Last week, we learned that Secret Service Assistant Director Edward Lowery suggested that unflattering information the agency had in its files about a Republican Congressman who had been critical of the service—and who hasn’t been?— should be leaked to public as the agency’s revenge. And it was.
“Some information that he might find embarrassing needs to get out,” Lowry wrote in an e-mail to a fellow director on March 31, commenting on an internal file that was being widely circulated inside the service. “Just to be fair.” Soon an internet source reported that Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, had applied to be a Secret Service agent in 2003 and was rejected. That information was part of a Chaffetz personnel file stored in a restricted Secret Service database and required by law to remain private.
During an inspector general’s investigation, Lowery denied that he directed anyone to leak the private information about Chaffetz to the press and said his e-mail was simply venting. How Clintonian. No, he didn’t direct anyone to do it: he just said that it should be done, as in “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?”
So far, this self-evident dodge has been enough to keep Lowery in his job, because as those who are honest and fair know, there is no accountability in the Obama Administration, and if a Republican Congressman is embarrassed, everyone knows the President is smiling about it. Lowry was promoted to the post of Assistant Director for Training a month ago to help reform the agency after outrageous security lapses that Chaffetz had helped expose and criticize.
That’s some reformer!
Lowry should have resigned the second the e-mail was released, and if he didn’t, Director Joseph P. Clancy, who appointed him, should have fired him, and if Clancy didn’t, Homeland Security head Jeh Johnson should have insisted that he and Lowry be fired, and if Johnson didn’t, then Obama should have sacked all three of them—Johnson, Clancy, and Lowery. That’s how you reform a corrupt culture. Paid White House spinner Josh Earnest, in typical fashion, mouthed pablum about the President having confidence that the agency would do the right thing and issue apologies.
Apologies? You can’t apologize for a breach of trust like that.
In assessing situations that raise ethics issues, the threshold question is “What’s going on here?”
What’s going on here is an open display of a corrupt and untrustworthy government culture, not just in the Secret Service but at all levels of the Obama Administration, seeded and nourished by the President’s refusal to treat incompetence and misconduct with sufficient seriousness, his abandonment of the principle of accountability, his own atrocious ethical leadership as exemplified by his refusal to order an independent investigation of the I.R.S. scandal, and his persistent vilification of the Congress, sending a message to underlings like Lowery that partisan hits will be welcome rather than punished.