Sunday, December 12, 2004

Kerik Update

Josh Marshall has been keeping tabs on the Bernard Kerik story. As you will have heard by now, Kerik has withdrawn from the nomination process for Secretary of Homeland Security for reasons related to a nanny problem. Darn those illegal alien nannies who always insist on being paid tax-free. The "nanny" problem has plagued many a politician, e.g., Linda Chavez, Michael Huffington, and Zoe Baird. Of course, we are now hearing that Kerik's withdrawal may have further causes in the background.
But there may have been other issues at play. Kerik, who recently made millions in the private sector, once filed for personal bankruptcy as a New York cop. And just five years ago he was in financial trouble over a condominium he owned in New Jersey. More serious trouble than anyone realized: NEWSWEEK has discovered that a New Jersey judge in 1998 had issued an arrest warrant as part of a convoluted series of lawsuits relating to unpaid bills on his condo.
Furthermore, these legal and financial troubles may not be the whole of the backstory. As you may recall, there have been some questions as to Kerik's early and rather hasty departure from his mission in Iraq. From Mark Hosenball et al. of Newsweek, we hear the following tidbit:
After the invasion in the spring of 2003, Kerik was sent to Baghdad to organize the Iraqi police. But Kerik didn't seem to show much interest in Iraqis, said a senior U.S. official who worked with him. He appeared to enjoy going on night raids against "bad guys" with some South African mercenaries who were serving as bodyguards to U.S. officials. On his screen saver, Kerik had a photo of a big house he had just bought in New Jersey that he said was across the street from former New York Giants quarterback Phil Simms's. Kerik told his colleagues he planned to be in Baghdad for three months while the house was undergoing renovations. "So," the official says he told Kerik, "you're here because you needed a place to go while they're doing renovations on your house." Kerik grinned and cocked a finger as if to say, "You got it."
As has been noted by Marshall and others, this whole episode bespeaks a prevailing tendency on the part of President Bush to latch onto an idea without the proper caution or background research, then dismiss all criticisms of the idea as so much nagging negativity, and eventually invoke some sort of "nanny" excuse to justify a change of course. Pretty soon, we will be hearing that President Bush had never really met Bernard Kerik, only saw him once or twice in a rope line. All of this is bad news for Rudy Giuliani who recommended Kerik.


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