William M. Steele: Firing the watchdogs | TheUnion.com

William M. Steele: Firing the watchdogs

The office of Inspector General was created in the aftermath of Watergate as an effort to identify and eliminate government waste, inefficiency and fraud. It has been an important tool of good government ever since. That is, until recently.

At the recommendation of Mike Pompeo, the president has just fired Steve Linick, inspector general for the State Department, as he was close to completing his investigation of whether the Secretary of State circumvented Congress in arranging a huge sale of weapons to Saudi Arabia.

This followed closely the firing of the Inspector General for Health and Human Services who was accused of filing “fake reports” on COVID-19 shortages. And Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general of the Department of Defense, who had been assigned the task of chairing the committee to oversee the administration of the spending of trillions of dollars in the Pandemic Relief Fund, was removed.

The chaos that followed was predictable. These watchdogs for the public interest have to be both independent and nonpartisan. In Donald Trump’s world there is only one consideration — loyalty.

The executive director of the intelligence community recently said, “The system is weakening to the point of ineffectiveness.” Just one more step on the road to authoritarianism.

William M. Steele

Nevada City

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