From the midweek Morning Jolt:
The Obama Era of Unresolved Scandals and Outrages
We’re in the era of “The Unresolved.”
Remember Fast & Furious? The first of many embarrassing scandals, one that put American guns in the hands of drug cartels, used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent and numerous innocent people — 211 deaths and injuries in Mexico. Was there ever any sign that anyone in the administration or our government as a whole learned anything, or went about their jobs any differently, from that?
Probably not. “The Committees and the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General found that ATF employees in Phoenix and Washington bore responsibility for the conduct of Operation Fast and Furious and that the Justice Department failed to adequately supervise ATF’s conduct of the case. It remains unclear, however, whether and to what extent additional disciplinary actions were taken,” wrote Senator Chuck Grassley and Representative Jason Chaffetz to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, in a letter in April of this year. Brian Terry was killed in December 2010. It’s been four and a half years, and the U.S. Senate still doesn’t know who was punished and how.
Remember Healthcare.gov? The president goes out, tells the American public the site is working at the precise moment it is thoroughly dysfunctional. The inspector general later confirms the obvious: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services “did not perform thorough reviews of contractor past performance when awarding two key contracts.” The contractor, of course, was CGI Federal.
Here’s CGI Federal, getting a 10-year, multi-billion contract from the General Services Administration in July 2014. Here’s CGI Federal, getting half of a $2.5 billion contract from the U.S. Navy in January of this year.
Remember the Syrian red line? It’s broken again.
International inspectors have found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared to the global chemical weapons watchdog, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
Samples taken by experts from the Organisation for the Prohibition and Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in December and January tested positive for chemical precursors needed to make the toxic agents, the sources told Reuters on the condition of anonymity because the information is confidential.
“This is a pretty strong indication they have been lying about what they did with sarin,” one diplomatic source said. “They have so far been unable to give a satisfactory explanation about this finding.”
Remember the VA scandal? Remember how outraged everyone was, and how adamant President Obama and the new VA secretary were to get to the bottom of it and hold everyone accountable? Well, now we know:
Then in February, the new secretary, Robert A. McDonald, asserted in a nationally televised interview that the department had fired 60 people involved in manipulating wait times to make it appear that veterans were receiving care faster than they were. In fact, the department quickly clarified after that interview, only 14 people had been removed from their jobs, while about 60 others had received lesser punishments.
Now, new internal documents show that the real number of people removed from their jobs is much smaller still: at most, three.
The documents given this month to the House Committee on Veterans Affairs, which provided them to The New York Times, show that the department punished a total of eight of its 280,000 employees for involvement in the scandal. One was fired, one retired in lieu of termination, one’s termination is pending, and five were reprimanded or suspended for up to two months.
Remember Benghazi? No one at the State Department was ever fired for making the decision to turn down Ambassador Chris Stevens’s requests for additional security. Because four employees were put on paid leave, as Darrell Issa put it, the administration’s review “ends in a game of musical chairs where no one misses a single day on the State Department payroll.”
We don’t get resolutions anymore. Really terrible things happen, people get outraged — often entirely justifiably — pledges of full investigations are made, partisan defenses get deployed, it gets chewed over for a news cycle or two . . . and then it gets replaced by some other outrage. If the axe ever falls, it falls on those darned rogue low-level employees in Cincinnati.