Tag Archives: extreme vetting

Cabinet picks need ‘extreme vetting,’ too

U.S. senators are growing frustrated over Donald J. Trump’s lack of vetting of Cabinet picks? Really? Well, who in the world knew?

The latest example of lax vetting comes to us via the president’s pick to be the next secretary of veterans affairs. Dr. Ronny Jackson’s nomination to lead the VA is in serious danger. Allegations have surfaced — from military sources — that Dr. Jackson has instigated a “hostile work environment” and has been drinking on the job.

Oops! Why didn’t the president’s team pick up on this?

Trump selected Jackson, an active-duty Navy rear admiral, because — apparently — he and the doc have a good relationship. The president likes and trusts the White House physician who has worked for two previous presidents. I suppose, therefore, that one could ask the question about “lax vetting” of Presidents Bush and Obama as well.

But the VA is a vast bureaucracy, the second-largest agency within the federal government. Jackson has zero administrative experience managing an agency of such size and magnitude.

As The Associated Press has reported: “The White House still seems to be feeling its way on the nomination process,” said Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, “and does not fully appreciate how important it is to do a thorough vetting and FBI background check on nominees.”

The president vowed to implement an “extreme vetting” procedure for immigrants entering the United States. I happen to support the principle of more rigorous examination of those seeking entry into this country.

Why, though, doesn’t the president impose an extreme vetting concept among those he selects for the highest positions in government? Indeed, a simple question or two could have avoided the hideous publicity surrounding Ronny Jackson’s nomination to lead the VA.

How about asking him something like this: Are there any workplace issues — anything at all — that might pose a problem for your nomination, Dr. Jackson?

Simple, yes?

About that ‘extreme vetting’ idea

I feel the need to revisit briefly an issue I raised in an earlier blog post relating to the latest tumult to erupt at the White House.

It involves former staff secretary Rob Porter, who resigned after two former wives and a former girlfriend had accused him of beating them up.

Why in the name of extreme vetting didn’t the White House personnel office detect this behavior prior to hiring this guy?

Donald John Trump has declared his intention to institute an “extreme vetting” regimen for immigrants seeking entry into the United States. I don’t have a particular problem with that.

I do, though, have a serious problem with the White House giving someone such as Porter access to highly sensitive documents when he doesn’t have a top-secret security clearance. Why does he lack such a clearance? Because the FBI was examining the issues relating to the accusation of domestic violence.

And yet … this guy got hired by the White House. Donald Trump let him in the door and allowed Porter immediate access to documents that demanded a top-secret clearance.

Why didn’t the president, the White House chief of staff and other top-drawer West Wing officials invoke the extreme vetting policy it is demanding of immigrants?

This matter well might cost White House chief of staff John Kelly his job. It is being reported that he knew months ago about the allegations of serial spousal abuse, but did nothing about it. The former wives have presented detailed accounts of what Porter allegedly did to them.

One of Porter’s former wives has issued a stern warning to White House communications director Hope Hicks, who is dating Porter: Be careful, Ms. Hicks; your beau is going to beat you up.

Extreme vetting? It’s missing at the White House personnel office.


Another of Trump’s ‘best people’ takes a hike

The hits — no pun intended — keep on coming at the White House.

Rob Porter, the staff secretary to the president of the United States, has resigned. Porter’s departure, though, comes amid allegations that he assaulted his two former wives, one of whom he beat up while the two of them were, um, on their honeymoon.

Porter denies the allegations. White House chief of staff John Kelly originally called him a man of “honor,” then walked back his high praise when the allegations became known. White House press officials said that Kelly became “fully aware” only recently, despite reports that Kelly knew about the allegations months ago.

As for Donald Trump, he supposedly didn’t know, either until just the other day about what the ex-wives have accused Porter of doing to them.

This breakdown in proper vetting represents yet again a serious breakdown in the screening of key White House personnel.

National security adviser Michael Flynn was ousted after lying to the FBI and to Vice President Pence about conversations with Russian election hackers; former chief strategist Stephen Bannon got the boot after he, too, got caught up in the Russia matter; ex-chief of staff Reince Priebus was shoved out because he couldn’t control the White House.

On and on it has gone.

Now it’s Porter, one of the president’s closest aides. Porter, who’s now dating White House communications director Hope Hicks, is supposed to have the highest security clearance possible to do his job, which includes handling hypersensitive documents. He didn’t have one.

Good grief, man!

The president wants to invoke what he calls “extreme vetting” to keep undesirable immigrants from entering the United States of America.

