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FRINFORMSUM: 3/22/2011

March 22, 2011

"Just don't let Felipe know what you really think of his army."

Embattled House Oversight Chair Darrell Issa, still reeling from the recent  ouster of his controversial spokesmen Kurt Bardella,  is back on the war path against the Obama Administration and “government” corruption.  Only a couple weeks after suffering “the worst week in Washington” according to the Washington Post, Issa has set his eye on investigating health care waivers granted by the Obama administration to 1,040 companies allowing them an additional year to comply with the requirements of recent health care legislation, an SEC investigation into Bernie Madoff by a then SEC employee whose family may have simultaneously had an account with the alleged ponzi-schemer, and statements by former DC mayoral candidate Sulaimon Brown regarding his receiving a job offer and money from current Mayor Vincent Gray in exchange for criticizing then-Mayor Adrian Fenty.

Also, Issa’s investigation into suspect FOIA practices at the Department of Homeland Security continues.  In a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano, Issa accuses the department of demoting DHS employee Catherine Papoi for alerting the inspector general to illicit FOIA practices, including the shelving of certain FOIA requests by political appointees at the department.  Issa’s letter claims that, “Federal officials who retaliate against or otherwise interfere with employees who exercise their right to furnish information to Congress are not entitled to have their salaries paid by taxpayer dollars.”NARA’s Public Interest Declassification Board has launched a blog where they are posting their draft proposals to the President regarding changes to the declassification system, especially as it pertains to electronic records.  The posts allow readers to comment on Board proposals and make additional suggestions regarding declassification reform.  The Board will be posting new elements of their proposals on the blog every Wednesday for the next seven weeks.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Federal Reserve Board is not exempt under FOIA from disclosing the identity of banks that received emergency Federal Reserve loans to survive the financial crisis.  The Fed argued that revealing such information could jeopardize the health of the very companies the Fed sought to assist by prompting investors to withdraw their money from those institutions in a so-called run on the banks.  The court maintained that the FOIA exemption rules were passed by Congress and are not subject to change or addendum by the Courts.

Secret Service audiotapes from the attempted assassination of President Reagan have been declassified and posted on the Secret Service’s website.

The WikiLeaks scandal has produced its first high level diplomatic career casualty.  U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual has resigned following a rapid deterioration in personal relations with Mexican President Felipe Calderón in the wake of reported WikiLeak revelations that Pascual called the Mexican military’s efforts ineffective in combating the violent Mexican drug trade.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “reluctantly” accepted Mr. Pascual’s resignation, in much the same way she recently “regretfully” accepted former DOS spokesman P.J. Crowley’s resignation – both of whom lost their jobs for stating opinions that seem manifestly obvious.  Sometimes it’s tough to be in the diplomacy business.

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