McCaskill puts hold on Myers confirmation after blackface party prize
McCaskill, D-Mo., said she was acting because of questions raised about Myers' role in a Halloween contest in which an agency employee wore a racially offensive costume.
Myers heads the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agency as a recess appointee of Bush and is awaiting Senate confirmation.
She was a judge at last week's contest in which the employee was recognized for having the "most original" costume: a prisoner with a black-and-white striped outfit, dreadlocks, and bronze makeup on his face, according to Kelly Nantel, an agency spokeswoman. [SLPD]
McCaskill wants answers about why Myers awarded the prize, and why the official photographs of the event were "discarded."
What would possess the nation's top immigration enforcer to give an employee in blackface a prize at a Homeland Security Halloween party? A prize for originality no less...
I can only hope the latest debacle will remind people that Myers was never qualified to run ICE in the first place. Like Michael Brown at FEMA, she was chosen for her personal ties to high-ranking administration officials, rather than her CV.
The bigger scandal is that Myers' was chosen to lead the largest investigative component of the Department of Homeland Security, the second largest investigative agency in the federal government, despite having no law enforcement experience. Nevermind that her legal job description calls for a candidate with at least 5 years' experience in law enforcement.
Myers' behavior at the party shows that she also lacks common sense, moral seriousness, and empathy for her colleagues and employees.
But most importantly, her actions show that she lacks any grasp of the mission of her agency.
Recall that ICE is charged with arresting and detaining foreigners. Given the nature of its work, ICE operates in a racially charged environment. Whatever legitimacy and efficacy the agency has is contingent on the perception that it is an impartial, non-racist law enforcement organization. Every time recess appointee Myers' laughs at a racist joke in public, she undercuts the mission of ICE.
Myers must not be confirmed.
It should also be noted that Myers was one of a three-judge panel that bestowed the "most original costume" prize. Who were are these other two senior officials? Also, according to media reports, the party was a relatively intimate affair. There were only 50-75 guests in attendance. So, a DHS employee who gets invited to a Halloween party with the Deputy Secretary for Homeland Security is probably relatively senior in his own right. Finally, Myers admitted in a Nov. 2 email that "a few of the costumes were inappropriate and offensive." A few? Let's hear what those other costumes were.
If Michael Chertoff is being honest when he says that he won't tolerate this kind of behavior in DHS, he will release the names of the other two judges and the contestant. He will also hand over the original digital media/negatives that captured the images, the hard drive of any PC that received images from a digital medium or scan, and any URLs where event pictures were posted. He will also release all the official pictures of the party that were deemed sufficiently inoffensive to make it into the record. (If he won't, we can probably FOIA them.) Finally, he will write out a meticulous timeline from the instant the images were exposed to the moment a spokesperson claimed images had been "discarded." If anything got lost, he will know when, why, and by whom--and explain it to the press and Congress.
If, for some reason, he can't deliver these simple things to the House and Senate committees that oversee Homeland Security by quitting time tomorrow, he should tender his resignation, because he's clearly unqualified to head the Department of Homeland Security.