Homeland Security: With Talent Like This...


From the Homeland Security system that "worked," we now have word that Secretary Janet Napolitano is mobilizing a broad response to the underwear bomber. As part of this security "review," Napolitano is dispatching her deputy, Jane Holl Lute, "on a broad international outreach effort" to review security procedures with "leaders from major international airports in Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America."

Who is Jane Holl Lute? Or, more precisely, what kind of hands-on experience is presumed to qualify Lute for the serious responsibility of serving as the #2 official at Homeland Security?

Why, the United Nations, of course. Before joining the Obama Department of Homeland Security, Lute worked for six years as an assistant-secretary-general in the UN's Department of Peacekeeping Operations. During that stretch, UN peacekeeping expanded at speed, and so did the related procurement corruption and peacekeeper sex scandals.

Here's a Washington Post article from 2007, "U.N. Finds Fraud, Mismanagement in Peacekeeping," which details some of the peacekeeping corruption uncovered by a special UN task force (which the UN has since dissolved). The task force reported findings of "multiple instances of fraud, corruption, waste and mismanagement at U.N. headquarters and peacekeeping missions." These included 10 "significant instances of fraud and corruption with an aggregate value of $610 million."

On the sex-scandal front, Jane Holl Lute was one of the senior UN officials who promised "zero tolerance" of UN peacekeepers sexually exploiting people (in some cases, children) they were sent to protect. Here's a post from 2008, with a link to her zero-tolerance promise in 2007 -- as well as to details that surfaced the following year about allegations of continuing sexual exploitation, gang rape and whatnot by UN peacekeepers in Cote d'Ivoire, Haiti and Sudan. 

None of this is to accuse Lute herself of corruption, or of indifference to the rape of minors. The problem, rather, concerns the questions all this raises about her management skills. She held a senior slot in which she repeatedly either made excuses or promised to clean things up; but the fraud and sex scandals rolled on.

Lute had a long career before that, of course. Immediately prior to joining the UN, she worked as chief operating officer of Ted Turner's UN Foundation; before that she served on the National Security Council, and in the U.S. Army. But the big fat credential here, the stand-out item you'll find in her Homeland Security bio, is her experience in UN peacekeeping.