Archive for ‘Sen. Chuck Grassley’

August 8, 2009

Lieberman, Collins, Grassley express ‘serious concern’ about ITC’s IG

Scored a minor scoop today from Capitol Hill:

Three senators, including Homeland Security Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, have sent a letter to Shara L. Aranoff, chairwoman of the International Trade Commission, expressing “serious concerns” about the contractual terms under which the ITC’s inspector general is hired.
The letter, signed by Lieberman, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — the committee’s ranking Republican — and Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), complained of the ITC’s unusual practice of hiring the agency’s IG under a six-month contract, which the senators suggest may undermine the watchdog’s independence.

Read the whole thing. What is significant is that this is the first evidence that Lieberman’s committee is willing to cooperate with Grassley, who has been bulldogging IG-Gate for nearly two months.

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July 22, 2009

‘Transparency’ Looks a Lot Like Hell

At least for George Madison, nominated by President Obama to be general counsel for the Department of the Treasury, which means a hearing tomorrow morning with the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has a few questions for the luckless bastard . . .

July 22, 2009

Rule 3 on IG-Gate (Plus, Notes forNewbies on Aggregation Method)

There’s a Memeorandum thread this morning linking the Hot Air IG-Gate Update, which got Instalanched. and is also linked by Frugal Cafe. Note that the Memeorandum thread also includes Joe Weber’s Washington Times interview with fired AmeriCorps IG Gerald Walpin:

“For a second I was thinking, ‘Why do I need all of this?’ I’ll just resign and go back to my good legal practice in New York,” Gerald Walpin told The Washington Times’ “America’s Morning News” radio show Tuesday.
“But I would then be part of the apparatus that is totally torpedoing the inspectors general,” Mr. Walpin said. “The watchdog would not really be a watchdog. He’d just be afraid of his shadow.” . . .

That’s new stuff, see? It was linked together with the IG-Gate Update in a post at Right Wing News. If several different blogs aggregate that stuff together, it creates sort of a center of gravity in the ‘sphere that is picked up by the Memeorandum algorithm.

And the Right Wing News post also includes today’s Washington Post story about Neil Barofsky — SIGTARP, special inspector general for the TARP bailout — who raised hell on Capitol Hill yesterday. As of 7 a.m., that story was not included in the Memeorandum thread, but given that Sen. Chuck Grassley has been defending Barofsky’s office against Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, (see Grassley’s June 17 letter to Geithner in PDF) it’s very much part of the same story.

Building up a Memeorandum thread, with everybody commenting on the same news stories and cross-linking, is what Rule 3 is about. Newbies should always hat-tip Memeorandum when they do this. Even if the increase in your traffic is not immediately significant, every time somebody links your blog, it boosts your Technorati ranking — you did remember to install Technorati, right? — and, eventually, you’ll be showing up on Memeorandum’s radar.

Think of it this way: When one dog in the neighborhood starts barking, they all start barking. That’s why Jimmie Bise dubbed us The Million Hit Squad.

If you need more background on the IG-Gate story, try the Mother of All Updates.

UPDATE: Yet more juicy SIGTARP goodness:

Barofsky testified that taxpayers aren’t being told what most TARP recipients are doing with their money or what their investments are worth and may never be told exactly how their taxpayer dollars are being used.
At a Government Oversight and Reform Committee hearing, one lawmaker compared Treasury to convicted Ponzi scheme artist Bernie Madoff, accused Treasury of trying to undermine Barofsky’s independence and threatened to haul Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner before the panel if he didn’t adopt the IG’s recommendations.
“For us to get past this economic situation that we find ourselves in, the public has to believe that we’re doing the right thing,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.). “If we can’t show them that we are doing the right thing with their money, we’re going to have problems.” (Emphasis added.)

When Democrats start talking like that, you know it spells trouble for Geithner.

UPDATE II: Text of closing statement by Chairman Towns:

Earnings at the largest banks and the bank holding companies such as JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs are up, yet lending remains down. It is unacceptable that profits go up, while lending goes down. The taxpayers have invested very large amounts of money in these banks, but what have we gotten in return? It remains unclear.
The taxpayers deserve to know how their tax dollars are being spent.
The Treasury Department needs to publish full and detailed information on the use of TARP funds and publish the value of the TARP portfolio on a monthly basis. They have that information and they should make it public.
Moreover, Treasury also requires the largest banks to file monthly reports showing the dollar value of their new lending. That should be made public also.
If Treasury doesn’t put this information up on its website, this Committee will. And if Treasury doesn’t turn over this information voluntarily, Secretary Geithner will be brought before the Committee to explain.
What we have heard today convinces me that one of the best things Congress did when it created the TARP was to also create the Special Inspector General to oversee TARP spending. I can now understand why the Treasury Department would like to rein in the SIGTARP. But we are not going to let that happen.

