Monday, December 2, 2013


Back In June We Ran This Story. Based On What We Were Able to Find In The General U.S. Media There Doesn't Seem To Have Been Any Real Follow Up. Update 7/25/2016


  Boxer Dog      WATCH DOG      Dog        Or LAP DOG?


The Media Finally Publishes The Tip Of The Ice Burg Of Corruption The National Mariner's Association Has Long Suspected Existed In The Department Of Homeland Security's Office Of The Inspector General.

 The National Mariner's Association (NMA) which closed down daily operations last year, had often been featured in these pages for the altruistic work that it did for America's merchant seamen, especially those employed in the Jones Act trades on vessels under 1600 gross tons admeasurement where unions are virtually never present. Several years ago NMA Secretary, Capt. Richard Block publicly advocated giving up on all attempts to reform certain Coast Guard programs and policies that damaged the Jones Act trades and Jones Act seamen especially in the "workboat trades" such as towing and off shore oil industry support services through appeal to the Coast Guard or the DHS including the DHS Inspector General's Office. Instead the NMA decided to start appealing directly to Congress.

  We carried in these pages the news of how their second appeal to Congress for such safety regulatory reforms as enforcement of existing working and hour regulations, and the long over due formal limitation to 12 hour work days for all crew members. As previously reported a distracted and squabbling Congress did nothing. We reported on such issues as apparent corruption in the Coast Guard's Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) system, the mess at the National Mariners Center, the removal of the professional mariner examination question base from public scrutiny, the run away and ill conceived medical NAVIC that has virtually outlawed middle age from the Merchant Marine. The NMA at one time or another pushed to the Inspector General's Office of Homeland Security the idea of investigating or auditing these programs within the Coast Guard. What came out of the Inspector General's Office was mostly no action, or reports that the NMA considered a "white wash".

  The NMA requested for at least six years that the Inspector General audit the Coast Guard's accident reports as the NMA had convincing evidence that marine accident reports are under reported to the Coast Guard. Eventually an audit was commissioned on this subject but nothing of consequence came out. The audit drew no attention despite the overwhelming evidence available, including a comparison of litigated on record maritime personal injury cases that met the criteria of the Code of Federal Regulations as "reportable accidents" that indicated only about 3 in 100 reportable accidents are in fact reported by the work boat industry. NMA complaints of Coast Guard corruption, mismanagement, and just plain ineptitude have gone unanswered for decades resulting in the publication of countless well prepared documented NMA reports numbered and organized that can be accessed by law enforcement, government watch dogs and the media.

 A couple of years ago CNN's THE LEAD with Jack Tapper  actually published a story detailing an investigation into the personal conduct of the then Inspector General of the DHS Charles Edwards by Congressional committeemen. Certainly if the personal misdeeds that the Congress has expressed concern over are true , and so far this is just a Congressional inquiry, there would be a need for concern about the integrity of the institution of the Office of Inspector General as well as that of the then office holder.  Unfortunately CNN or Mr. Tapper seemed blissfully unaware that this Congressional inquiry is not the only investigation into misbehavior back then focusing light into the Inspector General's Office, or of the many causes that warrant investigation that no one except the NMA has paid any attention to. We urged Mr. Trapper back then to contact the NMA  and to tap into the NMA's well prepared body of reports to begin to see the whole spectrum of problems with the DHS OIG's office, the only supposedly full time watch dog over the Customs and Border Patrol, and the U.S. Coast Guard, two organizations that interact and affect the operations of America's Merchant Marine. It was long past due that these issues reach national media attention instead of being investigated, documented, reported, numbered, and filed away in NMA's collection available for potential use by government "watch dog" (if awake or not self serving) or the media ( if they could somehow bring themselves to take an interest in events on "the wet side of the levee"). If Mr. Tapper had contacted the NMA he'd might have learned, as Paul Harvey used to say ..."The rest of the story" of a watchdog turned lap dog. To read what he actually found click on the link below"

 Editor's Note: The above was published back in June 2013. Below are links to some of the media coverage since. It seems after July 2013 media interest tapered off to almost nil. Then on November 7, 2013 there is an article indicating that some Senators had asked the former "Acting" and then "Deputy" DHS Inspector General to resign. We think the change in title probably signaled that the Obama Administration may have been planning on attempting to get another political appointee in to run the agency. The then "Deputy" became "Acting" when the last Obama nominee didn't past Congressional scrutiny to become Inspector General. The "Deputy", despite the down grade in title was still the head of the office, being the lawful successor as senior civil servant to the duly appointed Inspector General. As a member of the Federal Senior Executive Service (SES) the deputy head of office is not a political appointee and has civil service type protections. So the Senators demand for his resignation fell on deaf ears.  As of this update (5/25/2016) Mr. Edwards resigned some time go and has been replaced and a number of deputies and the Chief Counsel under Mr. Edwards was replaced. But the quality of maritime related audits and investigations has not improved in the view of marine professionals. One reason for the lack of improvement is that during the era between 2011 and 2013 nearly all of the marine and aviation subject matter specialists analysts quit, retired, or were assigned out of specialty. We continue to monitor the situation in the hopes that one day a real "watch dog" will emerge vice what has seemed too long a lap dog.

Later News Coverage Links: 

Homeland Security Office to Unload Hundreds of Corruption Probes

Group Wants Obama to Fire Homeland Security Watchdog

Senate panel investigating inspector general of Homeland Security

Senators Push DHS Inspector General To Resign

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