The current media feeding frenzy involves New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, whose administration allegedly condoned or ordered the closing of several lanes on the George Washington bridge as some sort of political retribution plan. Gov. Christie fired his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, when he learned she had not been truthful with him concerning information regarding the lane closures. And some reports indicate she played a role in ordering them.
If Kelly was involved in this kind of activity, which seeks to punish a political opponent by wreaking havoc on the lives of his or her constituents, she deserves what she gets.
But here’s my question: Who is President Barack Obama’s Bridget Anne Kelly and why hasn’t this person been fired?
Let’s look at a particularly troubling decision of this White House: denying death benefits to grieving military families during the government shutdown this fall.
This action was horrifying. To think of families getting the awful news of a loved one’s death…and then being told the death benefits would be held up by the government shutdown? What kind of callous, cold-hearted, steely eyed, uncaring ….demon…would conjure up such a scheme? It’s sickening. The mind recoils from it.
Unfortunately, the media recoiled from it, too, not going beyond the shallowest of reporting on the topic, taking as gospel the story that the benefits were truly prohibited by the shutdown, and thus, by implication, those evil Republicans were responsible for hurting folks who make up one of their constituent bases.
But just the tiniest bit of digging would have led to another story, and even more digging might have led to the Bridget Kelly in this case. As I pointed out before, Congress passed the Pay Our Military Act (POMA) before the shutdown to avoid this kind of situation. The president signed POMA. Did he truly believe it didn’t cover death benefits? There was his time to speak up!
Instead, White House lawyers, along with DOJ and DOD lawyers, looked at the issue when death benefits needed to be paid and concluded that Congress must have meant for them to be prohibited when passing POMA. Yes, that’s the only way to view that kind of interpretation–as if Congress was living in some Bizarro World where “pay our military” really meant “don’t pay our military.”
But don’t take my word for it. As I pointed out in my previous piece on this despicable, cowardly act, Edward C. Liu, attorney for the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service, issued an opinion on how POMA should be interpreted concerning death benefits. Yeah, death benefits could be viewed as not part of POMA, said Liu, but only if you interpret the act to mean that Congress deliberately and consciously intended to prohibit payment of death benefits. As I said, only if you thought “pay our military” meant pretty much the opposite.
So, who in the legal confab of DOD, DOJ and WH lawyers thought that POMA meant the exact opposite of what it says? Their law schools are calling, asking for their degrees back.
Now, the White House might believe that the inclusion of a DOD lawyer in this legal get-together gives them and the DOJ cover. A pox on the DOD lawyer, too, especially if he let himself get outvoted or out-reasoned.
So, all you investigative journos out there hot to bring down the Great Christie, howzabout you turn your spotlights back on the White House so we can unravel this past cold case?
Who in the White House was so cruel, so mean, so callous and uncaring about grieving military families that he or she deliberately misinterpreted the Pay Our Military Act to say it excluded payment of death benefits?
Who was giving the “time for some payment problems in the military” order from the White House? Who was the Bridget Kelly there? Why hasn’t this person been fired? Where is the president’s outrage?
Where, media, is yours?