I am not stating a conclusion about how this matter ought to be resolved, and there are competing concerns. I am saying that the concerns I have raised ought to be taken seriously.
18 U.S.C. 207 is a statute that can carry criminal penalties. Violations are serious, not "minor" as some comments here suggest. Bush Administration officials were told in ethics lectures that all ethics rules are important, but that this and other criminal statutes are extremely important. I believe the advice in the Obama Administration is the same. I have no idea what was said in ethics debriefings for departing employees in the Clinton Administration when Holbrooke left the State Department, but the rules are clear and he should have followed them.
The AIG facts speak for themselves. The company was very badly managed for a long time (there was another round of scandals in 2004-2005 before this one). The directors' job was to prevent this kind of thing from happening and they did not do their job. The taxpayers now will be paying the bill.
Afghanistan and surrounding countries have problems with corruption and incompetence. Dealing with corruption and incompetence there has become our problem. I hope the President has somebody over there who can understand and address these issues.
Once again, my concern is that these matters be taken seriously, not necessarily that anyone be removed from office. The President's vetting process also should catch these types of things so they can be addressed honestly and openly at the time a nomination or appointment is made.
Richard W. Painter
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