Graham Drubs Dubya

May 21: Under the Code Orange alert, jet fighters fly over major U.S. cities at random intervals. Troops with surface-to-air and shoulder-fired missiles are posted around the D.C. area. Bridge and tunnel checks are promised, along with Coast Guard harbor patrols and tighter nuclear power plant security.

May 22: Officials in D.C., casually responding to the Code Orange alert, keep both the sidewalk in front of the White House and the Capitol open to tours, even though these were closed off during the war. The D.C. police chief says, "You have a very general alert. . . . I mean, Washington, D.C., and Wichita, Kansas, were placed on the same alert." Mayor Anthony Williams remains out of town on a business trip.

The same day, a Washington Post profile suggests that Ridge and consultants were trying to give the Homeland Security Department a heightened image by "branding" it in hopes of giving it an "identity." Reporter Mark Leibovich followed Ridge around for a day and reported that he and his aides appeared to talk an awful lot about this "branding" and "identity." Homeland Security crops up many times in their conversation in terms of "visual brand," "respected brands," and this clincher, courtesy of Ridge himself: "The ultimate branding we do is a sharing of a sense of mission." Ridge's wife shows the reporter bottles of water and other emergency equipment in her basement, noting that waxed dental floss is a great item to have on hand because it can be used to tie things together.

Additional reporting: Joanna Khenkine and Phoebe St John
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