A crucial case before the Supreme Court could limit the ability of victims of pollution to seek help after they become sick.
For more than two decades, I have been fighting to expose the truth about the water contamination at U.S. Marine Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. While I was stationed there, I lost my daughter Janey to Leukemia. It turns out that the water we had been drinking and bathing in was contaminated with dangerous, cancer-causing chemicals. Incredibly, the military leadership knew about the contamination but did nothing to rectify the problem for five years—they had to be forced to do so.
President Obama has promised that the federal government would take steps to make a real difference for those still suffering from the devastating contamination at Camp Lejeune.
But President Obama’s Department of Justice is undermining his promise. Remarkably, DOJ recently sent a brief to the Supreme Court urging an interpretation of a federal pollution law that supports a known polluter—and would let the government off the hook for Camp Lejeune.
The government’s preposterous stand suggests my fellow Marines and their families should have sought justice before they even knew they had been poisoned!
“By early 2011, Creative Associates grew exasperated with Mobile Accord’s failure to make ZunZuneo self-sustaining and independent of the U.S. government. The operation had run into an unsolvable problem. USAID was paying tens of thousands of dollars in text messaging fees to Cuba’s communist telecommunications monopoly routed through a secret bank account and front companies. It was not a situation that it could either afford or justify — and if exposed it would be embarrassing, or worse.”—U.S. secretly created ‘Cuban Twitter’ to stir unrest
He warns that $6 billion in contracting money can’t be accounted for and cites “lack of internal control.”
“When auditors asked for a sample of 115 contract files, officials were unable to provide 33 of them, totaling $2.1 billion. Of the remaining 82, the report said, 48 contained insufficient documents required by federal law.”
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Oversight Subcommittee has called for the Department of Commerce Inspector General to fire two managers who were found to have retaliated against whistleblowers.
Investigators conclude that the agency overstated the effectiveness of harsh tactics while hiding details and taking credit where it wasnât due.
“The CIA described [its program] repeatedly both to the Department of Justice and eventually to Congress as getting unique, otherwise unobtainable intelligence that helped disrupt terrorist plots and save thousands of lives,” said one U.S. official briefed on the report. “Was that actually true? The answer is no.”
Postal employees have spent thousands of taxpayer dollars on gambling, bills and other personal expenses, according to a series of reports by the U.S. Postal Service inspector general. Federal employees may use government credit cards for official travel expenses, but some used theirs to withdraw cash before hitting casinos. Nearly a dozen reports on closed travel card theft investigations were obtained by the Washington Examiner in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.
An international organization working to bring greater transparency and accountability to industries that extract natural resources accepted the U.S. as a candidate for membership at a meeting of its board today in Oslo, Norway.
Federal prosecutors, judges, and other officials at the Justice Department committed over 650 acts of professional misconduct in a recent 12-year period, according to a new report published by a DC-based watchdog group, the Project On Government Oversight. POGO investigators came up with the number after reviewing documents put out by the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR). According to one little-noticed OPR document published last year, a DOJ attorney failed to disclose a “close personal relationship” with the defendant in a case he was prosecuting, in which he negotiated a plea agreement to release the defendant on bond. An immigration judge also made “disparaging remarks” about foreign nationals. POGO contends that this number is only the tip of the iceberg and OPR needs to release more information about this misconduct to the public.
Also, some potential for reform:
A bill proposed on Thursday by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) would overhaul how misconduct is investigated at the Justice Department. Right now, only OPR is allowed to look into ethics complaints, instead of the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, which is widely considered to be more independent. The senators’ bill would move that authority to the IG’s office. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who supports the bill, says: ”When Americans pledge to abide by ‘liberty and justice for all,’ that does not mean that those pursuing justice can creatively apply different standards or break the rules to get convictions—it means that in America everyone is held equally accountable.”
The Pentagon’s fiscal year 2015 budget request has been savaged by Republicans and even some Democrats. Critics argue it’s “a skeleton defense budget,” that will “dramatically reduce the size of the Army to pre-World War II levels,” and all of this “will embolden America’s foes to take aggressive acts.”
All of these critiques have one thing in common: they’re not true.
An internal affairs office at the Justice Department has found that, over the last decade, hundreds of federal prosecutors and other Justice employees violated rules, laws, or ethical standards governing their work.
“The confirmation in December that former CIA Director Leon Panetta let classified information slip to ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ screenwriter Mark Boal during a speech at the agency headquarters should result in a criminal espionage charge if there is any truth to Obama administration claims that it isn’t enforcing the Espionage Act only against political opponents.”—John Kiriakou, I got 30 months in prison. Why does Leon Panetta get a pass? - latimes.com (via nickturse)
“The State Department ranked at the bottom, responding to just 1 percent of requests within 20 days, and fully denying 44 percent of all requests, by far the highest percentage of denials across the government.”—Federal Agencies Are Flunking FOIA
In an August news conference, President Obama said there were “other avenues" available to someone like Snowden "whose conscience was stirred and thought that they needed to question government actions." Obama pointed to Presidential Policy Directive 19 — which set up a system for questioning classified government actions under the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. However, as a contractor rather than an government employee or officer, Snowden was outside the protection of this system. “The result,” Snowden said, “was that individuals like me were left with no proper channels.”
by Erica Fein, WAND Nuclear Weapons Policy Officer
The President’s budget release is a perfect time to think about our national priorities over the coming years: Do we want to invest in programs to keep America vibrant, well-educated, and healthy, or do we want a hollowed-out America where spending on expensive and unworkable weapons systems take precedent?
Nuclear weapons, increasingly less useful for 21st century defense, should be one of the places where we are re-prioritizing. Yet, the President’s budget increased spending on nuclear weapons by seven percent, to $8.31 billion. It appears the increase is almost fully offset by a decrease in funding for nonproliferation programs – the programs that prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands.
B61 A Prime Example of Misplaced Priorities
Much of this increase is for the unnecessarily complex upgrade to the B61, a Cold War-era nuclear bomb. While most experts agree that some sort of life extension to this weapon is needed as long as it is part of the nuclear stockpile, leaders in the U.S. Congress are not convinced of the Administration’s plans. As Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee that makes funding decisions on nuclear weapons, has stated, “A more narrow scope of work [on the B61] would safely extend its life while meeting military requirements.”
Senator compares USIS practice of reviewing its background checks to “letting the fox guard the henhouse.”
Not only was a federal background-check contractor allegedly submitting hundreds of thousands of incomplete background checks, but they were also the company hired to ensure the quality of their own background checks.