I heard an interesting rumor today and I am very reluctant to share it on a couple of different levels. First I don’t want the people who sent it my way to face any repercussions and secondly it is usually not a good idea to destroy someone’s preconceived notions. But, since the rumor concerns me and this blog, I have to set the record straight.
Apparently there is a rumor going around that I am some sort of muckty-muck in DHS that is using this blog to get inside information about the Department out into public light. There are a couple of things wrong with that. First, I am not now, never have been, and almost certainly never will be a member of DHS. Hell, I haven’t even been in the city of Washington in over 30 years.
I am not exactly the sort of person that someone would hire for the Department nor would I really be happy being an employee of that organization. I spent a number of years trying to be a somewhat compliant member of the US Army and it used up all of my getting along with the bureaucracy; as anyone that knew me in that period of my life can attest. And I am certainly not someone who would be able to climb the internal ladder to reach a level of bureaucratic power and there is no politician in their right political mind that would appoint me to anything approaching a position of authority.
In many ways I should be (and really am) proud that the knowledge that I do have about the CFATS program is thought well enough of in the community that people assume that I have to be in a special position of influence to be able to share that knowledge. But a close observer would probably note that I don’t have an infallible insider’s insight into the goings on in ISCD or anywhere else in the Department (or on the Hill or in the Transportation Department, or anywhere else that I write about).
What I do have is a basic knowledge of how agencies and bureaucracies work, particularly in the political aspects of those operations. I was raised in a household where politics and engineering were the things that adults discussed and children were encouraged to listen and ask questions. I studied history, and political science and even some law from a variety of people that had insiders experience and I cultivated those connections whenever I could.
And just as important as all of that, I have cultivated connections over the last eight years with a number of people in and around the chemical safety and security (and lately in the cybersecurity) realms that are willing to tell me things about the goings on in these areas that are an important part of my life. I seldom get the whole story or both sides of the story, but I am experienced enough in the ways of the world to be able to piece together what the other side or missing pieces probably look like. Finally, I am not really trying to be a news person here, but rather an influencer of how things are proceeding in the world.
Ten or twenty years ago I would not have been able to pull off this blog without living in or near the seats of power. Without the internet I would not have access to half of the information available to me and the other half would be so out of date by the time that I got it that it would be just about worthless. But I do exist here and now and the internet and modern communications all make this possible.
So, sorry to destroy the mini-myth that is growing up around PJ Coyle (Please not - Pat or Patrick Coyle; PJCoyle was my AOL handle and it got stuck to the blog when AOL was hosting it). I am just an able muckraker who is an evangelical about chemical safety and security with a bit of knowledge about the political process with access to modern research tools and a niddly need to explain things. Please keep that in mind as you read this blog and perhaps send me interesting bits of information, or questions to be answered.
Oh and please remember that muckrakers are cheap but we still do have to feed the family and the dogs. A periodic small financial contribution to the cause is always appreciated.