Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

September 11, 2015

Friday Free Forum

Filed under: General Homeland Security — by Philip J. Palin on September 11, 2015

William R. Cumming Forum

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 6:23 am

My topic today is Ethics and Integrity! Why? Because both underlay both HS and EM IMO.

And Whistleblowers! From a recently released report by OSC [Office of the Special Counsel]!


Federal employees turned to the Office of Special Counsel in record numbers last year to file complaints of whistleblower retaliation, prohibited personnel practices, and other violations of law and policy.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal agency whose “primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing.” It has been led by Special Counsel Carolyn N. Lerner since 2011.

“Fiscal year (FY) 2014 was a record-breaking year for the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC),” according to the FY 2014 OSC annual report that was transmitted to Congress last month.

“For the first time, OSC received over 5,000 cases, a 17 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. The number of prohibited personnel practice (PPP) complaints was also at an all-time high, 3,371, nearly a thousand more than just four years prior. We also received significantly more whistleblower disclosures in FY 2014 than in past years.”

OSC said it has effectively intervened in a growing number of cases, which tends to inspire even more complaints to be filed, perhaps to the point of unsustainability.

“The number of favorable outcomes for whistleblowers and other employees across the government continues to break all-time records,” the report said. “OSC secured 177 favorable outcomes in 2014 helping to restore the careers of courageous public servants who blew the whistle on fraud, waste and abuse, or encountered another form of prohibited conduct in the government. This total represents an increase of 185 percent over six years ago.”

“These victories for whistleblowers, the taxpayers, and the merit system showcase OSC’s effectiveness and increase awareness of the agency in the federal community. As a result, the number of employees seeking OSC’s assistance continues to grow, posing daunting challenges to the agency.”

“We anticipate receiving over 6,000 new cases in FY 2015, more than a 60 percent increase over the ten-year averaged annual case load level. OSC already faces the largest case backlog in agency history,” the OSC annual report said.

Because of the length of this comment I will break it up and post at intervals.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 6:29 am

President James Earl Carter seems to me a good man but the consensus that his was in general a failed Presidency may yet hit the mark. He signed off on Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 which when implemented by Executive orders resulting in FEMA. IMO FEMA could have been a success but was and is not. It has had some occasional success. When signing off on Reorg Plan No.3. Carter by his own hand signed “Reluctantly”!

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 6:36 am

Another Carter Reorganization reorganized the former CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION [once headed by John Macy-the first FEMA Senate confirmed Director] into three parts. The OSC referenced above. The MSPB {Merit Systems Protection Board] and the OPM [Office of Personnel Management].

Carter also created the SES [Senior Executive Service] which IMO brought demise of the federal civil service system.

HUMAN RIGHTS is the largest positive contribution of President Carter, and the UN DECLARATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS [1947?] was a great contribution to the progress of justice for humanity!

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 6:38 am

I briefly pause my etchings before returning to ETHICS and INTEGRITY in HS and EM.

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 11, 2015 @ 7:20 am

On this 14th anniversary of a day when America was attacked causing the loss of so many wonderful people at the hands of those who intentionally crafted an attack and still today roam the streets without any ramification much like those who planned the “Benghazi Massacre” well my comment reflects just how appalled so many of us here on “Main Street USA” feel in a Senate who betrays our country in support of a Shiite led Tehran – the “Brutes of Tehran” who I reference these thugs who will now be supported in the nurturing of an Iranian Empire supported by US taxpayer monies in the billions of US dollars as Tehran given the nod to build WMD’s – how dare you?

However, the disparaging evidence among our own lawlessness portrayed among our own government officials as depicted by a White House who supports the Muslim Brotherhood, a Clinton Foundation self-serving in every way and being allowed to use government office to dupe our own citizens in believing those taking oath and pledge to good ‘ol Glory all self-serving….well, know this and God witness to all that the support of this Iranian Empire now to be funded by taxpayer dollars will not bode well for geopolitical stability and while we have seen this administration and the State as well as Justice department throw intel and military, our soldiers and our police officers, citizens all under the bus, some information to better educate:

This White House and Barry Obama and good ‘ol Ms. Hillary Clinton are not above the law and the House and Senate as well – you have corrupted our nation and you have violated the pledge to safeguard and stand forthright to protect the Hebrew and our Constitution and the enforcement of laws and while Barry Obama and his back room deals with these “Brutes of Tehran” and his desire to be called Barry “Hussein” Obama in keeping with his only pledge, his pledge to Father and his Kenyan pals – anti-Christian, anti-colonialists and YOU have enabled Barry Obama et al as well as the City of Baltimore to make a mockery of our nation of laws and Judeo-Christian principles – How dare YOU?

