Tag Archives: John Kelly

Zinkes! Buy Me a New Job. Or at Least an Umbrella

Midterm Musings

One suspect consequence of the Dirty Dems’ recapture of the House of Representatives Tuesday: disgraced Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke [below, hat]’s oversized neck on the subpoena chopping block, according to Huffington Post.

Related:

Defendant, Doors, Drew, Drama, Debt and Disgrace

December Debacle: Stories from the Freezer!!! November 6: Whitefish Flounders; Bronze Star LLC Bungles Tarps for Puerto Rico

A priority of both [House Natural Resources Committee–yes, your tax money pays for a committee to save the trees from their own cabinet department amidst partisan division–member Raul] Grijalva [D-AZ] [above, close-set eyes] and [House Oversight Committee vice ranking member and man with a hard-on for titles that are apparently meaningless unless your party holds the majority Jerry] Connolly [D-VA] [below, pedophile garb and ‘stache] will be getting to the bottom of what Connolly called an “abortive attempt” to replace the head of Interior’s office of inspector general with a Trump political appointee from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The OIG has several ongoing investigations into Zinke’s conduct.

[our emphasis]

Emails from Ben Carson [below, wide shot] at Housing and Urban Development, obtained by The Hill, indeed reveal the Trump ally’s intention to install his subordinate at Interior, in a covert move linking the agencies we will dub Operation Tree House:

“It is with mixed emotions that I announce that Suzanne Israel Tufts [below Carson, tufted feather pin on sweater], our Assistant Secretary for Administration, has decided to leave HUD to become the Acting Inspector General at the Department of Interior,” Carson wrote in his email with the subject line “Fond Farewell.”

More on Tufts’ predecessor’s departure:

Trains, Cranes and Blame Games

Interestingly, Think Progress spoke to an Interior spokesperson who noted since a deputy had been serving in the acting role […] Tufts’ appointment to oversee Zinke’s investigations [does] not require Senate approval.

Convenient!

The public outcry was swift. Within one week, Tufts cashed out, perhaps to employ her former Federal connections by returning to  consulting:

“Ms. Tufts is not employed by the (Interior) Department and no decision was ever made to move her to Interior,” spokeswoman Heather Swift said.

[our emphasis]

[An] HUD official on Friday blamed the announcement on a “miscommunication at the staff level,” suggesting Carson was given bad information.

How Interior’s OIG is investigating the big brass at peak efficiency despite, as confirmed by Federal News Networknot having an inspector general for nearly a decade, is unclear. But they are still running investigations (below).

The number of federal probes into alleged misconduct by Zinke as of August of his second year at Interior, according to Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, was 17. Three had cleared him of wrongdoing. Five were closed for “lack of cooperation or records,” including Zinke “not provid[ing] complete information” on charter flights; and demonstrating he was “unable” to explain pulling the plug on a $1 million federal study, instigated under Obama in the waning days of his administration, on the health impact of “mountaintop removal” coal mining.

[Interior’s OIG] added the cancellation “wasted” some $455,110 that had already been spent on research and that the remaining $548,443 would be returned to the Treasury in 2021.

[our emphasis]

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Speaking of slow-walking accountability entreaties to Federal miscreants…

Chase Bishop: Back in Court

The butterfingered fibbie has pleaded not guilty to second-degree assault for allegedly accidentally blowing a hole in a fellow bar patron in June. On January 17,  however, we will reportedly learn if a plea deal has been reached.

Scott Pruitt Loves Chik-fil-A and Lotion–UPDATED

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Let it Rain

Amid astonished reports that Trump skipped an observation ceremony at Belleau for fallen Americans in World War I  after a light steady rain and a low cloud ceiling prevented his helicopter from traveling to the site,  former national security adviser and career prick Ben Rhodes deftly took to Twitter, explaining to the little people that he “helped plan all of President Obama’s trips for 8 years. There is always a rain option. Always.”

Rhodes failed to realize Trump’s “rain option,” flawlessly executed, was to send in his stead Chief of Staff John Kelly, who does not matter as much.

The president (below, with Melania and German Chancellor Angela Merkel) did make it to Arc de Triomphe Sunday morning for the 100-year commemoration of Armistice Day.

USA Today flexed, however, that several world leaders (it’s unclear if this included Trump), arrived, “rain-soaked,” a few minutes beyond the official 11:00 AM mark at local time for the exact 100-year anniversary of the 1918 cease-fire. Because that’s what’s important.

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I Will Note be a Party to This

And current Democratic Representative Kyrsten Sinema (AZ) pulled further ahead of Republican rival Martha McSally in her quest to replace retiring GOP Senator Jeff Flake.

