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Kerik withdraws, citing "nanny issue". Yeah and I got a bridge I want to sell you too…

Here’s the official explanation for the quick withdrawal of Bernie Kerik:

Bernard Kerik, New York City’s former top cop, withdrew his name from consideration to be President Bush’s homeland security secretary, a victim of the embarrassing “nanny problem” that has killed the nominations of other prominent officials.

The surprise move late Friday sends Bush back in search of a Cabinet official to help guard the nation against another terrorist attack.

While assembling paperwork for his Senate confirmation, Kerik said he uncovered questions about the immigration status of a housekeeper-nanny that he employed. As homeland security secretary, Kerik would oversee the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

“I am convinced that, for personal reasons, moving forward would not be in the best interests of your administration, the Department of Homeland Security or the American people,” Kerik said in a letter to Bush.

…Democrats also were focusing on Kerik’s recent windfall, which he made by exercising stock options in a stun gun company that does business with the Department of Homeland Security.

Now here’s probably the real reason he’s stepping away…a litany of questionable ethical issues that have trailed him for years — not simply allegations, either. Guess he wasn’t ready for the rough and tumble of hearings to defend them.

A DKos diary, written by DemWatch (the latter link is to the blog) before the announcement, had a lengthy list of choice items.

A few reasons why Bernard Kerik is not fit to serve as Secretary of Homeland Security…

1. Kerik has furthered the lie that Iraq was involved with 9/11:

New York Newsday, 10/20/03 (reposted here)

“Saddam didn’t do 9/11. But did Saddam fund, and train al-Qaida? The answer is yes. Then ask yourself, who hit the towers?”

2. Kerik does not believe in the right to free political expression:

Also from New York Newsday, 10/20/03 (reposted here)

“Political criticism is our enemies’ best friend.”

3. Kerik may have perjured himself before the 9/11 Commission:

New York Times, 5/20/04

“On Tuesday, the first day of the hearings, Bernard B. Kerik, the former police commissioner under Mr. Giuliani, offered a version of events that conflicted with the accounts of virtually every senior official in the Fire Department. Mr. Kerik testified that he saw police officers serving as liaisons to the Fire Department at the main fire command post on West Street. Mr. Kerik identified only one of those officers, a police sergeant who died in the collapse.”

4. Kerik has extensive ties to the terrorist-funding Saudi royal family:

BBC, 5/16/03

“Mr Kerik says he speaks a smattering or Arabic – from four years spent in Saudi Arabia training security staff.”

Update: As Michael pointed out in the comments, this is kind of weak as criticism goes. To a certain extent, he’s right. However, considering both the Saudi royal family’s history of funding terrorists and their history of brutal repression of their own people, the fact that Kerik worked for them in security is pretty unattractive. Were Kerik looking at a job heading up security for a major international corporation, I’d shrug it off. But we’re talking about the future Secretary of Homeland Security here. The Saudi ties are not something to be taken lightly.

5. Kerik’s tactics as head of security the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority disturbed our British allies and inflamed tensions with Iraqi citizens:

London’s Financial Times, 7/10/03

“Some UK officials have been appalled by the language and tactics used by the US security supremo, Bernard Kerik, the former New York police commissioner dubbed the “Baghdad terminator” because of his uncompromising style.

“The Americans need to learn that civil policing is not about ‘kicking ass’, it is about democracy. There are going to be problems if we continue with our different philosophies and different approaches to law enforcement,” one UK official said.”

6. Kerik’s term as head of security the Iraqi Coalition Provisional Authority was abruptly cut short, with no explanation, contradicting months of statements Kerik had made about his long-term commitment to the job:

May 2003: “I will be there at least six months – until the job is done.”
June 2003: “By the time he leaves — in three to six months — Kerik must create a police force that understands, as he puts it, ‘the principles of a free and democratic society,’ but has enough public respect to maintain order
“No one, not even Kerik, thinks the task will be complete by then.”
August 2003: ” ‘We’ve only been here for 100 days and you want what? Come on!’
“He predicts his job will be completed in the next two months, and then he will leave.”
September 2003: “The Bush administration’s top security adviser in Iraq has completed his stint and is returning to the United States, the Pentagon said Friday.
“Kerik’s departure comes amid severe security problems in Iraq.
“[D]efense officials said Friday that Kerik was scheduled to leave this summer and actually had ‘extended his stay to finish his ongoing projects.’
“A spokeswoman for Kerik in New York said his job was supposed to have lasted only 90 days.”

7. During the recent Presidential campaign, Kerik openly employed fear as a political weapon, such as in this op-ed column:

New York Post, 11/1/04

“… the next plot might not be against our skyscrapers but our schools, that the next Madrid could be Penn Station and the next Beslan, Russia could be Bayonne, New Jersey.”

8. Kerik’s tenure as the head of NYC’s Department of Corrections was marked by scandal:

New York Times, 12/3/02

Bernard B. Kerik, the man atop the Correction Department, administered Mr. Giuliani’s unapologetic zero-tolerance approach faithfully, and his work in the jails ultimately led to his appointment as police commissioner in August 2000.

But now, a range of investigations into the conduct of some of the top lieutenants credited with the transformation of the city’s jail system is threatening to sully one of Mr. Giuliani’s accomplishments.

Mr. Kerik’s successor, William J. Fraser, who had been one of Mr. Kerik’s top officers, resigned last week after reports surfaced that he had used correction officers to do work at his house in Belle Harbor, Queens.

Both the Manhattan district attorney’s office and its Bronx counterpart are also looking into concerns about senior officers at the jails.

9. Kerik’s tenure as the NYPD Commissioner was also marked by scandal:

New York Post, 7/15/04 (reposted here)

The NYPD has launched an investigation into the purchase and disappearance of four high-tech security doors bought while Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik was in command, a high-ranking police official said yesterday. The $50,000 doors, which were built by Georal International and ordered in June of 2001, were to be placed in the lobby of 1 Police Plaza, but turned out to be too heavy for the floors.

The deal involved some highly unusual practices, including the lightning-like speed with which the doors were ordered and delivered and the decision to not issue specs on the doors to make sure they would work, according to Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.

“Because of the lack of paperwork and apparently incomplete recollections of potential witnesses, the police commissioner de
cided to direct the Internal Affairs Bureau to investigate the matter,” Browne said yesterday.

Alan Risi, the president of Georal, has already been indicted on separate charges after the city Department of Investigation found he was submitting inflated invoices while supplying doors to the Department of Citywide Administration.

After Kerik left as commissioner, he joined the board of the holding company that owns Georal.

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Lightish posting today

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding