Whose Side Is the IG On?

 

From reactions across the board, it seems the DOJ Inspector General Report on FBI Investigation of Hillary Clinton is a Rorschach test. We see what we want to see. How can that be? In part, columns by Andrew McCarthy and Mollie Hemingway explain our reactions. The reactions follow from the nature of the writing of the report and suggest we must look elsewhere for solutions.

Do you see this?

Or this?

See the source image

Or this?

Andrew McCarthy writes “The IG Report May Be Half-Baked…But who knows?

You’ve got to hand it to Michael Horowitz: The Justice Department inspector general’s much-anticipated report on the Clinton-emails investigation may be half-baked, but if it is, it is the most comprehensive, meticulously detailed, carefully documented, thoughtfully reasoned epic in the history of half-bakery.

[…]

For all his assiduous attention to detail, IG Horowitz has weaved a no-common-sense report.

But why would the IG do this, especially with such an intensely political subject? Mollie Hemingway explains in “11 Quick Things To Know About The Inspector General’s Report:”

The best way to understand an inspector general (IG) report is less as a fiercely independent investigation that seeks justice and more like what you’d expect from a company’s human resources department.

[…]

At the end of the day, the HR department wants what’s best for the company. The FBI’s IG Michael Horowitz has a good reputation for good reason. But his report is in support of the FBI and its policies and procedures. As such, the findings will be focused on helping the FBI improve its adherence to those policies and procedures. Those who expected demands for justice in the face of widespread evidence of political bias and poor judgment by immature agents and executives were people unfamiliar with the purpose of IG reports.

It is the nature of inspectors general (IG) to present findings in a particular style, and with an aim quite different from that of a prosecutor presenting a case. No, the IG is not on Team Trump or Team Resistance. IGs are in the business of protecting their institution against threats arising from insiders failing to follow regulations or procedures. There are strong biases, towards finding members need more training or resources, and away from finding malfeasance within the organization. Deliberate wrongdoing is the last answer, after all other explanations have been exhausted.

Seen in the most negative light, this sort of institutional bias, not driven by personalities, may be said to blind members of the organization. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, who is not a big Trump fan, calls Rod Rosenstein a cult hero.

More than any federal agency or department I’ve worked for, with, or against, the Justice Department resembles a cult. Its employees think they are special. They feel intense hostility towards the Department’s adversaries. They are fiercely loyal to the Department and compulsively committed to its ways of doing things. Outsiders are viewed with condescension and suspicion, if not contempt.

Obviously, many DOJ employees do not buy fully into the cult, but many do. Those who rise to the top tend to embrace it the most.

If this assessment is accurate, then America has a problem. The most powerful prosecutorial body, and the most powerful investigative body in the world, may be blind to any significant internal flaw. They may be prepared to use their power to push back on any deleterious claim. If so, then the answer is another Church Committee: “The United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities.” From Brookings.edu:

[T]he committee held a series of hearings and published 14 reports as it investigated the legality of intelligence operations by the CIA, NSA, and FBI, including attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, spying on Martin Luther King, Jr., and monitoring the political activities of other U.S. citizens.

The Church Committee reports, as well as a series of others since then, are available at the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. There is a history of Congress exercising its power over the entities it created and annually funds. The intelligence, justice, and government oversight committees have among them the full authority and proper clearances for any truly sensitive, as opposed to institutionally damaging, evidence.

The Framers of the Constitution acted in the shared belief that all men are fallible, and all human institutions imperfect. The system of mutual checks, baked into our basic law, stands as an ageless reminder that things can and likely will go wrong in parts of the government. The other parts are supposed to react and right the ship before the nation founders in a political storm.

I do not think special prosecutors, or other executive branch actors, are the right tool. The President and the Speaker of the House own this now. The President should order immediate, complete, unredacted compliance with the demands of the appropriate Congressional committees. The IG report, on top of House and Senate Chairmen’s multiple memoranda on agency obstruction, give President Trump all the cover and justification he needs.

The Speaker should be whipping contempt votes, not producing the kabuki theater of serial empty threats. The Republican House held the first black Attorney General in contempt. They refuse to do so with Rosenstein and Wray. Demand Congress do its duty, administering a correction to its creations.

Think of it like a high mileage service by your car mechanic: it will take more than a quick fluid check and tire rotation. Parts get worn with use, and need to be replaced or adjusted. That shimmy in the front end is not going away and is making the car unsafe to operate.

