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FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

Did the White House interefere with more Inspectors General?

Once is happenstance.
Twice is coincidence.
Three times is enemy action.
– Ian Fleming, Goldfinger

Being an inquisitive sort, Dan Riehl went looking for other instances where the White House may have been interfering with the Inspectors General, and lo! – he found some.  Two more, both of which are involved executive branch officials allegedly interfering with investigations and one of which involved a sudden Walpin-like abrupt termination.

The second example (Gerald Walpin being, of course, the first) was Neil Barofsky, TARP IG, and while it’s the less immediately worrisome of the two newly-publicized incidents it’s also the more sensitive.  There aren’t many details on this available yet, but the dispute seems to be over how much oversight Treasury should have over the IGs assigned to monitor specific functions of the department – and how quickly and easily IGs should be given the documents that they need for their investigations.  The answer should be ‘almost none’ and ‘as quickly and easily as can be arranged’… at least, that’s my opinion.  More importantly, it’s also Senator Grassley’s.  Barofsky apparently hasn’t lost his job over this, though.  Yet.  The third firing was of Judith Gwynn (often noted as Judith Gwynne, which should tell you how well regular journalism is covering this story), and it’s… very interesting, as well.  She was an acting IG for the International Trade Commission (expect that to be brought up, usually with the table being pounded) who abruptly had her contract terminated right after Sen. Grassley”s letter inquiring about an alleged physical assault* on her by an ITC staffer (expect that to be ignored for as long as possible) went to the White House.

I’m waiting on more information from Senator Grassley’s office on these two additional cases, but in light of what we know so far – and this claim by the Washington Times that they have a witness who contradicts the official administration’s story on Walpin – well, I think that this is easily enough worrisome information to justify the appointment of an independent prosecutor.  Just to get to the bottom of it all – and, of course, if the White House did nothing wrong then none of its staffers have anything to fear.

Moe Lane

*The quote was “Grassley had become concerned about her independence because of a report earlier in the year that an agency employee forcibly took documents from the acting inspector general.”  How someone can take something from someone else’s possession by force without attacking, physically restraining, threatening, or menacing that person is left as an exercise for administration apologists.

Crossposted to Moe Lane.

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