Saturday, October 29, 2011

Policing the Federal Government

Our government has a serious flaw and it is high time something was done about it. The flaw I am referring to is the way in which violations of the law are investigated when the person or people suspected of the violations are either elected officials or are appointees of elected officials. Those cases always wind up becoming a political issue as well as a violation of the law and the outcomes are rarely satisfactory.

Case in point: Last year Representative Charlie Rangle was accused of financial misdeeds, including tax evasion. If he had been a normal citizen like you or I he would have been investigated and charged for his wrong doing in Federal Court, but because he was a member of Congress, the Congressional Ethics Committee investigated him. He was convicted, by a vote in Congress, and his punishment was to be censored by Congress and forced to make an apology. Wow, tough stuff. No fines, no jail time, no criminal conviction. When high ranking officials of the administration are accused of possible violations of the law, they appoint a Special Prosecutor who investigates and has the power to bring charges. The investigation always, always, becomes a political issue –and if the person is eventually convicted, the punishments are always minimal. The system is corrupt. It is corrupt because when the political parties become involved they try to either cover it up or magnify it for political gain.

So, what is the answer? How do we change the system to keep our politicians honest? My answer is to create a new Federal Law Enforcement agency whose sole purpose is to investigate crimes involving any Federal Employee. The agency should be headed by an official who is elected during a general national election. He or she should not be, or have ever been, in a politically appointed position, nor should that person be affiliated with any political party. Their term of office should be 10 years and they should be limited to one term so that they remain as separate from political influence as possible. The head of this agency should be forbidden by law from accepting any gifts or favors of any kind, regardless of value.

The agency should be divided into two separate divisions. One would be comprised of investigators who would be charged with investigating any employee of the Federal Government (from the President right down through the file room clerk in the Agriculture Department). The second division should be made up of prosecutors authorized, based on the investigations of the first department, to bring criminal charges in Federal Court and prosecute those crimes.

Members of this agency, who are convicted of any crime connected in any way with their official duties, should automatically have 5 years jail time added to their sentences.

Finally, any employee of he Federal Government who is convicted of a crime which is in any way connected with their employment should also face a mandatory 3 year jail sentence as an add-on to whatever punishment they may receive.

If our elected officials and those people who are appointed to jobs or are hired by those elected officials knew that an independent law enforcement agency, who was completely impervious to political influence, was going to investigate and prosecute violations of the law –it would go a long way in cleaning up our broken system.

You may be asking why the FBI and the Justice Department can not investigate and prosecute these kinds of crimes. It is because of the political influence when you have an Attorney General and an FBI Director appointed by the President and who then appoint key people to run departments within their organizations. The current “Fast and Furious” debacle is a perfect example. Congress is investigating only because the Republicans currently are in the majority in Congress and the Justice Department is doing their best to slow and stonewall the investigation. Even if they call for a Special Prosecutor, that would require the President to act and he has no interest in helping bring charges against his own appointees. The investigation slows down to the point where it takes years to get anywhere. In fact, it may very well go right past the 2012 elections and who knows who will be in the majority in Congress then. If the Democrats manage to take back the majority you can bet the investigation will stop dead in its tracks.

The system is broken. These things need to be taken out of the hands of the politicians. This is one plan that will do just that.

O.K., I’m done. Thanks for bearing with me while I got that off my chest.

Live Long and Prosper…..

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