Heh.

UPDATE III: Just got off the phone with a source on Capitol Hill who tells me yesterday’s Hot Air IG-Gate Update is a big hit with Republicans. Speaking of Republicans, here’s Rep. Darrell Issa:

The Special Inspector General of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP) Neil Barofsky testified today at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the Treasury Department has “repeatedly failed” to implement SIGTARP recommendations that would reveal how Treasury is using taxpayer dollars. At the conclusion of the hearing, Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) asked Chairman Towns to bring Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner before the Committee to address the questions raised by SIGTARP’s report. . . .
“We heard today that full transparency, which we called for, the President asked for and this Administration promised, is being blocked by the bureaucracy which often says ‘just trust and we will deliver,’” Issa said. “Until we have full transparency, we will never be able to know how much risk Treasury is assuming on behalf of the taxpayers. This Administration promised an ‘unprecedented’ level of accountability and transparency. They set their own standard. Now we’re going to hold them to it.”

Click here for Issa’s statement.
Click here for Neil Barofsky’s testimony.
Click here for a copy of the SIGTARP Report.

July 22, 2009

The Mother of All IG-Gate Updates

On the Internet, stuff gets scattered around so that you never see it all in one place. Today’s IG-Gate Update at the Hot Air Green Room pushes the story forward:

Behind closed doors on Capitol Hill last week, I asked a Republican source about the investigative efforts of Democratic staffers for the House Oversight Committee.
“Honestly?” the source said. “They’re useless.”
More than three weeks have passed since Oversight Committee Chairman Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.) joined the committee’s ranking Republican, California Rep. Darrell Issa, to launch an investigation into the case of former Amtrak inspector general Fred Wiederhold Jr. . . .
Despite the “grave concerns” expressed by Towns and Issa three weeks ago, however, Republican sources on Capitol Hill have complained that Democratic staffers on the Oversight Committee have not shown much zeal for the investigation. Sources say Democratic staffers have skipped meetings and conference calls to which they were invited by GOP investigators, who are attempting to work with Grassley’s staff in order to prevent unnecessary duplication of efforts. Sharing documents and scheduling interviews with witnesses, allowing Republican and Democratic investigators from both chambers an opportunity to question these witnesses, is a demanding logistical task. And GOP staffers complain that this task seems to be lacking in terms of bipartisanship. . . .

Read the whole thing, because toward the end, I make this point:

This is a huge story, involving multiple investigations, and 1,200 words here don’t even begin to summarize the 1,400 words there [at The American Spectator on Monday], to say nothing of the 400 words I did last night about the SIGTARP report.

Like I said, read the whole thing, and follow the links, because this is one big sprawling mother of a story. The best I can do in any single chunk is to bring in new facts, new quotes, new angles, and link to as much other the other stuff as possible. (That Green Room article includes more than 25 links, including the link to the Spectator article, which has more than a dozen links.)

If you’ll go to Bob Belvedere’s WWU-AM and scroll down, he’s got a huge IG-Gate link dump with my reporting, Byron York’s reporting, columns by Michelle Malkin, reports from ABC News, the Washington Post, etc. There’s a lot of stuff out there, in other words, and you need to see it all if you want to try to understand this thing.

“Try,” I say, because I don’t even claim to understand it all yet. My sources talk about things and sometimes I can tell they’re trying to drop me a hint of something they want me to write about, e.g., “Who Is Eleanor Acheson?” It’s important to ask the right questions, as one of my sources said.

On the one hand, there is the temptation to focus on one aspect of the story — the Washington Times keeps calling this “WalpinGate,” which is too narrow — but on the other hand, you’ve got to be careful not to waste time playing “connect-the-dots” with things that might not really be connected. Yes, there’s a pattern, but that doesn’t mean there’s a conspiracy.

Still, as I predicted on June 18 — right after Michelle Malkin’s first column on the Walpin case slapped me upside the head — this story isn’t going away anytime soon. June 18 was the same day IG Fred Wiederhold delivered his report to the Amtrak board and suddenly retired, and also the same day Chuck Grassley made public his letter about the International Trade Commission IG, Judith Gwynne.

So barely a week after Walpin got his June 10 quit-or-be-fired ultimatum from White House lawyer Norm Eisen, there were two other IG cases. Then we have the case of the watchdog who’s still hanging tough, SIGTARP, Neil Barofsky. The bailout watchdog showed yesterday how much trouble he can cause, and it’s therefore no mystery why Treasury’s giving Barofsky a hard time. (My money’s still on Barofsky as the IG most likely to get a Cabinet secretary sent to federal prison.)

