August 6, 2010

The Tattlesnake – Who’s Watching the Watchers? Edition

Or, in the Maxine Waters case, investigating the investigators.

Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-CA) three ethics charges, so far as I’ve read, involved talking to Bush Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in 2008, asking him to try and make sure a bank that helps poor people and women, OneUnited, got its fair share of the bailout money. True, her husband was previously on the bank’s board, and he retained stock at the time, but she didn’t threaten or in any way coerce Paulson improperly – she just asked. If this is the hoary ethics violations the Big Media is getting so hot-and-bothered about, then they’d better start charging nearly every member of Congress with a similar lapse of ethics, because a whole passel of Republicans and Dems did the same thing. Waters herself has stated: “The record will clearly show that in advocating on behalf of minority banks, neither my office nor I benefited in any way, engaged in improper action or influenced anyone.”

It’s worth noting that progressive Democrat Waters sits on the House Financial Services Committee that drafted get-tough legislation on banks and pushed for strong consumer protection from these miscreants. At least we know the Big Banksters would definitely not be sorry to see her go.

It’s interesting that of eight investigations or charges made by the House ‘independent’ ethics committee, all of them are against members of the Democratic Black Caucus. As Eugene Robinson said the other night, the notion that only black Democrats would be involved in unethical conduct is statistically astronomical.

It’s also interesting that one of the senior members of this ‘independent’ House ethics committee is co-chair Porter J. Goss, former rabid in-the-tank Bushite Congressman and, in Congress and as head of the CIA, a man who had considerable ethics problems himself.

Some of Porter Goss’ ‘greatest hits’:

– As head of the House Intelligence Committee, former CIA employee Goss said he could find no wrongdoing in leaking covert CIA agent Valerie Plame’s name to the media that warranted a Congressional investigation. He ‘joked’ if you could find him a “blue dress with some DNA” he’d open an investigation into who in the Bush Administration leaked her name; short of that, he apparently didn’t care.

– On illegal torture: “March 18, 2005, Reuters reported that Porter Goss ‘defended his spy agency’s current interrogation practices but could not say all methods used as recently as last December conformed to U.S. law.’” And then did nothing to ensure future conduct conformed to U.S. law.

– When Bush-appointee Goss took over the CIA in September 2004, bringing with him his partisan Bush team from Congress, veteran CIA employees with a combined 300 years of intelligence experience resigned or were forced out after his installation. The weakened CIA under Goss then went into “free fall” according to senior House Intelligence Committee Democrat Jane Harman. In other words, Goss was willing to sacrifice the CIA’s mission of non-partisan collection and processing of intelligence to protect America to serve his Republican political agenda.

– On May 5, 2006, Goss resigned under a cloud as Director of the CIA after his handpicked man Kyle “Dusty” Foggo’s Hookergate scandal came to light. Through Foggo, Goss was also connected to disgraced Republican Congressman Randy Cunningham who admitted to and apologized for taking bribes from defense contractors.

“‘Something happened,’ neo-conservative magazine editor William Kristol said on Fox News this afternoon. ‘It’s going to be a bad few days. We’re going to discover something … It will be something not good for the Bush Administration.’ Fox News actually got a phone call from a ‘top White House official’ during Kristol’s damning comments, and Kristol was cut off so Bush mouthpiece Chris Wallace could say the Goss resignation is just a harmless part of the ‘White House shakeup.’”
– Sploid, by way of, commenting the day Goss resigned.

Also let’s keep in mind that Goss’ honesty was vouchsafed by no less than Bush confabulator and White House flack Dan Bartlett: “This man has impeccable integrity.” If Bartlett says it, we can pretty much conclude the exact opposite is true – it’s like having one’s veracity on the Iraq invasion endorsed by Dick Cheney.

Gee, I wonder if Maxine Waters had refused to investigate evidence of treason in the White House, turned a blind eye to illegal torture, degraded the CIA’s intelligence-gathering capabilities due to political partisanship, and was connected to a major bribery scandal which caused a Congressman to quit in disgrace along with senior CIA officials she’d hired, if she would be eligible to sit on any future House ethics committees?

As Eleanor Holmes Norton, the Democratic DC delegate to Congress, told Ed Schultz on Tuesday, these are allegations, not convictions, and Maxine Waters, Charlie Rangel and anyone else charged with ethics violations have the right to defend themselves in a public hearing rather than resign and appear guilty.

In the meantime, the questions remain: Who would appoint a flagrant Bush hack like Goss to a supposedly independent ethics panel and, most importantly, who’s watching the watchers here?

© 2010 RS Janes.

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