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Posted at 6:15 AM ET, 02/16/2011

Darrell Issa was on to something

By Ed O'Keefe


Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.). (Getty Images)

Eye Opener

Liberal groups are launching a crusade against Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and his Democratic colleagues don't like his leadership of the House Oversight Committee, but he deserves some credit today for spotting a problem before most people noticed.

The only new item added to a closely-watched report on the federal government's biggest management problems (which The Federal Eye scooped last evening) is concerns with how the Interior Department manages federal oil and gas resources. The report's authors specifically cited how the department managed the now-defunct Minerals Management Service that collected the royalties on federal oil and gas leases.

Appearing on the Government Accountability Office's "High-Risk Report" is no honor. It's like being on the principal's list of troubled students, or the boss's list of bad employees.

You won't see the Interior Department and other agencies crowing about appearing on this list, but you might get an "I told you so" from the lawmakers or outside groups who've tracked the troubled issues on the list.

Issa -- true to form -- is no exception.

"It's better late than never, but it shouldn't have taken the worst ecological disaster in history for GAO to place this program onto the high risk list," Issa said Tuesday evening.

But Issa has the right to speak out, because he's been tracking concerns with MMS since leading an investigation into the troubled agency's affairs as an Oversight subcommittee chairman in 2006.

Then, in Oct. 2009 -- six months before the Gulf Coast oil spill -- Issa proposed separating MMS from the Interior Department.

MMS would "benefit from a divorce" from Interior, and separating it would force lawmakers to track it more closely, he said at the time.

Issa worked with several environmental and employee groups and the Interior Department's inspector general to root out the problems. But few people noticed and few people cared until the agency's mismanagement became a worldwide embarrassment.

Does Issa know how to score short-term political gains, earn headlines and deliver a good soundbite? Definitely. Has he been a partisan figure over the course of his congressional career? Absolutely.

But if anyone doubts his intentions, Issa will be able to point to the MMS debacle as an example of his commitment to rooting out federal waste, mismanagement and fraud.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: On his second day on the job, Jay Carney stayed silent. Jack Lew had a rough Budget Day. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton calls for a "serious conversation" about Internet freedom. Former president George H.W. Bush, 14 others receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom. There's little excuse for the thin U.S. leadership bench in Afghanistan, columnist warns. The White House decorator will design the Oscar's green room.

DEFENSE DEPARTMENT:
Lawsuit says military is rife with sexual abuse: It accuses leaders of allowing a military culture that fails to prevent rape and sexual assault.

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT:
Role for teachers is seen in solving schools' crises: Education Secretary Arne Duncan says teachers' unions can help solve many of the challenges facing public schools.

FBI:
Anthrax report casts doubt on scientific evidence in FBI case against Bruce Ivins: A panel of prominent scientists is casting new doubt on scientific evidence that was a key part of the agency's case.

GOVERNMENT WORK/LIFE/OPERATIONS:
25 percent of IT budget to fund cloud computing: So says the government's Chief Technology Officer Vivek Kundra.

U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT:
U.S. anti-drug agents shot in roadside attack in Mexico; one dead: Two agents were traveling in a dark-colored SUV on the highway between Monterrey and the Mexican capital when they were fired upon.

IRS:
Health-care reform law requires new IRS army of 1,054: Among the new corps will be 81 workers assigned to make sure tanning salons pay a new 10 percent excise tax.

Prisoners stole millions from the IRS in 2009: Prisoners in the three states received nearly $19 million in IRS refunds during 2009 after filing false or fraudulent tax returns.

NASA:
Temple 1 comet surface may be much more fragile than thought: NASA pictures showed an unexpected layering of the comet's interior, a feature that researchers had not been able to detect earlier.

STATE DEPARTMENT:
U.S. plans own criminal investigation of U.S. Embassy guard held in killings in Pakistan: The Justice Department plans to conduct a criminal investigation of an American security guard's involvement in the fatal shooting of two Pakistani men last month.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 16, 2011; 6:15 AM ET
Categories:  Congress, Eye Opener, Oversight  
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Next: FEMA invites executives to work at headquarters

Comments

He tracked concerns. Never did anything , but he tracked. I can track! Dan IS(SA IDIOT).

