Archive for ‘AmTrak’

July 17, 2009

Amtrak IG: Background

Over at the American Spectator, some important background on the inspector general’s office at Amtrak, and more. These are just more dots. Exactly how they connect, I’m not sure. But people on Capitol Hill are asking questions about these things.

UPDATE: OK, I’ll be off the grid the rest of the day. On my way to Capitol Hill again today for more shoe-leather work. Hit the tip jar. Things are getting very interesting — Unwelcome Distractions and the Plot Still Thickening.

BTW, tonight at 6 p.m. is Taco Night at the National Press Club, hosted by investigative reporter Matthew Vadum, if anyone in the D.C. area wants to join us.

Exit question: Which senator does Professor Glenn Reynolds hate the most?

July 15, 2009

IG-Gate: Whispers of hints of shadows

Ever been in one of those situations where you don’t know exactly what’s going on, but somebody’s hinting that something’s going on?

Read every word of this.

The subject was raised in an indirect sort of way. I just jotted down some notes and didn’t think too much about it. But my drive home from D.C. is more than an hour long, and as I mentally rehearsed what I’d seen and heard . . . Well, what was that about?

Maybe it was nothing. But maybe it was something. I’m trying to stay calm. Don’t try to predict the future.

Shoe leather is an amazing journalistic resource. This is the kind of reporting that gets the blood pumping. Because of unexpected complications in my itinerary, I didn’t park my car at Union Station until 4:09 p.m., but after I got through on the Hill, I was whistling a happy tune while I walked back down First Avenue, re-entering the marble lobby of the station at 6:37 p.m., as my meticulous notes show.

From the start: Tourists were still standing in line for a chance to get into the Sotomayor hearings, and I’d left my cell phone in the car. “Deep Cleavage” hadn’t returned my calls, and nobody was expecting my arrival on the Hill. It was pleasantly sunny but not hot, and the biggest hassle I had was having to empty my pockets and remove my belt — the buckle sets off the metal detectors — to enter the different congressional office buildings.

“The Other McCain,” said the receptionist, becoming accustomed to my unannounced arrivals. X is on vacation. Hmmm. What about X’s Deputy, Y? Not in. Well, how about Z?

I’m sitting on the sofa and, on the lobby TV, Lindsay Graham is applying a flamethrower to Sotomayor, trying to produce that “meltdown” he’d previously suggested was so unlikely. Get ’em, Goober! I’m almost willing to take back some of those homophobic slurs . . .

Good news! The receptionist says that Z will be there momentarily. Z is “Deep Cleavage.” We had never previously met but are already becoming . . . eh, bosom buddies. Z arrives and, as we make our way down the elevator to the basement cafeteria, this unexpected subject arises.

It must have been important, otherwise I wouldn’t have a full page of notes about it. But it wasn’t what I came to ask about. Deep Cleavage raises the subject and discusses it at some length before I even get a chance to start asking questions.

At the time, however, it didn’t register. We were both in somewhat of a hurry. I had other people to see, and Deep Cleavage had a 5 o’clock conference call. It seemed like we talked for 45 minutes but since I didn’t even go through the metal detectors until 4:25 p.m. — meticulous notes, you see — it couldn’t have been that long.

Au revoir, Deep Cleavage, and off I go. Another office, another TV screen with Sotomayor hearings. The person I came to see is not in, but the deputy is available. OK. Actually, much better than OK. Introduction to a staffer who is eager (!) to help. All the charm I can muster is employed in a quick chat in the hallway and I take my leave with a courtly bow. This could become a very important source.

Quickly cutting across the Capitol grounds toward Independence Avenue. The woman walking across from the other side of the avenue is talking on a cell phone, but looks up. “Excuse me, ma’am, but which one is [name of office building]?” She points to the building.

When I get there, neither the communication director nor the press secretary is in the office. The receptionist — actually, “staff assistant” is her title — isn’t exactly eager to help. It’s past 5:30 now, she’s running out the clock, and she doesn’t know me from Adam’s housecat.

Ah, but there is more than one way to skin Adam’s housecat and, with the help of directions from an older gentleman, I’m on my way through an underground tunnel to another office building.

