Translation from the Bushese

“I will restore honor and integrity to the White House”


“If someone on my staff does something truly horrible, I will make no inquiry on my own but will fire him when and if he’s convicted of a felony.”


Mike O’Hare finds the above “lame” and provides an alternative translation:

If someone on my staff does something truly horrible, I will use that person as a source of policy, administrative, and political guidance at the highest levels of the government, and will allow him complete access to national secrets and classified information, for a period of years including an investigation performed by others, the process of indictment, a trial, and the appeal process.

After all, if incompetence and irresponsibility were grounds for firing, I would have no-one left to tell me what to do.

Amazingly compact language, Bushese!

Reader Steve Sturm dissents:

Your complaint rings of “damn him if he does, damn him if he doesn’t.”

Were Bush to stick his nose into what the (almost) entire left side at one time or another considered a crime, you would be all over him for interfering with a criminal investigation, etc., etc. So it doesn’t seem right to blast him for doing the right thing and letting Fitzgerald do his job.

And, for what it’s worth, Bush should have said ‘indicted’… there’s no reason to have to wait until the conclusion of a trial.

This sounds sensible, but of course the question what to do when a clearance-holder violates his security agreement isn’t a new one. There are procedures for this circumstance established by Executive Order (the latest one signed by George W. Bush).

Those procedures do not call for waiting until the criminal process has ground to a conclusion. The head of department — which in this case would be George W. Bush — is responsible for figuring out what was done and taking appropriate action, including revocation of clearance and dismissal, as appropriate.

Here’s section 5.5, in full:

(a) If the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office finds that a violation of this order or its implementing directives has occurred, the Director shall make a report to the head of the agency or to the senior agency official so that corrective steps, if appropriate, may be taken.

(b) Officers and employees of the United States Government, and its contractors, licensees, certificate holders, and grantees shall be subject to appropriate sanctions if they knowingly, willfully, or negligently:

(1) disclose to unauthorized persons information properly classified under this order or predecessor orders;

(2) classify or continue the classification of information in violation of this order or any implementing directive;

(3) create or continue a special access program contrary to the requirements of this order; or

(4) contravene any other provision of this order or its implementing directives.

(c) Sanctions may include reprimand, suspension without pay, removal, termination of classification authority, loss or denial of access to classified information, or other sanctions in accordance with applicable law and agency regulation.

(d) The agency head, senior agency official, or other supervisory official shall, at a minimum, promptly remove the classification authority of any individual who demonstrates reckless disregard or a pattern of error in applying the classification standards of this order.

(e) The agency head or senior agency official shall:

(1) take appropriate and prompt corrective action when a violation or infraction under paragraph (b) of this section occurs; and

(2) notify the Director of the Information Security Oversight Office when a violation under paragraph (b)(1), (2), or (3) of this section occurs.

(Emphasis added.)

So, if the White House press corps wants a new way to torment Scott McClellan, they might start asking “Scott, does the President intend to comply with Section 5.5 of Executive Order 12958?”

More Bushese here.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: