Obama is Abrading the Social Fabric
I have always believed that regardless of the laws of a nation, the social fabric that binds it is woven of mutual trust between the people and their private and governmental institutions. Once that fabric is weakened, the dangers to an ordered society are extreme. This week, the holes in the U.S. social fabric are manifest, and they are caused by the administration's ever-expanding lawlessness..
The statements by the high-tech self-exile Snowden set off alarms even among those who are willing to repose their confidence in the general integrity of our intelligence services. In my case, not because I believe his overblown claims of civilian snooping, but because I now have doubts about the efficacy of the controls on access to the information gathered and my substantial, growing distrust of the president and the civil service.
In any event, with the FBI having ignored specific warnings from the Russians about the Boston bombers and the administration announcing it will provide military support for the Syrian rebels just as they in turn announce their affiliation with Al Qaeda, the need for this elaborate record-gathering becomes ever less clear. From the outside it seems as if in Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, Iran, and Egypt we are doing everything in our power to strengthen our enemies. What's the point then creating this expensive apparatus to permit listening to their communications as if we still regarded them as enemies?
For most of my lifetime, I believed that our Founding Fathers ("Founding Founders to the White House") set up a good -- if not infallible -- means of keeping the excesses of the executive in check. And that to supplement those checks and balances, the system of Inspectors General created by Congress to audit operations and uncover misconduct and criminal activity would do much to punish and prevent wrongdoing.
But in the face of such widespread misuse of government personnel and resources by the Obama Administration, the Constitution and Inspector General provisions seem inadequate to the task.
For one thing, there's no legislative compulsion for the president to appoint Inspectors General at all. And as of the beginning of this year 6 such slots remained vacant.
A bipartisan group of senators is urging President Obama to quickly fill vacant inspector general slots at six agencies.
A letter from members of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to Obama on Thursday says there are vacancies at the departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor and State and the Agency for International Development.
"Every year, Inspectors General identify billions of dollars in potential savings, including savings from improved management practices and fines and repayments resulting from investigations," the letter said. "The value of the Inspectors General goes beyond dollars; these offices also help reveal and prosecute wrongdoing, and promote the integrity of government. They provide invaluable support to Congressional budgeting and oversight work. Inspectors General are an essential component of government oversight."
The vacancy at the Department of Homeland Security "is extremely troubling, given that the agency faces many management and budget challenges, and the IG's office itself faces allegations of misconduct," according to the letter. It also noted that the State Department has not had a permanent inspector general for five years.
In other instances, the offices of the Inspectors General were compromised and involved themselves in cover-ups of criminal activity inside their departments.
"In a letter to the department's Office of Inspector General (OIG), Rep. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) blasts the agency over a February report that was scrubbed of specific references to misconduct allegations that included eight cases of State Department officials sleeping with prostitutes and other misconduct."
While the laws involving Inspectors General are designed to make removal during their term difficult and require notification to Congress when an IG is removed, the case of Inspector General Gerald Walpin, who was removed to discourage the others, is an example of what a corrupt administration did to discourage the others from doing their jobs.
Speaking of the shabby job the IRS IG performed, Walpin explains the dynamics to us:
But I learned, through being fired by the Obama administration, that performing one's responsibilities as one should, and potentially adversely affecting the administration's image, is not the way to keep one's job. (Fortunately, I was not dependent on my federal IG salary.)
That reality was made apparent to me -- and, through what happened to me, to all IGs -- when I supported my staff of longtime dedicated civil servants, who had recommended taking action against one Kevin Johnson, a former NBA player who had misused, for personal purposes, about $750,000 of an AmeriCorps grant intended for underprivileged young people. What I did not then know was that he was a friend and supporter of President Obama -- a fact that caused the proverbial you-know-what to hit the fan.
Without detailing all that happened, the bottom line was that I started to receive pressure to drop the case against Mr. Johnson. When I declined to repudiate my staff's work, the guillotine fell: I was summarily telephoned that if I did not resign in one hour, I would be fired. And I was, along with my special assistant, John Park. The Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote of my firing: "The evidence suggests that [President Obama's] White House fired a public official who refused to roll over to protect a Presidential crony."
Similar questions have been raised about other IGs who somehow have been discarded. Amtrak IG Fred Weiderhold, Treasury special IG Neil Barofsky, and International Trade Commission IG Judith Gwynn all left their positions after disputes that weren't appreciated by the administration, giving more reason for others to go easy with the administration. Further, the president has significantly failed to fill IG vacancies in important agencies (State, Interior, Labor, Homeland Security, and USAID) -- well-documented by former IG Joseph Schmitz -- demeaning the importance of the IG position.
The desire to avoid administration retribution seems to spread beyond the IGs to the FBI itself. FBI Director Mueller's inability to answer any question at all about the investigation into the IRS scandal seems deliberate and contemptuous of the proceeding. He knew he'd be asked about it.
And of course it seems the FBI is not conducting any sort of investigation into the scandal. No tea party group in the IRS probe has even been contacted. Of course, if you only get your news from major media you wouldn't know that. Only the Daily Caller had the wit to pick up the phone and ask.
As Professor Charles Lipson posted on Facebook:
Today, we know more, but not from Mueller, who remains silent. The victims are ALL reporting that the FBI has not bothered to interview them. What's worse, this story about the victims did not break in the Washington Post, NY Times, Boston Globe, LA Times, or other big papers, as it should have. They didn't bother to investigate or report. It was reported by a mid-sized online news site, one that actually made a few phone calls.
Lipson suggests: "Here's a thought for the Senate. Refuse to approve ANY political appointments to an agency that lacks an IG. Simply put a hold on them."
Of course, the Democratic majority Senate, which contains such thinkers as Mary Landrieu, who in denying the need for border security noted that South Dakota bordered Canada, would likely stymie such a proposal.
(And who expects intelligence or honesty from a party whose House minority leader responded to a question this week on her defense of late term abortions with this disingenuous idiocy: "As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this.")
The week ends on a particularly distressing note, It makes even an optimist like me greatly concerned that the Obama overreach must be stopped quickly and, if there is no Republican majority elected to the Senate next year, the Republic is in very grave danger.
There's a real question as to whether the White House effort to muzzle the press has gone beyond bullying and into illegal snooping.
Sharyl Attkisson of CBS, who courageously reported on the Fast and Furious transfer of weapons by the ATF to Mexican drug gangs and the government's failure in Benghazi, stated a while ago that beginning in 2011 she noticed her computer was behaving oddly. Friday CBS reported on the results of its investigation of her claim:
"That investigation has reached the following conclusions, according to CBS News spokeswoman Sonya McNair: "A cyber security firm hired by CBS News has determined through forensic analysis that Sharyl Attkisson's computer was accessed by an unauthorized, external, unknown party on multiple occasions late in 2012. Evidence suggests this party performed all access remotely using Attkisson's accounts. While no malicious code was found, forensic analysis revealed an intruder had executed commands that appeared to involve search and exfiltration of data. This party also used sophisticated methods to remove all possible indications of unauthorized activity, and alter system times to cause further confusion.CBS News is taking steps to identify the responsible party and their method of access."
There is no proof as yet that the White House has in effect been breaking and entering into Ms. Attkisson's computer files, but who else had such a great interest in the scandals she was uncovering?