Obama's Most Dangerous 'Enemies' are Being TargetedBy Ed Lasky
There is a pattern emerging in the Obama Presidency. He is at war with reality; his greatest enemies are facts. And he has been targeting for years a small group of people whose duty is to expose the truth. Their loyalty runs to the citizenry and not to Barack Obama. They are not Republicans and they are certainly not journalists. And Obama has been trying to muzzle them. One man stands in the way.
Inspectors General (IG) are government employees who are responsible for ferreting out mismanagement, fraud and corruption in the federal government. The Barack Obama presidency has provided them with a target-rich environment. They are responsible for uncovering a wide range of Obama failures. These include:
The Department of Justice's Fast and Furious Fiasco; Massive waste and corruption in the stimulus and "green energy" programs with an agenda to reward Obama donors and whose weatherization programs were rife with waste and fraud.
Deluxe spending of taxpayer money by GSA employees who clearly did not take their assigned duties (to save government money spent by others) seriously and mismanagement at the US Department of Agriculture;
The State Department's Inspector General is investigating the special internal panel that probed the Benghazi failures for its apparent whitewashing of the scandal behind the deaths of Americans.
The Special Inspector General, Neil Barofsky, of the Troubled Asset Relief Program reported that the Obama administration had engaged in 'Enron-like accounting" to hide its mismanagement (as covered below, he earned the wrath of the Obama hit squad).
Recently, of course, the normally lapdog press has been compelled to cover the controversy over the role of Treasury Department's meting out "special treatment" to conservative groups and donors to Republicans to neuter them as forces in the 2012 election has generated headlines. The IRS Inspector General's report triggered the planting of a question at an ACA meeting, and the public apology by Lois Lerner, which in turn ignited hearings and press coverage.
The list of abuses uncovered by the Inspectors General has been multiplying as rapidly as the national debt has under Obama. The government wastes billions by not listening to Inspectors General Obama wants to all but eviscerate them.
Inspectors General are career employees not political appointees. Obama's minions cannot dismiss their reports as being merely partisan attacks (many of them, such as Barofsky, are Democrats). They operate in obscurity, away from the klieg lights, diligently searching for malfeasance while protecting taxpayers. They do not profit from exposing wrongdoing; their credibility is rock-solid. Impure motives cannot be imputed to them-a favorite rhetorical weapon of Obama and his team.
There are very few unsullied heroes in Washington-very few people looking out for hard-working Americans. Among them should be Inspectors General.
They are threats to Obama's image and agenda and have therefore earned their place on Obama's enemies list. While Obama can't send the drones after them they do have targets on their backs.
Where are those missing Inspectors General?
Over the past few years Barack Obama has attempted to starve the beast by refusing to fill vacancies in the ranks of Inspectors General as they have arisen. The White House been routinely chided for years over its negligence. Timothy Smith of the Washington Post reported in May of last year that "there were 10 IG vacancies, including five at cabinet-level agencies. Four of them had been vacant for more than 3 years."
Congressman Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Government Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, stated that 'This administration's failure to fill inspector-general vacancies has weakened the effectiveness of the inspector-general community, thus exposing American taxpayer dollars to waste, fraud and abuse". Well...never let it be said that Barack Obama did not accomplish one of his most important goals. And it took so little work on his part.
The Project on Government Oversight (an independent, nonpartisan good government watchdog) has even launched a web page that tracks how long vacancies have been left open across the federal Inspector General system.
Obama has also attempted to slash the budgets of the inspector general for the Office of Management and Budget: one of the key Inspector General positions since the official has a broad mandate to focus on government spending. This from a man who never met a budget he did not want to expand or a person he did not want to put on the federal payroll. Yet, the one program he wants to slash (aside from the Defense Department) is the program that is designed to protect taxpayers. Incidentally, he did plan on a $30 billion dollar program that was uniquely designed to have no oversight by any Inspector General (i.e., a bigger slush fund than anyone ever cooked up in Cook County) but Republican resistance squashed his plans (for once).
Wet work, Obama-style
So what can Obama do with current Inspectors General?
Intimidation and character assassination are tools in the Obama armory. America's President is after all a man who bragged that he "brings a gun to a knife fight," and who confronted a fellow Democrat who was wavering on the Obamacare vote with the threat "Don't Think we're not keeping score, brother" (see The President is 'Keeping Score" : Chicago politics has moved into the White House" ). He also "joked" about IRS audits back in 2009-and, lo and behold, the IRS sicced itself on conservatives and others not long later.
Barack Obama's proxies have threatened Inspectors General on more than one occasion. Gerald Walpin ran afoul of the Obama team when he dared to report that a friend of Obama's was misusing government funds for personal expenses, meddled politically in a local election, and may have included hush money to women to keep them quiet about sexual harassment by him. What were Walpin's rewards for protecting taxpayers? His dismissal followed by heaps of personal abuse and accusations of mental illness
He has company.
The Inspector General at the OMB who reported on Obama's plans to slash his budget was told by officials there that they'd "make life miserable for him" if he complained about his budget being cut
The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction reported that administration officials had pressured him to remain silent regarding the massive waste of funds and corruption associated with the program and that officials had tried to edit his report to remove anything that might embarrass the White House (presaging the Benghazi scandal). The abuse led to his resignation.
The aforementioned Neil Barofsky was subject to scathing personal attack for exposing and disclosing massive waste and fraud in the Troubled Asset Relief Program. Jen Psaki, a spokeswoman for the 2008 campaign who had become the deputy communications director at the White House, engaged in such personal vituperation that it shocked old Washington hands. She accused Barofsky of trying to generate "false controversy" to "grab a few cheap headlines" and then continued with similar personal insults of Barofsky.
Psaki has been rewarded for faithfully serving as an Obama attack dog by being promoted to the high-profile and prestigious spot as State Department spokeswoman (replacing the Victoria Nuland, who herself has been promoted despite of, or because of, her role in scrubbing Benghazi talking points). Professionals were surprised that someone so inexperienced in diplomacy and foreign affairs had been appointed to such an important and public post since a mistake by her could have international ramifications that could reflect poorly on America . They should not be surprised since her role the last few years has been to protect Obama's image, not America's image or standing in the world.
She will no doubt continue to perform the same role she has had for years: to protect her boss and trample anyone who may harm his image.
Issa and the Inspectors General
Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Calif), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has been investigating the Obama administration for years (prompting severe political and personal attack by Obama allies). The White House saw the threat early and maneuvered to have faithful ally Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) placed on the committee, surprising some since another Congressman was in line for the spot. Cummings was thought to have better skills to run interference for Obama.
Issa has not been daunted and has relentlessly investigating the Obama administration for years. He has a special appreciation of the importance of Inspectors General and has relied on their non-partisan expertise to disclose the failures of the Obama administration. Issa wants to expand the reach and enhance the power of the Inspectors General. His goal was clear as early as 2010.
David Herszenhorn wrote in the New York Times (New Chairman seeks more power for watchdogs:
Issa knows that oversight of Obama will not come from the media who have become lapdogs. The true watchdogs have been Inspectors General who remain the unheralded heroes of Washington and whose war on them by Barack Obama another scandal the media has ignored.
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