Chemical Reaction

Who calls the shots in the Bush-Cheney administration? In finding a way to increase security at chemical plants, one man stood out:

To understand the workings of Philip Perry is to get a sense of the true lines of power in the executive branch. "Perry is an éminence grise," says one congressional staffer. "He's been pretty good at getting his fingerprints off of anything, but everyone in this field knows he's the one directing it. He is very good at the stealth move." And, as it turns out, Perry's stealth moves have often benefited opponents of chemical regulation. One of his final pieces of handiwork included coming up with what critics have called an "industry wish list" on chemical security that ultimately became law last fall.

"Every time the industry has gotten in trouble," says the staffer, "they’ve gone running to Phil Perry." The result has been that our chemical sites remain, even five years after 9/11, stubbornly vulnerable to attack.

And who is Phillip Perry? Just Dick Cheney's son-in-law, that's all.