Demand Congress act, and then answer to the American people at the ballot box. Make every primary candidate and every incumbent answer now: contempt votes, yes or no? Public reports and proposed reform legislation before the midterm elections, yes or no? The administrative state is created by Congress and funded every year by Congress, so it is the leadership of Congress, and each of our members, who are responsible for what agencies are allowed to do or not do.

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  1. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Good Post Clifford.

    The problem is where to do we patriots go from here?

    This “comprehensive, meticulously detailed, carefully documented, thoughtfully reasoned epic in the history of half-bakery” is essentially a cover-up. Despite it meticulousness it doesn’t propose anything that comes close to solving the enormous problem of our incredibly criminally engaged Department of Justice , FBI  and CIA. What we are left with is a grossly unconstitutional gestapo like Police State apparatus that hates the American People.

    Of course we should have expected this. We had the criminals under investigation investigating themselves.  Of course they would find a way to exonerate their own behavior,  albeit with a few wrist slaps thrown in for credibility.

    Even as an inconsequential wrist slapping coverup, most of the news media is effectively blacking out any coverage of this half baked report to prevent anyone  of the millions of our  politically hypersensitive snowflakes on the left from having to deal with even a  hint of impropriety at these government agencies. All this is done to effectively dampen  down what should be a more than unbridled well deserved white hot rage at the behavior of our government to an ineffective limited protest.

    This is what a tech and marketing savvy  twentieth century  version of a Police State looks like. This problem is not about Trump or his antics or his policies. It is about how we are going to governed or more likely oppressed by our government from now on.

    Has the Deep State won? Are you going to allow the Deep State to effectively control every facet of our lives that even remotely resembles an opposition to their control? If we leave these crimes with no prosecution and no punishment deserving of their horrendous consequential effect, we have effectively granted control over our lives to the Deep State. The behavior exposed by this  scandal will become the norm, and boy will we pay.

    Any attempt to defend this anti-constitutional Police State crap should identify that person as a traitor not only to our Republic but to the entire human race and it’s inalienable rights.  There is no excuse to defend this criminal nonsense that threaten the very nature of our Republic and our rights.

    • #1
  2. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Clifford A. Brown:

    calls Rod Rosenstein a cult hero.

    More than any federal agency or department I’ve worked for, with, or against, the Justice Department resembles a cult. Its employees think they are special. They feel intense hostility towards the Department’s adversaries. They are fiercely loyal to the Department and compulsively committed to its ways of doing things. Outsiders are viewed with condescension and suspicion, if not contempt.

    Obviously, many DOJ employees do not buy fully into the cult, but many do. Those who rise to the top tend to embrace it the most.

    If this assessment is accurate, then America has a problem. The most powerful prosecutorial body, and the most powerful investigative body in the world, may be blind to any significant internal flaw.

    I’m entertaining the possibility that the ‘cult’ boundary is misidentified here. Maybe it should be targeted at the Attorney General. Jeff Sessions gives an impression of total personal commitment to the task of law enforcement in his experience as a U.S. Attorney, in the history of his being denied a federal judicial appointment, in his attaching himself to Donald Trump’s campaign leading to his nomination and confirmation as Attorney General, and, importantly, in his recusal and actions since assuming that post. Sessions has been very effective in insulating the Department of Justice, including the FBI and the Special Prosecutor, from Presidential and Congressional oversight.

    Sessions has the job he has always sought and enjoys not being bothered by anyone at all as he carries out his law enforcement responsibilities. The DoJ operates as a fourth branch of government.

    • #2
  3. WillowSpring Member
    WillowSpring
    @WillowSpring

    Good post.  The IG report is a farce that allows the response to be “more training”.

    Seems like the rule should be that the IG comes from outside the agency he or she is to monitor.

    • #3
  4. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Unsk (View Comment):

    Good Post Clifford.

    The problem is where to do we patriots go from here?

    This “comprehensive, meticulously detailed, carefully documented, thoughtfully reasoned epic in the history of half-bakery” is essentially a cover-up. Despite it meticulousness it doesn’t propose anything that comes close to solving the enormous problem of our incredibly criminally engaged Department of Justice , FBI and CIA. What we are left with is a grossly unconstitutional gestapo like Police State apparatus that hates the American People.

    Of course we should have expected this. We had the criminals under investigation investigating themselves. Of course they would find a way to exonerate their own behavior, albeit with a few wrist slaps thrown in for credibility.