Whether Muslim, Christian, Hebrew, Hindu or other – we are a nation which allows freedom of individual and of choice whether one chooses to practice Islam, Christianity, Judaism or other – yet we are all held accountable to the laws and regrettably we see this tainted and biased White House led by Barry Obama voted into the Oval office (twice) by the majority of White populous realizing that nothing has changed by this Chicago city street slicker and nothing more since his days when he was standing on his milk box with the likes of Bill Ayers and other radicals spewing such divisiveness – enough is enough and if necessary, let’s bring on the deal maker, the “Donald” for it is time to reestablish ourselves and the glory of our nation –

God Bless America!

Kindly read:

“Only 10 percent of the world’s Muslims belong to the Shiite branch of Islam; most of the rest are Sunnis. The initial split between Islam’s two main branches followed the Prophet Mohammed’s death in 632 AD. It was triggered by a dispute over leadership of Islam. Shiites believed that the Prophet should have been succeeded by the relatives or descendants most familiar with his thinking and practices. In contrast, the group that later evolved into the Sunnis believed that the early Muslim community had the right to select elders from the noble tribe of Mecca, even if they had no blood ties to the Prophet.

Many Shiite traditions—which heavily influence practices and policies in Iran today—emerged during that early schism. Shiites hold that the Prophet’s son-in-law and first cousin, Ali, should have been his immediate successor. Shiite is the short form of Shi‘atu ‘Ali, or followers of Ali.Ali did become the fourth caliph for five years, but was murdered in 661 AD. The new Umayyad Dynasty then assumed leadership of the young Islamic empire. Ali’s son Hussein and his followers decided to fight against harsh governance, knowing that they were likely to be massacred. But they believed it was better to die fighting for justice than to live with injustice—a concept that today defines Shiite beliefs. Hussein was killed in the battle of Karbala. His tomb is one of Shiism’s two holiest shrines and Shiites annually mourn his death in reenactment passion plays. His martyrdom also defines contemporary Shiite beliefs.

Clergy’s powers

Twelver Shiites, the branch to which most Iranians belong, hold that the twelfth imam, or divinely-appointed successor of the Prophet, disappeared as a child in 874 AD and will one day become visible again in this world to restore it to justice as the Mahdi, or the promised one. In the absence of the Mahdi, Twelver Shiites believe that clerics trained in seminaries can substitute for his authority on some issues. So clerics in Shiism are powerful in interpreting God’s word for their followers. And the faithful are obliged to give blind obedience to cleric’s religious rulings. Khomeini transferred this religious power to Iran’s new theocracy after the revolution” –

In eternal memory for all who lost their Life on 9/11, may you rest in Peace in the Loving arms of our Father – thank you to our esteemed public servants and our first responders who we will always remember and today, support every police officer, firefighter and EMT who serve us daily – thank you —

Submitted by,

Christopher Tingus
“Main Street USA”
harwich (Cape Cod), MA 02645 USA
skype: christopher.tingus

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 8:02 am

Many outside the federal government [and probably many inside the federal government] do not know that a small federal organization create if memory serves by the ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT ACT OF 1989 has published umbrella regs that each agency must implement with its own regulations.

Those regs have odd quirks and IMO provide for nonintuitive and strange requirements. The Public Integrity section of DoJ takes criminal ehtics referrals from all other federal components. See 28 USC section 523 or 583? Referrals to DoJ can come from OGE itself since that organization has no independent litigation authority.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 8:39 am

I will be commenting on this 14th Anniversary [is that the correct word?] of 9/11/01 over the next week focusing on LESSONS LEARNED or not learned but wondering about what others think?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 8:42 am

Should the assets [wealth and earned income of a spouse] be attributed to the official or civil servant in the Executive Branch?

The above is a fundamental principle of the OGE regs. Is it correct? Does it bring to mind any presidential candidates who previously held an official position in the federal executive branch?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 8:46 am

Typically there is a two year ban on post-employment activities for federal officials and civil servants. But there is also a lifetime ban on some areas of concern.

The principal test for both bans is an attempt to limit the officials or civil servants switching sides and advocating against a position for which they were responsible in one way or another.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 8:51 am


Most President’s want control before any chaos or disorder from public or semi-public challenges to their adopted positions or even positions being developed.

Even when resigning or retiring federal officials are expected not to oppose positions they may have agreed with officially and publicaly during their employment and while receiving a federal salary and benefits.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 8:53 am

Did you know that the DUAL COMPENSATION ACT OF 1947 prohibits any federal appointee from receiving earned income while getting a federal salary?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 8:58 am

Some history but first a disclosure: Almost 50% of all Regional Directors of FEMA of the independent FEMA [4/1/79-3/1/2003] were terminated for non-feasance, mis-feasance, and mal-feasance. These were all Presidential appointees but not Senate confirmed–All non-career SESs. Disclosure: I was a principal in running the FEMA ethics program from 1992 until retiring in 1999. FEMA had never passed an OGE audit until I took over.

