In 1978 Congress passed the Inspector General Act as means to combat problems of “waste, fraud and abuse within designated federal departments and agencies.” President Jimmy Carter hailed the Inspector General system as “the most important new tool in the fight against fraud” and pointed out that “their ultimate responsibility is not to any individual, but to the public interest.”
The Act created the Office of Inspector General as an independent watchdog within the executive branch, tasked with rooting out any sort of misuse, abuse or corruption of federal power, whether internal to an agency or in its public interactions. To ensure this investigative agency could function effectively, the law provided the IG’s internal investigators with prompt, unfettered access to any information, materials or personnel that the IG deemed relevant to its investigation.
Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz stated that IG investigators never had a problem gaining access to requested materials, until 2010 when the IG began to probe the FBI. The IG’s investigation centered around the so-called Fast and Furious operation, a botched plan for the ATF and FBI to sell over 2,000 automatic and semi-automatic firearms to “straw purchasers” in order track the guns bakc to Mexican drug cartel leaders and arrest them on weapons charges.
For all of the firearms funneled to the most lawless violent criminal elements perhaps on this continent, the operation produced not a single arrest of any cartel leader and only about 700 of the more than 2000 supposedly-traced guns were ever recovered. Some of the weapons were eventually identified at crime scenes involving the murder or maiming of at least 150 Mexican citizens, as well as the killing of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
When the IG requested materials from the FBI in its investigation of this deadly federal debacle, Attorney General Eric Holder refused to release the documents in the case, obstructing a full and proper investigation by the IG. Holder was so committed to keeping the dirty secrets behind this Obama-blessed travesty that he became the first sitting member of a presidential cabinet to be held in contempt by Congress, over his stonewalling in the matter.
At Holder’s request, President Obama invoked executive privilege for the first time in his presidency in order to withhold the documents that would reveal the truth about the administration’s ill-conceived, sloppily-executed gun smuggling operation. Not content to merely block the Fast and Furious inquiry, Holder proceeded to interpret the 1978 IG Act in a manner that gave the DOJ authority in any investigation to withhold evidence, at their discretion.
Inspector General Horowitz commented, “No law changed, no policy changed…it was simply a decision by the FBI’s General Counsel’s Office that they now viewed the law differently, and as a result, they weren’t going to give us certain information.”
The result of all this is two-fold. First, an IG investigation must now request, and be granted, the approval of a cabinet member, i.e. the secretary of the department being investigated, in order to access any relevant documents or evidence. Second, documents and evidence that may be material to any IG investigation are, nevertheless, subject to being withheld from investigators.
In short, Holder’s interpretation of the 1978 law effectively nullifies it, insofar as the IG’s ability to probe an agency for wrongdoing, should that agency decide it does not want to cooperate or, worse, intends to cover up malfeasance or other issues that the agency is not addressing of its own accord. Holder’s trickery severely limits the oversight capabilities, independence and power of the Inspectors General to uncover and report on wrongdoing by federal agencies.
Principal Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel Karl R Thompson devised the legal opinion that empowered Holder with the ability to rewrite or reinterpret the 1978 IG Act. The fact that President Obama supported this outrageous move to control the IG’s power and authority suggest that there is more to this than meets the eye. Why would Obama choose to weaken the power of the IG office? The answer is that Obama must have something to hide and he doesn’t want the IG to investigate with full authority.
The earlier Fast and Furious cover-up foreshadows what that something is, and it involves the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). This law establishes procedures for physical and electronic surveillance of individuals and entities, and the collection of “foreign intelligence information” between “foreign powers” and “agents of foreign powers suspected of espionage or terrorism.” Under Obama’s administration the FBI and the NSA committed rampant violations of procedures intended to safeguard American’s personal data and communications collected under Section 702 of FISA.
Obama and his administration broadened the data collected on Americans to include queries using United States person identifiers. Previously these types of searches were prohibited. A 2017 top secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) report showed that the NSA had an 85% noncompliance rate when it came to searches involving Americans.
Not only that, the House Intelligence Committee’s FISA memo outlined widespread abuse and anti-Trump bias throughout the FBI and the DOJ. If that weren’t bad enough it has come to light that Obama used the FBI and other intelligence agencies to spy on a half a dozen Trump associates during the 2016 election campaign using the FISA warrant. The justification for this warrant was the unverified “Steele dossier.”
In 2016, Obama officials searched through intelligence on U.S. citizens a record 30,000 times, up from 9,500 in 2013. Far from Obama’s promise of a more transparent administration, his tenure in office brought surveillance to new heights and brazenly trashed American’s 4th amendment rights.
The evidence of conspiracy to undermine Trump’s presidency is, according to National Security Analyst Col. Jim Waurishuk “mind boggling.” In a blistering account Waurishuk states that “intelligence information was extracted, passed along to those outside government, repackaged, and reconstituted into the so-called Steele Dossier. The finished product, albeit sketchy intelligence, was later returned to the FBI in order to ‘in reality’ illegally request lawful FISA court surveillance authority. In intelligence jargon this is a criminal act to the highest degree.”
Waurishuk continued: “…the DOJ (National Security Division), and FBI (Counterintelligence Division), work together on this, not only as an effort, but an enterprise. This collaboration is where the insider “small group” participants assemble, intersected, corroborated, and ultimately interjected and redistributed themselves into the Mueller investigation with the help of Mueller’s adviser, FBI Chief Legal Counsel James Baker.”
“On the DOJ side at the time were Assistant Attorney General Sally Yates, Assistant AG Head of National Security Division John P Carlin, Deputy Attorney Bruce Ohr and legal liaison between Main Justice and FBI, Attorney Lisa Page, were deeply involved — this being a degree of corruption at the highest level, perhaps never seen before.”
“Likewise, on the FBI side, FBI Director Jim Comey; Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe; Director of Counterintelligence W.H. Bill Priestap; FBI Chief Legal Counsel James Baker; and lead FBI Counterintelligence Agent Peter Strzok.” “Fusion GPS and co-founder Glenn Simpson; also the wife of Mr. Simpson, Mary B. Jacoby; hired private contractor familiar with CIA operations, Nellie Ohr, also wife of DOJ team insider Bruce Ohr; contracted former British MI6 Agent and head of what is known as “Russia House,” Christopher Steele, who is also attributed to as the author of the fake Trump or Russian ‘Dossier.’”
The FISA court called it a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue” that NSA analysts — in violation of a 2011 rule change prohibiting officials from searching Americans’ information without a warrant — “had been conducting such queries in violation of that prohibition, with much greater frequency than had been previously disclosed to the Court.”
Now we also see that the Obama administration’s neutering of a cricitical anti-corruption law, the 1978 IG Act, had more consequence than facilitating the cover-up of the Fast and Furious scandal, but has also been used to cover-up serious political and national security crimes targeting a presidential candidate and his campaign because they posed an existential threat to the Obama-Clinton political machine. These crimes are unparalleled in American history.