In the tunnel, I encounter a cluster of young aides. Obviously, Republicans. The girls are too pretty to be Democrats. Turns out they’re Georgians and blonde Shannon, who just finished her junior year at UGA, went to Lassiter High. Ah, once dated a girl from Lassiter, and another one at Sprayberry, but that redhead from North Cobb — her backyard was the 10th tee at the country club and . . .

The Georgians think I’m joking (I’m not) and they razz me when I start humming the University of Alabama fight song. This is fine amusement as we’re walking through the tunnel.

Reaching my destination, I connect with my source of last resort. We’re talking in the office vestibule when the Congressman, his wife and children pass through. My source doesn’t want to trouble the boss, but I know the magic.

“Congressman!” And immediately I’m shaking hands and schmoozing it up, making sure to praise the excellent services peformed by the congressman’s staffer, my source.

The congressman and family exit and, as soon as the door closes behind them, I high-five my source. That, my friend, is how it’s done: Impose yourself. They’re public servants, right? Well, I’m the freaking public.

Explain to the source who it is that I need to get direct contact with. We briefly discuss — of all people — Conor Friedersdorf, whose satire of my methods was both funny and accurate. If only I’d remembered to bring my pink camera . . .

Assured that I’ll be contacted by the person I need to talk to, I’m ready for the return trip. I ride down the elevator with a recently-elected Democratic member of Congress. I cut back across the Capitol grounds and a few minutes later, as I cross the intersection of First and C, I’m jazz-whistling “Georgia On My Mind.” The policeman on the corner says, “That’s something you don’t see anymore — people whistling while they walk.”

No, you sure don’t, I answer. What I don’t say is that you also don’t see reporters take their leave with a courtly bow. A sense of history — an evocative name — now occupies my mind, and I find myself switching the tune to “Shenandoah” as I cross past the Columbus monument toward Union Station. In a few days, there will be a major deadline, but this is far from my thoughts.

I’m going to beat you today — and didn’t I?

A 150-mile round-trip drive, 2 hours and 28 minutes on the Hill, and I’ve got notes for my next article, as well as a quick blog post at AmSpec, plus promises of connections to more sources in coming days. No sir, you can’t beat shoe leather, and it’s good for the soul.

Quick shout-out to Obi’s Sister, Dan Collins, The Rhetorican and WWU-AM/Camp of the Saints, and this from Jimmie Bise:

So, keep the faith, folks. We may well get that accountability and transparency Barack Obama promised us yet, no matter how hard he fights to break that promise.

Ah, Jimmie, my boy! When will you be back in DC? Check your schedule for Friday. What tales I have to tell, and what new friends you must meet. Y’all be sure and hit the tip jar — another courtly bow, and good-night!

July 14, 2009

IG-Gate: Chugging Along

My last full-blown article about IG-Gate for The American Spectator was published June 25. Since then, I’ve updated the story several times at AmSpecBlog, NTCNews, and the Hot Air Green Room. So last week, when I suggested another article — “The Little Scandal That Could,” published today — I didn’t really think about how much news had occurred in the past three weeks, as for instance in the case of Amtrak IG Fred Wiederhold:

On June 18, Amtrak IG Fred Wiederhold submitted a 94-page report, prepared at his request by an outside law firm, showing that the federally subsidized passenger rail service had, as Grassley said, “systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act.” Immediately after the Amtrak board meeting where he presented that report, Wiederhold submitted notice that he would retire.
Those familiar with the congressional investigation say Wiederhold has denied being forced out at Amtrak — personal considerations were also involved in his decision — but the report he submitted June 18 details a pattern of obstruction by Amtrak’s law department.
This department is the bailiwick of Amtrak vice president and general counsel Eleanor “Eldie” Acheson, who just happens to be a longtime friend (and Wellesley College roommate) of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Acheson’s deputy general counsel, Jonathan Meyer, joined Amtrak after spending six years as a top Senate aide to Joe Biden, who has long proclaimed himself as Amtrak’s No. 1 advocate in Washington and who personally announced the $1.3 billion in “stimulus” funds for Amtrak.
Led by the well-connected Acheson and Meyer, Amtrak’s law department tried to require the IG’s office to get prior approval before communicating with Congress and instituted a policy where documents subpoenaed by the IG’s office were first reviewed and occasionally redacted by Amtrak management.
None of this squares with the law and Grassley, the congressional patron saint of inspectors general, wrote in a letter to Amtrak chairman Thomas Carper that, in the wake of Wiederhold’s retirement, IG staffers were “fearful of retaliation” if they spoke to congressional investigators. The seriousness of these charges prompted Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Oversight Committee, to join with the committee’s ranking Republican, California Rep. Darrell Issa, in announcing an official investigation, parallel to the probe led by Grassley’s team in the Senate. . . .