Posted by: bigmac1810 | February 16, 2011 6:50 AM | Report abuse

Issa deserves NO credit. How long has he been in Congress? What has he done before - absolutely nothing.

I can complain about something but if I had/have a bully pulpit and don't use it for good and instead use it denigrate a whole religion then who is going to listen when I may have something to say.

Posted by: rlj611 | February 16, 2011 7:36 AM | Report abuse

Because Issa is a Republican, he must never receive praise of any kind, apparently. Some day, I hope, the Looney Left will realise there are Americans who are Republicans, and yes, the far right, could learn there are Americans who disagree with them. It might be nice if both were at least civil to one another, but that would mean being an adult, clearly something the rabid among us are not

Posted by: sailhardy | February 16, 2011 8:04 AM | Report abuse

Issa is proof positive that if you complain about enough stuff, sooner or later one of your complaints will appear to be valid.

Issa is excellent at complaining, we are still waiting for the doing.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | February 16, 2011 8:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm still trying to figure out. What was the point of this column?

Posted by: bigmac1810 | February 16, 2011 8:33 AM | Report abuse

What is stunning about Issa's comment is that a Republican acknowledges that we have a ecology, a federal agency had a role in monitoring a business involved with the ecology and that a business caused a disaster in the ecology. That is a first for a Republican!!!

Posted by: merrylees | February 16, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the comments so far. He's all talk and no action. Walk the walk and earn the right to postulate, opine, and be taken seriously.

Posted by: DrFish | February 16, 2011 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, Mr. O'Keefe. Have another cup of coffee and then re-read your post, if you don't mind.

It needs a little work.

Posted by: veritasinmedium | February 16, 2011 8:51 AM | Report abuse

So, will the MSM publicize this? I doubt it....

Posted by: SeniorVet | February 16, 2011 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Role for teachers is seen in solving schools' crises: Workers Can't get away with telling management they are Stupid.

Ninety percent of Education problems is Management. Poor leadership provides poor Education. No matter what a Teacher Suggests to make things better; if it falls on def ears forget it. They get labeled a Non-team player and condemned and/or fired.

Posted by: ddoiron1 | February 16, 2011 9:10 AM | Report abuse

Because Issa is a Republican, he must never receive praise of any kind, apparently. Some day, I hope, the Looney Left will realise there are Americans who are Republicans, and yes, the far right, could learn there are Americans who disagree with them. It might be nice if both were at least civil to one another, but that would mean being an adult, clearly something the rabid among us are not

Posted by: sailhardy | February 16, 2011 8:04 AM |
??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I'm sorry but with all due respect, the very same can be said on the constant 24/7 non stop attacks on the President of the United States. For two years and counting, this country has been subjected to fear, scare, smear, doom, gloom, be afraid, be very afraid, racist attacks on our duly elected President and they try and hide that it isn't him but it's his policies. Republicans/conservatives/right wing/tea party/Obama haters have never once acknowledged ANYTHING this President has done to move our country forward. It has been nothing but whine, bi!ch and moan.

For once it would be nice if Republicans just said okay Mr. President we will take a look at this or that. No, before it can come out of his mouth it is all about NO, he doesn't know what he's doing, talking about, blah, blah, and blah. Meanwhile our country is moving forward under the leadership of President Obama with Republicans/Conservatives/right wing/tea party/Obama haters dragging their feet bound and determined to take our country as far back as they can.

People need to understand that the President, Liberals and Progressives care as much about this country as they profess to do. They want to do the right thing as well and not everyone thinks that what the right wing is doing to our country is in it’s best interest. In the 2008 election America elected a Democratic President. That meant they voted for Democratic principles and policies. NOT REPUBLICAN ONLY.

Posted by: catmomtx | February 16, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

The problem with education IS Arne Duncan. NCLB means we fund and drag dead weight behind our brightest which is also our country's future. It's past time to end NCLB. Then provide the bulk of resources to help the brightest succeed.

Issa as usual gets no credit for being Republican AND acknowledging problems with environmental regulation. Give it up progressives at some point you have to give the man some credit.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | February 16, 2011 9:30 AM | Report abuse

Maybe stealing cars taught him some useful skills. "Set a thief to catch a thief".

