Friday, May 04, 2007

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes Ipsos Custodes?

Here's the lede and some excerpts from a story that probably bears watching:

A federal official whose investigations of waste and corruption in Iraq have repeatedly embarrassed the Bush administration is now being investigated himself by an oversight committee with close links to the White House and by the ranking Republican on the House Government Reform Committee.

The official, Stuart W. Bowen, Jr., runs the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

[T]he investigations are coming to light just a few months after Mr. Bowen’s office narrowly escaped what amounted to a termination clause tucked away in a large military authorization bill by staff members of another Republican congressman. A bipartisan group of lawmakers later managed to reverse that provision, but the latest action has renewed suspicions that Mr. Bowen -- a Republican himself -- has come to be seen as a serious political liability by his own party.

Want some Orwell-speak from the Administration who holds all records in this department? Oh, we got some! The investigation was begun after several of people who worked for Bowen made complaints to the …

President’s Council on Integrity and Excellence, an organization that was specifically created to investigate allegations of misconduct by inspectors general at federal agencies.


2007-05-12 23:26 EDT

Missing comma and hyphen added. Does my obsession have no lower limit?


bjkeefe said...

I've long remembered the phrase Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes from Robert Heinlein's Space Cadet (Google preview). It means, roughly: Who will watch the watchers?

What I am asking here is: Who will watch the watchers who watch the watchers?

If I messed up the Latin, mea culpa.

Unknown said...

The fact that my blog of last night (Who shall guard the guardians themselves?) coincidentally asks this very question suggests that this country is in dire trouble.

You, me, and Heinlein are all about 1900 years too late to claim credit for this question. It is a quote from the satirist Juvenal (~100 AD).

But actually the concept is a half millenium older still (according to Wikipedia), taken from Plato's Republic, where an aristocracy [rule by the best] is persuaded to reluctantly take up the burden of telling everyone else what to do. How to get the Best to lower themselves to public service? The noble lie (better known as noblesse oblige) was invented, a theme expanded on by Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (and yes, most of Heinlein, who didn't bother with the noble lie plot contrivance, relying on the to him much more believable lust for power of the ruler and the docile superstition of the ruled.)

In Jurassic Park, John Hammond insists that all the problems are due to an infelicitous choice of personnel, whereas Ian Malcolm forsaw disaster predestined by structural failures.

Obviously, sensitivity training for the fox before releasing him into the chicken coop is not going to cut it.

Those who have not yet given up on the possibility of saving our Constitution from the John Hammond's of our time might consider adding their name to this ACLU petition to Congress to restore the right of habeas corpus.

Aristotle wrote that "law is reason devoid of passion". I for one have had enough passion from this Administration. It is time to put our trust back in reason and the rule of law.

bjkeefe said...

I love that name, Juvenal.

I didn't think the line was original with Heinlein, but that's the first place I ever heard it. Thanks for the sourcing.

If you like Heinlein on rule by the smart over the superstitious, I recommend the first of Asimov's Foundation books (confusingly titled: Foundation).

It's a common dream to wish that we could come up with a class of people who were just a little bit better in every way, who could serve as governors, isn't it?

>> sensitivity training for the fox before releasing
>> him into the chicken coop is not going to cut it.

I am so stealing this line.