Dan Gilmore / Jul. 27, 2015

DOJ Limits Inspectors General

The Most Transparent Administration in History™ decided that “privacy” is more important than allowing the independent inspectors general to do their jobs. The Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Council issued an opinion declaring the organizations within the federal government designed to ferret out waste, fraud and corruption must seek permission from the head of the agency before collecting “statutorily protected information,” like grand jury or wiretap information. “In reaching these conclusions,” the opinion read, “our Office’s role has not been to decide what access [inspectors general] should receive as a matter of policy. Rather, we have endeavored to determine as a matter of law, using established tools of statutory construction, how best to reconcile the strong privacy protections … with the interest in access reflected in … the IG Act.” There has been bipartisan condemnation from Congress regarding DOJ’s decision, saying that the Obama administration has played verbal gymnastics over a statute that was intended to be plainly read. Think a cabinet member will be beholden more to the bureaucracy than an independent review? It already happened under Eric Holder’s DOJ when the inspectors general tried to investigate the Fast and Furious gun walking scandal.

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