Posts Tagged ‘Government Accountability Office Report’

Benghazi bloodbath: Clinton must answer questions immediately, say experts

by Jim Kouri on Monday, November 19th, 2012

This is article 193 of 246 in the topic Congressional Investigations

While appearing on Fox News Channel on Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told anchor Megan Kelly that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may testify before a senate panel in about two weeks to answer questions about embassy security and the bloodbath at a U.S. consulate that suffered from insufficient security.

During Sunday morning’s television news shows, the primary focus of discussion was the testimony given on Friday by former CIA chief and retired four-star general, David Petraeus, and the bloody terrorist attack on the Benghazi, Libya, U.S. consulate. However, according to an expert in security management, very little attention is being paid to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s failure to heed the warnings contained in a congressional report on the subject of embassy security and safety released in July 2011.

“Secretary Clinton and her staff received a report regarding diplomatic security from the U.S. Congress but she and her staff appear to have ignored its findings and failed to implement its recommendations,” said Thomas Sullivan, a security and safety expert. “Clinton said she took responsibility for what happened on Sept. 11, 2012, but then she refuses to make any statements regarding that incident.”

Sullivan believes a full investigation is needed since the Obama administration was warned by a Government Accountability Office report that was released to the U.S. Congress, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and concerned agencies and organizations in 2011.

According to a Government Accountability Office report, prior to the Benghazi terrorist attack, there had been more than 40 violent attacks on embassies worldwide since 1998, including the attack on the American embassy in Monrovia, Liberia in 2003.

The Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security protects people, information, and property at over 400 locations worldwide and has experienced a large growth in its budget and personnel over the last decade, according to the GAO analysts.

Diplomatic Security trains its workforce and others to address a variety of threats, including crime, espionage, visa and passport fraud, technological intrusions, political violence, and terrorism. To meet its training needs, Diplomatic Security relies primarily on its Diplomatic Security Training Center (DSTC).

The Department of State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security is responsible for the protection of people, facilities, information, and property at over 400 embassies, consulates, and other facilities throughout the globe, according to the GAO analysis.

In addition, Diplomatic Security provides protection to the Secretary of State, foreign dignitaries visiting the United States, and several other U.S. government officials. Diplomatic Security dedicates 72 special agents to provide a 24-hour protective detail for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton alone. Yet, a consulate in terrorist-infested Benghazi didn’t have half that number of trained security officers.

Since the 1998 bombings of U.S. Embassies in East Africa, the scope and complexity of threats facing Americans abroad and at home has increased and diplomatic security must be prepared to counter threats such as crime, espionage, visa and passport fraud, technological intrusions, political violence (riots and intrusions), and terrorism, according to analysts at the GAO.

To address these objectives GAO analysts interviewed numerous officials at Diplomatic Security headquarters, several domestic facilities, and 18 international postings.

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Controversy continues over domestic use of Predator drones

by Jim Kouri on Thursday, September 20th, 2012

This is article 117 of 184 in the topic US Constitution

A small number of local police departments in the U.S. now use unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) after garnering federal approval, but once the Federal Aviation Administration promulgates new rules to open the skies to commercial use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), that all will change, according to Daily Jeffersonian editorial yesterday.

Law enforcement agencies primarily use smaller versions of what many like to call Predator drones, which the military and CIA utilize in war zones. The non-military versions are used by local law enforcement for surveillance, search-and-rescue missions, to monitor traffic and even help with crowd control. While their use is now primarily for surveillance, there is concern that one day deadly weapons could be mounted onto domestic drones. However, non-lethal weaponry including rubber bullets, laser projectiles and tear gas is more likely should police agencies wish to use their UAS offensively.

Unmanned aerial systems appear to be all the rage within the law enforcement and military communities, especially since they do not carry a pilot on board, but instead operate on pre-programmed routes and by following commands from pilot-operated ground stations. But members of House of Representatives decided to investigate its uses — especially its domestic uses by federal, state and local law enforcement — as well as its impact on civil liberties, according to a Government Accountability Office report released on Sept. 14, 2012.

UAS can be small, generally 55 pounds or less, or large, such as unmanned helicopters. The GAO noted that current domestic uses include law enforcement, forest fire monitoring, border security, weather research, and scientific data collection. And while current uses are limited, that is likely to change under the Obama administration.

