became ridicule when in early July a DHS Inspector General's
report was made public that described a "critical targets" list
that included a petting zoo in Alabama, a Mule Day parade
in Tennessee, and an Amish popcorn factory in Indiana as
critical infrastructure that DHS planned to protect. At
the same time, according to early reports,
such icons as the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn
Bridge were left off the list. This was considered by the
media to be the second DHS misstep in just two months.
The Bush Administration was on the defensive.
Post reported that
the DHS list had grown to more 77,000 targets, including "bean
festivals, car dealerships, small-town parades and check-cashing
stores." The media and the late-night talk shows had a
in the story, however, the Post had a comment from Robert
Stephan, the assistant DHS secretary for infrastructure
protection, who said that the 77,000-item database is "only
as an information source for more refined analyses of critical
targets." This put the controversy in a very different
had more to say on the subject and he wrote a guest
column for USA Today the following week. In it he explained
that they had sought input from local, state and federal
officials, and that the list of 77,000 represented a "phonebook" of
items from around the country which was then narrowed down
to a classified list of some 600 potential targets nationwide.
They included the leading financial centers, nuclear power
plants, major seaports and airports, dams and petrochemical
a retired Air Force colonel, criticized the DHS inspector
general for not having interviewed him for the report,
and having "missed the purpose of the database entirely...[he]
focused on raw, unfiltered data to create national hype.
That's akin to looking at what's left on the cutting room
floor rather than at the movie, then giving it a half-star
He added, "That
does a huge disservice to the department's dedicated men
and women and to the American people, whom they have served
so ably for the past three years."
thought they had another story of federal incompetence.
But what we have discovered is that it's really a case
of media incompetence. The media did not take the time
to look into the real facts. They wanted a quick laugh
at the expense of federal officials who were doing their
jobs. But journalists became the joke. CRO