Constant's pations

If it's more than 30 minutes old, it's not news. It's a blog.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Investigators Need A Separate Branch of Government

The Current flaw with the American Constitution is it permits Congress to block investigations.

Independent oversight might improve under a New Constitution, if there were a fourth branch of government devoted to gathering information, conducting investigations, and sharing findings with prosecutors, auditors, analysts, the media, Congress, and law enforcement.

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The problem has been both the Executive and Legislators have shut down investigations:

A formal investigation by the Surveys and Investigations team requires signatures from the chairman of the full committee and the top-ranking minority member, and usually from top-ranking subcommittee members as well.

. . .

More than 20 proposals for intelligence studies were circulated to the committee leadership by investigators, to no avail, he said.

. . .

Pearre strongly supported that probe until he abruptly ordered it shut down about a year ago as investigators were looking into allegations of kickbacks to a Department of Defense employee and concerns that the security upgrades installed on Capitol Hill would not work. Ref


Steven T. Dennis. Investigators Say Appropriations Panel Lost Appetite for Oversight CQ TODAY. Nov. 3, 2006 Ref

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Responses to Challenges

___ How would Congressional decisions to shut down investigations be mitigated with a separate branch -- couldn't they shut down the investigation, as Peare did?

Response: If the third Chamber in the Congress, the Counselors, were the open forum for whistleblowers to voice their concerns, this would act as a check.

___ How would the Investigations Branch ensure it was not politicized?

ResponseThe counselors would have a higher duty to the Constitution than any political party. One option would be to ban direct political affiliation in the third chamber; and institute a higher code of Congressional ethics, as we have seen in the Judicial Cannons.

Rather than interfacing with either House, Senate, or the Executive directly, investigators could interface with the Counselors -- directly elected by the people at large.

There would be 250 counselors experts in the law, auditing, military affairs, intelligence, and law enforcement; elected for three year terms; the numbers, means of election, and their terms would have to be robust to check power, and rise above politics.

The debate may center on whether the counselors should be directly elected by teh State Legislators; yet, this would contradict the notion of direct representation otherwise available through direct election of Senators and Representatives in the original two chambers.