• Text smaller
  • Text bigger

Not one kilowatt of energy is produced by government. It consumes
plenty and it emits, as a byproduct, plenty of hot air and noxious
fumes.

Yet, nevertheless, despite the promises of the Reagan administration
and many members of Congress’ revolutionary class of 1994, there is
still a Cabinet-level department in charge of the nation’s energy
policies.

Congress has a political opportunity to turn the debate over security
breaches at the Energy Department into a legislative prescription for
pulling the plug on a Cabinet-level bureaucracy that never should have
been created.

Former Sen. Warren Rudman’s report on the nation’s weapons labs found
the Clinton Energy Department to be mired in a “culture of arrogance”
and unwilling to blow the whistle on nuclear security lapses that could
only reflect negatively on the most politicized administration in the
nation’s history.

Rudman went so far as to say unequivocally that the Energy Department
bureaucracy is still — even after the wave of publicity generated by
the storm over the compromising of nuclear secrets by the Chinese –
resisting reforms necessary to protect the nation’s vital security.

In other words, no amount of political pressure can force a Clinton
Cabinet agency to police itself. Abolition of Energy is the only logical
course to follow.

Energy was invented during the Carter years, when, mistakenly, the
administration and Congress concluded that the availability and cost of
fuel would be one of the nation’s major preoccupations for the
foreseeable future and that only micromanagement of the oil flow by the
federal government could ensure the wheels of the nation’s industry kept
turning. This was a faulty notion then. And history has shown the
creation of this new bureaucracy was not only unnecessary but, as
always, unwise.

The Clinton administration’s Energy Department has provided us with
seven years of reasons to correct our mistake in creating the agency.

My own personal experience with Energy came in 1995 when then
Secretary Hazel O’Leary personally applied the most heavy-handed
political pressure imaginable to a donor to my non-profit investigative
reporting center. She told the contributor, someone whose company relied
on federal contracts for millions in revenue every year, that if he gave
any more money to the Western Journalism Center those contracts would be
in jeopardy.

Why was O’Leary concerned about the center? Because it was involved
in a long-term, high-profile investigation of Clinton administration
corruption — including the president’s untoward personal and political
connections to hostile foreign intelligence agents.

That’s just my personal experience. I would have to assume that
O’Leary and her minions were corrupt to the core if they would stoop to
such tactics. How many other instances of cover-up and abuse of power
must she have been responsible for?

When you get right down to it, that’s all government bureaucracies
actually do well — throw their weight around, limit personal freedom,
abuse power, cover up wrong-doing. Thus, it makes sense to eliminate as
many of them as humanly possible. Energy would be an excellent place to
start trying to put the genie back in the bottle at the federal level.

Rudman told NBC’s Tim Russert that the nation would still not even
know about the dangerous security breaches at Energy had it not been for
the press — specifically he credited The New York Times — breaking
them. He suggested this is not the way it should be. In other words,
when operating correctly, government should blow the whistle on itself.

Not likely. In fact, Rudman is dead wrong. First of all, The New York
Times did some good reporting on the security issues to be sure. But
many of them were based primarily on leaks from the White House — spin
jobs from a desperate administration trying to weasel its way through
one more scandal. This news service, Bill Gertz of the Washington Times
and Insight magazine deserve a share of the credit for breaking a string
of stories about the inappropriate links between the Clinton
administration and the Chinese military-intelligence establishment over
the last several years. Those stories may not have attracted the
attention of the work by The New York Times, but they more than laid the
groundwork for what was to come — and what will still be written in the
history books.

It is the press in a free society that serves the watchdog role. It
has just been so long since the media performed that function well that
people like Rudman have forgotten. The government can never be expected
to police itself. That’s why a free press is indispensable to a free
society — to expose the fraud, waste, corruption and abuse of
institutions and bureaucracies such as the Clinton Energy Department.

  • Text smaller
  • Text bigger
Note: Read our discussion guidelines before commenting.