Misguided Monica and Inspector Bowen take their hits.
In an all-too-predictable twist, the Repubs have belatedly joined the Dems in launching investigations into government malfeasance. This is not entirely an unknown tactic among those caught with their pants down, a sort of "we'll get to the bottom of this" bluster implying that the rest of us don't need to. Remember all the hoopla over Mark Foley and protecting Congressional pages? Or the response of the hierarchy of the Catholic church when confronted with evidence of pedophile priests? We're shocked and outraged, now leave us alone. More, of course.
So no surprise that the Justice Department is now turning on its own. Former top aide to Amnesiac General Gonzales, Monica Goodling, she who took the 5th before being asked a single question, is now under investigation not only by Patrick Leahy and the Dem-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee, but by her own former department.
According to yesterday's NYTimes, the Justice Department's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility has announced that they're looking into whether or not Ms. Scapegoat Goodling filled vacancies at the department with Republicans loyal to the Bush administration, "potentially a violation of civil service laws and a break with a tradition of non-partisianship in the career ranks at the Justice Department". Ya think?
Ms. Goodling, a devout evangelical and graduate of Pat Robertson's 4th tier law school (whose stated mission is to get Christians into government) must be having some interesting conversations with her savior these days. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, over at the House Government Reform Committee, ranking Republican Congressman Thomas Davis has launched an inquiry into Stewart Bowen Jr. who runs the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction. You may recall that Mr. Bowen has been the occasional voice of sanity in the Iraq-asylum with his reports of fraud, over-spending, and financial mismanagement. According to today's NYTimes, Mr. Bowen, "a Republican himself, has come to be seen as a serious political liability by his own party." So much so that a few months ago a termination clause to eliminate his job was tucked into a huge military appropriations bill by another Republican Congressman's staff. That provision was quickly reversed by a bi-partisan group of lawmakers.
Now, it gets better. It seems these gubmint-shrinking Repubs, with their astonishing gift for irony, created a President's Council on Integrity and Excellence (would he know it if he saw it?) to oversee the inspectors general at federal agencies. Overseers of the overseers.
The council is chaired by Clay Johnson III, deputy budget director and friend of little George since they were classmates in prep school. Johnson keeps a Bush action figure doll on his desk, he's that sort of friend. It is the Council Johnson chairs that brought complaints about Inspector Bowen to Congressman Davis' committee. But rest assured, press secretary Tony Snow told reporters yesterday that "The White House has no role in this, zero."
Thanks to that burst of light in the darkness, the elections of 2006, Rep. Henry Waxman, tenacious bulldog, now chairs the Government Reform Committee. A spokesman for Waxman has said the committee will determine quickly whether the allegations against Bowen are credible. "What is clear," the spokesman said, "is that he has done a superb job uncovering waste, fraud and abuse in Iraq."
What is also clear is that this reeks of retribution.