Allen B. West

Today’s unsurprising revelation: Feds hindering independent oversight

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We were told by President Obama that his would be the most transparent administration in U.S. history. And just last month, White House mouthpiece Josh “Not So” Earnest touted the administration’s record on transparency and commitment to that premise. This came after nearly 40 journalists sent a letter to the administration complaining about its lack of transparency. It goes with everything else about Obama and his administration — if they say it enough to themselves, it’s true. After all, if you like your doctor, well… you know the rest.

And here we go again, as reported by the Washington Post, “At least three federal agencies have hindered the oversight efforts of independent watchdogs by limiting their access to records, according to a complaint from more than half of the government’s inspectors general (IG). The officials, 47 of them, signed a letter to congressional oversight leaders on Tuesday saying the Justice Department, the Peace Corps and the Chemical Safety Board have withheld information on the basis that it was privileged.”

We also know the Obama administration has been rather slow in filling IG positions in government agencies — I suppose since they say they’re transparent they don’t need folks making sure they are. It is nonetheless troubling that there a complaint against the Department of Justice — not that anyone would suggest Eric Holder’s agency hasn’t been forthcoming. Ha.

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The Washington Post says “the letter was sent to Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who head the Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee, and Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the top members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “It is deeply troubling that federal agencies are increasingly obstructing this vital mission and, in doing so, undermining the very foundations of our government,” Coburn said in a statement. “This is an extremely dangerous place to be for a government established to be of the people, by the people, for the people.” Carper said the letter “outlines serious concerns that are unacceptable.” He added that he will “continue to work closely with the Inspectors General to address their concerns.”

According to the Inspector General Act of 1978, in order to provide independent oversight, inspectors general are meant to have “complete, unfiltered, and timely access to all information and materials … without unreasonable administrative burdens.”

Here are the detailed issues from the IG letter:

– The Justice Department withheld records that its inspector general requested for three reviews, but the agency ultimately handed over the information based on a finding that the probes would assist its leaders.

– The Peace Corps withheld records of sexual assaults against its volunteers. The Peace Corps eventually allowed the information to be viewed under a special agreement, but it still has not allowed unfettered access.

– The Chemical Safety Board agency argued that attorney-client privilege prevented it from providing access to certain documents related to a discrimination case.

Agency Inspectors General are supposed to be unbiased individuals who work within a respective agency and are the “honest brokers” — lest we forget the work of IRS Inspector General J. Russell George. Of course he endured vicious partisan attacks for simply doing his job as defined by the law. But then again, when has this administration ever paid attention to laws that didn’t work to further its agenda? If this were a Republican administration this story, along with the journalist complaint, would be lead story on every liberal media outlet — regardless of how trivial some of you might think this is.

The question is, if these Obama administration agencies are indeed blocking access to trivial information, what about the really important stuff?

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