Sinema’s 28,000-vote lead as of Saturday evening is an interesting illustration of third party effects on national races. Green Party candidate Angela Green (her actual name) (below), despite ending her bid and endorsing Sinema five days before the election, collected at least 43,000 votes as of Friday. News outlets such as CNN continue to breathlessly update results including only Sinema and McSally.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ryan-zinke-democrats-house-investigation_us_5be48602e4b0dbe871a8a02c

https://www.cnn.com/2018/10/19/politics/doi-inspector-general/index.html

Trump administration replaces independent oversight of Zinke investigations with Trump appointee

A Guide to the 17 Federal Investigations into Ryan Zinke

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-interior-coal/u-s-interior-department-axed-health-study-on-coal-without-clear-reason-watchdog-idUSKBN1J82Z5

FBI agent who accidentally shot man in Denver nightclub pleads not guilty

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-france-memorial/trump-cancels-ww1-memorial-at-u-s-cemetery-in-france-due-to-rain-idUSKCN1NF0NU

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/11/11/world-leaders-miss-exact-armistice-day/1966857002/

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/10/politics/arizona-senate-race-sinema-mcsally/index.html

https://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/414439-arizonas-green-party-candidate-drops-out-of-senate-race-and-endorses

https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/green-party-candidate-spoiler-tight-arizona-senate-race/story?id=59071399

NSA’s FISA Festivities Extended with Bipartisan Support; Rest of Government Fights for Funding–Updated with Related FBI Dereliction of Duty

In a two-hour marathon vote January 16,  a visibly humiliated Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell scraped together 60 votes to vote on the six-year re-authorization of FISA Section 702 without allowing amendments.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 gives the NSA authority to ignore the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and collect phone logs of all Americans, as revealed by Edward Snowden in 2013, because they could all be terrorists.

Claire McCaskill (D-MO), up for re-election this November, fought flu symptoms to cast the sixtieth vote to forgo any debate of the re-authorization and advance to a final vote.

That January 18 vote exceeded the simple majority required, flipping four senators who had advocated debate to “yea”–Ted Cruz (R-TX), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Jerry Moran (R-KS),  Chuck Schumer (D-NY)–and picking up Dan Sullivan (R-AK), who missed the filibuster vote:

Trump signed the bill January 19, proclaiming on Twitter: “Just signed 702 Bill to reauthorize foreign intelligence collection. This is NOT the same FISA law that was so wrongly abused during the election. I will always do the right thing for our country and put the safety of the American people first!”

This represented quite a reversal from his January 11 tweet, in which he quoted a headline: “[‘]House votes on controversial FISA ACT today.[‘] This is the act that may have been used, with the help of the discredited and phony Dossier, to so badly surveil and abuse the Trump Campaign by the previous administration and others?”

In an exclusive Fox News interview, chief of staff John Kelly assumed credit for changing his boss’s mind:

“I see a man who can change his mind when the facts and data and staff … bring him to a different conclusion.”

The House had passed the matching version of the bill on January 11 by 256-164, after rejecting an amendment by Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Justin Amash (R-MI) to add the barest of privacy protections for American communications “incidentally” caught up in the surveillance of foreign agents for which the secret FISA court that now allows stockpiling all American communications by the Federal Government was originally established.

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On January 19, Politico reported NSA was sitting on some surveillance data pertaining to pending lawsuits, “accidentally” destroyed that data, and misled a federal court about their actions.

Related:

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 12: NSA, “Exploits,” WannaCry and Whistleblowers

Apparently, in addition to hoarding all our phone logs, NSA is obligated to preserve their ill-gotten, privacy-destroying goodies from our internet traffic, since 2007 when George W. Bush was slammed for warrantless wiretaps of foreigners. How far we’ve come.

But Dr. Mark O. and Elizabeth B. (they’re your employees and they watch you, but you’re not allowed to know their real names) revealed–apparently hours before the above-detailed FISA renewal–that legally-mandated logs of intercepted internet traffic from years 2001 through 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2016 were all deleted. And the backup tapes. Oops.

“The NSA sincerely regrets its failure to prevent the deletion of this data.”

In 2014, Miriam P. reassured the court that legally-must-be-retained data was safe:

The NSA is “preserving magnetic/digital tapes of the Internet content intercepted under the [PSP] since the inception of the program,” she wrote, adding that “the NSA has stored these tapes in the offices of its General Counsel.”

The agency now says, “regrettably,” that the statement “may have been only partially accurate when made.”

