Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 14, 2007

Character Assassination

On the front page of the Washington Post, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, Stuart W. Bowen Jr, is assassinated by Robin Wright. Bowen has been lauded for reveiling several corruption scandals of U.S. personal and contractors in Iraq.

The long piece is based on anonymous accounts of "officials" and "current and former employees". The main accusations:

Current and former employees have complained about overtime policies that allowed 10 staff members to earn more than $250,000 each last year. They have questioned the oversight of a $3.5 million book project about Iraq's reconstruction modeled after the 9/11 Commission report. And they have alleged that Bowen and his deputy have improperly snooped into their staff's e-mail messages.

Working in Iraq, the Inspector General's people get 70% in hazard overpay. They also work much longer than they would do in DC - there isn't much else they can do in Iraq - and that certainly makes the pay seem less scandalous.

The piece doesn't go much into the oversight issues, though it quotes a minority(!) staff director of the House Oversight committee to say that there is an ongoing investigation of the inspectors office. But the inspector general says that investigation was closed. Couldn't Robin Wright find the truth? Why wasn't the majority leader asked?

And like any other bosses, the inspector general had announced a policy of reviewing emails his coworkers send in their official capacity. Email from official accounts isn't private.

While going into small details of the above and the IG's work, the hit piece forgets to mention how in 2006 Republicans in Congress tried to shut down the Inspector Generals office:

[T]ucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen’s supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.
[...]
The termination language was inserted into the bill by Congressional staff members working for Duncan Hunter, the California Republican who is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and who declared on Monday that he plans to run for president in 2008.

That decision was later reversed. But why wasn't this included in the piece at all? Would it have shed light on the sources of the accusations?

The best guess is that Halliburton and Blackwater promissed some additional advertising in the Post. If only that pesky Inspector General could be taken off their back ...

Posted by b on December 14, 2007 at 9:16 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Looks like we have a campaign going on here. Associated Press now has the same issue up, fed by the same "sources" ...

FBI probes Iraq IG on misconduct claims

The FBI is investigating the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, Justice Department officials said, following allegations of misconduct from former employees.

The investigation of Stuart Bowen involves possible electronic tampering, including alleged efforts by the inspector general to go through e-mails of employees in his office, said two officials close to the inquiry Thursday. It is being handled by the FBI's Washington field office, according to law enforcement officials, who like the first officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.

According to one of the officials close to the investigation, the FBI is looking into several issues of possible fraud and abuse and has interviewed a number of former and current employees — some two or three times.

Posted by: b | Dec 14 2007 12:43 utc | 1

b

its an old mafia strategy modernised a little by the buffoon berlusconi - try to criminalise those who are investigating your criminality - given that you swathe the culture in fear - it normally works - to paraphrase jackie gleason - how silent we become

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 14 2007 13:37 utc | 2

& it is another case of journalist being turned into guard dog - tho that is not an enormous stransformation. in fact ' journalists' like wright would make a real dog ashamed. a real dog has better manners & certainly less subservience

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Dec 14 2007 13:41 utc | 3

why 2 awacs have take land in the airport of "gran canaria" ten minuts ago? . rigth now is becoming dark , and i can´t control its take off and direction of fligth.
whats happening? pls be alert.
sorry per my inconvenience.

Posted by: a friend | Dec 14 2007 18:54 utc | 4

Hmm - Ken Silverstein of Harpers thinks this may not be pure character assassination:

SIGIR has done good work digging up corruption in Iraq and some observers have wondered whether the White House had targeted the agency in retaliation. We’ll have to see where the investigations lead, but it’s hard to see Bowen being the victim of a vendetta by the Bush Administration, even if his reports on Iraq-related corruption did prove embarrassing. Formerly a Texas lawyer, Bowen worked for George Bush for eight years before being appointed Inspector General, both at the White House and at the Texas governor’s office.
To me it still smells like unfounded accusations to get rid of an inspector who actually does something.

Well, maybe they'll find this or that bit to crucify him. But to me its obvious that he is a target because of his work in Iraq.

Posted by: b | Dec 14 2007 21:03 utc | 5

maybe something really ugly (uglier) is about to be revealed and they are throwing him over the bus now to soften the fall on what's to come and distance themselves.

Posted by: annie | Dec 15 2007 1:31 utc | 6

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