As the nation moves closer to sequestration — across-the-board budget cuts to the military, intelligence agencies and law enforcement departments — Unmanned Aerial Systems may become more and more useful in maintaining a certain degree of security, according to former police commander Charles Nettinger, now a security consultant.

“Two or three unmanned aerial vehicles will be able to monitor entire cities even during the darkest nights. If need be, weapons systems could be mounted on them, but that isn’t a desirable outcome,” Nettinger said.

The Federal Aviation Administration authorizes UAS use on a case-by-case basis after conducting a safety review. FAA and the other federal agencies that have a role or interest in UAS are working to provide routine access for UAS into the national airspace system, according to the 49-page GAO report.

Progress has been made, but additional work is needed to overcome many of the obstacles to the safe integration of UAS that the GAO first identified in 2008. At that time, the GAO analysts reported that “UAS could not meet the aviation safety requirements developed for manned aircraft and that this posed several obstacles to safe and routine operation in the national airspace system.”

The GAO analysts also noted: “These obstacles still exist and include the inability for UAS to sense and avoid other aircraft and airborne objects in a manner similar to manned aircraft; vulnerabilities in the command and control of UAS operations; the lack of technological and operational standards needed to guide safe and consistent performance of UAS; and final regulations to accelerate the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace system.”

The U.S.

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Flight school trained illegal aliens to fly aircraft in Boston

by Jim Kouri on Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

This is article 74 of 128 in the topic National Security

In a shocking discovery, the U.S. government allowed up to 25 illegal aliens to attend a flight school in Boston, according to a Government Accountability Office report and a Fox News Channel story on Friday.

The illegal aliens included eight who had entered the country illegally and 17 who had overstayed their allowed period of admission into the United States, according to an audit by the GAO. Even more shocking was the report that the owner of the flight school is an illegal alien.

Three of the illegal aliens were actually able to get pilot’s licenses, according to the GAO.

The revelation of the illegalities occurring at the FAA-licensed flight school occurred when local police officers — not members of the multi-billion dollar budgeted Homeland Security Department – captured the owner of the school during a traffic stop and were able to determine that he was an illegal alien.

A “weakness” discovered within the TSA’s Alien Flight Student Program is that it doesn’t check immigration status, something that gets a very low priority in the Obama administration, say critics of U.S. immigration enforcement.

“Almost 10 years after terrorists crashed planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon in the worst and deadliest terrorist attack in the U.S., how could the federal government allow an illegal alien to obtain a pilot’s license and run a school that trains dozens of foreigners to fly small aircraft?” asks former police lieutenant and counterterrorism expert Steven Knudsen.

The illegal alien students also told investigators that the TSA never asked them about their immigration status when they enrolled in flight school.

According to a Judicial Watch investigation, the owner of TJ Aviation Flight Academy students accused of being in the United States illegally received clearance to train as pilots despite supposed strict security controls put in place after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

This revealing — even shocking — story reveals that Homeland Security officials have not instituted new safeguards to stop other flight schools from enrolling illegal immigrants who could present national security threats.

Pilots are actually licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), but the agency relies on the TSA for criminal and immigration background checks. FAA officials claim that they don’t have the legal authority to revoke a pilot’s license for being in the country illegally, indicating that government bureaucracy is playing a role in the inexcusable security lapses.

The TSA, which has 55,000 employees, has compromised the nation’s security on many occasions and its lapses have been well documented over the years, according to officials at Judicial Watch.

In the past, the TSA approved background checks for illegal immigrants to work in sensitive areas of busy airports, violated federal standards by not screening cargo and passengers on hundreds of thousands of planes that fly over the U.S. annually, and allowed guns and bombs to slip by at major U.S. airports during random integrity tests conducted by “Red Teams” who conduct undercover investigations seeking security vulnerabilities.

A few months ago inept screeners missed a suitcase filled with explosives that blasted after a three-hour domestic flight. Checked on a flight from Boston to Miami, the bag contained hundreds of bullet primers that exploded on the tarmac after the plane arrived in south Florida.