You can (and certainly should) read the whole thing, but just consider all that has been reported about the Amtrak case in the past three weeks. (USA Today is just now catching up to this scandal train.) Grassley’s office published the 94-page report, detailing the pattern of obstruction by Acheson’s department, disclosed the “retaliation” fears of IG staffers, the Towns-Issa inquiry was announced — and that’s just the stuff I can actually report about one of the IG cases.

There are various interesting off-the-record tips that I’m still trying to confirm, and there are more developments expected in coming days that I can’t report yet. (Rule One: Never burn your sources.) Meanwhile, the Walpin case keeps simmering, with the stonewalling by AmeriCorps officials and other interesting developments.

There is lots of news here. If it weren’t for Michelle Malkin, The Washington Examiner‘s Byron York, The Washington Post‘s Ed O’Keefedig this document dump!Youth Today‘s Nancy Lewis and the Sacramento Bee, I couldn’t keep up myself.

The source I call “Deep Cleavage”* didn’t return phone calls yesterday. and there are a couple of big tips I need to follow up on, so I’m headed to Capitol Hill again today. Since I’m not one of those $100K-a-year bloggers (I’m starting to think they’re a myth, like unicorns and sober Kennedys) please hit the tip jar to help fund this latest shoe-leather trip.

*NOTE: “Deep Cleavage” is a mnemonic device, not a description. It’s also the kind of lame pun (“Big tips” = “Deep Cleavage”) that appeals to my inner eight-grader. Whether or not this involves a “D” . . . hey, never burn your sources. But these tips are real and they’re spectacular.

UPDATE: OK, I’m running behind schedule this morning, but the Spectator story is already linked at Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, Red State, Sister Toldjah, Around the Sphere, Urbin Report, And So It Goes In Shreveport, and Memeorandum. Please pay attention to this very intelligent comment from Moe Lane:

So, we’ll see.

For less intelligent people, I recommend a certain tasty beverage known as STFU.

UPDATE 11:20 p.m.: Oh, boy. Chris Dodd? Just a hint from the Hill, but . . . oh, boy.

July 1, 2009

Michelle Malkin Reports on IG-Gate

Michelle Malkin’s syndicated column today moves the story forward substantially with this:

Sen. [Chuck] Grassley has requested that Amtrak supply information on [inspector general Fred] Weiderhold’s unexpected retirement, as well as internal and personal materials related to his departure and the report on Amtrak managers’ meddling. On the House side, Reps. Edolphus Towns (D.-N.Y.) and Darrell Issa (R.-Calif.) announced a probe Monday into Amtrak’s actions. They zeroed in on Amtrak’s choice of Lorraine Green to replace “retired” IG Weiderhold. . . .
Who is Lorraine Green? She’s a former Amtrak human resources executive and faithful Democrat donor with no experience in the inspector general business. Her expertise? Managing “diversity initiatives” for the agency. Watchdog out. Lapdog in.

Read the whole thing. She gives me credit for pushing the story last week. I had mentioned this at The American Spectator blog:

The professional staff of the Amtrak IG office is reportedly now “terrified” about their job security, because Amtrak put their human resources director in charge of the IG staff.

Naming Lorraine Green and explaining her “diversity” specialty are important facts I didn’t have. The Towns-Issa investigation is also news I hadn’t heard. So Michelle is doing real reporting in her column.

One reason I get so infuriated about idiocies like the attacks on Sarah Palin is because that stuff distracts from more important things. The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post had important stories, and I missed it. Now there will be more work to do next week, just to catch up.

Meanwhile, I’ve got figure out how to lay hands on an extra 200 feet of fuse, drive to Alabama, shoot off the fireworks . . .

June 25, 2009

EXCLUSIVE: Report on Amtrak IG case

Sen. Charles Grassley’s office has released a 94-page report (PDF). Will update shortly with details.