    Even as an inconsequential wrist slapping coverup, most of the news media is effectively blacking out any coverage of this half baked report to prevent anyone of the millions of our politically hypersensitive snowflakes on the left from having to deal with even a hint of impropriety at these government agencies. All this is done to effectively dampen down what should be a more than unbridled well deserved white hot rage at the behavior of our government to an ineffective limited protest.

    This is what a tech and marketing savvy twentieth century version of a Police State looks like. This problem is not about Trump or his antics or his policies. It is about how we are going to governed or more likely oppressed by our government from now on.

    Has the Deep State won? Are you going to allow the Deep State to effectively control every facet of our lives that even remotely resembles an opposition to their control? If we leave these crimes with no prosecution and no punishment deserving of their horrendous consequential effect, we have effectively granted control over our lives to the Deep State. The behavior exposed by this scandal will become the norm, and boy will we pay.

    Any attempt to defend this anti-constitutional Police State crap should identify that person as a traitor not only to our Republic but to the entire human race and it’s inalienable rights. There is no excuse to defend this criminal nonsense that threaten the very nature of our Republic and our rights.

    Yes, and the real answer is for all of us to relentlessly squeeze our Congress critters. No excuses. No empty gestures. No blaming the leaders they allow to frustrate real action — contempt and impeachment proceedings. Every candidate in every primary should be pinned down on this, made to speak out against current leaders if current leaders fail to whip votes on contempt, at the least.

    • #4
  5. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    WillowSpring (View Comment):

    Good post. The IG report is a farce that allows the response to be “more training”.

    Seems like the rule should be that the IG comes from outside the agency he or she is to monitor.

    More than that, it is not where the IG came from, but generally the nature of inspectors general. If you want prosecution, get a prosecutor. If you want institutional reform, get a Congress that understands it is accountable to you, and that you do not accept kabuki theater “hearings,” or letters, or Fox News appearances. They held the first black AG in contempt. They refuse to do the same with Rosenstein and FBI leadership. 

    • #5
  6. Danny Alexander Member
    Danny Alexander
    @DannyAlexander

    There’s a difference between an institution’s *operating* in a cultic mode, and said institution’s *motivating* itself based on an ideology.

    The USMC operates in a cultic mode, but we are blessed inasmuch as the Corps motivates itself based on an ideology that maintains fidelity (SWIDT?) to the Constitutional Republic architected by the Framers.

    Additionally, this “DOJ seeing itself as a Fourth Branch” business would in a sense be (almost) tolerable *so long as* said Branch were institutionally in synch with the Framers’ arrangement of checks and balances and their worldview mandating the need for a limiting principle to everything in politics and government — evidently, however, the DOJ is not in such synch.

    The motivating ideology at work in the present-day DOJ strikes me, at least, as an amalgam of Progressivism and Frankfurt School; the State Department and the CIA (on the Analyst side) further strike me as variations on the same theme.  All told, I could be persuaded to label those in these three institutions as Deep State actors, inasmuch as they are ideological statists.

    On the other hand, going back to an echo of sorts of my USMC contrasting example, I would tend to characterize baser impulses over on the Pentagon/DoD side as stemming from careerism rather than any Deep State fealty in an ideological sense.  

    With all this said, I would favor obliteration of Departments/Agencies characterized by the sort of Progressivist-plus-Frankfurt-School-derived ideological motivation noted above, followed by an iterative-plus-incremental rebuild that consciously and constantly tests out the practical Constitutional compatibility of would-be successor institutions.  And this process should not fixate on assessing such Constitutional compatibility solely in terms of mechanisms and sinews of operations — “UAT/User Acceptance Testing” by the citizenry of the Republic should also be driven by the aspirations embodied in the Preamble.

    • #6
  7. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Danny Alexander (View Comment):

    The motivating ideology at work in the present-day DOJ strikes me, at least, as an amalgam of Progressivism and Frankfurt School; the State Department and the CIA (on the Analyst side) further strike me as variations on the same theme. All told, I could be persuaded to label those in these three institutions as Deep State actors, inasmuch as they are ideological statists.

    These are the elements of the federal structure most closely tied to federal criminal and foreign intelligence issues. They have the information-based weapons. They surely are accustomed to an outsized influence at the Presidential level and a non-Establishment POTUS poses a real threat. We are seeing first-hand how this works. I agree that these are the principal parts of the Deep (ideological) State. I think the Wall St financial influence operates mostly in the remaining parts of government, DoD is big, and does not have the same insidiously evil impact as what we are witnessing here, a difference described best as between those seeking raw power versus financial gain.

    • #7
  8. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    The Truth?  (“Whose side is the IG on?”)