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POLITICS VERSUS PRUDENCE: SYSTEMIC MISMANAGEMENT OF OUR NATION

by Stephen Levine on Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

This is article 211 of 458 in the topic Government Corruption

There is little or no doubt in my mind that corrupt politics is behind the greatest financial, military and social catastrophe to befall America in modern times.

Let us examine the issue further:

1. Legal Bribery– one need only consider the corrupt political feedback loop that drives our present government at all levels: local, state and federal. Politicians pander to the special interests in return for campaign funds and voter support. As if “we the people” are only there to be manipulated at election time.Consider the tax-exempt “special interest” foundations in California which purport to relieve the tax payer of the burdensome travel, lodging and wining-and-dining expenses of top state elected officials. Funded almost entirely by lobbyists doing business before the state. Lobbyists hopping to bring lucrative contracts and legislation back to their sponsors. Making these foundations yet another channel for legalized bribery. Relatively anonymous bribery because they are not compelled by law to reveal their donors.
2. Million-Dollar Miscounting – one need only consider that while very large financial and corporate entities can account for  and manage large sums of money, no one in government seems to be able to account for even the simplest program. Tens of millions have been spent on complex accounting systems that fail to accurately account for the taxpayer’s funds. Almost every GAO (Government Accountability Office) report notes systemic failures of systems, procedures and controls. And this in spite of the large accounting systems provided by top-notch companies including major accounting firms, auditors, consultants and others.
3. Deception by Design– one need only read a few legislative bills to see that they are virtually unintelligible to the ordinary man and to most of the legislators who are voting on the issues. They are often written by lobbyist-lawyers to obfuscate the real intent and effect of the legislation. And what irks me the most is the deliberate torturing of the legislation’s title to provide a media-friendly but misleading acronym.It seems, at least to me, that allowing lawyers to obfuscate and torture legislation to the point of requiring their fellow practitioners to interpret its meaning is a fundamental conflict of interest as well as being un-American.

To hold American citizens and entities responsible for obeying millions of conflicting, confusing or illegal laws they cannot read, understand or obey is to artificially criminalize the population to allow for selective prosecution for political purposes. Creating a class of purposeful political prisoners in this land of the free, home of the brave.

4. Revolving Door – it should come as no surprise that those who are responsible creating and administering legislation and the rules and regulations promulgated by regulatory agencies come from the various special interests that are promoting their own agendas; and most troubling, return to highly-paid positions once the desired deed is done.
5. Non-Regulatory Agencies– Where was the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FDIC, and the myriad of other regulatory agencies prior to the mortgage meltdown and financial collapse?In spite of specific, credible,and written information, the SEC failed to detect, deter and prosecute the Madoff fraud; not to mention the billions of dollars in other systemic financial frauds perpetrated by our nation’s leading financial institutions.

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“Obama: Bain debate ‘is what the campaign is going to be about’”

by John Lott on Saturday, May 26th, 2012

This is article 700 of 1300 in the topic 2012 Elections

From Politico:

Obama’s damn-the-torpedoes remarks were also aimed at some of his fellow Democrats who are increasingly anxious that their party’s leader is attacking a private equity firm for doing what such businesses were created to do: make cash within the confines of the law.
“My opponent, Gov. Romney, his main calling card for why he should be president is his business experience,” Obama told American and international reporters at McCormick Place at the conclusion of the two-day NATO summit focused on the seemingly weightier issues of Afghan withdrawal and Pakistan.
The deep blue of the NATO stage backdrop seemed, for a moment, to morph into the sky blue of Obama’s campaign sets.
“When you’re president, as opposed to the head of a private equity firm, then your job is not simply to maximize profits. … So, if your main argument for how to grow the economy is ‘I knew how to make a lot of money for investors,’ then you’re missing what this job is about,” Obama said. “It doesn’t mean you weren’t good at private equity, but that’s not what my job is as president.”
Obama’s staff and Romney aides have been locked in an intensifying battle after Newark Mayor — and Obama ally — Cory Booker blasted the Obama campaign’s targeting of the venture capital firm as “nauseating” and a “distraction from the real issues.” . . .

Obama’s comments about businesses taking the short term but him being concerned about the economy growing 10 years from now is just nuts.

