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November 16, 2002

Report: Favoritism in Discipline in FBI

Well, Bush looks like he's going to get managerial "flexibility" in disciplining workers throughout the Homeland Security agency.

And for an example of how that works, just read about a new report that details how the FBI, unburdened by union rules and such, allowed rampant favoritism:

Senior FBI managers have frequently received more favorable treatment than lower-level employees in high-profile investigations of alleged bureau misconduct, leading to "the strong perception that a double standard of discipline" exists in the FBI, according to a report released yesterday.

The inspector general's report is the latest in a series of harsh condemnations of the FBI's personnel system, which lawmakers and internal reviews alike have repeatedly characterized as riddled with favoritism and unfair treatment of underlings. Rank-and-file FBI agents have long complained that senior officials cover for each other during controversy, while lower-level agents shoulder the blame.

Well, this is what the Bush administration wants. Top-level political appointees will be able to escape blame for screwups, while hanging out lower-level employees to dry. Any employees who objects or doesn't tow the Party line will lose out on promotions, since the civil service merit system will be dismantled in favor of patronage rewards.

It is and continues to be mindboggling that everyone agrees that the FBI was the center of screwups leading to 911. And the FBI has all the lack of union protections that Bush desires. Why do we want a giant agency of butt-watching coverups?

Posted by Nathan at November 16, 2002 10:35 AM

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A second consideration strikes me even more sharply. What is to prevent the President to set up, within the DHS (perhaps by expanding and redefining the function of some obscure already-existing agency) a new national security police (supplanting the FBI in some respects) answerable only the Ashcroft and Bush.

While the FBI does not have civil service or union protections, it does have an extraordinarily strong network of connections in Congress, and would be able to resist Bush. A newly-founded agency with new people would gain its influence entirely from Bush himself and would have no leverage against him.

I realize that this means that we might end up with an agency even worse than the FBI, but there's nothing impossible about that.

I have taken it on myself to present the paranoid worst-case position from time to time. It seems to me that in this instance the case I'm making is a pretty good one.

Posted by: zizka at November 17, 2002 12:19 PM

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