Friday, September 27, 2013

Senate Questions IG Report on Secret Service Prostitution Scandal

President's men: Barack Obama with Secret Service agents. reports --"It was a story that made international headlines: 13 Secret Service agents hired prostitutes on a booze-filled night during a presidential trip to Cartagena, Colombia. The incident, which took place in April, 2012, prompted an internal investigation. Recent allegations, though, suggest that the inspector general (IG) in charge intentionally withheld information from his public report and delayed the release of his findings until after the 2012 election.

According to an article published in The Washington Times, a Senate panel including Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) initiated the probe after they received complaints from whistleblowers. Reportedly, Charles Edwards, the acting IG at the Department of Homeland Security, was “susceptible to political pressure” during his investigation from John Sandweg, the former general counsel for the Homeland Security Secretary.

In a letter to Edwards dated June 27, 2013, Senators McCaskill and Johnson write that they “have been alerted by numerous whistleblowers to allegations of misconduct and abuse.” The accusations include that he “shared confidential whistleblower information with agency officials” and “used administrative leave to penalize employees who questioned or brought attention to [his] actions and instructions.” Edwards, in response, denies any wrongdoing and says the probe may get in the way of his job.

In The Washington Times article, James Carafano, senior defense and homeland security fellow with the Heritage Foundation, says an even larger concern raised by this case is the degree to which inspector generals may be susceptible to political pressure.

Part of our system of liberty is creating mechanisms to sort out wrongdoing. This is the canary in the mine shaft, and if investigators become politically susceptible, the system is failing. It's like judges making up their own laws.

POGO also reported on the concerning number of IG vacancies in its report, Where Are All the Watchdogs? The page points out that many important IG positions– like Edwards’–are held by acting or interim officers who may lack independence and effectiveness."

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