During Barack Obama’s first term as Occupier of the Oval Office, one of his lapses that escaped screaming headlines at the time was the number of Attorneys General he did NOT nominate to keep an eye on his cabinet departments. Â A quick internet search of “obama not appointing inspectors general” brings up multiple stories from 2011-2013, and the concerns of the writers that there was no oversight of cabinet members, their staffs, and their activities. Â The word the Washington Examiner uses is “vacuum.”
Full disclosure: this writer did a piece on this vacuum some years ago for a different publication. Â
What makes this lapse in administrative responsibility important NOW, is that in the midst of Email-gate, we learn that there was no inspector general on duty at the State Department while Hillary Clinton was secretary and therefore, she – and her staff – had zero non-partisan oversight.
“The White House is saying that the State Department has responsibility for making sure their officials and staff follow the law, but the White House is responsible for making sure they have the tools to do that and they fell down on that job in making sure they have the No. 1 tool, and that’s an inspector general,” John Wonderlich, policy director at the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan open-government group, told the Washington Examiner.
In effect, the Obama Administration made it so that the hen house was unguarded by either a rooster OR a fox. Â At the time, there was no where for whistle-blowers on Benghazi, or any of the other scandals that popped up during Hillary’s State years, to go and express their concerns. Â That cog in the wheel of honest government just was not there.
Inspectors general are supposed to serve as the independent watchdogs within the federal agencies, the first line of defense against waste, corruption and officials’ failure to abide by the law, while protecting whistleblowers who raise charges of wrongdoing and inefficiency.
During Obama’s first four and a half years in office, the president did not name anyone to fill the top State Department inspector general slot. Instead, he acted nine months after the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, resulting in the death of four Americans and harsh scrutiny of the IG vacancy.
What this also means in the context of Email-gate is that the Obama Administration had knowledge that Hillary was using a full blown homebrew server for sensitive email exchanges with foreign entities and American officials AND no one was available to tell either party that this was not only a bad idea, but illegal. Â That is the inspector general’s job.
But, due to the Obama Administration either not thinking this was important, or deliberately circumventing the controls put in place for a combination of transparency and ethics, we now have a scandal brewing that will endanger the Democratic Party’s chances of maintaining any sort of power foothold in the short term.
Can’t say the political right, or Republicans, or conservatives are shedding crocodile tears over this, but a hefty “I told you so” is in order:
In the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, then-House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., called the vacancy a “major concern.”
“When employees in any bureaucracy don’t believe they will be held accountable by rigorous oversight, outdated and counterproductive thinking often overtakes common sense,” Issa told Roll Call in a statement. “The State IG’s visible absence of leadership in looking at what went wrong in Benghazi has certainly not gone unnoticed.”
It also means that in the Benghazi investigation being headed by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-So. Car.), there is no one to provide the in-house investigation paper, a la J. Russell George of Treasury who testified in the IRS targeting scandal. Â Any internal investigation is, by definition, a conflict of interest, and therefore the conclusions are suspect.
This one is nowhere from over, and the truth is it is going to take the whistleblowers testifying with full witness protection to get to the bottom of it.