Page one at WaPo today describes an inquiry, now underway, of the NASA Inspector General's failure to investigate several charges and his retaliation against whistle-blowers.
Written complaints and supporting documents from at least 16 people have been given to investigators. They allege that Cobb, appointed by President Bush in 2002, suppressed investigations of wrongdoing within NASA, and abused and penalized his own investigators when they persisted in raising concerns.
The complaints are being reviewed by the Integrity Committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. The complaints describe efforts by Cobb to shut down or ignore investigations on issues such as a malfunctioning self-destruct procedure during a space shuttle launch at the Kennedy Space Center, and the theft of an estimated $1.9 billion worth of data on rocket engines from NASA computers.
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.
I have several meetings today, so I can't get into too much detail for the moment. But for those not familiar with Clint Curtis, among his allegations is that Yang Enterprises Inc. (YEI), his employer back in 2000 in Florida, was spying on NASA via their contracts with the space agency. He alleges, in a sworn affidavit, that YEI inserted "wire-tapping modules" into software they were contracted to write for NASA, and that an undocumented Chinese worker, Hai Lin "Henry" Nee, was in charge of the programming that pulled it all off.
Nee was charged, some years later, for attempting to send Hellfire anti-tank missile chips from YEI to China, eventually pleading guilty.
Curtis took his charges to Raymond Lemme, from the Inspector General's office in Tallahassee, FL. Lemme allegedly told Curtis that his investigation had traced these matters "all the way to the top"; two weeks later, Lemme was found dead in a Valdosta, GA hotel room. The police ruled the case a suicide, but several inconsistencies in their report remain unexplained, including the claim that the photos taken at the crime scene could not be developed --- those same photos were later found, and published, here at BRAD BLOG.
At the time, the general counsel and registered lobbyist for YEI was U.S. Congressman Tom Feeney (R-FL), who also served as the in-coming Speaker of the Florida Legislature, and who is most famous for his claim during the 2000 Florida Election Debacle that the electoral votes in Florida would be delivered to George W. Bush no matter what the Florida Supreme Court had to say about it. Feeney --- who continues to receive money from YEI and their attorneys, and houses his campaign headquarters in their building in Oviedo, FL --- now sits on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. Feeney also ran as Jeb Bush's running-mate for Governor in 1994, and has most recently been implicated in the Abramoff/Tom DeLay scandals for participating in one of the now-infamous lobbyist-paid golf trips to St. Andrews, Scotland.
And, oh yes, Curtis, a computer programmer --- who was a Republican at the time --- claims that Feeney asked him, while they both worked for YEI at the time, to create a touch-screen vote-rigging software prototype. But you'll have to read up on the quick summary of Curtis' story to catch up on that part of it.
We'll be keeping our eye on this one, naturally...