Defense Department Oversight Thwarted By Defense Department Officials Who Refused To Talk About Trump's Communications
from the cut-to-DoD-officials-tying-gags-over-their-own-mouths dept
Every presidential administration seems to make a game of thwarting oversight. The current one is no different. President Trump is setting himself apart from the pack by firing IGs at an alarming pace. Whatever’s being done in our name at various government agencies is being done in the dark. Whistleblowers and leakers are being hunted down and persecuted/prosecuted (another favorite presidential sport).
What would be considered unlawful obstruction in a criminal investigation is just business as usual at the Executive branch. The latest (but certainly not the last) obstruction was revealed in the investigation of the “JEDI” contract procedure. Amazon really wanted to be a part of American bloodsports, but was beaten out by Microsoft for lucrative Pentagon cloud storage contracts. Amazon sued, alleging it got illegally screwed by the President, claiming his frequent derogatory comments about Amazon and the Jeff Bezos-owned Washington Post pushed the Pentagon towards selecting Microsoft.
An investigation was opened by the Defense Department’s Inspector General. And we’ll never know what really happened because it appears the administration inserted itself into the investigation. Jacqueline Feldscher has more details at Politico:
The Pentagon’s inspector general “could not definitively determine” whether the White House influenced the procurement process for a major cloud computing contract because senior Defense Department officials were barred from answering questions on the subject during interviews, according to a 313-page report released on Wednesday.
Sticking it to the Deep State, I guess. So, what looks like some impropriety now officially only looks like some impropriety because the Defense Department’s general counsel told DoD officials to not answer any questions about communications between the DoD and the White House. “Presidential communications privilege” successfully asserted.
Given the lack of answers, it seems pretty ridiculous for the Pentagon to hang the “Mission Accomplished” banner and declare everything to be above-board. But that’s what has happened because that’s the the kind of government we have. Here’s the Pentagon’s spokesperson pretending there’s nothing to see here.
“This report should finally close the door on the media and corporate-driven attacks on the career procurement officials who have been working tirelessly to get the much needed JEDI cloud computing environment into the hands of our frontline warfighters while continuing to protect American taxpayers.”
Everything is over except its eventual fading into obscurity, washed under the flotsam that is the day-to-day horror of living in an ongoing pandemic. The Pentagon has cleared itself of any wrongdoing by refusing to answer questions related to alleged wrongdoing. The overseers were neutralized by presidential privilege, resulting in the Inspector General drawing inconclusions the Pentagon has declared to be exculpatory with one comment to the press. The IG’s office decided to release the incomplete report anyway, stating it did not want to further delay any reporting on its non-findings since it was apparent no amount of waiting things out was going to get these officials to discuss things they didn’t want to discuss.
As for Amazon, it must be refreshing to be on the other side of impropriety accusations for once. The run-up to the awarding of the contract saw a few DoD officials becoming far too friendly with the cloud service provider.
The inspector general substantiated allegations of ethical misconduct against Deap Ubhi, a Pentagon employee who worked on the early stages of crafting the JEDI program before leaving the department to work for Amazon.
Investigators did not, however, find evidence of ethical misconduct by other senior defense officials, including former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who attended a dinner with Amazon officials organized by his former aide Sally Donnelly.
Ah. Well, at least the IG found out something about somebody. The President’s dislike for Amazon and Bezos remains under “presidential privilege” wraps and the swamp will continue draining at its current rate of 0 liters/flush.