Posted by: raschumacher | February 16, 2011 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Darrell Issa is on something? I thought his eyes looked a little glassy.

Posted by: Lefty_ | February 16, 2011 10:19 AM | Report abuse

I'm a former Democrat, just switched to Independent. Part of the reason for my switch is Obama's refusal to fight for things that matter to me, that traditionally have mattered to Dems.

If I remember right, the MMS was the agency at the center of a scandal in GW Bush's presidency. Wasn't it regulators partying with the companies they're supposed to regulate? It was low-hanging fruit for Obama to take on, and make the GOP look bad while cleaning up government and scoring points with environmental groups. And no, that's not just me being partisan. That's the way things are done in hardball politics, and it would be naive to think otherwise. But Obama apparently doesn't know how to play hardball.

Instead, the largest oil spill in our history happened on Obama's watch. If Obama were a Republican, enviro groups would be reminding us of that every day.

The main reason I switched to independent is the Dems' refusal to make Bush tax cuts an issue in the 2008 campaign. (Can anyone remember what they campaigned on instead?) So they lost the election over the issue of big government, the tax cuts for the rich were extended, and they are now forced to make budget cuts. I just can't be associated with such political incompetence, and I fear the Democratic Party has become just another party of big business, and everyone else can get in line for the crumbs that spill from the rich people's table.

Is there any way to track how many new jobs are being produced by the extension of the Bush tax cuts?

Posted by: michaelmelius | February 16, 2011 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Ed O'keefe for giving credit where credit is due! Issa is doing what he said he would do! Rarely does the Washington Post present "the other side of the story" and it is refreshing.

Perhaps you can also shed some badly needed light of day on why, exactly 7,000, ICE Union Members--let me repeat seven thousand UNION ICE members(Border Patrol Agents) voted unanimously "No Confidence" In their Department of Homeland Security Management! The Department's "catch and Release" program for Illegal Aliens needs an in-depth, honest investigation. Why, because Americans need answers and not a day goes by without a murder or rape taking place by an Illegal Alien somewhere in the USA.

I challenge the Post to look into their UNION vote and what action (none?) has taken place since. The Border Patrol Agents say Homeland Security has turned into a "Sanctuary City" for Illegal Aliens and it is a disgrace.

President Obama has used President Bush as his landmark for success? He says he has done better!You campaign theme was that Bush was a disaster...OK...Well President so are you! President Obama you have already spent three Trillion $$$ since taking office yet you say you can only afford to deport 400,000 illegal's a year?? Alert!!! Alert!!! Yet another Border Patrol Agent murderedagain TODAY---and another shot and hospitalized!! And, three innocent citizens murdered this past week The Illegal Alien who murdered them had been arrested twice previously, and released!" America" is No Longer a Nation of Laws! Rather it has become a Lawless Nation and an International Disrgrace.

Posted by: passonfirstdown | February 16, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

was he on to something when he was an arsonist or a car thief? Beyond that he does not have the character to investigate anything.

Posted by: calif-joe | February 16, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Issa probably won't pursue issues at Interior too far, because revealing that the corruption of the Interior department dates all the way back to James Watt's tenure, and the establishment of MMS.

Watt conceived and established MMS as a service to the oil industry, rather than as a legitimate regulatory agency. It was never intended to oversee oil exploration, only to facilitate it, and to provide it with political cover. MMS has always been a bogus organization, by design, from day one.

Issa doesn't really want to make those particular headlines.

Posted by: lonquest | February 16, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

Issa probably won't pursue issues at Interior too far, because revealing that the corruption of the Interior department dates all the way back to James Watt's tenure, and the establishment of MMS, is not to his political advantage.

Watt conceived and established MMS as a service to the oil industry, rather than as a legitimate regulatory agency. It was never intended to oversee oil exploration, only to facilitate it, and to provide it with political cover. MMS has always been a bogus organization, by design, from day one.

Issa doesn't really want to make those particular headlines.

