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THE CURSE OF NORM MINETA

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By Michelle Malkin  •  December 9, 2004 10:37 AM

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The man who said this…

Kroft: Are you saying, at security screening desks, that a 70-year-old white woman from Vero Beach, Florida, would receive the same level of scrutiny as a-a-a Muslim young man from Jersey City?

Mineta: Basically, I would hope so.

…is staying in the Bush administration.

Flashbacks:

Rich Lowry on Mineta, January 2002:

Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta may not necessarily be the least impressive Bush cabinet secretary — there’s competition there — but he is certainly the most dangerous.

When President Bush the other day said that he would be “madder than heck” if his Secret Service agent had been ethnically profiled, he wasn’t just playing to the media or seeking to assuage the agent’s feelings, he was enunciating administration policy: no profiling on the basis of ethnicity or national origin whatsoever.

As I write in the latest National Review, this is an instance of a piety of our racial politics — no “racial profiling” — triumphing over experience and commonsense. Islamic terrorists will necessarily be Muslims, and probably from the Arab world.

Not to try to single out young males with these characteristics for extra attention — more extensive searches and questioning — is folly. It ignores, among other things, the successful Israeli experience securing El Al from attacks.

But adopting something along the lines of the Israeli system would require a tough-mindedness, and instead of tough-mindedness, we have Norm Mineta. On the issue of profiling, Mineta’s ignorance appears to be nearly invincible.

Michael Smerconish, testifying before the Transportation, Treasury and General Government Subcommittee Oversight Hearing on Passenger Screening and Airline Authority to Deny Boarding, June 2004:

Time and again Secretary Mineta has made clear his refusal to consider personal characteristics in the war on terrorism. In particular, I note his Statement to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on October 12, 2001, and his speech in Rochester, New York on that same date. Secretary Mineta was active in the aftermath of 9/11 in dictating to the airlines his view of the world. In the months after 9/11, the DOT issued several memos to the airlines, warning them against “profiling” passengers. Consider that on October 12, 2001, the DOT issued a memo titled “Carrying Out Transportation Inspection and Safety Responsibilities in a Nondiscriminatory Manner…”

Peggy Noonan, June 2002:

Mr. Mineta has received many awards for his sensitivity to ethnic profiling. Good for him, but I’d personally give him an award if he’d begin to act like a grownup and recognize that his childhood trauma shouldn’t determine modern American security policy.

Ann Coulter, April 2004:

In June 2001, as Mohamed Atta completed his final “to do” list before the 9/11 attacks (“… amend will to ban women from my funeral … leave extra little Friskies out for Mr. Buttons … set TiVo for Streisand on ‘Inside the Actors’ Studio’….”), Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta was conducting a major study on whether airport security was improperly screening passengers based on ethnicity. As Mineta explained: “We must protect the civil rights of airline passengers.” Protecting airline passengers from sudden death has never made it onto Mineta’s radar screen.

A few months later, after 19 Muslim men hijacked U.S. airplanes and turned them into Weapons of Mass Destruction on American soil, Mineta was a whirlwind of activity. On Sept. 21, as the remains of thousands of Americans lay smoldering at Ground Zero, Mineta fired off a letter to all U.S. airlines forbidding them from implementing the one security measure that would have prevented 9/11: subjecting Middle Eastern passengers to an added degree of pre-flight scrutiny. He sternly reminded the airlines that it was illegal to discriminate against passengers based on their race, color, national or ethnic origin, or religion.

Mineta would have sent the letter even sooner, but he wanted to give the airlines enough time to count the number of their employees and customers who had just been murdered by Arab passengers…

Glenn Reynolds, August 2002:

DO I REALLY WANT TO IMPEACH NORMAN MINETA? Some people have emailed with that question. And the answer is — Hell, yes!

But what they really mean, I think, is: do I really think that impeaching Norman Mineta is the way to do something about the idiocy of air security? That’s a bit more complicated.

It’s certainly possible to impeach a cabinet official — they’re “officers of the United States,” and hence subject to impeachment. But it never happens, because a cabinet official who’s that unpopular will be fired by the President first.

Mineta isn’t the whole problem, of course. He’s a symptom as much as a cause, a symptom of a bureaucratic mindset in which — it must be said — he participates fully. (And according to Gary Leff, who is all over this story, James Loy, the new TSA chief, is no better).

But since everyone knows that Mineta personifies the very mindset that is causing the problem, and since “Impeach Norm Mineta” makes that point nicely, it’s not a bad slogan. And judging by the glee with which a colleague of mine grabbed one of those bumperstickers, it reflects a widely shared sentiment.

Mineta will probably withstand the blogosphere-generated juggernaut, of course — especially as Republicans won’t want to attack a member of the Administration, and Democrats won’t want to attack one of their own. (Yeah, Mineta’s a Democrat, actually). But there’s nothing like bumperstickers calling for impeachment to bring home the unpopularity of a politician’s actions. So get one, and display it proudly!

Looks like the Bush administration still hasn’t gotten the message. Maybe I’ll wear the bumper sticker on my forehead the next time I’m on TV…

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