    • #8
  9. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    I am not as harsh on the IG report as many.  The portions attributed to Hemingway in the O/P come closest to what we should expect, but IG’s operate with more independence and objectivity than corporate HR.  It is extremely important to parse what the IG said and did not say, and it’s my impression that, to an extent, the IG is being criticized because of media inaccuracies as to the findings–which can then be turned into talking points.  

    In criminal trials, one may opt for trial by judge or by jury–the latter usually being seen as more persuadable by circumstantial evidence and the former more concerned with strict interpretations of the law.  I’d analogize this IG report to trial by judge.

    • #9
  10. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    There is a lot of things Congress should do to reign in the executive branch. But you aren’t going to see a Republican Congress do this to a Republican administration. They only held Holder in contempt because he was a Democrat. Since they are specifically avoiding doing any real work in the run up to the election, having a big political fight with many vulnerable members in Hilary won districts means they will try to pretend like nothing is happening hoping to squeak by in the election. 

    The Republican party clearly has given up on any sort of principles in the hope of maintaining power, and so you can’t expect them to take a principled stand, otherwise the Democrats might win. And you clearly don’t  want that do you. 

    • #10
  11. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Valiuth: “There is a lot of things Congress should do to reign in the executive branch. But you aren’t going to see a Republican Congress do this to a Republican administration.”

    “The Republican party clearly has given up on any sort of principles in the hope of maintaining power, and so you can’t expect them to take a principled stand”.

    Valiuth,  somehow I’m kinda thinking that your idea of “reigning in the Executive Branch and taking a principled stand” are different from mine on this issue, but I could be pleasantly surprised and  could be dead wrong.

    Hey, I’m all for reigning in the DOJ by the way of firing almost all of the top echelon DOJ civil servants, as well as Rosenstein and Sessions  and  just outright obliterating the FBI and the CIA from the face of the earth.  How’s that for a principled stand?

    Is that what you’re for too or is it something completely different?

     

    • #11
  12. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    From the Daily Wire.

     

    1. FBI Employees Leaked To The Press Regularly. According to the IG report, “We identified numerous FBI employees, at all levels of the organization and with no official reason to be in contact with the media, who were nevertheless in frequent contact with reporters.” FBI agents received “benefits from reporters” as well, including golf outings, drinks and meals.

    I worked in the private sector for 20 years.  Any employee of the companies I worked for who did the above would be fired for cause.  They took payola.  

    Everyone of the agents who did the above betrayed there Top Secret clearance, they should have it revoked, be fired, and charged.

     

    • #12
  13. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    A lot of things ought to happen here, but I’ll mention two.  First, the IG should be a truly independent agency, without any institutional loyalty to the Department it oversees.  And when the Department in question is the DOJ, the IG ought to have its own prosecutorial authority rather than the purely theoretical ability to refer a matter to the DOJ to prosecute itself.  Prosecute itself – yeah, right.

    Second, (and I know this would be nearly impossible) the public and the media need to start looking at the facts, rather than the conclusions of these “investigations.”  The IG report reminds me so much of Comey’s Clinton report – he laid out a meticulous case which proved beyond any possible doubt that Clinton had violated the law, and then “concluded,” that there was nothing to see here so move along.  The IG does the same.  Having proven to a certainty that the FBI put people in charge of the Clinton and Russia investigations who were intensely vested in a predetermined outcome, the IG then tells us “Well, I can’t really draw any conclusions based on that.”  What nonsense.  You couldn’t ask for a stronger smoking gun than the Strzok e-mails.  Strzok obviously had an ethical obligation to recuse himself from any investigation where he had such an intense personal stake in exonerating Clinton and harming Trump.  The IG acts as if there is no proven misconduct unless there is actual proof that the bias of FBI officials caused them to change their decisions.  That, of course, is impossible.  It is the bias itself that creates the conflict of interest.  Is there no Code of Ethics at the FBI or the DOJ?  

    As a lawyer, I can tell you for a fact that if I ever represented a client while harboring a strong secret desire that my client’s opponent should win the case, and that fact came to light, I would have fired, I would have been sued for malpractice, and I probably would have been disbarred.  Similarly, if I had ever appeared in front of a supposedly impartial judge and it came to light that the judge was writing secret e-mails to his lover saying that he thought it was essential that my opponent win the case, I would certainly be able to get that judge disqualified and very likely thrown off the bench.

