Beyond the Cusp

October 9, 2013

Do These Furloughs Reveal Obama’s True Foreign Policy Agenda

We have all witnessed how many of the furloughs and shutdown closures have been used more as a war on the public in order to make the shutdown actually an inconvenience but otherwise these actions have appeared petty and almost juvenile. When you seek to assign blame for whatever consequence of the government shutdown has just collided with your plans affecting your life there is an easy rule of thumb in determining where to place that blame. Simply determine which department of the government is responsible for providing the services or servicing the area which you have found is closed. If the department is among those which fall under the President’s Cabinet, then the Administration most likely chose to close off that service or area. The prime example is the Park Service which is completely under the auspices of the President. So, every National Park or monument which has had its access restricted or terminated was a choice made by someone within the Administration and not by the Congress. Truthfully, most of the areas which fall under the auspices of the Congress are extremely unlikely to conflict with the average person’s life surprisingly enough. The Congress has furloughed a fair number of workers which is why some Representatives and Senators are likely lost in the vast halls of the Capital Building and associated office buildings because the assistants who pushed the buttons on the elevators for them and who actually had learned where the many meeting rooms and other necessities, including the correct floor for each and every of the 535 members of Congress’s offices have been furloughed. Don’t be too harsh on our esteemed Congressional representatives as they likely have far weightier problems on their minds than to waste their immeasurable mental capabilities memorizing room locations or what floor their offices are located. The vast majority of workers furloughed which fall under the control of Congress would largely be their own staffs both in Washington and back in their home district or state. The rest would be the legions of support personnel within the office complex and Capital Building including interns, pages, message carriers and the like. Thus, the majority of furloughed personnel which are likely, however slight the possibility, to affect anything the average citizen does on their regular schedule of activities has most likely been furloughed by the Administrative Branch of our government and have been selected under some arbitrary set of rules which emanated from the White House through the separate department heads and Cabinet appointees.


All of that be as it may, there has been one set of furloughed personnel which were somehow, through a form of logic which entirely escapes reason, classified as unessential personnel. Perhaps I have my priorities all jumbled-up but I would have placed the work of this particular office extremely high on my list of essential personnel as this office is responsible for some vital policy enforcements. I am referring to the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control which was ordered to furlough all but 11 of its 175 full-time employees. Presidential spokesperson James Carney was quoted pointing to this “meaning that the office is unable to sustain its core functions.” The Office of Foreign Assets Control’s work includes issuing new sanctions designations against “those enabling the governments of Iran and Syria, as well as terrorist organizations, WMD proliferators, narcotics cartels and transnational organized crime groups” which has now been impeded. This office is also tasked with enforcement, investigations of sanctions violations and offers penalties, issuing licenses for humanitarian activities, and issuing new sanctions prohibitions. Mr. Carney refused to comment as to whether or not the furloughed personnel would result in any lessening in the enforcement of the sanctions against either Syria or Iran. Wendy Sherman, the Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs in her testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reported, “Our ability to do that, to enforce sanctions, to stop sanction evaders, is being hampered significantly by the shutdown.” She subsequently added, “Let me assure you that we will continue to vigorously enforce the sanctions that are in place as we explore a negotiated resolution, and will be especially focused on sanctions evasion and efforts by the Iranians to relieve the pressure.”


Administration spokespeople continue to claim that every furloughed Federal Employee was the direct result of Republican actions and that the Administration has absolutely no discretion or alternatives to the various furloughs and respective shutdowns. They claim that they have carefully applied the furloughs with the effort to make the shutdown have the least disruptive consequence to the operation of the government as a whole. But as the numbers of government employees who were necessarily furloughed there were some unavoidable compromises which will affect the operations of government departments and sectors. Somehow looking at their choice to do such direct and extreme harm to the enforcement of international sanction I cannot believe that in cutting a whole 15% of the government workforce that all but 11 of the 175 full-time employees in the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department was unavoidable and not a malicious attempt to lessen sanctions enforcement on Syria and Iran which the President has been hesitant to apply constantly standing to block or postpone Congressional and even European demands for tougher sanctions. This particular choice was a malicious and deliberate crippling of essential operations for which President Obama must be held accountable for as this had to come from the very top with his blessings. There is no way anybody can convince us that this was done without the President’s full knowledge and endorsement. This is another instance where I reread the Constitutional definition of treason and wonder when the trials will begin.


Beyond the Cusp


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