Transparency Recap: Immigration, Potential Indictments, & Government Oversight

If you're not familiar with the "open government" community/movement, you better get on board!  While much of my work on WilliamHallowell.com is partisan (or seasoned with opinion to say the least), I regularly publish a non-partisan "Transparency Recap" that gets at the heart of the blogosphere's most relevant transparency and citizen access information.  For more information and for other entries, please visit the VoterWatch blog.

Starting off today's Transparency Recap is a Corruption Chronicles blog entry about a Texas immigration law that was ruled unconstitutional this week. City lawmakers in a Dallas suburb enacted the law, which prevented illegal immigrants from renting apartments. Interestingly, the law had backing from community members in addition to the aforementioned legislative support.

According to CC, the unconstitutionality was determined based on the notion that the federal government is the only legal level at which immigration policy can be set. According to CC, "The Farmers Branch council passed the ordinance in 2006 in an effort to curb the illegal immigration crisis that has devastated the entire state of Texas as well as other border states."

This is just one example of how local governments can easily find themselves in court spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to protect localized laws that are intended to curb illegal immigration. The CC piece is definitely worth the read.

And over on the CREW blog, discussion is centered upon Alaska's two incumbent candidates -- Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young and the looming chatter about their potential indictments. While they deny wrongdoing, neither official is willing to discuss details. What the open government community might be interested in, however, is the difficulty associated with charging members of the legislative branch. According to CREW:

"It remains especially difficult to charge members of Congress for matters related to legislation. The Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause offers a broad shield against interference by the Justice Department and other agencies of the executive branch into how a congressman might have created, for example, an earmark that benefited a campaign contributor, family member or former aide -- matters that are part of the investigations of Young and Stevens."

And over at TPM Muckraker, Andrew Tilghman takes on earmark in an interesting story about Duncan D. Hunter (son of Rep. Duncan Hunter) who is running for his father's Congressional seat. According to Tilghman, defense contractors who were assisted by the elder Hunter are now donating to his son's campaign. Some believe that his father's earmarking has paid off.

In his most recent All Things Whistleblower entry, Dylan Blaylock focuses his energies on a new global warming report. While the report -- prepared by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program -- highlights negative effects of global warming, Blaylock claims that its release has not been hampered by White House censorship like past initiatives.

And last but certainly not least comes the most recent Secrecy News post about government oversight and the lack of adequate provisions for the monitoring of U.S. intelligence. To sum it up in a few words, a recent report from the Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General indicates that efforts to perform adequate oversight have decreased in recent times. In March, the DoD Inspector General told Congress the following:

"We have not been able to perform planned audits and evaluations in key intelligence disciplines such as Imagery Intelligence, Measurement and Signature Intelligence and Open Source Intelligence."

We'll have to monitor this closely, as Secrecy News reports that the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee discussed amending some of the oversight responsibility that is currently given to the Government Accountability Office back in February. Such a proposal might be necessary if we want to see the proper/sufficient level of oversight.