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  1. #1
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    How to Stop ‘Coup of the Bureaucrats’: Cut the Departments

    How to Stop ‘Coup of the Bureaucrats’: Cut the Departments

    Susan Walsh/AP

    by JOEL B. POLLAK
    1 Feb 2017

    The Washington Postreported Tuesday evening that there is “a growing wave of opposition from the federal workers charged with implementing” President Donald Trump’s agenda.

    What Breitbart News called the “coup of the bureaucrats” earlier this week is well under way, with apparent coordination by former Obama administration officials working on the outside:

    Less than two weeks into Trump’s administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era political appointees about what they can do to push back against the new president’s initiatives. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make.

    The most visible sign of the revolt was acting Attorney General Sally Yates’s refusal to defend President Trump’s executive order, for which she was fired. But other tactics will be more subtle — such as stalling by career officials not easily identified.

    The Hill also notes:

    Civil servants were always bound to be at odds with the president, who promised to drain the government “swamp.” But now a string of spats with the bureaucracy, culminating Friday with the president’s controversial immigration executive order, has forced that bad blood to become public. After the acting attorney general refused to defend Trump’s order on Monday night, he fired her. Meanwhile, hundreds of State Department diplomats are reportedly signing on to a dissent memo criticizing the policy.

    It adds that Sean Spicer warned civil servants during his Monday press briefing: “They should either get with the program or they can go. This is about the safety of America.”

    But that may not be enough — in fact, it may encourage further rebellion.

    The Post notes: “The resistance is so early, so widespread and so deeply felt that it has officials worrying about paralysis and overt refusals by workers to do their jobs.” It identifies the State Department as one core of the pushback against Trump, so much so “that the American Foreign Service Association on Tuesday sent out an advisory called “What You Need To Know When You Disagree With U.S. Policy.” The memo warns that federal employees can be fired for walking out in protest.

    That may be one of the only ways they can be fired. As former Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Tevi Troy wrote recently, in recalling challenges George W. Bush faced in confronting the bureaucracy, firing is usually not an option: “Another thing we learned about early on was the lifetime tenure rules–technically known as ‘civil-service protections.’ These rules made it exceedingly difficult to fire even obstinate and uncooperative career officials.” It was easier, he said, to find ways to work around particular employees and offices. He advises: “there are tools wise administrators can use to elevate cooperative officials and move aside obstinate ones. This does not entail making the decisions based on ideology or partisan affiliation. It does mean looking at the willingness of the officials to do the legitimate tasks they are assigned to do.”


    There is another option: have Congress cut the departments, or parts of them. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is looking for ways to trim spending, and President Trump has some new spending priorities, like the border wall, infrastructure, and the military.

    Both would welcome opportunities to get rid of federal excess. They can target troublesome divisions, or just cut overall budgets and have Cabinet secretaries work out the details. Only the best-performing civil servants will keep their jobs. That might not remove the so-called “resistance” entirely, but it would mean people have to spend more time working.

    Perhaps reports of rebellion are overblown. The Post reports that some managers, and some federal departments, report no discontent. And yet: “Career staff members in at least five departments said they are staying in close contact with Obama administration officials to get advice on how to handle Trump initiatives they consider illegal or improper.”

    And President Barack Obama has only fueled the fire.

    But as he used to say: the president has a phone, and a pen. A red one, perhaps.
    http://www.breitbart.com/big-governm...t-departments/


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  2. #2
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Attorney General Firing: First Step in Quashing ‘Coup of the Bureaucrats’

    by JOEL B. POLLAK31 Jan 2017


    President Donald Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday evening after she refused to defend his executive orders on immigration in court. She could have resigned in protest, but chose defiance and martyrdom.

    The problem goes much further than one official. Trump’s opponents are burrowed throughout the federal bureaucracy, and at senior as well as junior levels.

    Contrary to what some conservatives may suspect, they are not the majority of government employees. Most are loyal to the Constitution and to their duties. But there are enough die-hard Barack Obama appointees, and lifelong leftists, to frustrate the Trump administration — and they may be encouraging each other to do so.

    The press is certainly encouraging them to “resist.” Some journalists are conflating Yates’s firing with the “Saturday Night Massacre,” Nixon’s firing of key Department of Justice staff to thwart the Watergate investigation. That was a classic abuse of presidential power. The Yates episode is the opposite — an illegitimate abuse of power by bureaucrats to undermine the president.

    Also encouraging the rebellion: President Barack Obama, who reverted to 1980s community organizer mode in releasing a statement — merely 10 days after leaving office — criticizing the Trump administration, mis-stating the basis of the executive orders, and encouraging the protests at the nation’s airports, which had done more to disrupt travel than anything Trump signed in the White House. Obama is urging the country to become ungovernable — and his appointees may be listening.

