Saturday, September 8, 2018

Swaggerin' Mike Pulls a Fast One, Supposedly

To me, the Army GP Medium Tent is military housing 

The New York Times has a somewhat informative story today about the State Department's plan to house SecState Pompeo on a military base, for which he will reimburse the USG at a fair market price. The benefits of this arrangement are reduced security costs and better protection than if he remained in the "modest home in Virginia" that he and his wife rent now. Sounds good to me. As a taxpayer, I'm all in favor of that.

I say the story is only somewhat informative because it takes a couple odd detours. One is a long discussion of VIP military quarters on the Potomac Hill complex, which is across the street from State headquarters but not where Pompeo will live. Another is a mention that "It is not uncommon for American diplomats to try to remain in overseas posts for as long as possible — and continue receiving housing subsidies — to avoid Washington’s pricey real estate market," which has no relevance whatsoever to the matter of where the SecState lives. Is the NYT paying by the word? Because that article is padded out to about twice the length it needs.

Read it here: To Secure Better Housing, Top Diplomat Pulls Rank on the Military.
[SecState Pompeo] is about to receive [a housing] upgrade, courtesy of the federal government.

After months of quiet back-and-forth, the Defense Department has agreed to rent Mr. Pompeo a flag officer’s home on a military base in the Washington area. Which base and what house, Heather Nauert, the State Department’s spokeswoman, declined to divulge. She said the new home would not only be modest, but would also save taxpayers more than $400,000 a year in security costs.

“Secretary Pompeo will personally pay fair market value for the residence,” Ms. Nauert said on Friday. “This arrangement will present taxpayers a significant cost savings over options that previous secretaries of state utilized.”

-- snip --

Ms. Nauert said the department now spends more than $2 million in annualized expenses providing round-the-clock security at Mr. Pompeo’s current home in Virginia. Still, she said, the home is not in a place where his communications are fully secure. With military housing, the department could reduce its security expenses to about $1.6 million annually and provide far better protection from eavesdropping and other surveillance, she said.

Michael T. Evanoff, the State Department’s top security official, said his bureau must constantly assess the secretary’s security and called the move to a military base “a common-sense solution to a security challenge.”

I fail to see in what way moving into a flag officer's home on a military base constitutes an upgrade over what Pompeo could afford on the private market, or how it comes courtesy of the federal government when he'll pay a fair market price for it out of his pocket. But the NYT seems to want to make a scandal out of this pedestrian story. That's true from the article's title - "Top Diplomat Pulls Rank on the Military" - to the phrases "pursuing personal comforts in their [i.e., Trump appointee's] jobs" and "bound to raise eyebrows" all the way to the closing quote from Douglas Brinkley that, compared to the public interest in the SecState's security, "there was an even greater public interest in ensuring that the government’s leaders remain connected to the people they serve ... The United States was created to get rid of a royal class that sits above us ... We want our leaders to live among us.”

The NYT seems to think they've caught Pompeo red-handed at something, but just what that is isn't clear. And so far as that purported public interest in our leaders living among us, I assure you that any quarters on a military base, no matter how VIP-ish, do not compare to the exclusiveness of the private residences of our last three SecStates, such as Hillary Clinton's Georgian style mansion ($5.3 million) or John Kerry's 23-room townhouse in Georgetown ($4.7 million). And that's not even counting their other homes away from DC.

Any place that Pompeo rents on a military base will look like a tent compared to those high-end homes, for all of which the USG added security and communications features at the taxpayer's expense.


Anonymous said...

TSB: I looked at the headline, the picture and read the first sentence of your post and immediately jumped to the idea that they were going to put Pompeo up in a Syrian FOB to keep the Russians from attacking it. (or any other US outpost.) Kind of: We dare you to kill our Sec-State. Good post! gwb

I'm all for moving him out of suburbia. Who wants a cabinet member living on their street? Not me. Good luck with that hurricane!

Anonymous said...

TSB: I was reading how the Wilmington Nuke plant was built to handle a 5 ft surplus tide but not a 25 ft storm surge when I came across this disaster:

Bikini-Free Miss America Viewership Plummets 36% In Key Demographic (24-49)
Who could have seen this coming?
For some odd reason, American audiences decided they just weren't interested in hearing how this year's crop of Miss America contestants would solve world hunger, promote peace or save the kittens. ..

I was watching Sun Nite Futbol as the 1 legged Aaron Rogers engineered a 24 point come from behind victory! The beauty contest was on the sidelines! Those girls have some nice pom poms! gwb

TSB said...

Put the SecState in a FOB and dare the Russians to attack it? Hmmm Maybe he could man a tank - like he did in his Cold War days - and engage the Russkie Foreign Minister in single combat. Why not a medieval solution to that conflict?