UPDATE: Press release from Grassley’s office:

Senator Chuck Grassley has asked Amtrak about the circumstances of the Inspector General’s unexpected retirement seven days ago and invited Amtrak to provide information about the interference by Amtrak in the work of the Inspector General described in a report prepared at the request of the retired watchdog.
Grassley said the report indicates that Amtrak’s policies and procedures have systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act.
“As I continue my investigation into whether the independence of the Inspector General was undermined by Amtrak officials, I want to make sure I have any and all information Amtrak wants to provide,” Grassley said. “The allegations are serious, including third parties being told to first send documents under subpoena by the Inspector General to Amtrak for review, and the Inspector General being chastised for communicating directly with congressional appropriations and authorizing committees . . .”

Read the whole thing. I had been warned to expect something like this, so I just kept refreshing the press release page at Grassley’s site until it was posted. Well, I’ve got work to do.

UPDATE 8:45 ET: The first news story about this report, from . . . well, me, at The American Spectator:

Officials of Amtrak have “systematically violated the letter and spirit of the Inspector General Act,” Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) charged Thursday, making public a 94-page legal report prepared at the request of the Amtrak inspector general who resigned suddenly a week ago.
Fred Wiederhold, a veteran IG, retired without notice or explanation June 18 after a meeting with Amtrak officials where he presented the report by the law firm of Willkie, Farr & Gallagher. “The allegations are serious, including third parties being told to first send documents under subpoena by the Inspector General to Amtrak for review, and the Inspector General being chastised for communicating directly with congressional appropriations and authorizing committees,” Grassley said in a statement.
Grassley’s accusation of illegal actions by Amtrak, including failure to comply properly with subpoenas, is the most serious to date in an investigation that has expanded quickly since the IG for the AmeriCorps program was given an ultimatum two weeks ago to resign or be fired.
In a letter to Amtrak Chairman Thomas Carper, Grassley said the legal report “suggests a long-term and unrelenting interference with the activities and operation” of the IG’s office. Grassley said his staff believes that members of the Amtrak IG office “be fearful of retaliation if they were to discuss the matters set forth in this letter with anyone, including Congress.” . . .

Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, Michael Jackson is dead. He was a few months older than me, much richer, and never scored an exclusive news story in his life. His kickspin was better than mine, however.

UPDATE 10:15 p.m.: A little more news at the Green Room:

Investigators for Sen. Joe Lieberman (Ind.-Conn.) and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) are now becoming involved with the IG-Gate probe.
Previously, Lieberman and Collins had seemed willing to accept Obama administration officials’ version of the firing of AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin without even hearing Walpin’s side of the story. Now, as a clear pattern of pressure against IGs has developed, the multiple investigations have gotten the attention of Lieberman and Collins, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. This is the chief oversight committee with jurisdiction to hold hearings and subpoena materials in the IG probe.
Some Republicans, however, have been disappointed by Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Mike Enzi of Wyoming. Both GOP senators have expressed interest in the IG investigations, but neither has sought to interview Walpin or ordered their own staffers to coordinate with Grassley’s investigators, who have already been on the case for two weeks.

Astute blog readers will recognize that I’ve linked the contact pages for those senators, and for a good reason. If you want to see Congress hold hearings on IG-Gate, you need to get in touch with your own members of Congress and tell them so. “Sources close to the investigation” say that it is up to citizens to push Congress to take action. It doesn’t matter whether your senators or representatives; preserving the independence of IGs ought to be a bipartisan concern.

UPDATE 10:23 p.m.: Welcome Hot Air readers. And thanks to Bob Belvedere for his IG-Gate compilation at WWU-AM.

UPDATE 11:12 p.m.: No Watchdogs Allowed

UPDATE 11:22 p.m.: I use Google News to search for online information about these stories, and somehow had previously missed this story today from Youth Today about CNCS acting NCNS head Nicole Goren’s explanation of the Walpin firing. You can check that out, but it still doesn’t address the question of fundamental fairness. In the three weeks between the May 20 board meeting and June 10, when Walpin was told to quit or be fired, neither CNCS nor anyone in the Obama administration made any effort to get Walpin’s side of the dispute.

PREVIOUSLY:
6/25:
IG-Gate: It’s not about Walpin
6/24: Another shoe leather day
6/23: IG-Gate: Asking the right questions
6/23: More questions for Secretary Geithner
6/22: Your man in Washington
6/21: Obama’s no Daley, but . . .
6/19: IG investigation: ‘Dominoes Fall’
6/18: Grassley expands IG investigation
6/18: Targeting AIG bailout?
6/18: How’s the weather in Sacramento?
6/18: Sen. Grassley wants more answers

June 23, 2009

IG-Gate: Asking the right questions

The unexplained resignation of AmTrak inspector general Fred Wiederhold raises an important question:

WHO IS ELEANOR ACHESON?

