UPDATE 1- A Reversal–The “Komen Rule?” -Board Member quotation says it all, whichever side one is on…

From CNN.com:

But on Friday, Komen said that it will “amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”

http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/03/politics/planned-parenthood-komen-foundation/index.html?hpt=hp_t2

From the Washington Post story this morning:

Komen board member John Raffaelli said the board voted unanimously in October to change its grant-making criteria, including adding a rule that bans grants to organizations under investigation”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/komen-gives-new-explanation-for-cutting-funds-to-planned-parenthood/2012/02/02/gIQAkTnklQ_story.html?wpisrc=nl_cuzheads

It is no secret that in our governmental system police, a prosecutor, and/or agrand jury (under certain constraints of law) can investigate broadly.  Less understood is that Congress can investigate anything it chooses whenever it chooses for any reason it chooses.  Whichever party holds a majority in one of the houses of Congress can employ the “investigatory power” to public or partisan purposes as it wishes.

Given the sensitivities regarding Planned Parenthood in our current political environment, Komen’s adoption of the principle stated above was an action of high political character and its board knew that (as the full story sets out) when it acted.

What’s most troubling is that the principle held any appeal (and it holds appeal to other organizations to suspend or cease activity with the subject of investigations) when the very point of an investigation is to secure an accurate answer.

Suspension (not breaking, in my view) with people being investigated by police, prosecutors and grand juries for certain kinds of illegal or criminal activity is called for in many cases.  The same should not be the case when the investigation is by Congress.  The price of its broad span of investigatory power must be that there ought not be a penalty imposed prior to the published findings of the investigation.

White House Seeks Easier FBI Access To Internet Records, Blocks Oversight Attempt… Just As FBI Caught Cheating On Exam To Stop Abuse

From TechDirt‘s “feel safer” department.  Link follows comment.

We’re still at a loss to explain why there’s been so little outrage over the fact that the FBI got a total free pass for its massive abuse in getting phone records. As you may recall, reports came out about how the FBI regularly abused the official process for obtaining phone records, avoiding any of the required oversight, but right before that info came out the White House issued a ruling saying that it was okay for the FBI to break the law. That’s not how things are supposed to work.

And, it appears that since there was no outrage over all of this, the White House keeps pushing further. Three new articles highlight what a travesty this has become. First, the White House wants to quietly make it easier for the FBI to demand internet log file information without a judge’s approval.” Just as I finished reading that, I saw Julian Sanchez’s new writeup about how the White House blocked and killed a proposal to give the GAO power to review US intelligence agencies. The GAO is the one government operation that seems to actually focus on doing what’s right, rather than what’s politically expedient. Sanchez notes that, beyond the sterling reputation of the GAO, it’s also ready, willing and able to handle this kind of oversight:

The GAO has the capacity Congress lacks: as of last year, the office had 199 staffers cleared at the top-secret level, with 96 holding still more rarefied “sensitive compartmented information” clearances. And those cleared staff have a proven record of working to oversee highly classified Defense Department programs without generating leaks. Gen. Clapper, the prospective DNI, has testified that the GAO “held our feet to the fire” at the Pentagon with thorough analysis and constructive criticism.

Unlike the inspectors general at the various agencies–which also do vital oversight work–the GAO is directly answerable to Congress, not to the executive branch. And while it’s in a position to take a broad, pangovernmental view, the GAO also hosts analysts with highly specialized economic and management expertise the IG offices lack. Unleashing GAO would be the first step in discovering what the Post couldn’t: whether the billions we’re pouring into building a surveillance and national security state are really making us safer.

Oh, and just to make this all more comically depressing, just as I finished reading both of these stories, I saw a story about a new investigation into reports that FBI agents were caught cheating on an exam, which was designed to get them to stop abusing surveillance tools. Yes, you read that right. After all the reports of abuse of surveillance tools, the FBI set up a series of tests to train FBI agents how to properly go about surveillance without breaking the law… and a bunch of FBI agents allegedly cheated on the test that’s supposed to stop them from “cheating” on the law. And, not just a few. From the quotes, it sounds like this cheating was “widespread.” But, of course, it might not matter, since the requirements for surveillance are being lowered, oversight is being blocked, and apparently the White House is willing to retroactively “legalize” any illegal surveillance anyway.

http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100729/11415410413.shtml