Censured Sensors: A $30 million project to develop radiation detection sensors for use at ports and border crossings being built at the Nevada Test Site is “mired in mismanagement with no clear way forward” according to a federal audit. [LVRJ] “Auditors found poor coordination between the Nevada Site Office and Homeland Security. The agencies did not formally define their respective responsibilities until May 2006, more than two years after the original contractor, Bechtel Nevada, started work on the project.” According to the report Test Site officials told auditors DHS was managing the project, and DHS officials claimed that Test Site officials wouldn’t allow communication with the Bechtel, the project contractor. We’ve known since February, 2006, that 75% of American ports lacked the ability to screen for nuclear devices. [DemSen] A March 12, 2007 New Yorker article reported that there isn’t even unanimity on what types of sensors would be effective, “The Bush Administration is now spending about four hundred million dollars annually on radiation-detector research, but nuclear physicists who have studied the technology disagree about how discriminating these sensors might become.”
“Debate, we don’t need no stinkin’ debate?” Thus far Republican presidential candidates have been subject to an amazing number of “scheduling problems.”
CNN cancelled its Spanish language presidential debate when only one Republican candidate accepted its invitation – Sen. John McCain. [PolTkr]
Candidates Giuliani, Thompson, Romney, and McCain couldn’t find the time to attend a September 17th debate promoted by Christian conservatives in Florida. [SunSent] Fred Thompson became the fourth GOP candidate to announce that he won’t attend the PBS debate this month hosted by Tavis Smiley at a black college in Baltimore. Thompson joins Giuliani, McCain, and Romney who also cited scheduling difficulties. [TCR] (via HuffPo) Evidently, the top tier Republican candidates don’t need Hispanic, African-American, or Christian Conservative voters?
GOP leading: CREW has released its list of the Top 22 Corrupt members of Congress. The Republicans are winning: 18-4.
Another Republican bails out: Nine term Republican Congressman Jim Ramstad [R-MN] has announced his retirement at the end of the current session. [Roll Call sub req] The GOP will now have to defend several seats without an incumbent: Hastert (IL), LaHood (IL), Pickering (MS), Pryce (OH), Renzi (AZ), Gillmor (OH). Virginia Representative Tom Davis is expected to make a run for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. John Warner (R-VA). The Republicans will not have incumbents for Senate seats from Colorado, Nebraska, Virginia, and Idaho – depending on the status of Sen. Larry Craig. [The Hill]
Waxman’s War Path: “Howard J. Krongard, the State Department’s inspector general, has repeatedly thwarted investigations and censored reports that might prove politically embarrassing to the Bush administration, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform charged today in a 13-page letter.” [WaPo] All 14 pages of gory details in the letter (pdf). The New York Times opened with this: “A top House Democrat has issued an unusually strongly worded letter alleging that the State Department inspector general has interfered repeatedly with investigations into fraud and abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he had done so “to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment.”
Blackwater is not the only security company with a problem: The Iraqi government has announced it will review the status of all security companies operating within its borders. While a law issued during the CPA grants contractors immunity from Iraqi prosecution, an Iraqi spokesman said the investigation should “compel” the companies to respect Iraqi laws. [NYT] “Iraq contradicts U.S. on Blackwater shootings.” [LAT]
VA backlog still a problem: Retiring VA Secretary Jim Nicholson told members of a Congressional panel even though 1,100 new claims processors have been hired the Department still faces a backlog of veterans’ disability claims, some for as long as 177 days. [USAT] Nicholson’s prepared testimony. Committee hearing information.
Taser flap: A University of Florida student was tasered after refusing to give up the floor during a Q&A session with Senator John Kerry (D-MA) [SunSent] It’s easy to agree with TCR, “the kid was being a jerk, but it’s not illegal to be a jerk.”