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May 17, 2006

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Incomprehensible.

But I'm sure Powerline or a similar blogger can explain how this keeps us safer. Probably it's keeping more traitorous leftists from getting clearances that they'll only use to undermine the President. Starve the traitorously left CIA!

The DoD is refusing to process any security clearances at all?

Because they don't want to pay a fine?

That's batty. Just plain batty.

And it's also another indicator that the "WoT" is complete bunk.

There was part of this story that I didn't understand, mostly relating to how and why one governmental branch was charging a premium to another (sounds inefficient!), so I went over to the Muckraker link to see whether it cleared matters up.

According to those guys, OPM and DoD signed an actual contract, which DoD has decided it would rather not honor.

Ok, if binding contracts are the way governmental agencies interact, then hardball negotiations for money makes more sense--but, good lord, if DoD is playing games with a contract with a government agency, what might they be up to with all of those private sector contracts we keep hearing about? Would a private contractor have more flexibility to sue than a government agency does?

CaseyL, I think that it's the OPM that's refusing to issue clearances--because the DoD is refusing to pay them.

"CaseyL, I think that it's the OPM that's refusing to issue clearances--because the DoD is refusing to pay them."

One can see their point of view: they have only a limited budget, and if they're not being paid to do certain work, they'll not have $40 million to do their other work.

But that this wasn't immediately straightened out is incomprehensible.

I really do look forward to seeing anything from Bush-defending blogs about this, but I'm kinda suspecting it's not going to be a hot topic with that crowd.

But maybe we'll get lucky.

I link here, by the way, and add absolutely nothing of value. What else is there to say?

But it seemed worth passing along.

What's interesting to me is that OPM is using the classic labor tactic of the work-stoppage. If DoD reneged on a contract with a private company, I'd expect that company to file a lawsuit and quick.

It's hard to imagine that a government which signs contracts with itself doesn't have some sort of binding arbitration process to resolve this silliness.

when I was a kid, there were private agencies that would send out investigators to collect information about the government's activities, and then they would publish the results of their investigations.

The one I read the most was called the "Washington Post", and there was another one we got on Sundays called the "New York Times".

They did a lot of good work investigating and exposing some horrible wrong-doings, as well as some fairly trivial wrong-doings, all through the '60s and '70s (maybe earlier, but I wasn't reading them).

Well, of course that's all ancient history now. Those names have now been taken over by branches of the Republican party that use them to disseminate their press releases.

But the other day I was reading TPM's reporting showing that General Hayden had dealings with MZM, the defense contractor at the center of the Duke Cunningham bribery and corruption scheme. One of Josh Marshall's employees had done a lot of leg-work reading things and hunting up things and making some phone calls. And they hit pay-dirt: an important story no one else had found.

And it hit me: this is exactly what newspapers used to do. This is it. This is what I used to find in the "Washington Post" every morning in the '70s; independent investigation, someone making the phone calls and tracing the connections.

So I sent Josh Marshall $50. I used to send NPR a lot more than that every year, and they're pretty much a spent force now, too.

Yeah, I am encouraging you to do the same. Because Marshall is now putting together something that the flag-ship newspapers seem to have pretty much given up on, i.e. genuine investigative reporting.

And no, I have no connections with Marshall or any of his outfits. I mean I sometimes comment at the Cafe, but no *financial* connections is the point.

But see the first line of hilzoy's post? It tells you that Marshall's outfit is once again doing the work that newspapers are meant to do. I think that deserves encouragement.

Jackmormon: "CaseyL, I think that it's the OPM that's refusing to issue clearances--because the DoD is refusing to pay them."

I don't think so. It was DoD, not OPM, that announced that it was stopping work. It has to pay OPM to do investigations, but seems to handle the rest of the clearances itself. And it apparently decided it didn't want to do so anymore.

I'm basing this on my reading of the GAO report linked above. (It's not too long.) (Especially as GAO reports go.)

And newPress: I completely agree, which is why I sent TPMmuckraker money too. They've been really good on a bunch of issues. The contribution link is here.

There are a number of interagency MOUs out there. Memorandum of Understanding. I don't recall dispute resolution clauses, but it's been quite a while since I looked at one. (The answer to a private party who's getting screwed with because some agency -- not the one the private party is dealing with directly -- isn't holding up its end is, mostly, 'nope, nothing we can really do from a contracts perspective; have you considered buying a congressman . . .')

