Thursday, December 09, 2004

So what else do we know about Bernard Kerik, Bush's nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security? Well, The Washington Post has an interesting story that also appears in Newsday and is best summed up by Newsday's headline:

While leading Saudi hospital security, Bush's Homeland Security pick pried into private matters on behalf of boss

In his 2001 memoir "The Lost Son," Kerik described his discomfort at investigating employees' private lives but said it was necessary because of Saudi laws prohibiting drinking and mingling of the sexes in public.

Since he was nominated last week to be Homeland Security secretary, however, nine former hospital employees have said that Kerik and his colleagues were carrying out the private agenda of hospital administrator Nizar Feteih, and that the surveillance involved people's private affairs. Feteih used the hospital's security staff to track the private lives of women with whom he was romantically involved and men who came in contact with them, the ex-employees said.

Elsewhere, Newsday reports that Kerik

blocked the promotion of a qualified jail supervisor because he had once run afoul of a female correction officer Kerik dated, a lawsuit alleges.

Retired Correction Department supervisor Eric DeRavin III claims in the lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court that Kerik passed him over five times between 1998 and 2000 in retaliation for reprimanding Correction Officer Jeanette Pinero.

(DeRavin, by the way, "is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves and served nine months in Iraq in 2003 and 2004 as a military intelligence and civil affairs officer." That's three months longer than Kerik's scheduled term in Iraq -- and six months longer than Kerik actually served.)

And while AP's list of firms Kerik has worked for as a security consultant may interest you for other reasons (yeah, he worked for Purdue Pharma, maker of Limbaugh's favorite after-dinner cocktail, OxyContin), the company name that jumps out at me is Entergy. Entergy owns the Indian Point nuclear plant, which is not all that far north of New York City. The Journal-News, an upstate paper, reported in 2003 that Kerik would "serve as 'in-house consultant' to Entergy and may represent the firm at official hearings and meetings on security issues and emergency planning." I wonder if he had anything to do with a subsequent safety drill at Indian Point that, as The Journal-News reported, involved a mock terrorist attack, but one in which

[t]he phantom plane didn't strike a nuclear reactor, [so] there was no simulated leak of radiation, and only a small-scale evacuation was ordered....

"I can't fathom a terrorist attack that wouldn't be targeted directly at the heart of the plant," said Rockland Legislator David Fried, D-Spring Valley, whose feelings were echoed by Westchester County Legislator Michael Kaplowitz, D-Somers, and several citizen activists.

"The reason so many politicians and concerned citizens asked for terrorism to be included in an emergency drill was to test the response to a scenario in which a large amount of radiation is released in a short period of time, requiring a rapid evacuation of a significant amount of people," said Mark Jacobs, a spokesman for the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition. "Since the drill did not test this at all, the test was completely inadequate. And your incorporation of terrorism served only one purpose — a public relations trick."

Afterward, Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano praised emergency officials for their response Tuesday but called the drill's scope "totally inadequate."

Oh, and The Village Voice has a nice roundup of questions about Kerik, which includes this quote from a 2004 Jimmy Breslin column:

"At the World Trade Center, Kerik was in the back of his car dictating the last part of a book that was going to appear under his name. It had him writhing with delicious excitement. It was about his mother being a prostitute. 'That's what's going to make me all the money,' he told a friend of mine."

That's a story I remember reading at the time, though this is the only mention of it I can find now -- that Kerik was putting the finishing touches to his book on the evening of 9/11. If that's true, it's appalling.

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