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Obama Administration blocks inspectors general, independent oversight

Written By | Sep 10, 2014

WASHINGTON, September 10, 2014 — In an August fundraiser at the Bel-Air home of Alan Horn, chairman of Walt Disney Studios, President Obama bemoaned the growing mistrust of government in America. “And so you’ve got a self-fulfilling prophesy: People who have the most at stake in a government that works opt out of the system. Those who don’t believe that government can do anything are empowered; gridlock reigns, and we get this downward spiral of even more cynicism and more dysfunction.”

That same month, more than 40 independent inspectors general sent a letter to congressional oversight committees, saying that stonewalling by Executive Branch agencies “represent potentially serious challenges to the authority of every Inspector General and our ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”

It appears the Obama Administration’s strategy to combat “cynicism” in government is to cover-up corruption, malfeasance, and even rape, thus perpetuating the myth that government is the transcendental architect of utopia.

Tuesday, Michael E. Horowitz, inspector general at the Justice Department said, “We experienced … objections from [Justice] Department components that resulted in significant delays … during the review that culminated in our 2012 report on ATF’s Operation Fast and Furious.”

During that operation, the Justice Department sold more than 2,000 weapons to Mexican drug cartels that resulted in the death and injury of hundreds of innocent Mexicans and the murder of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry.

Attorney General Eric Holder lied in his 2011 testimony before Congress when he said, “I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” It subsequently came to light that Holder knew of the deadly gunrunning caper at least ten months prior.

Horowitz provided a 2011 letter by Cynthia A. Schnedar, then acting inspector general at Justice, to Eric Holder, saying that “a requirement that the OIG [Office of Inspector General] must first seek permission from the Attorney General to obtain material necessary for our reviews … undermines the OIG’s independence and is inconsistent with the Inspector General Act.”

Eric Holder’s stonewalling eventually earned him a contempt of Congress citation. And when Congressional investigators got too close to linking Fast and Furious to the White House, President Obama invoked executive privilege, effectively shutting down the investigation.

Luz Dávila, a Mexican mother whose two sons were shot to death, may never find justice. It was investigative journalists for the Spanish-language network Univision, not the U.S. media, which traced serial numbers of two guns recovered from the crime scene to weapons linked to Fast and Furious.

And then there is the Peace Corps. In a letter to Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Peace Corps Inspector General Kathy A. Buller said, “Unfortunately, the Peace Corps is impeding OIG’s right of access by creating policies and procedures that deny OIG information found in certain reports made by volunteers who are the victims of sexual assault.”

In 2009, Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey was murdered shortly after reporting that a colleague sexually assaulted female students at a West African school. Two years later, Congress passed legislation — the Kate Puzey Act — to protect Peace Corps whistleblowers and improve treatment for victims of sexual assault.

According to the Washington Times, “After extensive negotiations, the Peace Corps has allowed” the Office of Inspector General “to obtain the name of the country, the type of assault and where it occurred, but all other information is blocked. This means the inspector general can’t investigate whether proper care was given after the assault, or even whether it was classified correctly.”

In his congressional testimony Tuesday, Justice Department Inspector General Horowitz said, “Each of us firmly believes that Congress meant what it said in Section 6 (a) of the IG Act: that Inspectors General must be given complete, timely, and unfiltered access to agency records.”

That does not apply to a cynical administration that believes it is a law unto itself.


Steven M. Lopez

Originally from Los Angeles, Steven M. Lopez has been in the news business for more than thirty years. He made his way around the country: Arizona, the Bay Area and now resides in South Florida.