Comment by Vicki Campbell

September 11, 2015 @ 9:05 am

Well so far, this is a pretty sad excuse for a forum that’s falling on September 11. I was going to post a comment on my own personal experience of 9/11, the impact it had on me, and how I’ve evolved in relation to the major issues it raised for me as an American – but I think I’ll pass.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 11, 2015 @ 9:19 am

Vicki! I was called by my wife while recovering at home from exploratory surgery on 9/11/01 and told to turn on the TV. As I did so the second tower was attacked. Still talking to my wife [a World Bank executive] I told her no accident we were under attack and expect an evacuation order. I called a friend and told him to meet me at a local diner [Metro 29] in N. Arlington. On the way there I went to a high point in N.Arlington and saw the smoke from the Pentagon attack.

In the diner for the next three hours I watched as traffic went to Service level F [bumper to bumper often stopped] on Lee highway headed south outside the diner.

Also on TV saw WH staff fleeing to Ellipse and beyond. The WH situation room holds no more than 40. Since CPE [circular probable error] for ICBM’s dropped to less than 3000 yards the WH pretending some might survive direct nuclear attack on the WH is a joke.

The seems to be a consensus tha FLT 93 was headed not to the WH but thew US Capitol. Re: Tom Clancy?

Comment by Arnold

September 11, 2015 @ 10:28 pm

Vicki, Just my personal feeling, but I’m okay with the gradual decline in attention to this anniversary. Not to take one thing from the families and loved ones of all touched by this tragedy, but in hindsight one can identify many missteps in our collective reaction. Some ongoing.

We, the nation as well as homeland security professionals in particular, should have learned much from that attack. But hopefully we’ve learned as much or more from what came before and after.

Comment by Arnold

September 11, 2015 @ 10:39 pm

I should mention, unless some think me absolutely callous, that all anniversaries of horrible tragedies go through a process that eventually robs then of their vigor. Again not taking a thing away from the victims, but children with no memory of that day are becoming politically active. Personally I think this is a good thing. Others may disagree. Old challenges. New challenges. Hybrid challenges?

Comment by Vicki Campbell

September 13, 2015 @ 2:11 pm

Arnold, thanks for your response. I have to say that I actually agree with you completely. I’m not sure what my problem was when i posted what I did – except maybe the complete collapse of my tomato crop, and how weary I am of Mr. Tingus’ demagoguery, which left me feeling like we haven’t learned a damned thing from 9/11 – or more importantly, our certainly failed responses to it. I would also argue that the terrorists won fairly completely, fairly early on, given the dramatic changes we allowed to the most basic precepts of our democracy in the name of a largely false sense of security, as well as the complete lack of moral or political will in holding those responsible for the fundamentally fraudulent lead up to the equally immoral and certainly illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. From where I sit, we still have the same challenges facing us, and we seem to be doing no better in the face of them than we ever have – if indeed we’re even doing nearly as well. IMO, we really seem unable to learn the most basic of lessons from 9/11…

Comment by Christopher Tingus

September 13, 2015 @ 8:50 pm

Courses human solidarity four Iranian immigrants yesterday afternoon in Mytilini.

Walking down the street from the site of Symamnias where they had disembarked, to the town of Mytilene, in a sharp turn in the area of ??Karavas, there were eyewitnesses of tipping and falling into the ravine a fire truck in which aboard and two firefighters. Result of subversion was trapped between the two men.

Immediately the four Iranians descended to a depth of five meters cliff approached the vehicle and tried to extricate the injured firefighters. Indeed, they remained there and helped in the business of hauling trapped firefighters and their receipt by ambulance ambulance.

The policeman Simeon Dukakis who was present at the event said speaking at ERT1: “Immigrants from Iran helped substantially in the evacuation of firefighters and even wounded hands and feet during the evacuation company. I thanked them and gave their congratulations to act towards their fellow human beings in distress. ”

It is noted that the two firefighters were transported by ambulance to the Hospital of Mytilene, where preventive hospitalized after it was found that there with serious injuries. The four Iranians continued on their journey away to Mytilene.

Source photo: lesvosnews.net

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Comment by William R. Cumming

September 14, 2015 @ 11:44 am

During the long reign of the Common Law in England there once were LAW COURTS, CHURCH COURTS, AND EQUITY COURTS. Equity Courts in Virginia not abolished until about 1970. The distinctions between these court systems often overlooked.

I raise this history because most federal lawyers in the government and outside almost never raise equity arguments when lawyering and while federal civil statutes often convey huge discretion to administrators most of the US Code does NOT have implementing regulations including all criminal statutes.

This often allows the lowest civil servant or appointee to make a decision without an appeal as a matter of course.

