NYTimes Questions Bernie Kerik's Nomination

The New York Times has some serious questions about Bush's nomination of Bernie Kerik for Homeland Security Secretary:

A homeland security secretary should be above politics and respectful of civil liberties. But when he stumped for President Bush this year, Mr. Kerik engaged in fearmongering. He told The New York Daily News that he was worried about another terrorist attack and that "if you put Senator Kerry in the White House, I think you are going to see that happen." And he was quoted in Newsday as saying this about opponents of the Iraq war: "Political criticism is our enemies' best friend."

There are chapters of Mr. Kerik's career that are worthy of particular scrutiny. In the summer of 2003, he spent several months in Iraq training police officers. But his time there appears to have been cut short, right around the time of some serious terrorist attacks, and the state of the force since his departure has been bleak. Given the relevance of that work to his new duties, it would be instructive to know what, if anything, went wrong.

And what exactly did Kerik due when he worked for Giuliani-Kerik L.L.C.?

Mr. Kerik should offer assurances that former clients and colleagues will not get preferential treatment. He has had difficulty with ethical lines in the past. In 2002, he paid a fine for using a police sergeant and two detectives to research his autobiography.

How about Kerik's service on the board of Taser International, maker of the stun-gun that has killed 70 people,according to a report by Amnesty International?

Last, but not least, is his limited experience on the national level, with Congress or Washington insiders. Why did Bush pick Kerik over, say, Asa Hutchinson, who reportedly is so offended he didn't get the job he's leaving and going back to Arkansas, to prepare for a 2006 gubernatorial run?

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