As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Monday, February 20, 2006

Stamping Out Threats to the Homeland... The Ones With Big Boobs

While allowing management of the nation's biggest ports to be purchased by the agent of a country who had diplomatic relations with the Taliban as recently as September 21, 2001 (one of only 3 countries to do so, the others being our other great regional allies Pakistan and Saudi Arabia), The Department of Homeland Security is going about defending us from the real threats to the nation:

Two uniformed men strolled into the main room of the Little Falls library in Bethesda one day last week and demanded the attention of all patrons using the computers. Then they made their announcement: The viewing of Internet pornography was forbidden.

The men looked stern and wore baseball caps emblazoned with the words "Homeland Security." The bizarre scene unfolded Feb. 9, leaving some residents confused and forcing county officials to explain how employees assigned to protect county buildings against terrorists came to see it as their job to police the viewing of pornography.

After the two men made their announcement, one of them challenged an Internet user's choice of viewing material and asked him to step outside, according to a witness. A librarian intervened, and the two men went into the library's work area to discuss the matter. A police officer arrived. In the end, no one had to step outside except the uniformed men.

They were officers of the security division of Montgomery County's Homeland Security Department, an unarmed force that patrols about 300 county buildings -- but is not responsible for enforcing obscenity laws.

Michael Chertoff made a right ass of himself on the Sunday talk shows, straining to be credible when he talked of his "young agency" working to correct the problems shown to the world during Hurricane Katrina. But he only scratched the surface of the real problem. The real problem is that there is a seeming anarchy in the department if some of its agents are harassing library patrons for looking at porn. That's the mission creep you get in a huge federal agency with a complete lack of leadership. What's next, DHS agents giving out jaywalking tickets?

It's not hard to take your eye of the ball when your agency, like so many federal agencies, operates with political concerns never far from the mission statement. Playing politics with homeland security is obvious when 3 year-old information is used to increase threat levels in the middle of an election. But when these issues of social control start to pop up in your agency as well, it's playing politics on a more subtle level.