Ah, I see it now, on page 7, labelled "Summary." Okay, Hilzoy is right, and now this story moves from "interesting tending outrageous" to "maddeningly Kafkaesque."

Kafkaesque sounds good to me.

In a functional government, this situation would not have been allowed to fester until it reached this point. ...

In a functional government.

To your limited perception, he appears to be just another medium lobster.

To your limited perception.

[Is Chris dead?!!?]

"[Is Chris dead?!!?]"

We know not of this "Chris." We know only of the Sacred Trinity, and the otherworldlyness of the Lobster. Speak not of any Other, lest you be struck down, and rightly so.

Besides, I have reason to believe that FafWord may appear sometime this week.

These "reasons to believe" had better manifest themselves into a Fafblog! post damned soon lest I lose my faith in Internet whisperings.

In a functional government.

Alas, speaking from an academic OB PoV, I fear you are not distinguishing the external and internal norms in this case.

One naturally supposes that the external norms in this case include processing security clearances so that sufficient numbers of cleared personnel would be available to carry out tasks necessary to the defense of the nation, the maintenance of peace, and so on. These are, of course, fundamental tasks of defense-related functions of government, which even Libertarians (!) agree is an acceptable form of governmental endeavor.

One also might assume that the internal norms of defense-related organizations would conform, in large part at least, to these external norms, and so there would be no conflict, and these norms would be adhered to, and the tasks accomplished.

Alas again, the evidence indicates otherwise; internal norms have trumped external norms.

Internal norms, by their nature, are obscure. We may hypothesize about turf battles, budget tussles, and scratchy catfights between suspiciously well-dressed yet appropriately butch representatives of the most masculine branches of a testosterone-addled administration, but the fact is, we'll never really know why this has happened.

But we can surely conclude one thing.

The Bush Administration doesn't give a rat's ass about national security when it comes to making sure the right guys get their hands on taxpayer dollars.

That's what they think is a "functional government."

GAO has reported problems with DoD's security clearance processes since 1981.

Sounds about right. My initial clearance was about four months late, 22 years ago. I know, anecdote, etc, but I've heard this same thing off and on over my career. I've also seen anecdotal evidence that, for instance, the FBI has fallen weeks behind (this was 1995, mind) in its already slow clearing of fingerprint samples, and that the INS has fallen weeks behind (1996, this time) in issuing adoption paperwork, and that the US passport office takes for fricking ever (nowadays) to renew passports.

For example, at the turn of the century, we documented such problems as incomplete investigations, inconsistency in determining eligibility for clearances, and a backlog of overdue clearance reinvestigations that exceeded 500,000 cases.

Unsurprising.

Me, I'd consider that this might be yet another episode in a recurring series of government inefficiencies, turf wars, bluffing for budgets, etc. Possibly. Or possibly this is definitely another installation in the series of outrages perpetrated by the Bush administration. Lacking data, it's hard to tell which.

Not to threadjack, but speaking of "They Did What?"

Reported massacre by Marines, and the Psychic News Network calls Murtha a "traitor" (again).

wow, gary. just wow.

Update: Processing of Security-Clearance Requests Resumes.

[...] The agency found enough money -- $23 million -- to begin processing secret-level security clearances again but will need $90 million more before it can resume processing top-secret clearances or renewing existing clearances, said agency spokeswoman Cindy McGovern. Secret-level clearances cost $156 to process, while top-secret ones cost $3,700.

The partial revival of the program will address fewer than half of the 4,800 clearance requests filed with the DSS since the suspension began, she said.

Gary, see my 10:50.

That seems rather low for TS; I'd guess that's just the application, and doesn't include the background investigation. Seems low for Secret, too; same comments there.

"I'd guess that's just the application, and doesn't include the background investigation."

Seems reasonable.

Secret also requires BI, and not just paper.

Figures for TS probably also include TS/SI, which goes further back and includes poly.

But drops in the bucket nevertheless. Recall we're spending billions a month on the Excellent Iraq Adventure.

The malfeasance of this administration is almost beyond compare...

"Recall we're spending billions a month on the Excellent Iraq Adventure."

Always easy to grasp here.

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