    • #13
  14. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Larry3435 (View Comment):
    Second, (and I know this would be nearly impossible) the public and the media need to start looking at the facts, rather than the conclusions of these “investigations.” The IG report reminds me so much of Comey’s Clinton report – he laid out a meticulous case which proved beyond any possible doubt that Clinton had violated the law, and then “concluded,” that there was nothing to see here so move along. The IG does the same. Having proven to a certainty that the FBI put people in charge of the Clinton and Russia investigations who were intensely vested in a predetermined outcome, the IG then tells us “Well, I can’t really draw any conclusions based on that.” What nonsense.

    I have seen commentary suggesting that those who wrote the detailed factual account of the events being looked at as part of the IG investigation are not the same as those who have prepared or had opportunities to edit the summaries. Of course, many will only read the summaries and the media and Democrats will tend to focus there. Is the fix continuing? 

    • #14
  15. ToryWarWriter Thatcher
    ToryWarWriter
    @ToryWarWriter

    Also every single reporter who gave payola to a federal officer should be charged with bribery.

    • #15
  16. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    A lot of things ought to happen here, but I’ll mention two. First, the IG should be a truly independent agency, without any institutional loyalty to the Department it oversees. And when the Department in question is the DOJ, the IG ought to have its own prosecutorial authority rather than the purely theoretical ability to refer a matter to the DOJ to prosecute itself. Prosecute itself – yeah, right.

     

    Key to the OP is the distinction between inspectors general and prosecutors. Two different functions, two different outputs. Inspectors general cannot be truly independent of the organization, as their role is to protect the organization, recommending solutions to internal problems before they blow up into criminal or civil litigation. 

    • #16
  17. Larry3435 Member
    Larry3435
    @Larry3435

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    A lot of things ought to happen here, but I’ll mention two. First, the IG should be a truly independent agency, without any institutional loyalty to the Department it oversees. And when the Department in question is the DOJ, the IG ought to have its own prosecutorial authority rather than the purely theoretical ability to refer a matter to the DOJ to prosecute itself. Prosecute itself – yeah, right.

     

    Key to the OP is the distinction between inspectors general and prosecutors. Two different functions, two different outputs. Inspectors general cannot be truly independent of the organization, as their role is to protect the organization, recommending solutions to internal problems before they blow up into criminal or civil litigation.

    That depends on how you define “the organization.”  Under my proposal the IG would still be an agency of the federal government, and its charge would be to protect the federal government against those problems you mention.  But its loyalty would not be to the specific agency it oversees.  This would be more analogous to the HR or Audit functions within a corporation.  Those functions usually report directly to the CEO or CFO.  There are not separate HR functions within each department or division of the corporation, reporting to the head of that department or division.  Any smart organization is going to maximize the independence of its oversight functions.

    • #17
  18. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    Clifford A. Brown (View Comment):

    Larry3435 (View Comment):

    A lot of things ought to happen here, but I’ll mention two. First, the IG should be a truly independent agency, without any institutional loyalty to the Department it oversees. And when the Department in question is the DOJ, the IG ought to have its own prosecutorial authority rather than the purely theoretical ability to refer a matter to the DOJ to prosecute itself. Prosecute itself – yeah, right.

     

    Key to the OP is the distinction between inspectors general and prosecutors. Two different functions, two different outputs. Inspectors general cannot be truly independent of the organization, as their role is to protect the organization, recommending solutions to internal problems before they blow up into criminal or civil litigation.

    That depends on how you define “the organization.” Under my proposal the IG would still be an agency of the federal government, and its charge would be to protect the federal government against those problems you mention. But its loyalty would not be to the specific agency it oversees. This would be more analogous to the HR or Audit functions within a corporation. Those functions usually report directly to the CEO or CFO. There are not separate HR functions within each department or division of the corporation, reporting to the head of that department or division. Any smart organization is going to maximize the independence of its oversight functions.

    There is no unitary federal government. This is why there are rival budget agencies—CBO and OMB. There is already a GAO-Government Accounting Office—that is in the business of investigating and producing reports. There is no CEO in the federal government. The problem is not the IG system, but rather the use of the IG as cover, delay, and distraction by Congress.

    • #18
  19. Clifford A. Brown Contributor
    Clifford A. Brown
    @CliffordBrown

    https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/06/ig-report-clinton-emails-fix-was-in/

    Andrew Sullivan has a sharper critique of the IG report, suggesting Horowitz has continued the ugly history of protecting the Clintons by defining protecting the DOJ and FBI as not looking closely at the heart of the matter — the unauthorized server as obvious evidence of intent, or at least gross negligence (the actual legal standard for the relevant statute).

     

    • #19
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