IG-Gate is a big mother, you see. Because I’m on deadline for a print magazine article, there’s no time for me to do a complete aggregation now, but here are the major IG-Gate articles I’ve done so far:

Each of those items is chock-full of links to other items. As you can see, just six weeks into this story, there’s a lot of stuff out there — and, no doubt, a lot more to come. Just keep hitting the tip jar.

One of these days, I plan to hit the American Spectator with the mother of all expense reimbursement requests — “$800 for fireworks?” “Promotional activity. Perfectly legitimate, Al.” — but in the meantime, Daddy needs a new pair of shoes.

UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Just in case you’re wondering why Professor Reynolds loves this story so much, I once again remind you to read the whole thing. The professor’s drooling at the prospect of The Mother of All Chris Dodd Updates.

Meanwhile, be sure to check out the IG-Gate Rule 3 memo, which offers more tasty watchdog morsels.

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.

June 26, 2009

News cycle and IG-Gate

Trying to keep up with a multi-front investigation is difficult and, while chasing yesterday’s IG story and then following up with Grassley’s document release, I overlooked a few relevant items:

I’m sure I’ve missed some important items, but this is a big story that’s growing bigger, and it’s getting very hard to compile a comprehensive daily round-up. Bob Belvedere may have the best compilation of IG-Gate information.

One of the breaks I’ve caught in the past week is that many top D.C. journalists are already on vacation and won’t return until after July 4. Also, the Iran controversy, the White House press conference Tuesday, the cap-and-trade push, and the Mark Sanford confession Wednesday seem to have distracted lots of the Washington press corps. So I scored an exclusive Thursday night while everybody else missed it. Heh.

Hit the tip jar, please.

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 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:

June 19, 2009

IG Investigation: ‘Dominoes Fall’

From my exclusive report for Pajamas Media:

Describing the probe into the dismissal of the AmeriCorps inspector general, one Capitol Hill source on Thursday compared Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley’s demand for facts in the case to a row of dominoes ready to tip over.
Grassley is asking questions, a team of Senate investigators is poring over documents in the case, and where the investigation proceeds now “depends on what dominoes fall next,” explained the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. . . .
Beyond the legal and political ramifications, Republicans in Washington acknowledge that the potential scandal could aid their policy battle against the effort by the White House and congressional Democrats to push sweeping new proposals on health care, energy and financial regulation.
In background discussions Thursday, several GOP strategists spoke of the contrast between Democrats’ effort to impose new government “reforms” while, at the same time, the Obama administration appears to be muzzling inspectors generals, who are tasked with providing independent oversight to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in federal agencies. . . .
Grassley’s team on the IG probe is led by Charles Murphy, a veteran Capitol Hill investigator. Both Grassley and Murphy were unavailable for comment Thursday, but sources with knowledge of the investigation expressed confidence in the meticulous research of Murphy’s team. . . .

There’s lots more, so read the whole thing at Pajamas Media, and watch for updates at NTCNews.com.

UPDATE: As I said yesterday, a potentially big scandal like this has an innate appeal to journalists:

Every political reporter in Washington is sniffing around this story now, and I just got off the phone with Matthew Vadum, who’s catching the Acela train to New York for a 5 p.m. live appearance on “The Glenn Beck Show.”

Before we got off the phone, the last thing I said to Matthew was, “Drop my name, dude.”

UPDATE II: Welcome, Instapundit readers! Updated news and commentary on IG-Gate at NTCNews.com. Now, if only Vadum can remember to look for an opportunity to tell Beck, “Well, as Stacy McCain reported today . . .”

Probably not, though. Never mind. We’ve got our own cartoon, which ought to be enough . . .

UPDATE III: Verrry interesting! Eric Rasmusen points out how TARP money seems to buy Obama loyalty even from Republicans.

June 18, 2009

BREAKING: Grassley Expands IGInvestigation; More Firings Probed; UPDATE: Targeting AIG Bailout?

CHICAGO TRIBUNE has the story and WASHINGTON TIMES breaks more news. Dan Riehl, Quin Hillyer, Ed Morrissey blogging, Memeorandum, plus much more at NTCNews.com.

Dang, I may not have to go to Sacramento . . .

UPDATE: Greg Pollowitz at NRO:

[L]ooks like A.I.G. could be the target here . . . . it was Democrats who were demanding that Barofsky look into A.I.G.’s bailout.

Breaking faster than hell . . .