WANTED, START AT THE TOP
By Jon Christian Ryter
September 23, 2005
It is refreshing, for once, to see the Senate Committee on Homeland Security—or any Senate committee with purview over confirming a presidential appointee—properly using its "advise and consent" privilege to actually gauge the qualifications of presidential appointees rather than their political pedigrees. There is no doubt the closer look at the resumes of President George W. Bush's bureaucracy appointees by members of the president's party is needed to avoid a repeat of the fiasco recently suffered by the White House over another Michael Chertoff pick—Mike Brown, the recently resigned FEMA head whose padded resume was the cause of much embarrassment to Bush, and was the reason Brown felt obligated to tender his resignation. In his resume, Brown said he served as Assistant City Manager of Redmond, Oklahoma when in fact he served as an assistant to the City Manager. The first job is a managerial role, the second is a clerical position.
Now another Chertoff nominee named by Bush to head Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE]—36 year old Julie L. Myers—is coming under close scrutiny by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security not because she padded her resume, but simply because the Committee feels she lacks the managerial experience required to head such an agency. Unlike other political appointees, federal law requires that the heads of law enforcement agencies—which ICE is—have at least 5 years of experience in "field" law enforcement and 5 years experience in law enforcement management. No amount of personal or professional rapport with the other bureaucrats in Washington qualifies her to run ICE.
Myers, who admits she "...is not 80 years old," says that while she has only a few gray hairs, she will "...work with those who are knowledgeable in this area and who know more than I do." I think that's pretty much what Mike Brown said when he got his FEMA job, too. It would seem to me the logical choice would be to simply bypass the superficial political dressing—Myers—and hire the practitioner with all that experience she would "lean on" to earn to the $150-$175,000 she would be paid as a proficient department head of an agency with 25 thousand employees in the 4th branch of government. In the private sector, a real employer would give the practitioner a 10% cost of living increase, a new title, and let someone who knew what they were doing run the division.
It would seem to me that America can no longer afford political appointees like Mike Brown who was in charge of FEMA, and who was the guy on the ground making "hipshot" decisions—most of which were wrong because Brown failed to realize that aces trump deuces and he had power he could exert over Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco to make her open the door to her state and allow relief and rescue people in. We need people sitting in these ivory tower offices that can look at a report from 'the field" and know what's right and what's wrong in the report—and, without a committee meeting and three pieces of legislation, to how to fix it. In the private sector in the real world, that's what division presidents (who are paid a comparable wage) are hired to do.
Myers would like us to believe that America can still afford the historic political patronage DC management style in which the "blind perennially lead the blind." September 11, 2001 should have changed that for all time. August 28, 2005 showed us we can't afford to let bureaucrats run departments of government that impact the lives of American citizens in emergency situations.
We need field managers, staff managers and divisions managers that are not only all dry behind the ears (not in physical years, but in hands-on experience) when they are employed, and who know more than just the nomenclature of the departments they are being appointed to oversee. I want you to think for a moment and ask yourself the last time you interviewed for the job as president of a Fortune 1000 company, and without any experience, were hired for the job and paid a quarter million dollars and allowed to "grow into" the job. That's what happens in Washington every four years. Only, the people given these jobs that affect your life, were the camp followers who carried the coffee during the campaign.
What is Julie Myers claim to fame in Washington? Her uncle is the departing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Richard B. Myers. The second caveat is that, over this past weekend, she married Mike Chertoff's chief-of-staff, John F. Wood. Yes, indeedy...she's barely qualified for the B list in Washington's social circle; but she's still not qualified to run ICE.
Myers, a lawyer, served as Chief of Staff of the Criminal Division of the Justice Department for then department head Assistant Attorney General Michael Chertoff. Before that she served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Money Laundering and Financial Crimes at the Treasury Department. When Chertoff left the Dept. of Justice, Myers was appointed, by Bush, to serve as Assistant Secretary for Export Enforcement at the Department of Commerce. Uncle Richard was pleased.
When she faced her confirmation hearing on Thursday, Sept. 15, Myers received a shock she was not expecting. "I'm really concerned about your managerial experience," Sen. George Voinovich [R-OH] told her. If she was confirmed, Myers would head an agency with 20,000 employees—the second largest investigative agency in the federal government, second only to the FBI.
Myers, who has served as a deputy assistant in one law enforcement department of the Treasury with limited exposure to the rank and file employees said she believed her experience with Treasury "...will serve me well" in the new appointment. Voinovich was not convinced. "I think we ought to have a meeting with with Mike Chertoff [and ask him] why he thinks you're qualified for the job."
Chertoff thinks so because he's a bureaucrat who believes patronage and party loyalty are more important qualities than the professional qualifications and actual job experience needed to successfully manage the second largest law enforcement agency in the federal government.
Unfortunately, after the reporters faded away last Friday, Marcie Ridgeway, Voinivich's Communications Director told reporters on Monday that Voinivich had "resolved his concerns" with Myers' inexperience when he talked privately with both Chertoff and Myers. (I expect his talk was really with Vice President Dick Cheney.) I'm glad the Ohio Senator had his touchy-feely moments with the Security Czar and the bride of Chertoff's chief-of-staff, but if Voinivitch wants to give the bride and groom a wedding present, he should make it silverware.
The American people can't afford Julie Myers-Wood in a job where she will be so deeply over-her-head from day-one that 100 million illegal aliens from Mexico, Columbia, China and the Mideast will be electing our next president before Myers figures out how dangerously porous our national borders are.
In each of the jobs she has had, Myers' "managerial experience" was minimal at best. In one of her prior roles, she was the Deputy Assistant Secretary (three tiers down from active departmental management). In another she was the Assistant Secretary (the paperwork person)—Mike Brown's area of expertise. Each of Myers' jobs placed her in high profile decision making positions within the Bush-43 Administration, but according to members of the President's party in the Senate Homeland Security Committee, none of her jobs provided her with the hands-on managerial experience needed to manage an agency that necessarily plays such a critical role in safeguarding the security of the United States.
As head of ICE, Myers would have hands-on oversight of all of the activities of the field agent charged with the responsibility with hunting down dangerous illegal aliens, human traffickers, money launders and sanctions violators. This is not a paperwork job. It's a job for an experienced investigations supervisor who came from a career investigations job. The head of this agency should be someone who came up through the ranks either in the FBI or the Border Patrol. This is a position that requires a cop's mind, not the mind of a legal paper pusher.
© 2005 Jon C. Ryter - All Rights
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Jon Christian Ryter is the pseudonym of a former newspaper reporter with the Parkersburg, WV Sentinel. He authored a syndicated newspaper column, Answers From The Bible, from the mid-1970s until 1985. Answers From The Bible was read weekly in many suburban markets in the United States.
Today, Jon is an advertising executive with the Washington Times. His website, www.jonchristianryter.com has helped him establish a network of mid-to senior-level Washington insiders who now provide him with a steady stream of material for use both in his books and in the investigative reports that are found on his website.