As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Drowning Oversight In The Bathtub

A lot of people are thinking that this represents an extension of the US Attorneys scandal. Rachel Paulose, a certified nut who was given the Minnesota office after the presiding US Attorney "quit," is under investigation for dressing down several employees. According to one account, she used the words “fat,” “black,” “lazy” and “ass.” But pay attention to the investigating body:

The federal Office of Special Counsel is investigating allegations that Rachel Paulose, U.S. attorney for Minnesota, mishandled classified information, decided to fire the subordinate who called it to her attention, retaliated against others in the office who crossed her, and made racist remarks about one employee.

The Office of Special Counsel, ay? Somehow I don't think they're going to have any cash in the cookie jar to work on the whole Paulose thing.

A task force probing allegations of illegal activity by Karl Rove and other former and current White House officials is in jeopardy due to lack of funding, according to its spokesman.

Without a last-minute infusion of nearly $3 million, the special task force may be unable to pay its staff and buy the kind of technical assistance it needs to investigate allegations that White House political operatives may have improperly injected politics into government activities, according to Jim Mitchell, spokesman for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.

This is not an unfamliar tactic of late. It's what the Justice Department has been using to stop the Jerry Lewis investigation in the Southern District of California.

In Los Angeles, a federal criminal investigation of Rep. Jerry Lewis, a California Republican, stalled for nearly six months due to a lack of funds, according to former prosecutors. The lead prosecutor on the inquiry and other lawyers departed the office, and vacancies couldn't be filled. George Cardona, the interim U.S. attorney in Los Angeles, declined to comment on specific cases but confirmed that lack of funds and unfilled vacancies caused delays in some investigations [...]

People with knowledge of the case said that by the time the investigation stalled in December 2006, it had branched out into other areas, including Mr. Lewis's June 2003 role in passing legislation that helped giant hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management. People associated with Cerberus around the same time gave at least $140,000 to a political action committee controlled by Mr. Lewis. Cerberus officials didn't respond to phone calls or emailed questions concerning the Lewis inquiry [...]

I think the Bush gang has hit on another way to evade accountability. In addition to stonewalling on documents and witnesses and constructing obscure legal theories that declare the executive branch sovereign and beyond the law, they'll also take the oversight they can't obstruct and just grind it to a halt through attrition. In a sense this is the same theory underpinning the Norquistian view of government - limit it so that it cannot function effectively at all.

Certainly this is the way they can slow down executive branch agencies from investigation, including the DoJ Inspector General, the Office of Special Counsel, all 93 US Attorney offices, and any other oversight agencies. With investigators like the Congressional committees, they'll continue to obstruct justice, and rely on Democratic timidity to evade enforcement.

There's no one strategy, but defunding is a tool in the White House's arsenal (hopefully, it will be one in Congress', too).

Labels: , , , , , ,