The latest NSA filing says the ongoing investigation indicates that officials did a “physical inspection” in 2014 to confirm the tapes’ presence in the counsel’s office storage space. However, “those tapes largely concerned metadata,” not the content of communications the NSA intercepted.

[our emphasis]

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The continued collection of all Americans’ communications without a warrant (despite petty assurances from McConnell, after dragging the bill over a bipartisan filibuster, that the six-year renewal “does not allow the targeting of American citizens”) took precedence over shielding DACA participants from deportation. And funding the government itself, which shut down all “non-essential functions” on January 20.

Obama Proposes Addressing Debt After He’s Gone and Collecting Pension in Hawaii

Image result

Members of Congress, hiding behind the 27th Amendment, will continue to cash paychecks.

The House passed a band-aid bill to fund the government for four weeks and renew CHIP, a recently-expired insurance program for children ineligible for Medicaid, but the Senate rejected it, largely at the behest of of Democrats, leading to many Republicans, including Trump’s press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, dubbing the debacle the “Schumer Shutdown,” despite the minority leader (below) offering Trump two bipartisan deals Friday morning (after assuring all citizens’ phone and email data was still open for Federal probing).

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, after meeting with President Donald Trump on Friday.

Schumer even admitted on the Senate floor he had offered to entertain Trump’s border wall in one proposed bill in exchange for the DACA protections.

Priority one: taking. Priority two: watching.

BuzzFeed, incidentally, spoke with a former NSA employee, who lamented that the agency’s contractor morale will suffer, because they could be vacationing in nicer weather if not for the uncertainty of furlough. The headline literally used the word “suffering.”)

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UPDATE 1/21/18:

It was quite a weekend for government security dropping the ball. Reuters noted the FBI lost some text messages probing Hillary’s Secret Server.

Agent Peter Strzok and attorney Lisa Page reportedly dragged on a text convo from just after Trump’s election through last May. The FBI fingered its “technical system” for “failing to preserve” missives that may have focused D.C. on the newly-inaugurated president–and away from the criminal behavior of his rival.

Republicans have said the texts, which referred to Trump as an “idiot” and a “loathsome human,” raised concerns the FBI is biased against Trump and may have given Clinton favorable treatment after deciding not to recommend criminal charges in connection with the probe into her use of a private email system while she was secretary of state.

Page and Strzok (below) both did time on Robert Mueller‘s squad to investigate Trump’s possible collusion with Russia to win the White House. Strzok was reassigned as soon as Mueller learned of the texts; Page finished work for the probe in July. It’s unclear whether either was vetted for impartiality to work for the Special Counsel.

peter strzok, lisa page

Fox News reported Page texted Strzok following Loretta Lynch‘s sleazy meeting with Hillary’s husband during the investigation:

“It’s a real profile in couragw [sic], since [Lynch] knows no charges will be brought.”

Days later, Hillary was cleared by then-FBI director James Comey.

BREAKING NEWS

According to Heavy:

“God Hillary should win 100,000,000 – 0,” Strzok wrote to Page, according to one message obtained by Politico. “Also did you hear [Trump] make a comment about the size of his d*ck earlier? This man can not be president,” Page responded, Politico reported.

Thanks to our sources:

https://www.kansascity.com/news/politics-government/article195420669.html

https://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=115&session=2&vote=00011#top

https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/20/16913534/president-donald-trump-signed-fisa-amendments-reauthorization-act-of-2017-section-702

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/18/senate-votes-to-approve-reauthorization-controversial-fisa-surveillance-provision.html

http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/12/politics/fisa-surveillance-weird-politics/index.html

https://www.politico.com/story/2018/01/19/nsa-deletes-surveillance-data-351730

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2018/1/20/16912726/trump-shutdown

http://thehill.com/homenews/senate/369889-schumer-says-he-offered-to-discuss-wall-as-part-of-trump-deal

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-fbi-clinton/senator-says-fbi-lost-crucial-texts-tied-to-clinton-probe-idUSKBN1FA15O?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2018/01/21/newly-released-texts-between-ex-mueller-team-members-suggest-knew-outcome-clinton-email-probe-in-advance.html

Peter Strzok’s Texts & Emails to Lisa Page Revealed: READ

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: July 7: DHS Saving Us From Terrorism by Adding to National Debt Via Software They Don’t Use

Note: On July 31, John Kelly, DHS Secretary since January, became Trump’s Chief of Staff. Elaine Duke (below) succeeded Kelly to manage the clusterfuck agency as its Acting Secretary.

