Stop Obama’s war on watchdogs
by Michelle Malkin
In the sadistic era of fraudulent Hope and Change, inspectors general inside the federal government have been kicked, neutered and starved of the authority and information they need to do their jobs.
It’s transparently clear: President Obama loathes and fears independent watchdogs.
Accountability is an empty talking point without whistleblower protection and investigative autonomy. That is why Capitol Hill must do everything in its power to stop the White House war on the public’s ombudsmen. Federal inspector generals across dozens of agencies are begging lawmakers to grant them access to public records as guaranteed by the 1978 Inspector General Act.
The call for help comes as Obama administration obstructionists and cover-up operatives impede and downplay several key investigations into government corruption and malfeasance.
Last year, 47 of the nation’s 73 federal IGs signed an open letter decrying the Obama administration’s stonewalling of their investigations. The White House, they reported, had placed “serious limitations on access to records that have recently impeded the work” of IGs at the Peace Corps, the EPA and the Department of Justice, and jeopardized their “ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”
While defanging Washington’s most effective guardians on the public’s trust and tax dollars, the Obama administration has stocked the government with whitewash puppies who’ve compromised the independence of IG offices at the Department of Homeland Security, the Interior Department and DOJ.
At the rotten core of the war on federal watchdogs: Obama’s Undermining Justice Department, which has distorted and destroyed the plain meaning of “all records” to sabotage the IGs access to damning agency documents relevant to their probes.
Earlier this year in congressional testimony, DOJ IG Michael Horowitz exposed the Obama administration’s “continued refusal by the Department to recognize that Section 6(a) of the Inspector General Act authorizes the DOJ OIG to obtain access to all records in the Department’s possession that we need in order to perform our oversight responsibilities” as the office investigates the IRS witch hunts, the Fast and Furious scandal, and systemic public disclosure evasions. The FBI has repeatedly run out the clock to thwart IG document production requests and unilaterally claimed power to pre-screen and limit records disclosures.
In July, the White House arrogantly announced that IGs needed to gain permission from the heads of agencies they were investigating to gain access to grand jury, wiretap and fair credit information. Horowitz noted this week that “[p]ending legislation in the Senate, S. 579, and the House, H.R. 2395, would restore IG independence and empower IGs to conduct the kind of rigorous, independent and thorough oversight that taxpayers expect.”
Let me remind you that this is the same administration that:
–Smeared and sacked AmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin after he blew the whistle on financial corruption and sexual misconduct by Sacramento mayor and Obama crony Kevin Johnson.
–Forced the abrupt retirement of Amtrak’s longtime inspector general, Fred Weiderhold Jr. after he met with Amtrak officials to discuss the results of an independent report by the Washington, D.C., law firm, Willkie, Farr & Gallagher, which concluded that the “independence and effectiveness” of the Amtrak inspector general’s office “are being substantially impaired” by the agency’s Law Department. Amtrak bosses had effectively gagged their budgetary watchdogs from communicating with Congress without preapproval; required that all Amtrak documents be “pre-screened” (and in some cases redacted) before being turned over to the inspector general’s office; took control over the IG’s $5 million portion of federal stimulus dollars; and regularly retained outside law firms shielded from IG reach.
–Stonewalled the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program responsible for monitoring hundreds of billions of dollars of federal funds spent on bailout programs. Obama Treasury Department officials initially refused to provide documents on the bailout-funded AIG bonus program and ran to the DOJ for cover.
–Bullied budget watchdogs at the Office of Personnel Management, who received a “not so veiled threat” from the Office of Management and Budget to refrain from voicing any concerns about Obama’s 2010 budget to Congress. According to then OPM IG Patrick McFarland, an OMB staffer threatened to “make life miserable for us” if McFarland’s office dared to exercise provisions in the Inspector General Act noting any financial impacts that might “substantially inhibit” the watchdog agency’s ability to do its job.
Just last week, the Veterans Administration IG issued a report detailing horrific neglect and mismanagement in the Phoenix VA system, where a whopping 45 percent of vets with bladder, prostate, and urinary tract problems were denied or delayed care over the last two years. Medical records are missing or misfiled. At least five patients died as a result of the VA’s dereliction of duty to those who served and sacrificed.
Empowering IGs to uncover mismanagement in the public sector without fear of reprisal and roadblocks is quite literally a matter of life and death. Restore the letter of the federal inspector general law, Congress and unleash the taxpayers’ guard dogs!