Perhaps the best friends Americans have in government are the inspectors general who act as watchdogs to root out waste and sometimes, crime by politicians and bureaucrats. There can be no reasonable doubt that without them, mismanagement and crime in government would be even more rampant than is the case.
Inspectors general from dozens of federal agencies now say President Barack Obama's administration is trying to keep them from doing their jobs.
During a presidency saturated with questionable and often outrageous behavior, this may well be the most unsettling. In effect it amounts to Obama and his cronies trying to give a green light to abuse of taxpayers.
The inspectors general have appealed to Congress in a letter outlining some of the obstructionism they face. Among the abuses:
- The Peace Corps withheld some records sought in an investigation of volunteers who were sexually assaulted.
- The Justice Department attempted to withhold documents sought in three separate cases.
- The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board resisted turning over some records sought by an inspector general.
Obama's administration has been called one of the most secretive in history, routinely blocking public and press requests for information. Now, it blocks even the government's own inspectors general.
This is unacceptable. Congress should stop it.
Internal Revenue Service officials finally are being called to account in court. Sometime during the next several days, they will have to explain to a federal judge how they "lost" a massive number of email messages sought for a congressional investigation.
It is about time the IRS scandal moved out of the halls of Congress and stories in the news media and into court. Despite illegal action in harassing conservative organizations, no one at the IRS has been punished.
Many of those guilty of crimes may have thought failure by congressional investigators to obtain many emails involved in the scandal would get them off the hook. The messages in question were to and from former IRS official Lois Lerner, who headed the division involved in the harassment. Agency officials insist the emails were lost because Lerner's computer hard drive crashed and there was no backup for her messages.
It is that contention U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, in Washington, wants explained under oath.
But Sullivan is not acting in a case brought by the Justice Department. He is sitting in a civil lawsuit brought by the Judicial Watch organization.
That failing by the Justice Department - which clearly is covering for political operatives in the IRS - is, if anything, a more disturbing scandal than the tax agency's misdeeds.
The Justice Department, under Attorney General Eric Holder, is supposed to be the nation's chief law enforcement agency. During President Barack Obama's administration, it has become a political arm of the White House.
That, too, should be the subject of a federal court inquiry.