Revising History Again
The GOP website gives the credit for the creation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to President Bush:
Last year, President Bush proposed and Congress approved a single, unified Department of Homeland Security to improve protection against today’s threats and be flexible enough to help meet the unknown threats of the future. By unifying over 22 agencies and offices, the President has improved the government’s ability to protect our infrastructure, guard our borders and patrol our skies.
Of course, if we rely on our memories (and Google) instead of the GOP’s website, we would know that DHS was originally proposed on Capitol Hill, not by the White House. In fact, Bush actually resisted the creation of the DHS for months, and only agreed to it once it started looking inevitable on Capitol Hill:
Q Ari, on that topic, why does the White House continue to resist the idea of making the Office of Homeland Security a Cabinet-level department with its own budgetary authority and its own responsibility to Congress?
MR. FLEISCHER: The President believes that the Office of Homeland Security, under Governor Ridge, is working extraordinarily well. It is fulfilling the exact mission that the President set out for homeland security when the President announced it in the wake of the attack on our nation… Creating a Cabinet office doesn’t solve the problem [of coordinating all the myriad of activities the federal government is involved in].
What did Bush’s top advisor on Homeland Security, Tom Ridge, think of Congressional plans to create a DHS as passage of the DHS bill looked more and more likely? On May 30, 2002 he told us:
Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge said Thursday he would advise President Bush to veto any legislation creating a congressionally authorized Office of Homeland Security if Congress approves a bill this year.
“I’d probably recommend he veto it,” Ridge told a National Journal Group editorial board meeting. In the past, Ridge has asked Congress to hold off on the legislation.
However, the momentum for creating a DHS began to look unstoppable. So on June 7, 2002, Bush himself proposed creating a DHS. This is how CNN reported it:
“Tonight, I ask the Congress to join me in creating a single permanent department with an overriding and urgent mission — securing the American homeland and protecting the American people,” Bush said.
Since creating the Office of Homeland Security after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Bush had resisted calls to make it a Cabinet-level agency, rather an executive office within the White House.
…Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Massachusetts, said the reorganization is “a positive step long awaited by many of us in Congress.”
And since that day in June of 2002, the GOP has shamelessly taken credit for creating the DHS, as if it never would have happened without President Bush’s leadership. There are so, so many of these attempts to revise history by the Bush campaign. Don’t let them.