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Michael Chertoff: Worse than Kerik

Reported by Ellen - January 12, 2005

That was Alan Colmes' characterization last night of Bush's latest nomination for head of the Department of Homeland Security. Referring to a Philadelphia Daily News blog entry called Chertoff: Kerik Without the Sex, Colmes provided a litany of reasons why Chertoff "makes Kerik look like a Boy Scout." Need I mention that none of these examples made it into the FOXNews.com article on the Chertoff nomination?

According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Chertoff, "OK'ed and then defended the detention of hundreds of 'material witnesses' of Arab descent -- even though it would later be determined that none -- that's right, none -- of the detainees had anything to do with the terrorist attacks of 2001."

Later, Chertoff's actions would be criticized in a report from the Justice Department's Inspector General, finding that immigrants were rounded up in "indiscriminate and haphazard manner, held for months while denied access to attorneys and sometimes mistreated behind bars."

Chertoff "pushed prosecutors and the FBI into greatly expanded use of domestic surveillance."

"What's more, Chertoff was responsible for the badly botched prosecution of al-Qaeda terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, who has yet to be brought to any type of justice even though he was arrested three-and-a-half years ago. Under his leadership, the Justice Department pursued a theory that Moussaoui was 'the 20th hijacker' -- despite zero evidence to support that claim. However, that argument has been used as an excuse to deny the American public from information that might prove what really happened to Flight 93 on 9/11."

The FOXNews.com article, on the other hand, was full of complimentary quotes about Chertoff. He was described as "prominent," a "practical organizer, skilled manager and a brilliant thinker," "a superb choice" and someone who would be "a great, great homeland security director." George Bush said Chertoff, "faced countless challenges and decisions and has helped to protect his fellow Americans while protecting their civil liberties." Real Journalism, Fair and Balanced FOX didn't bother to check the veracity of that statement. Either that or FOX has a unique view of civil liberty protections.

The article seems to acknowledge Chertoff's toughness but places it in a positive context: Republican Rep. Chris Cox of California, chairman of the Select Committee on Homeland Security, is quoted as saying, "'Mike has always had an instinct for the jugular and there's a lot of instinct around the capillary at the Department of Homeland Security' to go after terrorists and potential weapons of mass destruction."

GOP strategist Mark McKinnon says,"This is a very tough, very aggressive prosecutor who has been working on homeland security since 9/11 and before ... I think he's going to hit the ground running ... I think Americans are going to feel very good about this choice."

The only opposing view presented in the article is mild, to say the least. It comes from Democratic strategist Rich Masters who said Chertoff is "'a very hardcore, partisan choice' and that the president should perhaps have chosen someone more in the middle of the road."

Once again, it looks like the Democratic senators on the Judiciary Committee are going to wimp out of providing any real opposition to the nomination or the further erosion of civil liberties likely to follow Chertoff's confirmation.

According to FOX, NY Senator Chuck Schumer, a member of the Judiciary Committee that will probably confirm Chertoff, "had only praise" for him, according to FOXNews.com. "Schumer, in a press release, said Chertoff 'has the resume to be an excellent homeland security secretary, given his law-enforcement background and understanding of New York's and America's neglected homeland-security needs.'"

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