Should Our Leadership Staff Constantly Be Under Investigation?

I posted this in a thread that mistakenly likened indictments to impeachments [Libby::Clinton] and think I may be on to something as I watch how partisanist that discussion has become. I recently read something that gave me an idea about something we can do to improve accountability within government.

In the U.S. our nuclear arsenal has something called PRP, Personnel Reliability Program. The program is a set of psychological and organizational tests; each year to make sure everybody stewarding this arsenal is on the ball. Each year, between 2.5% and 5.0% of previously PRP Certified individuals have been decertified, that is, deemed unsuitable for nuclear weapons related activities.*

Similar functions are certainly employed in many other sensitive areas of government. And lately, our publicly accountable leaders are being indicted left and right. Time and time again, these proceedings are disparaged as politically motivated attacks. Revenge for revenge for revenge for revenge.

So it seems nobody will take these processes seriously because it requires a will and an organization to get them under way. There’s so much crosstalk that genuine accountability gets left by the wayside. People wonder whether Earle is cruising to knock out DeLay for political reasons and the same can be asked of Fitzgerald’s inquisition of the White House at present.

That’s not what I want to discuss here, however. I’d like to see what people think about setting up a genuine framework for constant and ongoing accountability of government officials.

See, there’s the folks we elect and the folks we don’t. The folks we elect rely on the folks we don’t elect to do some dirty work so that, either, they don’t get caught [because they’re low profile] or if they do get caught, the elected officials and usually cauterize themselves effectively.

What can we do to monitor these folks, keep them on the ball and make sure they are reliable? Should we keep grand juries under seal open at all times to monitor these folks? Should we pick some at random for each season?

Bankers describe to me how they are usually forced to take vacations and their computer access priveleges are revoked for a duration of time so they can be scanned and so that any schemes they maintain are bound to fall apart.

What non-partisan methods should be available to maintain accountability of non-elected government officials? I mean, we can impeach a president or a judge. How would people these people?

    • [see Herbert L. Abrams’ “Human Reliability and Safety In The Handling of Nuclear Weapons” from Science and Global Security, vol. 2 (1991), p. 334]

I cannot explain why this posted twice. Oops. If a Mod cares to delete one I’d be happy not to add cruft to the boards.

I’d be in favour of regular mental health tests for both elected officials and government officials; the problem seems to me is that you’re never going to completely remove accusations of being partisan. If you set up a test, one side or the other will complain that the board that created or evaluates the test is biased one way or the other, or even that the test itself is written in such a way as to create a bias.

I suppose the only way that would be truly unbiased would be to have them watch themselves; everyone would have their own political viewpoint, but because everyone has a “side” it would be an equal amount of bias. This would create a huge amount of red tape though, and no-one would be able to trust each other enough to trust or work closely together.

Yeah, the main goal would be to engender a process that is non-partisan. I don’t think it’d be as difficult as all that to set up tests that are absent political leanings, but I’m not sure, which is why I’ve asked.

The best way would probably be to expand the scope of the GAO as this is a bureaucracy that already tries to do this sort of stuff and even had a name-change recently so it’d have more pizazz and a clearler mission statement. [General Accounting Office to Govt. Accountability Office]

The biggest issue for me is the degree to which crucial issues can be buried under Executive Privilege, especially when the executive claims many many privileges. There has to be a way we can counteract this as a potential for abuse without compromising the work of government.

A free and independent press, and an informed electorate that follows their findings?

Read Bad News: The Decline of Reporting, the Business of News, and the Danger to Us All by Tom Fenton if you think the free and independent press is doing it’s job. []

He might convince you otherwise, as he’s done for me.

The press isn’t finding much and they’re not inclined to. In fact, they miss most of what is going on and fail to correctly hold our government accountable most of the time for what it does in our name and to preserve its own interests. Tom gives us 7 reasons

1 – The status of news as a profit earner
2 – The deregulation of broadcasting
3 – The decline of the industry’s codes and standards
4 – The obsession with ratings
5 – The expense of maintaining foreign bureaus
6 – The growth of packaging, rather than gathering, news
7 – The corporate ownership of news media.

With this major failing, you see the electorate isn’t informed.

Also, as the Fitzgerald special investigation should tell you, it’s not always elected officials who need to be held accountable. And it’s not only our elected officials who may be prone to fail or betray our interests for the sake of their own.

Oh, I know it isn’t. This is the same news media that thinks the revelations of the Downing Street Memo is less newsworthy than Bill Clinton’s LAX haircut…

Heh, then you know full well that the job isn’t getting done. Other than taking back our press corps against all odds, what do you figure is to be done?

Getting news from non-traditional non-corporate sources is a good start; I find British and Australian news often covers stuff that gets glossed over in the 'States.

Yeah, I already read and aggregators of plenty other international news sources but most people don’t. I’m sure most folks on the Straightdope consider themselves part of the knowledgeable and well-informed wing of the electorate so I’m not trying to preach the news here.

I’m interested in government accountability.