4. Spades R. Spades  •  Oct 19, 2006 @2:54 pm

    Maha….I did not mean to advocate ‘playing defense’ as much as simply point out how the tactic would more than likely be countered and dismissed. Nor do I wish to disparage anything you courageously blog about. In light of what has led the country to its present dire straits, the simple message, to go on the ‘offensive, that you rightly seek and advocate for may as well be along the lines of something like, “Its the Foreign Policy stupid”! But of course the underlying problem with that is the simple fact that the ranks of the heavyweight Dems are, for all practical purposes, just as freighted as the Repugs… with ardent interventionists whose palms and campaigns are greased with AIPAC money as they seek to simply argue about the ‘conduct’ of the vast criminality both parties have signed off on. So…in a nut shell…both parties are beholden to other interests and string pullers behind the scenes whose overall policy agenda is cloaked behind the facade of a ‘democratic system’ that has now all too clearly veered in the direction of tyranny and fascism. Even IF the Dems can attain more ‘checks and balances’ power to perhaps slow down or fine tune the juggernaut, the Repugs can be sure that they will be back in the saddle again after a given time, and that ‘full spectrum dominance’ will still continue to be the only game in town. There are far deeper internal, long standing core problems that have fostered this situation than most Americans are any longer in a position to change through the present guise of ‘democracy’ via Diebold and simple messages. And the whole world is watching….

  5. maha  •  Oct 19, 2006 @3:18 pm

    Spades, what you say is true, but you are WAY overthinking what I wrote. We need both sort-term and long-term strategies. What I’m proposing could be very effective in the short-term and help re-focus the electorate on real national security issues. Once re-focused, then further dialogue is possible.

    Baby steps, son.

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