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.

Filed Under: communications, contract, dod, donald trump, inspector general, jedi, oversight, retaliation, transparency
Companies: amazon, microsoft


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:02am

    Corrupt president gonna corrupt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:13am

    Well, don't just blame this on Republicans, Democrats hate whistleblowers too. Oh, they are all about passing laws to protect whistleblowers until they are the subject the whistleblower's whistleblowing. Obama made it a practice of hunting down the identity of whistleblowers on his own administration.

    Just ask Nancy Pelosi, who was all about sanctuary cities until Trump promised to ship all of those illegal immigrants in her own backyard and then she and the rest of her Democratic cronies started whining about it. It was all over the news, and I found it to be absolute karma.

    I could only think, "when you shout above other people, don't be surprised when someone calls you out on it". What's that old adage? "People in glass houses should learn not to throw bricks"? LMAO.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:16am

      Re:

      2/10, a little too obvious with the 'Look over there, a distraction!', but one point added for the 'But Obama!'

      Keep trying though and one day you may reach 3/10.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2020 @ 1:09pm

      Re:

      Wow, it's almost like there is a difference between sanctuary cities and a vindictive petty manchild abusing his authority.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2020 @ 1:38pm

      Re:

      until Trump promised to ship all of those illegal immigrants in her own backyard

      Come on. you really think she gave even a fleeting resemblance of a shit that he could actually do this?

      Tell me, how are the logistics for something like that supposed to work? Let me give you a hint - it's the same horseshit plan that he never executed when he said he was going to bus all the illegals back to Mexico.

      I'm sure she's got that threat filed away with the check for the wall from Mexico, locking up Hillary Clinton, and his super-duper Trumpcare.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Koby (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:24am

    Fishing Expedition Denied

    The conspiracy theory posited by Amazon was that Trump ordered the DoD to award the contract to someone other than Amazon. So the IG investigation focused on whether the DoD officials that talked to the White House then put pressure on the DoD employees who evaluated the contracts. The conclusion? NO PRESSURE! But, the White House didn't allow a fishing expedition. Did the White House say mean things about Amazon in private company? Was the White House critical of Jeff Bezos and the Amazon Post? Did the White House hold hope that Microsoft would win the contract instead? Maybe, but now we'll never know. Still, the investigation is rightfully over, and the question at hand was answered conclusively: DoD officials who talked to the White House did NOT pressure the contract evaluators into awarding the contract in a certain way. Case closed!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:47am

      Gunning for that funniest of the week are we?

      That's got to be the funniest thing I've read today. An investigation was launched and those who might have provided evidence either way were barring from saying anything, and due to the lack of evidence resulting from that you want to claim that it proved the accusations false.

      No, you do not in fact get to claim victory when the game has been rigged in your favor from the start, at best you get to crow about how you managed to avoid a finding of definitive guilt, but given the method to achieve that provides some pretty good indication that the accusations had merit that isn't exactly something to be bragging about.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Thad (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 12:07pm

        Re: Gunning for that funniest of the week are we?

        That's got to be the funniest thing I've read today.

        You should see what he wrote in the next thread down.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That One Guy (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 12:21pm

          Re: Re: Gunning for that funniest of the week are we?

          Oh I saw, I've been clicking the funny button a lot thanks to their recent posts, they are really on a roll today.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 16 Apr 2020 @ 12:53pm

        Re: Gunning for that funniest of the week are we?

        The awards for this kind of funniness are not dealt out weekly but every four years.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Thad (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:49am

      Re: Fishing Expedition Denied

      the Amazon Post

      Well you're clearly an unbiased observer who's only interested in the facts and not viewing this case through a partisan lens.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
        icon
        Koby (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 1:27pm

        Re: Re: Fishing Expedition Denied

        Oh, I'll admit that I'm biased, and that I say things from a political perspective. The difference is that the corporate media is biased while also attempting to deceive their audience into believing that they are impartial. If they would simply admit to who they are, and the agenda that they are attempting to push along with their publication, all would be well. But they can't.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2020 @ 1:40pm

          Re: Re: Re: Fishing Expedition Denied

          The difference is that the corporate media is biased while also attempting to deceive their audience into believing that they are impartial.

          While Trump exhibits no bias at all, correct?

          Because unless you're taking all your cues from him (sorry, had to pause so I could snicker at that...), you're getting your news from somewhere...

