A Preemptive Internal Inquiry To Control The Story
I’m not anticipating much from this, since the Office of the Special Counsel is an executive branch outfit run by a Bush political appointee who has gutted his operation already. But the Los Angeles Times is reporting today that the OSC is investigating Karl Rove’s activities for potential Hatch Act violations, mixing politics with the day-to-day operations of government.
(T)he Office of Special Counsel is preparing to jump into one of the most sensitive and potentially explosive issues in Washington, launching a broad investigation into key elements of the White House political operations that for more than six years have been headed by chief strategist Karl Rove.
The new investigation, which will examine the firing of at least one U.S. attorney, missing White House e-mails, and White House efforts to keep presidential appointees attuned to Republican political priorities, could create a substantial new problem for the Bush White House.
First, the inquiry comes from inside the administration, not from Democrats in Congress. Second, unlike the splintered inquiries being pressed on Capitol Hill, it is expected to be a unified investigation covering many facets of the political operation in which Rove played a leading part.
"We will take the evidence where it leads us," Scott J. Bloch, head of the Office of Special Counsel and a presidential appointee, said in an interview Monday. "We will not leave any stone unturned."
Don’t be fooled here. The fact that the administration launched an investigation here is a sure sign that Democratic oversight and attention on the issue of the federal attorney sackings opened up some real vulnerabilities for the White House. The modus operandi for this administration when a real problem surfaces is to push the issue into the lap of an in-house “investigation” that will drag on forever, allowing the White House to deflect all media and opposition inquiries and demands for open accountability by saying “we can’t comment because the matter is under investigation.” That is what happened here.
The Democrats and the center-left blogosphere got a hold of a story which was only the tip of the iceberg about the overt politicization of the entire government, which threatened to reveal everything Rove has put into place over six years. The Democrats and the mainstream media haven’t yet fleshed out the full picture, but Rove knew they were headed in that direction. So presto-chango, suddenly an “inquiry” is launched by an Ashcroft alum at Justice who himself has purged the OSC of experienced staff, and the party line will be that “we can’t comment due to the ongoing investigation by the OSC.” And it is all BS. Even the Bush-friendly Washington Post editorial page says today that there is a need to get to the bottom of how involved the White House was in the sacking of these attorneys and presumably the reasons why they were sacked. Democrats need to press ahead with an independent inquiry, and subpoena the administration to construct the full story. They should also formally demand the appointment of a Special Prosecutor and force Alberto to reject such a request.
(Hat tip to sephius1 at DailyKos)