(Australian crested pigeons, courtesy of BioCity. )
At first, I was just a political junkie. But now, I think I'm turning into an oversight junkie. After six years of doing whatever they wanted with no consequences, the Bush administration finally faces a reckoning. New investigations of BushCo. crimes appear almost as frequently as the crimes themselves did, and I am loving it. The past couple of days have been especially good, with a pair of investigations I was really happy about.
The first is Waxman's pursuit of the lax White House security revealed in his CIA Leak hearing. If you thought Knodell's testimony about the lack of an investigation of the leak was damning, check out Waxman's letter to Andy Card:
On March 16, 2007, the Oversight Committee held a hearing to examine the disclosure by White House officials of the covert status of CIA Officer Valerie Plame Wilson. At this hearing, the current Chief Security Officer at the White House, James Knodell, testified that the White House Security Office (1) did not conduct any internal investigation to identify the source of the leak, (2) did not initiate corrective actions to prevent future security breaches, and (3) did not consider administrative sanctions or reprimands for the officials involved. The failure of the White House to take these actions appears to be a violation of Executive Order 12958, which establishes minimum requirements for safeguarding classified information and responding to breaches.
Following the hearing, my staff heard from multiple current and former security officials who work or worked at the White House Security Office. These security officials described a systemic breakdown in security procedures at the White House. The statements of of these officials, if true, indicate that the security lapses that characterized the White House response to the leak of Ms. Wilson’s identity were not an isolated occurrence, but part of a pattern of disregard for the basic requirements for protecting our national security secrets.
The full letter has a lot more detail, but basically the White House Security Office:
1) Blew off security breaches reported by the Secret Service, including leaving ultra-mega-top-secret materials unattended in a hotel room.
2) Barred the Information Security Office from performing the security inspections (which it is authorized to do under Executive Order 12958).
3) Violated mandatory security protocols, and looked the other way when WH staff did the same.
In other words, the White House Security Office's title was about as meaningful as "Clear Skies," "Healthy Forests," or "Mission Accomplished." It's especially ironic for a White House so utterly obsessed with secrecy. But then, there's state secrets, and then there's political secrets… and political trumps state every day in the Bush White House.
Which brings me to Investigation Number 2:
Most of the time, an obscure federal investigative unit known as the Office of Special Counsel confines itself to monitoring the activities of relatively low-level government employees, stepping in with reprimands and other routine administrative actions for such offenses as discriminating against military personnel or engaging in prohibited political activities.
But the Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.
The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.
First, the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in Congress. Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading part.
In other words, the central theme of the investigation is the Bush administration's deliberate
blurring obliteration of the line between governance and politics. The paragraph I bolded is particularly significant, as the Bushies will not be able to squawk "partisan witch hunt!", and the investigation will be examining the entire elephant in the room, not just bits and pieces of it. On the other hand, it could be just another Republican ratfuck, but I can't really see Waxman being fooled or put off by a phony investigation. The media has a similar conflict, where they must balance their insitutional desire to whitewash Republican misdeeds against their need to retain a minimum level of credibility.
Late update from Think Progress: It looks like it was a complaint by David Iglesias that got the OSC ball rolling. Lots of other juicy stuff at that link, too.