The Police, Every Breath You Take
This is yet another troubling report of Inspectors General under the Bush regime facing consequences for trying to thoroughly do their jobs. Via the NYTimes:
…A small team working for General Hayden is looking into the conduct of the agency’s watchdog office, which is led by Inspector General John L. Helgerson. Current and former government officials said the review had caused anxiety and anger in Mr. Helgerson’s office and aroused concern on Capitol Hill that it posed a conflict of interest.
The review is particularly focused on complaints that Mr. Helgerson’s office has not acted as a fair and impartial judge of agency operations but instead has begun a crusade against those who have participated in controversial detention programs.
Any move by the agency’s director to examine the work of the inspector general would be unusual, if not unprecedented, and would threaten to undermine the independence of the office, some current and former officials say.
More here from the AP. If this were an isolated incident, I’d say that allegations of improper conduct or emphasis by the IG absolutely should be addressed. But it brings a wholesale pattern of pushback for IGs/whistleblowers around the Bush Administration into even more stark view. And it calls into question whether what CIA Director Hayden is doing is in good faith — or an attempt to pressure an IG into backing off from his sworn duty in oversight of the CIA. The fact that I even raise that question in my own mind is bad enough. But just look at the various IG, whistleblower and oversight pushback activities that have gone on — and this is just a rough snapshot summary:
— FBI’s Inspector General on misuse of National Security Letters and other Patriot Act emergency provisions which became commonplace end-runs of due process considerations uncovered a substantial problem, both at the FBI and DOJ. The DOJ was informed of these problems in 2005 and 2006 — AG Gonzales was personally delivered the reports — but his testimony with regard to being unaware about them now has him in hot water with the Senate Judiciary Committee and others. And corrective measures taken? Not really clear on that at this point based on public records and testimony. (Oh, and the DOJ apparently spends a lot on snacks these days, too. Just FYI.)
— I could go on and on about what has happened to Bunnatine Greenhouse at the DOD, who dared call a fraud a fraud and then faced retaliation on the job for doing so. Far as I can ascertain, the appeals process on that is still ongoing for the retaliation against her as a whistleblower, but it can’t be a comfortable place to work — and imagine what a disincentive to others it is to call Halliburton or Blackwater or any other government contractor out for fraudulent billing or less-than-appropriate no-bid contracting and other issues which need sufficient independent scrutiny to protect the public from fraud and waste.
— Which leads us to the substantial questions about an IG at the DOD. David Niewert has a lot of the details, but this sordid little tale of politicization, intrigue and weirdness needs to be read in its entirety.
— How many different questions of politicization of scientific study questions have come up acros a broad scope of agencies under the Bush Administration? An active IG helps to prevent that sort of issue from arising, or to take corrective measures when it does. But IG offices have had funding issues and pushback from political appointees to deal with, which makes doing their jobs all the more difficult.
— Pharyngula has information about politicization on education issues — and the lack of oversight on this is really startling.
— Two words: The Wilsons.
There are a lot more examples. A LOT more. I plan to dig into this issue more thoroughly — it goes to the heart of facts versus political manipulation, and needs much more sunshine. If you know of instances and/or reporting on this, please leave me links or information in the comments. Or e-mail me. Looseheadprop and I have talked about this — an active, independent IG can be a lifeline for people trying to do the right thing in a bad situation. Without that safeguard, what you have is politics run amok on a very, very ineffective leash.