Exactly why that’s an important question . . . well, maybe Fred Wiederhold could explain that, but nobody’s heard a word from Fred since he resigned Thursday.

What we do know is that Wiederhold was asked to provide “specific examples of agency interference with OIG audits and/or investigations.” Maybe if somebody looked closely at those specific examples, they’d find Ms. Acheson’s fingerprints, but that’s strictly a hypothetical, because Wiederhold resigned before he could produce those specific examples.

What we do know is that Amtrak is Joe Biden’s favorite government boondoggle, that Ms. Acheson donated to Biden’s presidential campaign, and that Amtrak is budgeted for $1.3 billion in stimulus money — money that Wiederhold would have been watchdogging for “waste, fraud and abuse,” if he hadn’t resigned last week.

Another question that needs to be asked: When are Sen. Joe Lieberman and Sen. Susan Collins going to convene a hearing on the firing of AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin?

As Rick Moran notes at American Thinker, we’re now up to three ex-IGs in less than two weeks and there seems to be a pattern developing. This is to say nothing of the situation with Neil Barofsky, special IG for the TARP bailout money, who is at odds with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

You spend a little shoe-leather on Capitol Hill, and next thing you know, somebody’s explaining that the two questions for Timothy Geithner are “what did he know and when did he know it?”

Watch out for that bus, Mr. Geithner.

Thanks to Carol at No Sheeples Here for the artwork, which is merely hypothetical. Thanks to Jimmie Bise for paying close attention, and to Pundette for her praise of the old-fashioned shoe-leather method.

UPDATE: Jehuda the Rhetorican sees the plot thickening and, as predicted, Michelle Malkin likes the Ellie Acheson question.

The point is, it’s the right question. After I posted about Acheson, I made a phone call: “Am I right?”

“Even more right than you were a couple of hours ago.”

We’ll call that source Deep Cleavage. Throw ’em so far off the scent, they’ll need a map . . .

UPDATE II: More linky-love for the Amtrak IG story from Frugal Cafe and Fire Andrea Mitchell.

UPDATE III: Acheson was brought in as general counsel after Amtrak fired five top officials in December 2006. Thanks to Moe Lane for the tip.

June 21, 2009

Obama’s no Daley, but . . .

Michael Barone in the Examiner:

His first political ambition was to be mayor of Chicago, the boss of all he surveyed; he has had to settle for the broader but less complete hegemony of the presidency. . . .
Chicago-style, he has kept the Republicans out of serious policy negotiations . . . Basking in the adulation of nearly the entire press corps, he whines about his coverage on Fox News. Those who stand in the way, like the Chrysler secured creditors, are told that their reputations will be destroyed; those who expose wrongdoing by political allies, like the AmeriCorps inspector general, are fired.

Speaking of Chicago, John Kass of the Chicago Tribune laughs to scorn the shocked! shocked! reaction over Obama’s move against inspectors general:

The use of political muscle may be prohibited in the mythic transcendental fairyland where much of the Obama spin originates . . . But our president is from Chicago. . . . David Axelrod and chief of staff Rahm Emanuel come right from Chicago Democratic machine boss Mayor Richard Daley. They don’t believe in fairies . . .
It’s the Chicago Way. Now, formally, it’s also the Chicago on the Potomac Way. . . .

You can read the rest, which is also discussed in today’s “300 Words Or Less” editorial at NTCNews.com, and linked at Memeorandum. At this point, IG-Gate raises two basic questions:

  1. Does all this suspicious smoke indicate a genuinely scandalous fire? That is to say, is there genuine crime or ethical misconduct involved, or are the inspectors generals just victims of political hardball which, while rudely thuggish in typical Chicago fashion, is not actually criminal?
  2. If there is a real scandal, will the Obama-worshipping press ignore it?

After I filed my Friday report at Pajamas Media, I noticed a lot of comments along the lines of, “Oh, Obama will get away with this because the MSM is in the tank.” This is a presumption — indeed, perhaps, two or three presumptions — too far.

