Posted: 1:28 pm EDT
In January, we wrote It Took Awhile But Here It Is — Going After @StateDept OIG Steve Linick With Fake Sleeper Cells. In February, there was an allegation of “fishing expeditions.” This month, it got louder (Kerry Stands By Linick as Clinton Campaign Goes the Full Monty on @StateDept Inspector General). From the beginning, we are of the opinion that the real target of these allegations of bias is Mr. Linick, who came to the State Department in 2013. If you can smear the messengers badly enough, then, of course, all those reports his office issued and will issue in the future can simply be ignored or dismissed as partisan. We remain convinced that the State IG and ICIG are doing their jobs as well as they could under awful weather conditions in an election year.
More recently, the NYT reported that senior Democrats in Congress have now accused the inspectors general of the State Department and the nation’s intelligence agencies of politicizing their review of the former secretary of state’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
The accusation — made in an unusually pointed letter dated Wednesday — underscored the increasingly partisan nature of the controversy over the email practices of Mrs. Clinton, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination. Those practices are the subject of an F.B.I. investigation, in addition to inquiries by the inspectors general and congressional committees.
“Already, this review has been too politicized,” the Democrats wrote to Steve A. Linick, the State Department’s inspector general, and I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the nation’s 16 intelligence agencies. “We are relying on you as independent inspectors general to perform your duties dispassionately and comprehensively.”
WaPo notes that Mr. Linick, the State Department’s independent watchdog, has been conducting a review of the use of private email for government business at the request of Secretary of State John Kerry.
The office of I. Charles McCullough III, who plays the same role for the intelligence community, was involved in a review of Clinton’s correspondence as it was released to the public, a process that concluded last month.
The dual complaints from the campaign trail and from Capitol Hill regarding the watchdogs could be an effort to proactively inoculate Clinton should one of the two offices issue a report that is damaging to Clinton’s presidential campaign. Clinton’s campaign has already aggressively worked to undermine the credibility of the two offices.
Doug Welty, a spokesman for the State IG, said:
“Partisan politics play no role in OIG’s work. At all times, State OIG operates as an independent organization, consistent with the law,” he said in a statement. “Our work will continue to be unbiased, objective, and fact-based. We are now reviewing the email practices of the current and last four secretaries of State, not just Secretary Clinton. Any suggestion that the office is biased against any particular secretary is completely false.”
We recognize that the IGs walk a very difficult line, having to report not only to their agency heads (in the case of the ICIG, that’s more than a dozen intel agencies) but also to the Congress. Sherman Funk, the former State Department IG described it as straddling the barbed wire fence. If our elected reps are concerned that the reviews have become “too politicized,” then Congress should stop leaking to the press IG materials before they are officially released.
Of course, if these reviews become so highly partisan that it become impossible for the watchdogs to do their jobs, there is always another solution. Congress can restore the Independent Counsel law which could be used by Congress or the Attorney General to investigate individuals holding or formerly holding certain high positions in the federal government.
Oh, my goodness, look who will be salivating over that. The last time the IC happened, if we remember right, there was a lot of sludge and the stock price for Clorox actually went up. So best not go there. Below is the letter sent to both IGs: