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Old 06-06-2013, 8:20am   #1
Loco Vette
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Default "There is ZERO evidence of anything improper" - Maybe because no one's looking

Obama's Inspector General Negligence

Originally Posted by Joseph Schmitz, writing for the Wall Street Journal
Obama's Inspector General Negligence By JOSEPH E. SCHMITZ
With so many scandals breaking in Washington, one may well ask: Where were all the inspectors general when these bad things—at the IRS, at Justice, and at State before, during and after Benghazi, for instance—were going on? Where were the presidential appointees who, since the Inspectors General Act of 1978, are meant to root out gross mismanagement, fraud and other abuses at their federal departments and agencies, or among those whom the agencies regulate? The sad truth is that in the Obama administration many of the most important IGs mandated by Congress simply are not in place.

For years, President Obama has neglected his duty to fill vacant inspector-general posts at the departments of State, Interior, Labor, Homeland Security and Defense and at the Agency for International Development. The president has nominated only two candidates to fill any of these six vacancies, and he subsequently withdrew both nominations. All told, an IG has been missing in action at each of those cabinet departments and the AID agency for between 18 months and five years.

At a time when American confidence in the integrity and transparency of the federal government has been shaken, inspectors general can help Washington get back to basic principles of accountability—but only if the IGs are properly appointed and allowed to do their jobs.

Although there are 73 inspectors general in the federal system, less than half fall into a category that indicates their special importance for the effective functioning of the government. The nomination of these IGs typically involves a collaborative process between the president and his cabinet secretaries. Congress has also mandated that each cabinet-level inspector general "shall be appointed by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations."

The story at the State Department underscores the problem. For Hillary Clinton's entire four-year tenure as secretary of State, she relied on a retired foreign service officer, former Ambassador Harold Geisel, to function as an inspector general—though he could never hold the title.

Upon the departure of State's IG Howard Krongard in 2008, Mr. Geisel was appointed deputy IG until, it was presumed at the time, a new IG could be named within the customary 210 days stipulated in the Vacancies Act. Mr. Geisel was not eligible to be the inspector general because of an explicit, congressionally mandated safeguard for IG independence that rules out "a career member of the Foreign Service" from ever being "appointed Inspector General of the Department of State."

That is one reason why, as Mr. Geisel's de facto "acting" IG role at State extended into late 2010, the nonprofit Project On Government Oversight complained about this apparent violation of law in a Nov. 18 letter to President Obama. The letter also noted the personal friendship between Mr. Geisel and State's undersecretary for management, Patrick Kennedy, who was at the time "responsible for the people, resources facilities, technology, consular affairs, and security of the Department of State," according to his official biography.

Mr. Kennedy's long and close association with the person effectively responsible for inspecting and reviewing the department's performance wasn't the only troubling issue for many who knew and respected both men. As a group of "very concerned employees" of the State Department made clear in a letter released to Congress in January 2008—when Ambassador Geisel's appointment as "acting IG" was rumored—the ambassador was so well known as a member of the State Department family that it did not sound like a good idea to have one of their own in charge of investigating, auditing and assessing them.

Mr. Geisel's honesty and dedication were not at question. As the Benghazi whistleblower scandal unfolded on Capitol Hill this spring, however, the last Senate-confirmed inspector general of the State Department, Mr. Krongard, told me in an email that while Mr. Geisel is "an able man . . . his status significantly undercuts his authority and effectiveness within [the office of inspector general], within the Department, in the IG community, and on Capitol Hill. His status is like attaching a sign on his back that says 'Ignore Me, I am temporary.' "

The depth of the IG vacancy problem became clearer when three State Department whistleblowers testified before Congress about Benghazi. One of an IG's many jobs is to protect whistleblowers, but the three said they had suffered reprisals for telling the truth.

Greg Hicks, for instance, was the deputy chief of mission in Libya who became the top U.S. diplomat in Libya after Ambassador Chris Stevens was killed. Mr. Hicks told Congress he suffered retaliation within the State Department when he asked a superior about Ambassador Susan Rice's five TV interviews after the attack—in which we now know she falsely claimed that the cause of the attack was an online video. Mr. Hicks said he was told by his superiors at State that "he should not proceed" with his questions about events surrounding Benghazi, and he was later given a "blistering critique" of his management style and effectively demoted to "desk officer."

We are left wondering whether the presence of an independent and effective Senate-confirmed IG at the State Department might have encouraged Mr. Hicks and others who were aware of wrongdoing to speak out even earlier, say, in October last year, without fear of reprisal. How many other whistleblowers are not being protected as required by law in the other federal agencies without a Senate-confirmed inspector general? The fact that the IG who recently reported on the IRS tea-party targeting scandal is Senate-confirmed speaks for itself.

If the president continues to be derelict in his duty to nominate inspectors general for the Departments of State, Interior, Labor and Defense, and for the Agency for International Development, he should not expect to know about fraud, waste and abuse in his executive branch agencies—unless and until journalists inform him.

Mr. Schmitz, inspector general of the Defense Department from 2002-05, is the author of "The Inspector General Handbook: Fraud, Waste, Abuse, and Other Constitutional 'Enemies, Foreign and Domestic,' " just out from the Center for Security Policy Press.

A version of this article appeared June 5, 2013, on page A13 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Obama's Inspector General Negligence.
Fine little piece of thuggery there. Always easier to pull off shenaningans when no one is charged with the resposibility for looking out for misdeeds.
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Old 06-06-2013, 8:54am   #2
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Next time I get pulled over for speeding I'm going to tell the officer that I've investigated myself and found that I have done nothing inappropriate; the precedence has been established by our highest law enforcement officials.
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