Posted by: lonquest | February 16, 2011 10:41 AM | Report abuse

@catmomtx
Progressivism is a term coined by socailist trying to avoid the stigmatism of being called a socialist. While its intentions are great and noble, its practical implementation on a grand scale is doomed to the same failures as Marxism. Just becuase it has worked in small European countries like Norway does not mean it will work here. Why? Becuase where is does work there are ideal conditions that allow it to happen. Small non-diverse populations where resources are plentiful. Our population is certainly not small and is very much diverse. The value of our exported resources is also far less than the value of our import resources. In other words we send more money out than we take in. A socialist system also depends on near universal buy in of its population. The more diverse the population, the harder that is to achieve. The progressive solution is social engineering, but what that ends up becoming is economic enslavement. Make the population dependent on the government for all their basic needs and they will be forced to comply with its social policy. All in the name of the greater good. Every time this has ever been tried in history it has resulted in totalitarian rule. A group in power uses its control to ensure it stays in power. "Progress" ends up being a step backwards.

Watch the DVDs of the sci-fi series Firefly and the movie Serenity. It can be kind of cheesy but it is a great parody of our current social dicotomy.

As far as Issa is concerned, just becuase you haven't heard of what he has done in the media doesn't mean that he hasn't been getting stuff done. In the overall ranks of the house he doesn't have the power to force the change that he is pursuing on his own. His tendency to ruffle feathers, doesn't win him the votes he needs to pass legislation. It's a two edge sword.

Posted by: akmzrazor | February 16, 2011 10:42 AM | Report abuse

To catmomtx:

Your words may be true, but the Republicans learned this lesson from Pelosi, Reid, and the Democrats of Bush's last two years in office. Constant NO, constant antagonism, and it won them the '08 election. But you know what? We, the people, remembered all of that, and we saw what they did and didn't do when they had the power. And now you have the results of the 2010 election.

Can you hear us now?

Posted by: tmkelley | February 16, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

ISSA does NOT have the right to speak about this issue.

he has a firm and absolute OBLIGATION to do so.

libs trying to stop him, are to blame.

Posted by: docwhocuts | February 16, 2011 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"Does Issa know how to score short-term political gains, earn headlines and deliver a good soundbite? Definitely. Has he been a partisan figure over the course of his congressional career? Absolutely.

But if anyone doubts his intentions, Issa will be able to point to the MMS debacle as an example of his commitment to rooting out federal waste, mismanagement and fraud."
*****************************

Fair points, Mr. O'Keefe and interesting bit today; thanks.

I would respond, however, that if Rep. Issa expects to be taken seriously when he raises serious concerns, he needs to lose the grandstanding. This bad boy has cried "wolf!" for no reason other than partisan hackery so often that he's lost almost all credibility.

It's never too late to re-earn the respect of one's peers and the public. I hope Mr. Issa is ready to grow up and become a real statesman instead of the bomb-throwing partisan he's clearly been hitherto in his career.

Posted by: abqcleve | February 16, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

The disastrous Gulf spill of 2010 had roots in the infamous Santa Barbara, California, spill of 1969. Then Union Oil Company (later UNOCAL) was given permission by regulators, the Conservation Division of the US Geological Survey (USGS), to utilize below-standard casing in their drill holes. The Conservation Division had leasing and regulatory missions which never fit within the objective science mission of the world-renowned and respected USGS.

It is widely held that the Santa Barbara spill was a major impetus in the establishment of the first Earth Day in the Spring of 1970. Shortly thereafter, in 1973, came the so-called ‘Arab Oil Embargo’ which was a reaction to US re-supply of the Israeli Army following the Yom Kippur War in October of that year. Long gas lines in 1973-74 led to the establishment of the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Act of 1978, which started renewable energy research.

Ronald Reagan was a passionate opponent of the DOE and the Energy Act while being a proponent of accelerated development of the Outer Continental Shelf and Alaska's North Slope (Drill, baby, drill). He tried to abolish the DOE in 1981, couldn't, began to strangle the Energy Act budget, and chose James Watt as Secretary of Interior. Watt supported the drilling mantra. But, standing in the way of an accelerated drilling program was the little leasing and regulatory bureaucracy still buried in the USGS, the Conservation Division. To bypass the USGS cover, the Conservation Division was plucked from the USGS and was renamed the Minerals Management Service (MMS) in January, 1982, with the help of the Republican-controlled Senate and the Republican/conservative-Democrat coalition in the House.