How about some extreme vetting of the people with whom he surrounds himself? He pledged to hire “the best people” to make key decisions and to provide critical advice.

Rob Porter has now been accused of beating his wives. This is how Trump defines “the best people”?

How about ‘extreme vetting’ of judicial nominees?

Donald John Trump wants to employ “extreme vetting” of immigrants seeking entry into the United States of America.

Fine, but how about vetting nominees to the federal bench, Mr. President? I mean, at least a cursory vetting might enable the president to nominate men and women who know certain basics about the law.

Matthew Peterson sat before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week and managed to utterly fluff simple questions about how he would apply certain legal tenets. He has been nominated to a spot on the U.S. Circuit Court in the District of Columbia.

He, um, didn’t do well at his hearing.

Check it out here.

Peterson has never tried a case. Senators asked him about his criminal law trial experience. None. His civil trial experience. None.

The video of Peterson stumbling and bumbling his way through the excruciating committee interview has gone viral, which is a rarity in itself, given that judicial nominee hearings usually aren’t the stuff of social media tittering.

The president has boasted of his administration running like a “fine-tuned machine.” Mr. President, a fine-tuned machine wouldn’t present judicial candidates who cannot answer basic questions from the men and women who must approve these nominations.

How do we stop these ‘lone wolves’?

The immigrant from Uzbekistan who drove a rented truck into the New York City crowd this week illustrates the extreme difficulty in fighting this war on international terrorism.

How does the United States prevent a lone wolf who enters this country legally — even if he’s been through “extreme vetting” — from committing the act of terror we saw in New York?

Donald Trump says the nation is going to end the visa lottery program that enabled the suspect to enter the country in 2010. Of course, as is the president’s tendency, he has politicized the issue by blaming Democrats for their so-called lax immigration policy; he ignores the fact that the law under question was signed by Republican President George H.W. Bush.

My point on this matter is that lone wolf attacks are going to occur despite our best and most diligent efforts to root out evil doers before they commit their terrible act.

I say this also as someone who supports the president’s desire to implement an “extreme vetting” policy for those seeking to come to this country.

But let us not forget, too, that homegrown Americans are capable of committing infamous and dastardly acts. The Las Vegas massacre this summer; the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995; the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre; the Charleston, S.C., church slaughter? All of those evil men were native-born, corn-fed Americans; they only represent a fraction of the carnage committed by American-born terrorists.

The Uzbek suspect came here under an existing policy. There reportedly was no sign that he harbored pro-Islamic State sympathies. He became radicalized while living among Americans.

Then he took out his rage. This is why the war against international terrorism is so damn difficult to wage.

Good job, Border Patrol

DEL RIO, Texas — The U.S. Border Patrol is on the job.

We are glad to report that they stopped our vehicle as we made our way home.

The first stop occurred on U.S. Highway 83 just north of Laredo. We pulled up to the station, were greeted by an officer. He asked, “Are you citizens?” Yes, we said. “Him, too?” the officer asked with a broad smile, referring to Toby the Puppy. Oh, yes. “Thank you for y our service,” he told me, noticing my Army ballcap. I should have thanked him for his service as a Border Patrol officer. The young man has a tough job.

We proceeded on our way.

We turned west at Carrizo Springs on U.S. 277, then headed north out of Del Rio.

That’s when we got to the second stop. We pulled over.

The officer approached our rig. “How you doing? Do you have a long ride home?” he asked. Yes. I told him we were en route to Amarillo. He told us to travel safely. Off we went.

The fellow in the vehicle ahead of us wasn’t quite so fortunate. The officers pulled him over. We didn’t stay long enough to see what they were asking him, although — and please forgive the profiling here — he did look to be of Hispanic descent.

My wife and I have some experience going through what the president would call “extreme vetting.” It occurred at David Ben-Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, Israel. You haven’t lived until you’ve been given the third, fourth and fifth degree from an Israeli airport security agent. They give all outbound passengers a thorough going-over as they ask you the same set of questions many times … looking to get a rise out of you, looking for signs of irritation, seeking a possible flaw in the answers you give.

OK, we didn’t get that kind of treatment as we coursed our way from the Rio Grande Valley.

We also are acutely aware of the extra attention being paid along our southern border, particularly since the election of the president. In truth, though, our nation’s border cops have been doing a difficult job for as long as we’ve shared lengthy borders — on both sides of this massive nation.

We have been given a brief glimpse of the job they do and the alert level they must maintain. I know they don’t catch all of those who seek to sneak into the country illegally. But we’ve got about 5,000 miles of border — north and south — to protect.

Thank you, folks, for your service.