    Monday’s events make clear exactly why the Trump administration kept its executive order quiet, declining to share it in advance with the agencies that would be tasked with its implementation. The White House knows that it cannot trust large parts of the federal bureaucracy. Hence last week’s firings of senior managers at the State Department — falsely described, initially, as resignations. It is not good for a White House to be so insular — but it has no choice, at least for the time being.

    In that sense, Yates’s firing is an important signal to the rest of the bureaucracy. And to President Trump’s supporters, it is something to cheer — the first of many such dismissals as the administration rids itself of ideological careerists and superfluous Beltway barnacles. But while the confrontation may escalate, it cannot and should not last forever.
    The “coup of the bureaucrats” must end; the bureaucracy must surrender.

    There is a place for criticizing the president — namely, outside of the government. There are places for challenging Trump’s authority — namely, the opposition benches, the courts, and ultimately the ballot box.

    Those who abuse the power of the bureaucracy to defy the electorate, and the Constitution, may think themselves heroes, but they are destroying the foundations of liberal democracy. They must go.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-governm...p-bureaucrats/

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    Federal Bureaucrats Go ‘Full Hillary Clinton’ with Secret Emails
    by JOEL B. POLLAK
    2 Feb 2017

    Federal bureaucrats opposed to implementing President Donald Trump’s policies are creating personal email accounts and using encrypted messages to communicate and collaborate as they push back against the new administration, Politico reports.

    Just as former Secretary of State used a private e-mail server, whose contents she later wiped, in an attempt to shield some of her communications from the government and from Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, bureaucratic rebels are using external communications and applications to create what amounts to a shadow administration. But unlike Clinton, or perhaps having learned her lessons, they are encrypting their communications, using secure messaging apps like Signal.

    Politico notes:

    Whether inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department or beyond, employees are using new technology as well as more old-fashioned approaches — such as private face-to-face meetings — to organize letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups to express their dissent.

    The goal is to get their message across while not violating any rules covering workplace communications, which can be monitored by the government and could potentially get them fired.

    At the EPA, a small group of career employees — numbering less than a dozen so far — are using an encrypted messaging app to discuss what to do if Trump’s political appointees undermine their agency’s mission to protect public health and the environment, flout the law, or delete valuable scientific data that the agency has been collecting for years, sources told POLITICO.

    The effort is part of what Breitbart News has called the “coup of the bureaucrats.” There are several steps the Trump administration could take to clamp down on it. One involves internal investigations, leading to disciplinary action — though that could also lower morale and drain administrative resources. Another is to set an example by firing high-profile rebels — like acting Attorney General Sally Yates — though that does not solve the problem completely. The Trump administration could also appeal to former President Barack Obama to stop encouraging protests and to urge bureaucrats to do their jobs — though it seems unlikely that President Trump would want to make such an appeal, or that President Obama would agree.

    The simplest solution may simply be to cut or close federal government departments that seek to operate independently of the executive. With Republican budget hawks in charge of Congress, the Trump administration might have a unique opportunity to fulfill conservatives’ long-standing ambition to reduce the size of the federal bureaucracy and the scope of its powers.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-governm...-secret-email/

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  4. #4
    Super Moderator Newmexican's Avatar
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    They need to be routed out and fired. IMO

    Federal workers turn to encryption to thwart Trump

    Agency employees are turning to Signal and other incognito forms of communication to express their dissent.

    By ANDREW RESTUCCIA, MARIANNE LEVINE and NAHAL TOOSI
    02/02/17 05:07 AM EST


    Federal employees worried that President Donald Trump will gut their agencies are creating new email addresses, signing up for encrypted messaging apps and looking for other, protected ways to push back against the new administration’s agenda.

    Whether inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department or beyond, employees are using new technology as well as more old-fashioned approaches — such as private face-to-face meetings — to organize letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups to express their dissent.

    The goal is to get their message across while not violating any rules covering workplace communications, which can be monitored by the government and could potentially get them fired.

    At the EPA, a small group of career employees — numbering less than a dozen so far — are using an encrypted messaging app to discuss what to do if Trump’s political appointees undermine their agency’s mission to protect public health and the environment, flout the law, or delete valuable scientific data that the agency has been collecting for years, sources told POLITICO.

    Fearing for their jobs, the employees began communicating incognito using the app Signal shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Signal, like WhatsApp and other mobile phone software, encrypts all communications, making it more difficult for hackers to gain access to them.

    One EPA employee even got a new, more secure cellphone, and another joked about getting a “burner phone.”

    “I have no idea where this is going to go. I think we’re all just taking it one day at a time and respond in a way that seems appropriate and right,” said one of the EPA employees involved in the clandestine effort, who, like others quoted in this story, was granted anonymity to talk about the sensitive discussions.

