POGO WEEKLY: Willfully Ignorant

We are unequivocal and strident supporters of Congressional oversight. That is why we cannot stand by as political theater masquerading as oversight threatens the integrity of critical oversight institutions, such as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
Devin Nunes

“The Memo”: Willful Ignorance and the House Intel Committee

The House Intelligence Committee’s vote to release classified information to the public in itself is not a bad action—POGO has argued that Congress has a right to declassify information.

However, this would be the first time in the history of both the House and Senate Select Intelligence Committees that such a vote took place. Committee members shouldn’t take this task lightly, but should exercise the utmost caution and scrutiny of the information they want to release. This power should be wielded responsibly.

It wasn’t.

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Read Our Letter to Speaker Paul Ryan

Surveillance camerasWith #ReleaseTheMemo, Nunes Hopes You Won’t Understand FISA

The memo is clearly focused on accusing the Justice Department and the FBI of abusing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. But that focus misrepresents how FISA works, the checks that are in place, and the real risks for abuse.

Read more on HuffPost

Unrigging the System

There’s a lot to talk about when it comes to reforming the American political system, all of it important. But what Danielle spoke about yesterday is also at the heart of POGO’s work: how the revolving door between government and industry amounts to legalized corruption, and how that affects so many Americans.

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Scott Pruitt to Testify: Here Are POGO’s Most Pressing Questions

From not providing the public sufficient time or information to comment on EPA’s Regulatory Reform Task Force to failing to respond to Senate inquiries with detailed answers, Pruitt has garnered a reputation for insufficient transparency.

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Leaked Draft Report Calls for Expanded Nuclear Modernization Plan

A look under the hood of nuclear modernization reveals an extraordinarily excessive and expensive effort, the justifications for which seem to be heavily drawn from reports funded by companies with a vested financial interest in it.

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Propaganda by Proxy

When foreign governments need help navigating the DC swamp, there’s a whole host of high-powered lobbying and well-connected public relations firms eager to help them—for a hefty fee. Just as money is laundered through foreign bank accounts and dummy corporations, foreign influence is being laundered.

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Justice Department Plan to Weed Out “Frivolous” Whistleblower Cases May Do More Harm than Good

Whistleblowers beware: the Department of Justice has gotten more aggressive in deep-sixing False Claims Act cases it deems “frivolous,” “opportunistic,” or a waste of the government’s time and resources.

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A More-Friendly Enemy: Back to the Future

The Pentagon shifts its focus from terrorists to Russia and China in its latest strategy. If you’re the U.S. Defense Department—or a commander-in-chief preoccupied by the size of your nuclear button—there’s something comforting about a return to the Cold War playbook.

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U.S. a Haven for Global Corruption Profits, Panelists Say

Danielle Brian, the Project On Government Oversight’s Executive Director, participated in a panel discussion in December examining how American journalists and anti-corruption nonprofits can partner with other groups around the world to more effectively address international corruption.

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Get to Know The Constitution Project at POGO

TCPLearn about TCP’s issues:

POGO in the News

Vox

Congress needs a reckoning. Will this bill do it?

Danielle Brian, executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, told me in November, “It’s no wonder the public has such a low approval of Congress given that they exempt themselves from workplace laws that they apply to the rest of society.”
Politico

Trump’s top health official traded tobacco stock while leading anti-smoking efforts

“It’s a little concerning it took two months to get her ethics agreement signed and an additional month for her to dump conflicting stock,” said Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group.
The Daily Beast

Snowden Bashes Nunes: I Was More Careful With Gov’t Secrets Than You Are

Jake Laperruque, a surveillance expert for the Project on Government Oversight, tweeted Thursday how House intel chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), who had once called Snowden a “traitor” for his 2013 leak of surveillance documents, was now acting recklessly with government disclosures.
Bloomberg Government

Revolving Door Between Trump Pentagon, Contractors Spins Faster

“It’s clear that this administration values the experience of business executives over that of career civil servants,” Mandy Smithberger, director of the Straus Military Reform Project for the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington nonprofit group, told Bloomberg Government.

The shift has spurred an increased risk of abuse, Smithberger said. “The lack of transparency is a real concern,” she said. Without proper management of conflicts of interest, unfair competition can result, she said.

The Hill

Overspending on the Pentagon won’t make us safer

The Project on Government Oversight, a respected nonpartisan watchdog group, has determined that the plane may never be fully ready for combat, even as it experiences huge cost overruns and ongoing performance problems.
Government Executive

EPA Chief Promises Democratic Senators Some Missing Answers

On the contract with the clipping service, POGO General Counsel Scott Amey told Government Executive in an email that: “It’s a travesty that EPA administrator Pruitt wasn’t able to testify about the Definer’s contract at today’s hearing. The federal contracting system should never be used to steer taxpayer dollars to well-connected companies…Is it absurd to think that a company with no performance history is the only company that can provide “media monitoring” services. Someone needs to ensure that there was no pressure from the top to steer this contract to Definers, and if pressure was applied, they must be asked to leave the government because they have no idea what public service means.”
Inside Defense

Experts say NDAA provision on lobbying could catch some in industry by surprise

The Project on Government Oversight, which has criticized the “revolving door” between industry and government, said the provision provides more restrictions. However, Mandy Smithberger of POGO told Inside Defense the key to the provision is enforcement. She said ethics opinions and waivers related to these types of restrictions are not made public.
“You really need to have transparency for those to be effective,” she said. Still, Smithberger said she expects the provision to have some impact.”It’s always important when Congress weighs in to show that they’re concerned about these problems and believe that the revolving door is having negative consequences for public policy and procurement decisions,” she said.
NOLA.com

Wendy Vitter, with one exception, might have what it takes to be federal judge

“If you’re a litigant in federal court, you certainly don’t want the judge to be getting up to speed on the law while she’s ruling on your case,” said Sarah Turberville, director of The Constitution Project at the nonprofit Project on Government Oversight and a Tulane University Law School graduate.
Lawfare

The Little-Known Rule that Allowed Congress to Release Devin Nunes’s Memo

[The disclosure process] was obviously not meant to be a first resort. But the procedure has sufficient intermediate stages to increase the pressure for accommodation. It requires the president to take personal responsibility for a decision to maintain the secrecy of documents over the intelligence committee’s objections, and to provide an explanation for that decision.

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