Archive for October 25, 2010

Washington Post: Our Nation’s Secrets, Stuck in a Broken System

10-23-10  (Summary from GAP)

Summary: This op-ed from a former Bush administration official criticizes the Obama administration for its high-level staff revealing classified information to journalist Bob Woodward for a new book. The author points out the hypocrisy of the White House for apparently allowing this, while at the same time prosecuting other alleged government whistleblowers for revealing far less potentially damaging information.

GAP Homeland Security Director, Jesselyn Radack,  blogged about the op-ed, and the serious problem of government officials over-classifying documents, in many cases simply to cover up mistakes or wrongdoing.

Link to Original:

I received this yesterday from a reader.   Thank you Old Navy Man for sending this.  It is good to see someone trying to do the right thing.   GFS

G Florence-

The BLM Director should be thanked for his initiative to seek the truth.  The Department of Defense needs to take some ethics lessons from Bob Abbey.

An Old Navy Man


 BLM Director Requests Renewed Investigative Inquiry

October 22, 2010

POGO applauds Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Bob Abbey’s request that Interior’s Inspector General renew investigative inquiries into former District Manager Steve Henke.

“Why does it take a punch in the gut to get Interior to do anything on ethics? This is an obvious first step that BLM needs to take in order to assure the public that the agency takes a serious approach to ethics,” said POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian. “But Interior still needs a cultural overhaul. We all saw what happened the last time an agency within Interior made itself vulnerable to industry influence and failed to hold ethics offenders accountable.”

Last week, POGO revealed that BLM did not appropriately respond to the Inspector General’s findings that Mr. Henke accepted gifts from oil companies without reporting them. POGO called for Interior to “consider revising Mr. Henke’s ethics decision and investigating whether any ethics violations have occurred,” among other broader reforms.

In a letter sent Monday, October 18, Bureau of Land Management Director Bob Abbey asked Interior’s Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall to “renew its investigative inquiries regarding certain ‘questionable activities’ that may have occurred during the tenure of Steve Henke, to include activities which eventually led to his employment by the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association.”

Henke left the agency to become president of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association (NMOGA) earlier this year. According to the Interior Inspector General, Henke accepted gifts such as tickets to golf tournaments and solicited donations from prohibited sources such as Merrion Oil & Gas and Williams Exploration & Production. He did not report any of these gifts on his annual Confidential Financial Disclosure Reports.

Please go to the original at POGO for these links:


  • POGO’s letter to Abbey and Secretary Salazar.
  • Abbey’s letter to Kendall.
  • Additional information from POGO’s Blog:
  • A Bungled Ethics Ruling at the Bureau of Land Management: Who’s to BLM?, October 13, 2010.
  • Was BLM Manager’s Relationship with Industry Too Obvious to Be Ignored?, August 26, 2010.
  • BLM Manager Ethics Swung Below Par, August 24, 2010.
  • The Leak in the Gulf Has Stopped, But the Pipeline between Industry and Interior Still Flows, July 16, 2010.


Link to original post at POGO:

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This was sent to me from a reader today.   Bravo, Mr. Schwellenbach.  Thank you reader for sending this!  GFS

G. Florence-

From my own personal experience, the Department of Defense Inspectors General office is the worst offending IG in existence.  But don’t take my word; look at their case track record for the past ten years.  The Department of Defense IG is useless.

An Old Navy Man


October 22, 2010

Watchdogs Battle Agencies Over Access to Records

Thirteen inspectors general (IGs) described their struggles with the government agencies they oversee in letters made public this week by Republican Sens. Charles Grassley of Iowa and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. The two senators canvassed 69 IGs earlier this year asking whether they’ve run into problems in the course of their oversight.

“Inspectors General can’t conduct effective oversight of tax dollars and programs when the very agencies subject to the oversight impose delays, red tape, and roadblocks,” Grassley said. “To let this continue in the executive branch is letting the fox decide who gets in the henhouse.”

For instance, the Treasury Department’s IG, Eric Thorson, wrote in a September 10 letter that his office “is being denied unrestricted and unfettered access to information from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) for use in investigations of possible fraud upon the OCC by failed financial institutions regulated by the OCC.” The OCC asserted the Right to Financial Privacy Act (RFPA) as justification for withholding info, according to Thorson. Thorson believes OCC is slanting its reading of the RFPA, and that it actually allows for Inspectors General to access this information. What it comes down to, according to Thorson, is OCC believes “it can determine the instances in which my office has investigative jurisdiction affecting OCC programs and operations.”

In another case, Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), says the State Department has dragged its feet in responding to repeated SIGIR requests for contract data. As of June, the SIGIR has been waiting over eleven months for the State Department to provide “complete data on the cost of the contract for providing trainers for the Iraqi Police Training Program” run by DynCorp International.

“Good government starts with good oversight.  When officials block investigations they do nothing more than protect the people and processes that waste billions of taxpayer dollars every year,” Coburn said

Nick Schwellenbach

Link to original post at POGO

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