Tag Archives: Department of Justice
Amid the orderly transfer of power, our new Chief Executive has issued a call for responsibility. As is the case with most of his public statements, his meaning is not clear. However, if he means holding government officials accountable for their actions, a novel and great idea, it is something that we can all embrace. It is particularly true of those officials within agencies with a long and well documented history of abuses of entrusted powers. Somehow, ATFE comes to mind as the poster boy for irresponsibility and unaccountability.
The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Justice recently (December 2008) reported on “An Investigation of Overtime Payments to FBI and Other Department of Justice Employees Deployed to Iraq” during the period 2003 through 2008. The “other” employees in the title of the report included ATFE Special Agents as well as DEA Special Agents and Deputy U.S. Marshals.
ATFE Special Agents were deployed in Iraq on 90-day TDY assignments between 2003 and 2008. During that time, they were paid $4,175,731.00 in unauthorized and unlawful overtime pay. They filed fraudulent claims for the overtime and ATFE senior officials did nothing to monitor the claims or review them for conformity with federal law and regulations. In other words, the ATFE Special Agents, law enforcement officers who are sworn to faithfully execute the laws of the United States, filed false time and attendance reports claiming pay for overtime which was not worked and for which payment was not authorized under federal law.
ATFE senior officials are paid to ensure that compensation for work performed by ATFE employees conforms with federal law. Throughout the five-year period, nothing was done to monitor the claims for overtime pay and no internal reviews were undertaken. If nothing else, the OIG Report gives rise to the question, whether ATFE, a large federal organization with law enforcement powers, can be held accountable to the people for waste, fraud and abuse. If so, where do we start? The OIG Report is a good starting place.
To read the rest of this article, go to: http://www.sofmag.com/wp/2009/02/sof-exposes-batf-corruption-in-iraq/
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has sent a memo to some health care providers noting procedures to be followed if the swine flu outbreak eventually makes quarantines necessary.
DHS Assistant Secretary Bridger McGaw circulated the swine flu memo, which was obtained by CBSNews.com, on Monday night. It says: “The Department of Justice has established legal federal authorities pertaining to the implementation of a quarantine and enforcement. Under approval from HHS, the Surgeon General has the authority to issue quarantines.”
McGaw appears to have been referring to the section of federal law that allows the Surgeon General to detain and quarantine Americans “reasonably believed to be infected” with a communicable disease. A Centers for Disease Control official said on Tuesday that swine flu deaths in the U.S. are likely.
Federal quarantine authority is limited to diseases listed in presidential executive orders; President Bush added “novel” forms of influenza with the potential to create pandemics in Executive Order 13375. Anyone violating a quarantine order can be punished by a $250,000 fine and a one-year prison term.
A Homeland Security spokesman on Tuesday did not have an immediate response to follow up questions about the memo, which said “DHS is consulting closely with the CDC to determine appropriate public health measures.”
The memo from McGaw, who is DHS’ acting assistant secretary for the private sector, also said: “U.S. Customs and Coast Guard Officers assist in the enforcement of quarantine orders. Other DOJ law enforcement agencies including the U.S. Marshals, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives may also enforce quarantines. Military personnel are not authorized to engage in enforcement.”
The CDC’s error is one example of how quarantines can raise civil liberties issues. If a suspected swine flu patient is confined to a hospital isolation ward for a week or two, who pays for the bills? What if private businesses find their buildings requisitioned in an emergency? Or if hospital employees charged with enforcing the quarantine fail to show up for work?
McGaw’s memo on Monday also said that the federal plan to respond to pandemic influenza was “in effect.”
A Defense Department planning document summarizing the military’s contingency plan says the Pentagon is prepared to assist in “quarantining groups of people in order to minimize the spread of disease during an influenza pandemic” and aiding in “efforts to restore and maintain order.”