Fire Michael Chertoff

"My gut tells me ... this is a bad one and a big one." -- FEMA Head Michael Brown to President Bush and Michael Chertoff on the eve of Hurricane Katrina's landfall

Misjudgments. Grandstanding. Deceit. We know the hallmarks of Bush Administration "homeland security" - the shocking new tapes of this briefing before Katrina and the sale of American ports to Dubai are just the latest examples. But there is no reason that all of these faults need to be compounded by bureaucratic incompetence, and unfortunately, that's what we've seen during Michael Chertoff's tenure at the top of the Homeland Security Department.

Chertoff didn't know about the levees failing in New Orleans for 24 hours, even though he had been warned before the storm hit that it was a possibility. He didn't know that American ports were being sold to a company run by a government linked to terrorism by the 9/11 Commission until after it had been approved - despite serious objections from the Coast Guard.

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security oversees our safety on everything from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. America needs to be preparing, not sitting idly by for three more years waiting to see what will be botched next. We need competence and we need it now.

Tell President Bush We Need Real Leadership for the Homeland Security Department: Chertoff Has to Go

Unfortunately, Chertoff's appointment was just another example of President Bush keeping it in the family. Chertoff had already played ball on the interrogation techniques that have set us back decades in the war for hearts and minds around the world, and the Administration trusted him.

Of course, it fits the pattern - you can't find a single department in our federal government today that doesn't put Republican politics ahead of the American people. From the Department of Health & Human Services to the Justice Department to the Defense Department, the propaganda flows and services they're supposed to provide wither. All in all, the Bush Administration spent more than $1.6 billion in public relations and media contracts in a two and a half year span.

As we learned through the twin tragedies of Hurricane Katrina and the Homeland Security Department's response, Michael Chertoff holds the one position that Americans can least afford having chalked up to one of President Bush's "team players."

For the past few weeks, Chertoff has made the rounds on the Sunday shows, insisting that he did nothing of consequence wrong. How can we expect him to get it right next time if he can't even see his mistakes? The Bush Administration may think keeping our country safe is about thumping their chests, dressing up in flight suits, and fear-mongering over weapons of mass destruction that don't exist, but Democrats like you and I know that there's a real job to be done - not just another press conference.

Does Michael Chertoff know that? It sure doesn't seem like it.

Tell President Bush We Need Real Leadership for the Homeland Security Department: Chertoff Has to Go

As DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel said of President Bush on Thursday, "At this point I would settle for a competent conservative." Unfortunately, unless Democrats take control of Congress this November, there's only so much we can do to check all of the Bush Administration's recklessness with rubber stamp Republicans in charge.

But Hurricane season is coming again, and frankly, not doing what we can to get competent leadership in charge of preparing for and reacting to these dangers would be a mistake. Members of Congress from both parties have already brutally chastised Chertoff, and everybody knows he needs to go. Hearing from the American people is just what we need to tip the scales.

Tell President Bush We Need Real Leadership for the Homeland Security Department: Chertoff Has to Go

Thanks in advance, together we can make our country safer.


John Lapp
Executive Director, DCCC

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