Issa can’t escape his own disaster
As Darrell Issa spends his day criticizing the Obama administration for politicizing the Freedom of Information Act process at the Department of Homeland Security, Lee Fang expands
on the brazen, partisan hypocrisy that we touched on yesterday
with a rundown of the decidedly different tune Issa was singing during the Bush years:
– Issa Tried To Kill A Landmark Expansion Of FOIA Law
: In 2007, a bipartisan bill
HR 1309 was proposed to expand the FOIA process, including a tracking system for submitters to view the status of their request, new reporting requirements for congressional oversight, and a provision to ensure that requests not processed within twenty days would not require a fee. The Bush administration fought vigorously against the bill and promised to veto it. Issa even sponsored an amendment to the bill to kill off the proposed “open records policy,” claiming Al Qaeda
would “harvest” the data. In the end, the bill passed by an overwhelming majority in the House, despite Issa’s “no” vote. Unfortunately, it died in the Senate.
– Issa Co-sponsored The Original Bill To Exempt DHS From FOIA Law:
In 2002, Issa co-sponsored
the bill to merge several agencies into one new expanded bureaucracy called the Homeland Security Department. Issa’s bill included a provision exempting
the agency from some FOIA requests. Repeatedly, Issa voted against amendments
to remove this exemption from DHS. For example, he voted against an amendment
sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) to remove the FOIA exemption. Issa even supported
an amendment that explicitly expanded
the FOIA exemption to his DHS bill.
– Issa Helped Karl Rove And Bush Allies Hide Government E-Mails In RNC Accounts:
In 2008, the House Oversight Committee investigated the fact that an estimated 5 million e-mails from Bush administration servers vanished from the president’s office. Although it was widely believed that White House adviser Karl Rove had used Republican National Committee e-mail accounts, in violation of the Presidential Records Act, to hide official communications, Issa used his position on the committee to try to squash
It's important to underline this point. When it was the Bush Administration, Issa's position was
while it may have been appropriate prior to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, the country's ability to have such a liberal open records policy "went down in flames in New York City."
Issa said reverting to the Reno standard would allow public access to information that "al-Qaida harvests regularly."
Now, maybe Darrell Issa had a dramatic conversion at some point in the last couple years, but if so, he's made no move to say so publicly or even attempt to explain the absurd contradictions in his own record. More likely is that Issa arrived at this topic in an effort to avoid drawing too much negative attention to his committee. He's endured nothing but bad reviews in his few short months at the helm of the committee, so Issa may have felt compelled to seek out investigation topics that would be less controversial and sensational. Unfortunately, Issa has spent the last decade being so extreme, partisan, and outspoken about his views that he can't even take on this relatively mundane topic without being disruptive and brazenly hypocritical.
He can't run the basic, day-to-day business of his committee without cutting committee Democrats out of the process (pdf
) and denying them the bare minimum of information about what's going on. He can't blast earmarks without first turning a personal profit
from them. And when he hits on issues that are real enough to be worth investigating, he's either painfully
late and redundant or rashly trying to preempt
the proper investigation.
As the failed attempt not to screw up continues, major topics remain unaddressed. Nobody has gone to jail as a result of the Wall Street collapse. Tens of billions have been wasted by contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan with no response from Issa. No review of nuclear safety has begun in the wake of the crisis in Japan. Taxpayers are being cheated out of untold billions, lives are at risk, and Darrell Issa is still tripping over himself trying to somehow remain relevant without submarining his entire caucus.
This isn't oversight, this isn't leadership, and it only meets the loosest definition of governing. There's far too much at stake for this to continue.