    The employee added that the goal is to “create a network across the agency” of people who will raise red flags if Trump’s appointees do anything unlawful.

    The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    While many workers across the federal government are still in wait-and-see mode, the first two weeks of the Trump administration — with its flurry of executive orders that have in some cases upended lives — have sent a sobering message to others who believe they must act now.

    In recent days, career employees at the State Department gathered nearly 1,000 signatures for what’s known as a “Dissent Channel” memo, in which they express their anger over a Trump executive order that bars immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries and halts refugee admissions to the country. The number of signatures was extraordinarily high, even though the letter was submitted after White House spokesman Sean Spicer essentially warned the dissenting diplomats they were risking their jobs.

    The executive order on immigration and refugees caused widespread panic at airports, spurring protests and outrage around the world.

    It also led to what has been the most high-profile act of defiance yet from a Trump administration official: Acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Monday ordered the Department of Justice’s lawyers not to defend the order in court. Yates was fired that same night.

    Current and former employees of the Labor Department, meanwhile, are using their private email accounts to send around a link to a letter asking senators to oppose the nomination of Andrew Puzder for secretary of their agency. The employees may sign on to the letter using Google Docs. The letter will not be submitted to the Senate HELP Committee, and the signatures will not be made public, unless 200 current employees sign on.
    A federal worker familiar with the letter’s circulation said that it’s being signed by hundreds of current and former DOL employees.

    According to a draft of the letter obtained by POLITICO, the employees write that they have "serious concerns" about the fast-food magnate’s willingness to protect the rights of workers given some of his past comments and actions.

    The draft of the letter criticizes Puzder's comments about women, and cites his restaurants’ advertisements, some of which feature women in bikinis eating burgers. Puzder has defended the ads.
    "One of us once heard a colleague ask, quite seriously, whether it would violate workplace rules of civility and prohibitions against sexual harassment to view Mr. Puzder’s ads on a government computer," the letter says. "We think the question is a good one."

    The federal employees interviewed for this story stressed that they see themselves as nonpartisan stewards of the government. But several also said they believe they have a duty to speak out if they feel a policy is undermining their mission.

    Drafts of the Dissent Channel memo signed by the State Department employees insist, for instance, that instead of protecting U.S. national security through his new executive order on refugees and immigrants, Trump is endangering the United States by bolstering the terrorists’ narrative that the West hates Muslims.

    “I think we all have to look within ourselves and say ‘Where is that line that I will not cross?’” one Foreign Service officer said.

    Since Trump was elected in November, many State Department employees have also met quietly for other reasons. Groups of Muslims who work at Foggy Bottom, for instance, have held meetings to discuss fears that they could be subject to witch hunts and see their careers stall under the new administration. A few of Trump’s top aides have spoken out against radical Islamism in such harsh terms that some Muslims believe the aides are opposed to the religion of Islam as a whole.

    Steven Aftergood, who directs the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, indicated that it’s too soon to say whether there’s a broad trend of bureaucratic resistance to Trump taking hold.
    "Quite a few federal employees seem to be looking for constructive ways to express discontent," he said. "Meanwhile, tension is still growing, not subsiding."

    EPA employees are uniquely concerned about their future, having faced barbs from Trump advisers who have toyed with cutting the agency's staff by two-thirds and from other Republicans who want to eliminate the agency altogether. So career staffers are discussing the best way to alert the public to what’s happening behind the scenes.

    “I’m suddenly spending my days comparing the importance of the oath I took when I started my career service and the code that I have as an American,” an EPA employee said.

    EPA employees have started reaching out to former Obama administration political appointees, who they hope will help them spread the word about any possible improper conduct at the agency.

    “It’s probably much safer to have those folks act as the conduit and to act as the gathering point rather than somebody in the agency,” the employee said. “You’re putting your career and your livelihood and your paycheck at risk every time you talk to somebody.”

    Organizations such as the Government Accountability Project, which advocates for whistleblowers, have been busy as federal employees fret about what their new bosses may ask them to do.

    “We’ve had a significant number of federal employees who have contacted us in recent weeks,” said Louis Clark, the nonprofit’s CEO. “It has to be the largest influx of people trying to reach us that we’ve seen.”
    The largest group of callers? “The people who want to know what to do if they’re asked to violate the law,” Clark said.

    Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, said EPA employees are in perhaps the “deepest pit of despair” among his group’s membership.

    He said his group has been fielding calls on everything from what triggers a reduction in the federal workforce to how long they can carry health insurance benefits if they are pushed out.
    Asked how EPA employees are feeling, Ruch said, “In the broadest sense, scared and depressed.”
    http://www.politico.com/story/2017/0...nal-app-234510
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