Monday, December 15, 2008

Bernie Madoff, Rod Blagojevich, Thomas Tamm & Frances Townsend

Investment expert Harry Markopolos asked the SEC to explore Bernie Madoff in 1999. Nine years later Madoff says he lost $50 billion running a Ponzi scheme.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich peddled influence in appointing a replacement for Senator Barack Obama's seat. Favors for friends are common in politics, but it took a wiretap to reveal Blago's egregious behavior.

Thomas Tann ratted the Bush administration for spying on U.S. citizens. The Justice Department ran the illegal spying operation.

Frances Townsend conducted the White House investigation on Hurricane Katrina. She authored the Lessons Learned report that omitted the hospital facility with the highest patient death toll. Two for-profit hospital companies shared Memorial Medical Center. Tenet Health owned Memorial, while LifeCare rented a floor of the hospital for its long term acute care unit. Thirty four patients perished, 10 under Tenet and 24 in the LifeCare unit. The Carlyle Group purchased LifeCare just weeks before Katrina struck. A year after the report's release, Jeb Bush was appointed to the Tenet Health board of directors, earning a handsome annual sum.

All of the above are malodorous. However, Frances Townsend (#4) weighed in on Thomas Tann (#3). She said:

"You can't have runoffs deciding they're going to be the white knight and running to the press," says Frances Fragos Townsend, who once headed the unit where Tamm worked and later served as President Bush's chief counterterrorism adviser. Townsend made clear that she had no knowledge of Tamm's particular case, but added: "There are legal processes in place [for whistle-blowers' complaints]. This is one where I'm a hawk. It offends me, and I find it incredibly dangerous."

If a government can run an illegal program with approval from the highest levels, they can run roughshod over whistle blowers, internal or external. Consider Tamm's treatment:

The FBI has pursued him relentlessly for the past two and a half years. Agents have raided his house, hauled away personal possessions and grilled his wife, a teenage daughter and a grown son. More recently, they've been questioning Tamm's friends and associates about nearly every aspect of his life. Tamm has resisted pressure to plead to a felony for divulging classified information. But he is living under a pall, never sure if or when federal agents might arrest him.

My questions are more Markopolos-like than Tammish in nature. As a hospital administrator, I endured in a river flooded Virginia teaching hospital and evacuated a Texas Gulf Coast facility before record Hurricane Gilbert. I submitted my concerns about the sorry White House Lessons Learned report shortly after its publication in 2006 and received no answers from Congressional representatives or any federal agencies.

Are any whistle blowers twisting under a federal thumb? Frances Townsend would be offended if they spoke out. I'm offended by her poor quality work. The resounding silence from all arms of our federal government is equally disturbing.

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