Conservatives can be excused for thinking that rampant Obamaphilia in the press corps will protect The One from any possible consequences for malfeasance or error, if only because this has hitherto been the case. But . . .

Honeymoon kisses ain’t news. An FBI investigation of an alleged cover-up is news. The snobs and sycophants in the White House press corps might be predisposed to ignore or dismiss this story but — believe it or not — there are still a handful of real old-fashioned reporters in America who get excited at the prospect of scoring an exclusive, and who don’t give a damn what the political consequences are.

Not every reporter in America is part of the Washington press elite. But if some reporter at Sacramento Bee aspires to join that elite, what better way than to dig in on this Walpin/St. HOPE/Kevin Johnson/AmeriCorps story and try to turn it into an award-winning investigative series?

It doesn’t matter what the political angle is. The hotshot California reporter who scores scoop after scoop on a story of national consquence can build a stack of clippings demonstrating his investigative chops, get some of his stories linked by Drudge and cited by other news organizations and, next thing you know, somebody’s paying his round-trip plane fare to Washington or New York to interview for a big new job.

Upward mobility in a declining industry? Kinda cool.

There’s another angle to think about, however. Beyond the Walpin/AmeriCorps story, TARP special IG Neil Barofsky has got himself in a tangle with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and notice who’s paying attention to that story. The Obama aura is powerful, but it offers very limited coverage to the ungainly Geithner.

The Geithner/Barofsky feud is going to be covered by lots of New York-based financial reporters who don’t give a damn about the Beltway elite. The Wall Street Journal, Investors Business Daily, Bloomberg News — reporters for outfits like that usually have an indifference to the attitudes of the politics crowd. Indeed, you’ll occasionally find a financial reporter who thinks capitalism is OK. Just to cite one example, investigative journalist Matthew Vadum first came to D.C. as a financial reporter.

And there’s still the factor of good old-fashioned competition in the press. The editors of the Washington Post aren’t going to sit still and twiddle their thumbs if the Examiner, the Politico and the Washington Times start scoring a string of scoops on this story. And the same is true of the TV networks. Check out this Thursday exchange between ABC’s Jake Tapper and WH press secretary Robert Gibbs:

TAPPER: Earlier this year the special inspector general for TARP Neil Barofsky tried to get documents relating to AIG. The Treasury Department rebuffed that request, and although ultimately I think they did turn over the documents, the Treasury Department sought a ruling from the Justice Department on just how independent Neil Barofsky’s office is supposed to be. Please explain from the administration’s perspective what exactly is going on here and why it appears as though the Treasury Department is pushing back against an independent inspector general.
GIBBS: Well, obviously, Jake, the president believes that inspectors general fulfill a unique and important role in ensuring that programs operate with efficiency. No attorney-client privilege on any of this stuff has been invoked. No documents sought have been or are being withheld. The DOJ review is not related to any particular investigation. It is sorting out legal issues relating to the creation of the office.
TAPPER: Right. But could you explain — could you actually answer my question? I understand the talking points you’ve been given, but . . .

Read the rest of that, and think of how some other reporters in the White House press corps must have been high-fiving Tapper afterwards. (Honestly, not all of them are completely in the tank with Chris Matthews’ leg-thrilling affection for O.)

As with the charmless Geithner, the media’s love for Obama won’t suffice to protect every member of his administration. Norm Eisen has no unicorns-and-rainbows mystique of Hope, and just wait until the D.C. press corps starts sniffing around the unexpected resignation of the AmTrak inspector general. (Gee, what gaffe-prone politician considers AmTrak his personal pet program?)

The fundamental problem the IG investigation presents to the Obama administration is the contradiction to its oft-declared commitment to transparency, as Jimmie Bise Jr. observes at the American Issues Project:

It could very well be that this small scandal becomes the lead domino that begins a chain reaction that could spell unmitigated disaster for the Obama administration. Regardless, the Inspector General firings and the Treasury Department’s unwillingness to cooperate with IG Barofsky are another sign that when they administration claimed to be in favor of greater accountability, it was only blowing smoke.

Despite all the headlines to date, IG-Gate has yet to break through to the status of a major scandal, mostly because the potentially revolutionary developments in Iran have captivated public attention. Yet when the chaos in Iran subsides, the investigations of the IG firings will keep going and, as Jimmie says at Sundries Shack, it looks like this scandal is growing legs. More dominoes may be falling soon . . .