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 2:28pm

          If they would simply admit to who they are, and the agenda that they are attempting to push along with their publication, all would be well.

          I assume you’re a fan of Fox News, then.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2020 @ 12:05pm

      Re: Fishing Expedition Denied

      I can never tell the difference between the Russian trolls and brainwashed dumbasses with little to no reading comprehension. Well done (I guess).

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 2:28pm

      The conspiracy theory posited by Democrats was that Trump asked the Ukranian government to investigate the Bidens in return for preferential treatment. So the impeachment investigation focused on whether the Trump administration officials that talked to the Ukranian government then put pressure on the Ukraninan officials to investigate the Bidens. The conclusion? DIDN’T MATTER IF THEY DID! But, the White House didn't allow a fishing expedition. Did the White House say mean things about the Ukranian president in private company? Was the White House critical of the Ukranian government for not launching investigations into a political rival of the president? Most likely yes, but now we'll never know. Still, the investigation is rightfully over, and the question at hand was answered conclusively: Whether the White House asked the Ukranian government to investigate the now-presumed electoral opponent of the president doesn’t matter because it wasn’t an impeachable offense to the Republican-majority Senate. Case closed!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 6:14pm

      Conclusively?

      How was it determined conclusively without evidence? Or are you just taking His Excellency's word for it? If there's no oversight, there's no evidence. If there's no evidence, then our representatives are traitors to the people of the United States by default. And that includes King Trump.

      The point of oversight isn't about partisanship (though a lot of our systems, such as our adversarial legal system tend to make it partisan.

      Our government, no matter who elected, is tyrannical by default. Routine, publicly available oversight showing clear evidence to the contrary is the only thing we have to indicate it is going right. Otherwise, it is as bad as King George and should be treated with the same degree of suspicion and hostility.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        ROGS, 18 Apr 2020 @ 11:56am

        Re: Conclusively?

        it is as bad as King George

        No, its way worse, because KG didn't have the ability to put a Fusion Center on your communications devices, and a squad car at your door in less than fifteen minutes.

        And he certainly didn't have the DVIC apparatus and apparatchiks shining spotlights through our houses at night, or sending fire trucks by at all hours, blowing their horns; or multiple intelligence agencies working through NGOs to silence dissenters in the thin disguise as community policing agentseither.

        Any ideas how we can changse that shit up, or are you just here to rant?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 20 Apr 2020 @ 3:48am

          Re: Re: Conclusively?

          "No, its way worse, because KG didn't have the ability to put a Fusion Center on your communications devices, and a squad car at your door in less than fifteen minutes."

          Yes and no. You can root your communications device and to some degree avoid the squad car. The tools exist to evade large parts of the government overreach.

          What KG and his predecessors could do otoh was have a regiment of redcoats gun you down in broad daylight then pin a treason charge to your name. Or claim you insulted the crown and that's why you've been vanished, ostensibly in some dungeon.

          The response of someone like KG to the usual commentary offered on these forums would be akin to that of Iran or China. 5 years of jailtime or executed on a blasphemy charge.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:38am

    Corruption atop corruption

    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.

    The fact that they either weren't willing, or more worrying couldn't force the issue shows just how utterly pathetic the 'oversight' in question is, and how useless they are in acting as a check on abuse of power.

    If you're looking into potential governmental corruption the idea that the other side can simply refuse to talk and you can't do anything about it is insane, as is the idea that their stonewalling is just taken at face value and treated not as an indicator that there is something damning they are trying to hide, but positive evidence that there's nothing to see.

    The fact that they 'could not definitively determine' that the deal was mired in corruption given the situation is just as meaningful as a not-guilty verdict where the judge is the father of the accused and the prosecutor was his brother, and for roughly the same reason. In both cases it was already determined what the outcome would be, and no energy was spared in ensuring that said outcome would be reached no matter how wildly it differed from reality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:50am

    Nothing incriminating could be seen here...

    It might have been different had we been allowed to switch on the lights.

