Skip to main content

If You Saw Something, Say Something

An Open Letter to Career Civil Servants:

We need your help putting the country back together.

We need you to tell us what you saw, and who you saw doing it. We need a return to accountability, which means holding the people who are even now subverting our government — not to mention our democracy — accountable.

We know that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of crimes were committed in the last four years, but we have only the bare outlines of who, what, when, where, and how. We need you to fill in the blanks.

We address you as career civil servants, not to categorize you, but to distinguish you from the hacks and ideologues you’ve been forced to report to and work with. We know they were imposed on you. We assume you weren’t happy about it.

You’re the ones who understood how your agencies were supposed to run, regardless of the party in power. You’re the ones who were forced to implement outrageous changes in policies and procedures, all with underlying political agendas. Who were surely backed into ethical and even legal corners you could not have been prepared for, and are still wrestling with.

You, more than most, are the real witnesses to the bottomless depravities that define the Trump presidency.

We know your career paths can’t be generalized — that the experience of working in the State Department is vastly different from that of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), or Justice (DOJ), or Homeland Security (DHS), or any of the hundreds of agencies that make up the federal government. We also know that the pernicious effects of this administration’s appointees will vary widely from agency to agency.

But we think you’ll agree that the government has been damaged. That important people have been forced from key positions. That institutional knowledge and memory have been lost. That crucial data has been compromised, destroyed, or stolen. That our ability to respond to crisis has sunk to dangerous lows.

Even we, as outsiders, can see this. We need look no further than this catastrophic response to the pandemic. It’s out front and in our faces. Even now, we’re watching the vaccine rollout get botched in real time.

And if we can see it from the outside, we can only imagine what you’ve seen from the inside.

Many of you have seen your agencies decapitated, with seasoned and dedicated professionals replaced by Trump loyalists who were at best incompetent and at worst thieves and saboteurs.

Many of you have had to work side by side with people appointed, not to promote the aims of your agencies, but to undermine them.

Many of you have been coerced — at the risk of your jobs — to cooperate in this process. You’ve seen subpoenas ignored, funds misappropriated, policies bent to cynically political purposes. You’ve seen the whole concept of oversight devolve into a joke.

Many of you have been forced to do things that were ethically abhorrent, and which have pushed you to the edge — or over the edge — of what’s legal.

There are plenty of people eager to hear what you have to say. Some are in law enforcement. Some are in Congress. Some are in the media. All are concerned citizens. All want to see sunlight focused on this dark patch of American history — but they’ll settle for names and dates. Plus any photos or videos you might happen to have.

The next few weeks are especially fraught. You know these people. You know how vicious they are. They came to do damage, and that’s just what they’ll keep doing, right up to the stroke of midnight on Inauguration Day.

So we need you to keep an eye on them on their way out the door. You are uniquely positioned to be vigilant. Please take steps to preserve records, document what you can, and report anyone who steps over the line.

Trump’s blizzard of executive orders is still raging. And while the orders themselves appear haphazard, the overriding objectives are clear: Cover the tracks. Gum up the works. Impair the government wherever possible. Enfeeble the incoming administration, then blame it for being enfeebled.

Nobody faults you for staying in your job — for protecting your paycheck and ensuring your family’s security. It has surely been a harrowing four years, and we applaud you for making it through. We understand if you don’t want to talk about it.

But things were done — and are most likely still being done — that leave us seriously weakened as a country.

This is inexcusable. And the people responsible must not be excused.

Comments

  1. Civil servants in the federal government are always obligated to report waste fraud and abuse.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Branding the Party of Stupid

Let’s talk about the Republican brand. An unpleasant subject, I know, but well worth watching as it turns rancid. Marketing has always been a strength of the GOP. They don’t do policy at all, and they’ve stopped even paying lip-service to reality. But they’ve always had a singular knack for mass manipulation. From Lee Atwater to Karl Rove to Roger Ailes, the party has long been a showcase for brilliant but bent marketing talent, people who understood their target audience and knew what messages would resonate. Those messages have always been deeply fraudulent, and for good reason. They know they can’t tell their audience the real story. The one about who they are and what they stand for. Because the real story is tax cuts and deregulation, nothing else. That’s what they want their brand to be about, but it’s a lousy product. Nobody with a net worth of less than $10 million has any interest in it. So rather than promote it, they’ve had to put up smokescreens to divert attention

The Long Lost Center is Staring Us Right in the Face

Lately there has been much written — and more than a little hand-wringing — about the fate of the fabled American “Center,” that vast majority of sensible people who just wish we could all get along. In particular, there was an op-ed in the Times last week by Thomas B. Edsall — a seasoned, generally respected journalist — that goes to great lengths to lament the neglect of this supposed Center. Edsall places the blame for said neglect on “polarization,” on an electorate that’s been “pushed by political extremes.” He cites an impressive number of recent studies to show us how big but politically powerless this Center appears to be. One of these studies makes the point that: Bipartisan majorities consider the following to be “essential rights important to being an American today”: ‘“clean air and water” (93 percent); “a quality education” (92 percent); “affordable health care” (89 percent); and the “right to a job” (85 percent). These high levels of demand for

Both Sides Now

Back in the nineties, Holocaust denial enjoyed one of its periodic but thankfully brief revivals. It was an old idea given new life, thanks to some shrewd but cynical PR and a few credulous members of the media. Spread virally, or what passed for virally at the time, the “story” — that the Holocaust never happened, that six million Jews were never exterminated — actually percolated up to the mainstream media as a “controversy” for a while. TV news and talk shows, both national and local, worked hard to fan the flames, actually giving serious airtime to the charlatans perpetuating this sludge. But the producers of these shows, sensitive sorts all, couldn’t believe how hard it was to recruit actual Holocaust victims to sit across from the charlatans. They were offering good money, after all. Why would these old folks not want to go on camera? Why would they not want to relive those unimaginable horrors that scarred them for life, listening to some toxic putz who’s trying to conv