From ABC News:

. . . As for the criticism that the Team Obama’s Bain attack is part of “nauseating” political discourse with which Booker has become “very uncomfortable,” Axelrod said, “on this particular instance he was just wrong.”
Booker is not the only Democrat to question the aggressive, negative portrayal of Romney’s work in private equity.  Former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr. said today he agreed with “the substance” of Booker’s comments and “would not have backed out.”
“I agree with him, private equity is not a bad thing. Matter of fact, private equity is a good thing in many, many instances,” the Democrat said in a separate appearance on MSNBC earlier in the day.
Former Obama administration economic adviser Steven Rattner made similar comments last week, calling a new Obama campaign TV ad attacking Romney’s role in the bankruptcy of a Bain-owned steel company “unfair.”
“Bain Capital’s responsibility was not to create 100,000 jobs or some other number. It was to create profits for its investors,” Rattner said.  ”‘It did it superbly well, acting within the rules, acting very responsibly. … This is part of capitalism, this is part of life. I don’t think there’s anything Bain Capital did that they need to be embarrassed about.” . . .

Democrat Virginia Senator Mark Warner (a former venture capitalist):

Chuck Todd:  “Do you think that Bain Capital practiced good or bad ethics here in the way that they went about their business?”

Senator Warner: “I think that Bain Capital was very successful business.  I think they got a good return for their investors.  That is what they were supposed to do.”

Now what are we to make of Van Jones’ comments here?  They sure sound as if Van Jones’ comments on integrity implies that even he agrees with Booker.  Is that possible?

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The two groups of people having the hardest time getting jobs: young people just entering the market and those over 55

by John Lott on Friday, May 25th, 2012

This is article 68 of 117 in the topic Unemployment

Previously, I posted this on how horrible the job market is for young people.  Now there is this on those over age 55.  From Fox News:

About 55% of jobless seniors, or 1.1 million, have been unemployed for more than six months, up from 23%, or less than 200,000, four years earlier, according to a Government Accountability Office report released on Tuesday. . . .
More seniors with jobs expect to work longer, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute, and just 14% say they believe they can retire comfortably. . . . .
For example: an individual with a defined contribution plan who stops working at age 55 instead of age 62 would see a 39% drop in median-level retirement income, from $817 per month to $500 per month, according to the GAO, which did not take other retirement income sources into account.
Another similar worker would see a 13% drop in median Social Security retirement benefits from $1,467 to $1,273 a month. . . .

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New bill, HR 1091, introduced in Congress to secure border

by Jim Kouri on Thursday, March 24th, 2011

The Obama border protection plan consists of spin and fabrications repeated over and over again, say critics. Photo: Alipac

This week, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) introduced The Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act, HR 1091, which would authorize an additional 350 miles of fencing along the southern border.

A Government Accountability Office report found that only 44 percent of the southwest border is under operational control, and only 15 percent of the border is airtight. In other words, 56 percent of our border with Mexico is unsecured, according to the GAO.

Alternative (Southwest) Border Technology is DHS’s new plan to deploy a mix of technology to protect the border. The Government Accountability Office’s ongoing work conducted for the House Committee on Homeland Security has provided the chairman Rep. Peter King (R-NY) on March 15 with preliminary observations on the status of SBInet and user views on its usefulness, and the Alternative (Southwest) Border Technology plan and associated costs.

In response, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine, CA) has introduced The Unlawful Border Entry Prevention Act, HR 1091, which would authorize an additional 350 miles of fencing along the border.

Few will argue that securing the nation’s borders from illegal entry of aliens, contraband, terrorists and weapons of mass destruction, is a long-term challenge and not merely a temporary inconvenience.

In November 2005, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) launched the Secure Border Initiative network (SBInet) — a program which was to provide the Border Patrol, within DHS’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), with the tools to detect breaches and make agent deployment decisions by installing surveillance systems along the border.

GAO analysts reviewed planning, budget, and system documents, observed operations along the southwest border, and interviewed DHS officials.

In January 2011, the Secretary of Homeland Security directed CBP to end the SBInet program as originally conceived because it did not meet cost-effectiveness and viability standards, and to instead focus on developing terrain-based and population-based solutions utilizing existing, proven technology, such as closed-circuit television camera surveillance systems, for each border region.

