What Does It Take to Get Fired In the Obama Administration?
September 20, 2012 - 7:44 am
The last ten days have revealed a piece of good news, in a morbid sort of way. At a time of rampant economic uncertainty with millions of Americans facing the prospect of layoffs or having their hours and pay cut, there is one place left on earth where one’s job is so secure that no power — not lawbreaking, not even lethal incompetence — can trigger termination. That place is the Obama administration.
The Department of Justice released its long-awaited report on Fast and Furious Wednesday. That report acknowledge that Fast and Furious was a monumentally idiotic operation, but it let Attorney General Eric Holder off the hook. It singled out three of his closest lieutenants, Assistant Attorney General Lanny Breuer, acting ATF chief Ken Melson and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Jason Weinstein. According to the report, none of those three informed Holder that the operation was happening, even after it had been implicated in the murder of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. None of those three, or any of the other 11 officers implicated, have been fired. Weinstein and Melson were allowed to resign, and Breuer remains on the job. The kindest thing that can be said of Holder is that he failed to keep track of what was happening in the agency we pay him to run. It’s more likely that his lieutenants have provided a useful shield; Holder was allowed to read and edit the inspector general’s report prior to its release.
Despite the fact that he presided over an operation that resulted in hundreds of deaths and made Mexico’s drug war even more violent, Eric Holder still has his job. So does Lanny Breuer.
The bloody incompetence at Justice is only one of many instances of fireable offenses going unfired, though.
Last week a different investigation found that an Obama cabinet secretary broke the law. The Office of the Special Counsel found that, in an official appearance, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act. That law forbids federal officers from campaigning on the taxpayer’s dime. Sebelius appeared at a gay rights gala in February and explicitly electioneered on behalf of President Obama. After the fact, her office covered for her, changing the status of the event from official to political and she reimbursed the government out of the salary we pay her to work within the law. In pre-Obama Washington, the after-the-fact alterations would be considered a cover-up and the Hatch Act violation alone would trigger a firing. But this is Obama’s Washington.
Secretary Sebelius gets to keep her job.
While that news was breaking last week, US embassies were under siege all over the Middle East. In attacks that began on the 11th anniversary of 9-11 in Cairo, Egypt and in Benghazi, Libya, groups that were initially called “protesters” attacked and overran embassy security. In Cairo, they removed and desecrated the American flag before raising the black flag of Islam that declares Allah supreme. In Benghazi, they used military assault weapons and tactics to breach the pitiful security at the US consulate and then killed four, including the US ambassador to Libya. Ambassador Chris Stevens’ murder was the first murder of a US ambassador in the field since 1979. Evidence quickly emerged that the attacks were pre-planned, timed to the 9-11 anniversary and coupled with a demand to release Omar Abdel Rahman, mastermind of the jihadists’ first attempt to destroy the World Trade Center back in 1993. Here at the Tatler, we had posted a warning regarding the Cairo embassy on September 10. Evidence has emerged since then that the US had 72 hours warning both in Cairo and Benghazi. The “protest” in Benghazi was reportedly led by an alumnus of the terrorist detention facility at Guantanamo, a known jihadist picked up in the Afghanistan war in 2001. He had been Obama’s ally against Gaddafi in the illegal war in Libya, only to predictably turn against the US at the first opportunity.
The US secretary of state bears responsibility for the security at US embassies and consulates abroad. But despite the fact that there was chatter that an attack could happen and that the 9-11 anniversary was upon us, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed in her job. She failed to take the threats seriously enough to secure her offices in the field. Like the failure at Justice, Clinton’s failure got Americans killed. She doubled down on that failure by trotting out US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice to tell the American people that there was no evidence that the attacks had been pre-planned.
Why Rice was sent out to tell implausible tales to the American people, rather than take to the United Nations and demand a united response against acts of savagery against the United States, is a question that the media has not asked. Rice is supposed to represent the United States at the world body, not play public relations on behalf of an administration in trouble. But nevertheless, she is an unconvincing liar and was obviously hopelessly out of her depth and out of touch last weekend, insisting that the attacks were due to a film rather than a continuation of the war waged by jihadists against the United States for decades. Both Rice and her boss, Hillary Clinton, consistently fail to understand the war we are in and must win if our way of life is to survive.
Rice and Clinton still have their jobs.
Perhaps all of these people retain their jobs because their boss has also failed to do his, and is in no position to hold anyone to account for anything. President Barack Obama, we learned last week in the midst of a jihadist hell week, has skipped out on more than half of his presidential daily briefings. These briefings are at the core of his main responsibility, which is not partying in front of a champagne fountain with Jay-Z, but keeping the nation secure. Rather than attend the intelligence briefings, he read bullet point summaries on his iPad. In so doing, he fails to get personal interaction with the intelligence professionals who analyze and assess threats to the United States.
He made this choice out of arrogance. Barack Obama believes he is a better writer than his speechwriters, and a better political operative than his political pros, and a smarter general than his generals. He believed it was unnecessary to hear more than the USA Today-style digest of the threats to America and her interests. He also believed it was more important to go for a puffball interview on David Letterman’s show, and meet with athletes and a fake pirate in the Oval Office, than meet face to face with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while that country faces the prospect of nuclear war with Iran. On Letterman’s show, Obama could not — would not, really — even recite the size of the US national debt. For Mr. Obama’s information, it’s $16 trillion and counting, more than five trillion of that piled up under his watch alone.
Had Obama skipped the silliness earlier than today, when he finally decided to jettison the iPad and attend real briefings, and taken the time to understand the nature and origin of the threats to America, he might have noticed that a certain date was approaching. He might have taken that warning from Cairo seriously. He might have ordered his secretary of state to beef up security. But he did not, and US embassies through the Islamic world are under attack, encouraged by his government staging a photo-op arrest on the weekend to tie the attacks to a film, not the global jihad. Obama assaulted the First Amendment rather than assault the terrorist who are assaulting America and leaving his own MidEast policy in ashes.
In order to find his lieutenants incompetent and worthy of firing, President Obama would first have to be competent himself. It is clear after the last week that he is not.
Barack Obama retains his job, at least until November 6.