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Inspector deserves fair shake

September 28, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

People who hold inspector general posts in government often deserve to be viewed as taxpayers' unsung heroes. On a regular basis, inspector general investigations uncover waste and fraud - and sometimes infringements against our freedoms - at both the state and federal levels of government.

That makes it critically important that the right people be in inspector general positions. That may not be the case in one very important situation, involving the war in Afghanistan.

Billions of U.S. dollars are being spent in "reconstruction" projects throughout Afghanistan. For several years there have been allegations of waste and fraud in the program.

A special inspector general, Arnold Fields, was placed in charge of overseeing how U.S. funds are spent in Afghanistan. But four members of Congress - three Republicans and a Democrat - are asking President Barack Obama to fire Fields.

In a letter to the president, the four lawmakers cite three independent reviews that found Fields' office lacking. One of those reviews was, in effect, by Fields' peers - the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency.

At the very least, Obama should demand solid evidence the reviews were in error, or that Fields' staff has responded constructively to them. Any information obtained in that regard by the White House should be shared with Congress.

If Fields and his staff are not overseeing U.S. spending in Afghanistan adequately, they need to be replaced. In view of the excellent work done by so many inspectors general in government, Americans are right to insist Fields' work be above reproach. If that cannot be demonstrated, he should be replaced.



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