According to DHS, the Secretary’s decision on SBInet was informed by an independent analysis of alternatives (AOA) to determine the program’s cost-effectiveness; a series of operational tests and evaluations by the U.S. Army’s Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC) to determine its operational effectiveness and suitability; and an operational assessment by the Border Patrol to provide user input.

The Secretary also stated that while the Alternative (Southwest) Border Technology plan should include elements of the former SBInet program where appropriate, she did not intend for DHS to use the current contract to procure any technology systems under the new plan, but rather would solicit competitive bids.

SBInet’s current surveillance capability continues to be used in Arizona. Specifically, there are 15 sensor towers (with cameras and radar) and 10 communication towers (which transmit the sensor signals to computer consoles for monitoring), currently deployed in the Border Patrol’s Tucson Sector.

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Napolitano, Canadian security chief release border plan

by Jim Kouri on Monday, March 14th, 2011

Following the release of a February 2011 Government Accountability Office report — originally analyzed by the Law Enforcement Examiner — that showed only 32 of the nearly 4,000 miles that make up the US-Canada border are considered secure, many lawmakers and law enforcement officials demanded a more comprehensive border security plan.

The top border security chiefs for the United States and Canada met to discuss what could be done to increase national security in both countries. Photo: DHS

The top border security chiefs for the United States and Canada met to discuss what could be done to increase national security in both countries. Photo: DHS

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Canada’s Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on Thursday announced the public release of the Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment, highlighting the United States’ and Canada’s commitment to identifying and mitigating potential threats of terrorism and transnational organized crime along the shared border.

The Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment is a part of a shared vision for border security that Secretary Napolitano and Minister Toews outlined during meetings held throughout 2010.

According to the U.S. Border Patrol, Operation Outlook, “successfully identified air-related smuggling trends and patterns and organizations active in cross-border criminal activities,” along the Spokane sector. The test program also revealed that far more aircraft were flying at low altitudes to smuggle drugs than previously thought. “The United States and Canada have a long history of productive collaboration,” said Secretary Napolitano.

“The Joint Border Threat and Risk Assessment reflects our ongoing commitment to enhancing security along our shared border while facilitating legitimate travel and trade that is critical to the economies of both countries,” Napolitano said.

Secretary Napolitano has agreed to deploy military-grade radar technology across the Northern Border of the US and Canada, in order to secure the border and decrease drug-smuggling.

The Assessment addresses a range of security issues, including terrorism, drug trafficking and illegal immigration. It also reflects the commitment to work together to protect our borders and shared critical infrastructure from terrorism and transnational crime articulated by President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in February.

Their joint declaration –  “Beyond the Border:  A Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness” – explains how the United States and Canada will manage shared homeland and economic security.

“The Government of Canada is committed to a safe, secure and efficient border. This is vital to Canada’s economy and to the safety and security of all Canadians,” said Minister Toews. “Canada and the U.S. are working closely to ensure that our shared border remains open to the legitimate movement of people and goods, and closed to those who would do either country harm.”

For more information, please visit www.publicsafety.gc.ca

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10 percent of Medicare payments are fraudulent

by John Lott on Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

This is article 6 of 8 in the topic Entitlement Programs

The estimate of fraud leaves out certain obvious instances of fraud from the nearly 10 percent claim.

Nearly 10 percent of all Medicare payments are fraudulent or otherwise improper, and the government isn’t doing enough to stop them.

That’s the conclusion of a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday. The report, issued at the request of a House subcommittee investigating Medicare and Medicaid fraud, estimates that the federal government is losing $48 billion on the improper payments – a significant amount for a program that “is fiscally unsustainable in the long term” unless action is taken.

The report, prepared for a House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee hearing, said “CMS needs a plan with clear measures and benchmarks for reducing Medicare’s risk for improper payments, inefficient payment methods and issues in program management and patient care and safety.”

CMS estimates that $48 billion of estimated Medicare outlays of $509 billion in fiscal 2010 went to improper payments, including fraudulent ones. “However, this improper payment estimate did not include all of the program’s risk since it did not include improper payments in its Part D prescription drug benefit, for which the agency has not yet estimated a total amount,” said Kathleen King, director of GAO’s health care team. . . .

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