(Thanks to the Blogosphere’s Photoshop Queen, Carol at No Sheeples Here, for the artwork.)

UPDATE: Transparency? We don’t need no stinkin’ transparency!

As a senator, Barack Obama denounced the Bush administration for holding “secret energy meetings” with oil executives at the White House. But last week public-interest groups were dismayed when his own administration rejected a Freedom of Information Act request for Secret Service logs showing the identities of coal executives who had visited the White House to discuss Obama’s “clean coal” policies. One reason: the disclosure of such records might impinge on privileged “presidential communications.” The refusal, approved by White House counsel Greg Craig’s office, is the latest in a series of cases in which Obama officials have opted against public disclosure. . . .
After Obama’s much-publicized Jan. 21 “transparency” memo, administration lawyers crafted a key directive implementing the new policy that contained a major loophole, according to FOIA experts. The directive, signed by Attorney General Eric Holder, instructed federal agencies to adopt a “presumption” of disclosure for FOIA requests. . . . But in a little-noticed passage, the Holder memo also said the new standard applies “if practicable” for cases involving “pending litigation.” . . .

Read the whole thing. Obviously, Michael Isikoff’s legs aren’t tingling. BTW, one of the reasons I’m compiling this round-up is for the benefit of another one of my sources, who has a background in federal law enforcement and knows a thing or two about investigations.

UPDATE II: Little Miss Attila:

I think this is very simple: 1) on a national stage, one cannot fire whistle-blowers willy-nilly. Even lefties don’t like that, because everyone understands what that does to the system: when burglars are encouraged to feed poisoned dog food to the Dobermans that guard the shop, Bad Things are likely to happen.

So far, however, it’s like looking for investigative reporting in the Jonas Brothers fan-club newsletter.

UPDATE III: Red State‘s Moe Lane:

I suggest that any journalist reading this and thinking about pursuing it further might want to start by examining this odd story from last year involving a supposedly fake letter coming from Amtrak Superintendent Joe Deely. Not to mention this OSHA release on a whistleblower . . . Not that Weiderhold is directly linked to either case, but these seem to be to be the most controversial cases recently involving internal problems requiring the attention of an Inspector General.

Read the rest.

UPDATE IV: The Washington Times:

On the very same day that the president fired Mr. Walpin, St. Hope’s executive director, Rick Maya, left his job at St. Hope. He did not go quietly. His resignation letter charged Mr. Johnson and several St. Hope board members with numerous ethical violations. Most explosively, he charged that a board member improperly deleted e-mails of Mr. Johnson’s that already were under a federal subpoena. . . .
On Wednesday, the Sacramento Bee reported that Mr. Maya’s allegations have been deemed serious enough that the FBI is investigating potential obstruction of justice at St. Hope. In that light, the firing of Mr. Walpin, who properly blew the whistle on mismanagement and possible corruption, looks ill-considered. . . .

Read the rest. Strange — the phrase “second-rate burglary” just came to mind, like a 1972 acid flashback . . .

UPDATE V: Ed Driscoll sees Obama doing a reverse-Clausewitz — politics as warfare — while Glenn Reynolds inexplicably links the Hartford Courant, but quotes a commentary by Salena Zito of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, making excuses for the fan-club-newsletter press corps:

The press could help keep things honest but has fewer resources and readers . . .

Whine, whine, whine. Look, lady: How hard could it be for reporters from the Tribune to ask Arlen Specter or Bart Sestak to comment on the IG firings? Hey, I’ve got an idea, Ms. Zito: How about you pick up the freaking phone call them for a comment?

Why is it nowadays, whenever editors hire somebody to write op-ed columns, it’s never anybody who knows how to pick up a telephone? And then the lazy can’t-use-a-phone op-ed idiots wonder why they have fewer readers . . .

UPDATE VI: Pundit & Pundette links with some thoughts on Obama’s Chicago Way. Meanwhile, at 1:30 a.m. Monday, I’ve just made an executive decision to go down to Capitol Hill again today and talk to more sources.

There is no substitute for old-fashioned shoe leather. Just show up unannounced and buttonhole your source. It’s an infallible method. Make a nuisance of yourself until they figure out that they need to start calling you, or else you’ll be back again bugging them tomorrow.

PREVIOUSLY: