“Investigation.” This is the hot word that’s on the lips of every news reporter in the nation today. The word itself offers up a specific perception when spoken about the “who” and “what” are specific to that conversation. But whenever uttered, it always denotes something sinister — something wrong about something and/or someone. It is most often used politically by those who wish to cast dispersion on political opponents, whether or not there actually is an investigation underway or pending. Of course, if someone is being investigated there must be something terribly wrong. But remember this reality: perception IS reality, no matter if the particular perception is true. Many a family, career, personal relationship, political opportunities, have been short circuited simply by the use of the word “investigation.” And Boy are we hearing that word thrown around D.C. today!
What are the current “investigations of the day?” There’s the Russian interference in U.S. elections, Russian collusion with the Trump Campaign to affect the 2016 election, Donald Trump’s personal relationship with the Russians, Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump’s tax returns — these are just a few of the investigations underway or being considered. There are probably dozens more we do not even know about.
The latest buzz term referencing investigations is “Special Prosecutor” or “Independent Investigator,” speaking about appointment of an independent person or persons to conduct these and other investigations. The purpose is to take away any political favoritism or partisanship in each investigation. Supposedly that cannot be done by using conventional investigation sources, like the FBI, Department of Justice, Federal Attorneys Offices, etc.
Here’s the rub: the federal Investigative process has become totally politicized. There is NO independence. These investigations are always done on a politically partisan basis. It is virtually impossible for any investigation in Washington D.C. to be conducted in a non-partisan vacuum. Such doesn’t exist! It may be possible to conduct a non-partisan investigation somewhere in America, but where that is I don’t know.
Think about it: every department in the U.S. government has an Inspector General. That person (and those in his/her office) are charged with making certain any and all improprieties that may exist in that department are ferreted out and the perpetrators of those improprieties are identified and dealt with immediately so as to prevent any further issues. Inspectors General also monitor any and all processes for operations assuring Americans they are operating properly.
If this one-on-one process cannot be non-partisan it is impossible for the Federal Government to ever have an un-biased investigation. So how can the government assure Americans it can and will conduct its business openly, honestly, fairly, and according to law? That’s a tough one. I think it is safe to say that all Americans want to get the answers to the questions about the issues I listed above and others. But Americans today more than ever want and expect real answers to real problems. That begins with facts. How do we get real facts from every government investigation? I’m pretty sure it can be done, IF the process is changed. But to do so will require some real resolve and acceptance. It will work if we can get it started and let it work. Doing that will take some time, patience, AND acceptance of non-partisanship in the process.
We have allowed the Federal Government to make it too easy to allow pretty much ALL government officials — elected, hired, and appointed — to get by for improprieties by not enforcing laws and regulations, AND, not making offenders accountable. As Moms and Dads we all know and understand our children most often will not do what we say (or WILL do what we say not to do) unless they know we mean business, and that if they disobey and break the rules there is a price to pay. Too often even when there’s a known price to pay, we don’t make our kids pay it! We’ve allowed the government to move into our homes and we treat the government different from our normal processes we conduct without thinking within our own families.
We all know that if a kid keeps slamming a door and we keep saying, “Don’t slam that door or you’ll be punished,” and we never punish the kid for slamming the door, he’s gonna keep slamming the door. No accountability. Why do we treat government investigations differently? There are huge consequences for egregious violations of laws and/or regulations that are simply ignored. Taxpayers pay millions of dollars for Inspector General investigations that often result in discovery of unbelievable breaches of fiduciary management of government in which wrongdoers currently don’t receive even a slap on the wrist for violations. And the violations continue with no cost or penalty!
I know this is an extreme example, but it is a literal one: we all know that capital murder in the United States is punishable by death. But almost always the death sentence for murder is not carried out: it often is converted (for a multitude of different reasons) to life in prison or some lesser amount of time to serve in jail. Many who stand against capital punishment use as a reason to abolish it that killing someone does not necessarily deter others to kill, therefore does NOT prevent homicides. There is no way to quantitatively argue that point. But what CAN be argued is this: when a person is put to death for murder, THAT person will never murder again. Yes, that might be an unfair comparison for this conversation. But what it illustrates is that simply implementing a deterrent for doing something wrong is totally senseless and useless unless that penalty is enforced. Offenders MUST be made accountable for their actions. Continuing down the path of permissiveness will do nothing for anyone. And in the case of investigations within our government for wrongdoing, it will put us on (if we are no already there) the road to anarchy and destruction of our representative democracy.
How can we do that?
- Create and maintain an environment of consistent adherence to operating guidelines, procedures, regulations, and laws in every government office. Educating all those affected and who are part of this process is critical.
- Implement a process of accountability that is clearly explained to all those involved. To do this effectively, whoever is the person or persons responsible for detailing the process and its expected results must also detail repercussions for non-compliance. And all must know those repercussions are definite and absolute. And those penalties must be carried out in every case.
Who can we trust to create such a process and make it work? One thing is certain: it cannot be political. It needs to be a career organization or department (or could be a non-political career department of a political organization) that has no accountability to politicians. That in D.C. will be difficult to pull off, but it can be done. The Justice Department could create a real investigative department that is totally self sufficient, run by hired, career investigators that are charged with doing nothing but investigating government agencies, departments, their internal processes and operating procedures, and those who are involved. It could parallel the FBI with the exception of being able to investigate matters that are not criminal in nature — at least at the time. The department head would need to be appointed by a three judge panel of the U.S. Supreme Court and would answer only to a court (similar to the FISA court) also appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court.
So let’s be specific about why we’re even having this conversation: it’s because there’s a bunch in D.C. that needs to be cleared up and cannot be cleared up from within the political atmosphere. If we had such a Department now, these could all be referred for investigation, and Americans could not worry about partisanship in any of the above mentioned investigative issues and those to come. Every American wants an end to the noise of “he said, she said,” “he did, she did,” that is dominating every day in our government. No doubt the media doesn’t help. They’ve never seen a divisive story they don’t like if it’s news!
That being said, know this: the Media will NOT like a process like this, will tear it to pieces every chance they get, and will charge it inhibits their rights under the First Amendment. Let them cry: they’re really good at doing that. Let’s get our government straightened out. Let’s get good people in places of decision-making in D.C. Let’s get the criminals and self actualists OUT of D.C.