The Administrative Procedure Act of 1947, amended in 1966 to add FOIA, tried to force all departments and agencies to use rulemaking and relied on the Administrative Record to support their actions. But in a famous case captioned CHEVRON v. US, SCOTUS analysed the deference if any to be given an EXPERT agency.

Perhaps oddly, perhaps not, no formal federal court decision yet has decided that DHS or FEMA is an expert agency.

So my question is this? Should there be a standard of review by the courts for the ethics and integrity of agency decisions. even when not expert?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 15, 2015 @ 8:09 am

If HS and EM are professions what standards of ethics and integrity have those professions adopted?

The FBI prior to 9/11/01 was largely an investigative agency
not an intelligence or analytic agency with many specialists highly expert in languages and cultures of non-USA ethnic and culture groups that predominated elsewhere.

Director of the FBI announced in May 2002 a reorganization of the FBI where up to 1/3 of the FBI would become intelligence personnel, collecting, processing, analyzing, and disseminating intel.

That effort has largely failed but the FBI presence in many other countries has grown immensely. There are almost no standards of ethics or integrity for the 17 members of the IC, including the FBI.

And there won’t be any standards since Presidents seem to want cherry pick the IC findings pr prevent its analysis from being made public.

EM IMO has not law enforcement or investigative function thus is to the right of the boom as some would say. But IMO some formal system for transfer of some INTEL to the EM community is necessary. FEMA now has more cleared personnel that at any time since Director James Lee Witt removed the need for security clearances from almost 45% of all FEMA FTEs.

The lack of expertise and ethics in the granting and removal of security clearances resulted in a Blue Ribbon Panel report [Trefry Commission] made available in late 1992.

In FEMA in my years there [1979-1999] SECRECY dominated a largely corrupt personnel system that at times constituted up to 60% of the money and staffing of the agency. In my 20 years there 17 different people headed the HR function.

Many appointees and civil servants were in arrears on federal income taxes. Employees who had falsified information on their form 171’s were not automatically terminated in a position backed by OPM.

We need however now an entirely new look at the ethics and integrity standards for all positions in the Executive Branch including appointees. So some reorm suggestions will follow!

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 15, 2015 @ 8:19 am

As to Ethics Reform we should modify the ethics in government act in several ways.

First Congress could help by having each nominee submit a list to the Senate Congressional Committee overseeing that confirmation of all Statutes and Executive Orders that nominee will participate in administering.

Second, that Committee should also not just have a list of delegated authority pf that nominee including delegations from the Head of the agency or Secretary of the Department, but also authority vested directly in the position for which confirmation is being sought.

In the current system one day after confirmation a PAS [Presidentially Appointed Senate Confirmed Appointee can be assigned or reassigned to duties for which he/she was not confirmed. Immediate notification to Congress not required.

IMO many PAS appointees are constantly surprised by finding out their real duties after confirmation. And remember these folks are NEVER on annual leave, technically always on duty, and can be advocates on political issues with even travel being paid for by Political Campaign organizations.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 15, 2015 @ 8:26 am

Today a nominee of the President has his/her ethics forms reviewed by an ethics official in the Department or agency, OGE, and the WH. These officials do not see tax returns or credit reports at the agency or OGE level. Senate Committees involved in confirmation can see all of these and often have their own confirmation forms.

OGE should process all the ethics forms exclusively for PAS and Non-career SES IMO. Also just as with PAS nominees a formal POSITION DESCRIPTION should be required for all non-career personnel. Over 10,000 politically vetted positions now exist in the Executive Branch possibly 2-3 times that. In my time all the Directors of FEMA approved the selection of all GS-15s thereby politicizing the process of selection.

In many ways the Executive Branch is more about jobs as opposed to effect administration of federal programs, functions, and activities.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 15, 2015 @ 8:30 am

I have long advocated a takeoff from the PARLIMENTRY system of government and once nominate [perhaps before?] have the candidates reveal the top 10 candidates for each Cabinet level position in their administration.

Who is brought into the government is an extremely important factor in bringing ethics and integrity to the EXECUTIVE BRANCH.

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 15, 2015 @ 10:46 am

Well once again debate on for tomorrow! No doubt illegal immigration will be a topic. Other HS and EM issues unknowable until they appear but IMO out migration from drought and fires from California definitely will occur before the 2016 elections..

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 15, 2015 @ 6:51 pm

Wonder which candidate will discuss ethics and integrity?

Comment by William R. Cumming

September 17, 2015 @ 8:43 am

The second session of the Republican debates now over. Washington corruption mentioned by only one or two candidates but a poll cited that 82% og those polled believe Washington is largely corrupt in its policy development and operations.

Predict some sorting out in the polls reflecting this debate.

Senator Lindsey of S.C. only one to announce anything short of more boots on the ground will fail to defeat ISIS/DAESH in Iraq and Syria.

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