Elaine Duke official photo.jpg

It’s not quite the $12,000,000 IRS email system that was never used, or the $18,000,000 fraud prevention program they still can’t operate,

Summer Part 2: August Agony!!! Looking Back: May 10: IRS Takes From Little People; Squander Millions on Unused Email, Faulty Fraud Detection

but the Department of Homeland Security is doing its damnedest to stay in stride with the rival agency as they strive to justify their multi-billion dollar molestation of taxpayers.

Inspector General John Roth (appointed by Obama in 2013 as the second-ever IG for the George W. Bush-created monstrosity) released a report on June 30 detailing DHS’s pissing away nearly $25 million since 2013 on software called “Performance and Learning Management System” (PALMS).

Background: in May 2013, DHS entered a blanket purchase agreement (sounds financially sound!) with Visionary Integration Professionals to spend a “ceiling” of $95,000,000 on PALMS to track employee performance and…manage employee learning? it’s unclear. 

Business InsiderThe contract held out the promise of savings of more than $52 million over five years.

The PALMS was supposed to go live in December 2013, but only became “partially operational” nearly two years later, in October 2015.

The Government Accountability Office warned in 2016 that DHS had not monitored the costs of the PALMS, used risk management or documented milestones. (The rosy title of that report was literally: “Oversight of Neglected Human Resources Information Technology Investment Is Needed.”)

[our emphasis]

Business Insider (our emphasis):

 DHS is the third largest federal department – behind only the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs — and employs more than 240,000 people.

Beyond the $24.2 million in expenditures on the overall contract, DHS spent more than $5.7 million for unused and partially-used subscriptions to the software, $11 million to extend contracts of existing learning management systems and $813,000 for unexpected, increased program management costs.

With multiple “learning management systems” in place, DHS might have at least “learned” by now how to implement a new one!

Seal of the United States Department of Homeland Security.svg

The DHS budget request for fiscal year 2017 was $40,600,000,000.

Some other highlights from the Roth report:

-Of 481 operational requirements, PALMS program officials did not test 97 requirements, accepted 21 requirements despite failed test results, and did not verify 13 requirements for compliance with system specifications.

-Before it tried to go live in 2015, PALMS’ readiness was openly doubted by representatives of DHS’s component agencies: ICE, TSA, the Secret Service, FEMA, the Coast Guard, and DHS headquarters.

**Note: some of TSA’s recent good work:

Summer Part 1: Stories We Shelved!!! March 26–TSA Festivities

DHS Shakes Down Reporter

TSA Shakes Things Up

-Despite these issues and recommendations, a September 2016 acquisition decision memorandum, based on a June 2016 acquisition review board decision, directed the Chief Information Officer to stop further development of three critical performance management requirements and allow DHS components to implement PALMS ‘as is.’

-As part of the agile development approach, the PALMS contractor developed a requirements management plan in August 2013 to manage PALMS operational requirements including conversion of requirements into “user stories.”

[To repeat: the government contractor’s original plan was dubbed “agile development” and sought to create “user stories“.]

In October 2015, the Department approved and accepted this plan as complete even though the contractor did not develop user stories for 99 percent of the requirements

-The contractor’s “migration of headquarters data” was completed nine months behind schedule. The IG notes DHS “should have received $72,901.68” towards subscription costs, but it is unclear if this money was recovered.

DHS incurred more than $11.8 million in additional costs due to PALMS implementation delays. The majority of this waste was incurred because PALMS was scheduled to overlap with the Learning Management Systems contract that expired in 2012, BUT DHS paid for multiple extensions and simply extended the existing (“legacy”) contracts while the new PALMS went unused.

**Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection did not know the number of legacy LMS contract extensions or the amount; therefore, OIG [Office of Inspector General] could not include their extension costs.”**

-Of 345,685 PALMS subscriptions purchased, 67% were unused. The remainder were partially used. Per the IG: DHS wasted more than $5.7 million for PALMS subscriptions.

[all emphasis ours]

DHS requested a budget of $44,100,000,000 for fiscal year 2018, a 1.01% increase.

[Of note, this includes: $1.6 billion for 32 miles of new border wall construction, 28 miles of levee wall along the Rio Grande Valley, and 14 miles of new border wall system that will replace existing secondary fence in the San Diego Sector, where apprehensions are
the highest along the Southwest Border, and where a border wall system will deny access to drug and alien smuggling organizations.]

Can anyone say “face-PALMS”?

Thanks to our sources:

http://www.govexec.com/contracting/2017/07/how-homeland-security-spent-millions-nonexistent-service/139276/?oref=ge-android-article-share

http://www.businessinsider.com/how-homeland-security-wasted-millions-on-software-that-doesnt-work-2017-7