Aiming Low in the DHS OIG Inquiry into President Trump's Executive Order

By Dan Cadman on February 6, 2017

Amid all the other swirling controversies surrounding President Trump's so-called "Muslim ban" (it isn't, on either count), the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) has decided to enter the fray:

Today [February 1], the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General (DHS OIG) announced that it will review DHS' implementation of the recent Executive Order, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States." The review is being initiated in response to congressional request and whistleblower and hotline complaints.

In addition to reviewing the implementation of the Executive Order, the OIG will review DHS' adherence to court orders and allegations of individual misconduct on the part of DHS personnel. If circumstances warrant, the OIG will consider including other issues that may arise during the course of the review.

Note the careful phrasing, which delimits the scope of the review: "DHS implementation", "adherence to court orders and allegations of misconduct", etc., and only if circumstances warrant will the OIG consider other issues.

In other words, the OIG knows full well that, while it cannot completely ignore congressional demands that it conduct the investigation, it is over its head in engaging in an inquiry that has already hit the courts and promises to become a legal/constitutional issue of major proportion.

So instead, it will focus on field personnel. There is an inherent unfairness, indeed pettiness, in such an approach, since (absent evidence of clear malfeasance on the part of any officer) there was obviously a lot of confusion in the way the executive order was rolled out, and field personnel should not be held responsible for confusion in the lines of communication from above as they tried to figure out what exactly they were expected to do.

But taking this course permits the OIG to do something and, as always, field personnel are cannon fodder and easy targets. Never believe that OIGs in any department are apolitical or that they don't look out for themselves first, foremost, and always.

Any bets on whether the congressional demands for an inquiry came from Democrats? And, it's worth noting, the current DHS inspector general is an Obama administration holdover.