Later in 1982, Watt designated the MMS as the administrative agency responsible for the mineral leasing of submerged Outer Continental Shelf lands and for the supervision of offshore operations thereafter. The agency was now ‘out there’ by itself and subject to direct pressures of the Reagan and subsequent Administrations through their Interior Secretaries. With only an exception during the Clinton Administration, development and anti-regulatory philosophies dominated the appointment of MMS Directors from 1982 to 2009. A long-term atmosphere of lax regulation and facilitation of drilling short cuts produced the recent scandals and, ultimately, the Gulf disaster, as well as the mismanagement that Issa highlights.

The current state of the newly named Bureau of Ocean Energy (BOE -- old MMS) was inevitable considering a journey beginning with a causative role in the 1969 spill when it was just a small part of another agency. The 1969 spill and the well-known Exxon Valdez accident were small forerunners of what now has occurred. Even under Issa's efforts to ‘fix’ it, the BOE/MMS will still be at the mercy of each new administration, for better, or, for worse.

Posted by: jdrd58 | February 16, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Darrell Issa is a Muslim!
If the repubs want to brand Obama a Muslim (as if that's bad) then back to ya!

Posted by: bartholomewbogy | February 16, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Regarding the MMS scandal, where was Issa during the Bush Administration? In a coma? Where was all this concern about waste, fraud and mismanagement during the Bush/Cheney years? What a hypocrit.

Posted by: lddoyle2002 | February 16, 2011 12:47 PM | Report abuse

To catmomtx:

Your words may be true, but the Republicans learned this lesson from Pelosi, Reid, and the Democrats of Bush's last two years in office. Constant NO, constant antagonism, and it won them the '08 election. But you know what? We, the people, remembered all of that, and we saw what they did and didn't do when they had the power. And now you have the results of the 2010 election.

Can you hear us now?

Posted by: tmkelley | February 16, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse
------------------------------------
Don't you find this "You did it first" argument just a little infantile?

The truth about the political polarization and name-calling in DC is that it dates all the way back to Watergate, and the Nixon impeachment. The Republican establishment is still nursing a grudge over the fact that Nixon wasn't given a pass for his behavior, nearly forty years ago. Every Democratic president since Carter has had to endure efforts to de-legitimize his presidency.

This behavior goes back thirty years before 2008.

Posted by: lonquest | February 16, 2011 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Way to go Greg. It is great that the WaPo gives credit when credit is due sometimes. While still too rare, this kind of acknowledgment is why the WaPo supplanted the NYT as the national paper of record long ago. You obviously didn't read the Journolist memo about not giving a Republican credit for anything.

Posted by: stvcar | February 16, 2011 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the level of vitriol in the comments is amazing.

Shouldn't everyone want legitimate oversight(regardless of party affiliation)?

Posted by: MOvoter | February 16, 2011 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Congressman Issa will hound "retired" U.S. Senator Dodd mercilessly. Issa doesn't need the ghost of father Thomas Dodd to know there is something else rotten in the Denmark that was the U.S. mortgage business.

Posted by: mranchor | February 16, 2011 6:18 PM | Report abuse

So Ed what was Issa's contribution?

Posted by: FoundingMother | February 16, 2011 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the level of vitriol in the comments is amazing.

Shouldn't everyone want legitimate oversight(regardless of party affiliation)?

Posted by: MOvoter | February 16, 2011 2:50 PM
===========================================
Your forgetting the fact that nearly all Democrat/Progressive are desperate for a one party state. Thus they cannot admit that anyone from another party might have a positive impact on this country.

Posted by: krankyman | February 16, 2011 7:13 PM | Report abuse

@ krankyman... BALONEY! Drink that koolaid much? Both parties have absolutely worthless members in Congress. But the sheer objective of the republican leadership is to unseat Obama and with that comes the party of 'No'. Take off those blinders and turn off you Fox News!

Posted by: darbyohara | February 17, 2011 2:27 PM | Report abuse

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