NASA's Inspector General Robert Cobb committed a series of cardinal sins in his role as an "impartial investigator". Mr. Cobb frequently golfed with the head of NASA, traveled together on department aircraft, and even tipped off officials to his internal investigations. The Integrity Committee which reviews IG's said Robert created "the appearance of a a lack of independence".
Cobb also held up a Texas Rangers investigation into the final disposition of missing jewelry from fallen Columbia astronaut, Laurel Clark. Her husband wanted to use all means to recover the keepsakes, including the television program CrimeStoppers. The NASA IG nixed that idea to save his department's and the Bush administration's face.
Corrective action for the wayward IG is "management training". Does that ring any bells? Karl and company got a round of "ethics training" after the White House leak of a CIA agents name. That and an internal White House investigation, the President assurred us would solve the problem. Yet, that promised follow up investigation never occurred according to Bush's security chief.
Robert Cobb's background included serving as ethics adviser to Alberto Gonzales, then White House Counsel. With nine years experience in the U.S. Office of Government Ethics one might expect more from Mr. Cobb. But this isn't his first brush with the Integrity Committee.
Previously, the committee found Cobb guilty of creating "an abusive work environment". People inside the IG's office described him as abusive, dismissive and a bully. Does that sound familiar? Did he learn how to blow his top and unleash a series of four letter words while working in the White House? Did George, Dick, Karl, Alberto or even Fran Townsend (known for her four letter tirades according to Time magazine) teach Mr. Cobb?
One case shared with the Intergrity Committee is mind boggling. IG auditor Carroll Tom Hassell described how "a person in a South American country" over three days in late 2002 logged into the Marshall Space Flight Center's supposedly secure computer system, stole space shuttle data valued at $1.9 billion and shipped it to a third country. The complaint said Cobb's office refused to report the theft to the Commerce Department as an illegal transfer of intellectual property. The IG's rationale for not reporting was the data still existed on NASA computers.
Robert Cobb is a fractal in the Bush administration. He's simply a reflection of the sorry managment beliefs and practices residing in the White House. The great losses are here and sending a flunkie to "management training" will accomplish little, that is if it even happens...