Five years after 9/11, you figure our government would have already solved the obvious security concerns, like protecting our chemical plants or keeping razors away from Britney. But we've failed miserably. Why?
Meet Philip Perry. Already, I can tell you don't like him. Because his name's Philip Perry, which sounds like the name of a guy who would screw the common interest on behalf of powerful corporations. And if you guessed that's what he did for a living, you'd be right.
As documented in this incisive Washington Monthly article by Art Levine, after 9/11 the Environmental Protection Agency looked at chemical plants across the U.S. and concluded that at least 700 sites posed a potential threat to kill or injure over 100,000 people if attacked. In neocon math, that's over thirty 9/11s.
After nearly a year's worth of work led by Christie Todd Whitman and Tom Ridge, twelve senior Bush administration officials met in March of 2003 to finalize legislation granting Whitman's EPA the authority to oversee chemical plant security and require them to submit plans for lowering their risks. But then Philip Perry, at that time the general counsel for the White House Office of Management and Budget, waltzed in, said Congress would never go for it, and the deal was dead. Our chemical plants would have to go back to being protected by the same folks who protected them before: nobody.
It had long been part of the official White House plan for the EPA to oversee the chemical industry, but Christie Whitman said: "They woke up and heard from industry." And as it turns out, Philip Perry wasn't just your garden-variety White House chemical industry hack -- he's married to Elizabeth Cheney, the Cheney daughter who likes boys. The asshole doesn't fall far from the tree.
Six months after that March 2003 meeting, Perry left the White House to lobby for the Washington law firm that represents the American Chemistry Council, strong-arming the Department of Homeland Security for Lockheed Martin and General Electric. But in 2005 he returned to the administration -- he didn't leave his lobbying job, just moved offices. In his new job as general counsel for the Department of Homeland Security, he gained authority for DHS to oversee chemical plant security simply so he could require nothing from them. Because it's just so inconvenient for chemical plants to have to lock their doors at night. Not only that, but he also finagled things so that DHS has the power to set aside laws from commie states like New Jersey that have attempted to put stricter security requirements for their chemical plants in place.
People ask why we haven't been hit again since 9/11. The answer is luck.
Bill Maher is the host of HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" which airs every Friday at 11PM.