    "We are pleading the Fifth!" — "This isn't a criminal investigation, you know." — "And we want to keep it that way."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Upstream (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 11:56am

    We need to have some scenario, like, say the contempt of court concept, where "not answer questions = go to jail for the duration" comes into effect. People often only respond properly when the results of their actions have a direct and immediate effect on them personally.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Apr 2020 @ 2:43pm

    If there were no corruption, there would've been no reason not to talk about it. So not talking about it is as good as an admission that there was corruption.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    tz1 (profile), 16 Apr 2020 @ 2:58pm

    Well, Amazon is going to kill people

    https://hackaday.com/2020/04/15/buyer-beware-this-led-bulb-sold-as-germicidal-doesnt-emit-uv-c/ T hey are selling defective Chinese products. This is bad enough when it is a fake but won't kill you when it fails. These bulbs won't disinfect anything. But what about the "hand sanitizer" - does it contain any or enough disinfectant? And the masks, are the N95 or did someone just write that on the T-shirt material? Remember the melamine laced pet food that killed many pets? The lead paint toys for Mattel? But you can get a lot of stuff cheap on Amazon, but they don't give a lot of details about where it comes from. They should ban any or all products from China unless the company posts a large bond insuring safety and quality.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    ROGS, 17 Apr 2020 @ 1:35pm

    Well, sure: swamp draining is a big chore.

    The Vatican's child pornographer in chief, James Comey is gone. That's not a bad thing, right?

    And John Brennan, Keith "play banjo on my butthole" Alexander, et al-- a bunch of liars who didn't get prosecuted by armies of citizens; and Peter the "Big Stroking V8 Engine of Infragard" Stzrtok/Stroke, Stczroke(whatever the fuck) and his cuntpanion Lisa "Bigger Dildoes, Bigger Girls, Bigger Orifices to fill with Swampjuice" Page aren't at the FBI anymore.

    I mean, really, what is a swamp anyways if not that?

    Like pus, its gone after disinfectant. Not a bad thing, overall.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 17 Apr 2020 @ 7:14pm

      what is a swamp anyways if not that?

      A group of politicians and their allies that is dedicated to exploiting government agencies, systems, and power for self-serving purposes like, say, making a shitload of money during a pandemic or laying the groundwork for voter suppression that could turn the tide of an election or making sure close allies have their businesses declared “essential” so the businesses don’t lose millions to billions of dollars (some of which can be donated to political campaigns via Super PACs run by former executives of those businesses).

      Or, as I like to call it, “the GOP”.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Apr 2020 @ 10:25pm

        The GOP

        is the organized and intra-collaborative organization in power exploiting its position to fleece the system, hence the swamp.

        I doubt it is the only organized group that seeks to be in such a position of power, or would turn to self-enrichment once in a position to do so. It is a swamp, perhaps the worst of swamps, but not the only swamp.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          ROGS, 18 Apr 2020 @ 10:11am

          Re: The GOP

          capitalism is distorted by corporate welfare policies, which are antithetical to free markets

          That's a quote from the American Conservative online. Its foolish to conflate GOP with conservatives as a rule, because these are not the same thing.

          https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-ultimate-trifecta-of-crony-capitalism/

          S o, the swamp is not merely a binary GOP-DNC shithole, and saying such is distracting us all from democratic discourse.

          The swamp is a corporocratic shadow government that uses brutal police force based on intelligence to suppress non-binary democratic dialogue,which disguises itself in both parties as discussions about politics (and esp. here at TD, this is apparent).

          The full quote that the American Conservative noted in 2017 was:

          "the reality is that capitalism is distorted by corporate welfare policies, which are antithetical to free markets. Such policies provide special preferences, protections, and subsidies to the favored few as a hedge against competition."

          I think those who argue against the GOP should probably infiltrate it as conservatives, except for that these who could do so only understand brutal power which is just fascism (as we see evidenced in the fake antifa-altRight binary).

          This is what happens when the kids don't read history, or understand the core concepts of liberal and conservative, conflating the progressive/regressive binary with GOP/DNC politics.

          I used Comey/Brenan up there as prime examples of the Leptospirosis that easily enters and exits the FBI one day, then sallies on to Lockheed Martin, having committed high crimes, but still unprosecutable due to corporate favors and blackmail.

          When we visualize Trump as a mean old alligator, keep in mind, he is only an alligator, only dangerous when confronted; and we must begin to see these others-which Trump dutifully dispatched-as leptospirosis or other bacteria that carries a greater, and far more hidden harm.

          I think that is a bi-partisan dialogue. And, I think that the Bernie fizzle is an example of exactly that bacteria, with Seth Klarman's miraculously failed app=based in DNC crony capitalism- that did the political hit.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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