Far From Homeland, Staff Deployed in Iraq (washingtonpost.com): "Some employees of the Department of Homeland Security are working pretty far from the homeland these days. About 6,200 miles away, actually -- in Iraq.
Since President Bush declared the end of major combat in May, workers from throughout the new department have been toiling on reconstruction tasks there. Officials in Washington insist the assignments -- from promoting aviation security at Baghdad International Airport to retrieving ancient artifacts looted from Iraqi museums -- are about protecting the U.S. homeland.
'We think helping to secure Iraq helps make the United States a more secure country,' said Gordon Johndroe, a department spokesman. 'Making sure that aviation travel out of Iraq is safe directly affects our homeland security. Making sure that goods and people are not smuggled into or out of Iraq helps our homeland security.'"
Let's put aside, for the moment, the way all the hair on the back of my neck stands up when I hear the word "homeland", and the images of old WWII movies with the evil Nazi talking about defending the fatherland. What are homeland security staffers doing in Iraq? Yeah, yeah, there's a justification there. But it's not, really. It's an all-purpose weasel that could be used to justify sending DHS staffers anywhere for any reason. I'd love to hear the reasoning behind the claim that retrieving looted artifacts helps our homeland security. For that matter, I'd love to hear the reasoning behind cutting back on air marshals while doing things like this. But I'm not holding my breath.