March 21, 2008

Passportgate redux

It's now being reported that the files of Hillary Clinton and John McCain were violated as well, and all of this was done apparently by government contractors hired by the State Dept.

How many instances of horrible incompetence made possible by the Republican drive to "privatize" our government do we have to see before someone realizes it's a horrible idea? (Halliburton subsidiary KBR with billions of no-bid contracts is now revealed to have done such shoddy work on electrical systems on U.S. bases that dozens of people have been killed by electrocution, including a Ranger who survived all the perils in Iraq only to die because he stepped into the shower. (electrocuted by faulty wiring).

At least if it was bureacratic incompetence, the tax-payers wouldn't be being charged 15 times more for the same or worse bungling and corruption.

But what's clear in all of this is that the Republicans, and Bush, directed by the corporate interests that control them, is simply finding new and better ways to redirect money into their pockets by the millions and billions.

The economy is in the tank, so government work is where the money is. With an endless supply of our tax dollars sitting there, and more to be borrowed from China, Japan, and the Arabs, they know that's the best place to score a cool $500 million or so.

So they engage in wholesale "privatization" under the phony reasoning that it saves us money. What a joke! All it does is give them carte blanch to loot the treasury with both hands. Shoddy work? Who cares? No one will be punished, and the money's already in the bank off-shore. No work done for the money? Again, no big deal, no one's ever punished. Several BILLION dollars simply vanished in Iraq. Hear much about that anymore? Not a peep.

This seems a bit fishy to me that it's now conveniently revealed that Clinton and particularly McCain had their files breached. It only came out at least a day after they'd discovered and revealed that Obama's personal files had been breached. I hope that someone manages to find the truth here.

Why did they so belatedly reveal that Clinton and McCain had had their files opened as well? Especially in light of the fact that they apparently knew this had happened for over a year?

Condi Rice also took over a day to respond, suggesting that they were busy trying to find a way to make this look relatively innocent and non-political. Given the incompetence and the way they've used government agencies and employees in blatantly political ways for nearly 7 years, I'm afraid it's all a bit too suspect, and I'm not buying it.

Hillary's files were breached briefly during a training exercise... no big deal, other than it never should have happened.

But Obama's were breached at least three times, occuring prior to the primary campaigns, first before Iowa, then in the run-up to the Potomac Primaries, and as recently as last week while the whole Wright kerfluffle was erupting.

In light of the blatantly political spying on Bill Clinton's passport files by George Bush Sr. administration, is it not prudent to wonder?

What do you think? Smell a rat? Has this administration given anyone ANY reason to trust it when it comes to illegally using government agencies for purely political purposes?


At 3/22/2008 10:20 AM, Blogger Benton Harbor said...

Dope, this entry strikes me as the mixing of two different situations.

The first is the passport file thing. You ask, "How many instances of horrible incompetence made possible by the Republican drive to "privatize" our government do we have to see before someone realizes it's a horrible idea?" If you are in reference to contract workers at the State Department, I'm pretty sure Republicans have nothing to do with this. Contract workers are all over our government and have been for years.

Going back as far as 1993, I've visited and requested files from the National Archives, the Smithsonian, and the State Dep't. for example, and most of the people I came into contact with or were referred to at all those agencies were employed by contracted companies. I'm guessing that it is a case of a worker(s), with a high degree of curiosity, checking someone out... although what kind of info could be gleaned from the somewhat limited data on a passport application is beyone me.

The second situation you describe, the no-bid contracts, IS certainly something to take seriously. While I can understand why it was done, i.e., the need for quick action as opposed to writing specs, getting the quotes, going through the gov't's approval process, etc., the track record of some of these companies and their ties to administration members is VERY questionable.

Frankly, I smell a rat when it comes to trusting our government at all. Take Hoover, McCarthy, Nixon, et al,,, it's both sides of the aisle and it's a variety of agencies. Hell, take the air traveler that gives some shit to a TSA inspector. The next time he's going on a flight, he's marked for a full body cavity search. It isn't just the Republicans or the Democrats. And it isn't just the contract workers either.

And no, I don't constantly watch over my shoulder. But now you know why I view government with so much cynicism.

At 3/24/2008 8:03 AM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

BH. I suspect your view of the situation is probably more likely. It's just that when I heard these breaches were done by employees of two separate private firms, it put me in mind of how this administration is literally farming out our entire government, which I think is a very dangerous and stupid thing in 95% of the cases.

In hearing people with experience in these areas of the State Dept., it seemed clear that these contractors didn't have or enforce the same safe-guards that career gov't workers had.

I also liken it to the big push towards temp services in the private sector.

Where once you had people paid a decent wage and benefits, often union, doing a job, you now have these temp service employees doing the same thing.

First of all, they do a much poorer job overall. Secondly, the entire premise of these places is turnover. They're constantly having people quit, get fired, etc. and the turnover is incredible.

This means that the level of employee is much lower, their training is minimal, and the consequences of doing a horrible job are ... nothing. They get let go? Big deal, they were being paid peanuts anyway.

So you can see the difference.

I think government employees often have a degree of pride in their jobs, have a rigid set of standards and rules that govern their actions, and are better paid than sub-contractors.

Again, if you're getting good pay and benefits along with job-security, the threat of losing it all by pulling something stupid is more meaningful.

As to whether this breach of passport files was simply innocent snooping, I'm afraid I feel that it's just as likely to be political as it is to be innocent.

It seems that the breach of Clinton's files were obviously an innocent goof. But the fact that Obama's files were breached three times, each at critical poltical time periods, and adding the fact that this had been done with Bill Clinton under Bush Sr.... and I'm afraid I can't rule out dirty tricks here.

Will it ever be sufficiently investigated? Hell no. Especially when you hear Condi Rice saying SHE'LL look into it.... fuggetabowdit.

You know that after a while, they'll announce they've looked into this extensively and guess what? No evidence of wrong-doing could be found.

So in essence, it's already been dumped down the memory hole.

Unless one of the employees spills the beans, it will likely never be known just why this happened.

At 3/25/2008 7:42 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

Apparently I'm not the only one who felt this was linked in some way to privatization.

In a report in the Washington Post, it's noted that in just the past year, the number of private contractor employees handling passport duties increased from 40 to 60%.

That's due in part to the new requirement for passports to travel to Canada or Mexico.

The piece also notes that these contractors work right along side regular State Dept. workers but get lower pay and less benefits.

They also point to the fact that these poor contractors can be fired on the spot as an advantage.

Not sure the poor saps think so.


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