Part III. A Watch-Dog for All Seasons


Carnegie Corporation: We Love POGO, So Does the Entire US Government!


by Sibel Edmonds


In the spring of 2010 the Carnegie Corporation issued a glowing report on their favorite government watchdog Project on Government Oversight (POGO). The report was meant to justify and showcase the large grants given to POGO by the corporation over the last few years. In 2008 and 2009 alone the corporation had given over$700,000 to this pet-project (lap-dog aka watch-dog). After reading the report one can’t help but wonder at the miscalculation that went with this report’s intention. What was intended to be a glowing report ends up being a major indicator as to the real nature of this corporate-foundation funded government watch-dog turned lap-dog. Allow me to explain further:

Real government watchdogs, if they are doing what they are supposed to be doing, if they are engaged in what they say they are engaged in, become the object of the government’s wrath and hatred. There is no way around this. No way. The executive branch agencies would be up in arms against them: digging their graves as ferocious and as fast as they can; overtly and covertly. And this includes the office of the United States President; the White House.

The legislative branch would be extremely wary of real government watchdogs. After all, real separation of powers ceased to exist a long time ago. Not only that; the last thing the US Congress wants is the existence of whistleblowers in their own backyard. Considering the level of corruption in Congress (think foreign lobby influence; think various methods of going around campaign finance laws; think campaign donors and conflicts of interest when it comes to the congressional decision and legislation making process) how many whistleblowers have we had coming out of congressional offices with reports of corruption, bribery, and other related misdeeds? I believe I have made the case here; suffice to say, Congress has never liked whistleblowers or genuine watchdog groups, evident by their resistance to providing real protection for whistleblowers, holding real hearings on legit whistleblower cases, and holding the executive branch accountable based on proven reports provided to them by whistleblowers.

I’ll go even further: The corporate mainstream media has never been very kind to government whistleblowers, and they usually perceive a genuine watchdog group as a real threat exposing their own cover-up or biased-filled reporting tainted by their masters in corporate and government. I mean, come on, what happens if a genuine watchdog group issues a report exposing illegal wiretapping by the government, when a giant media group, per order of their bosses, chooses to bury and sit on that same revelation? You see what I mean? The reason for the dislike goes beyond a ‘competitive’ relationship; way beyond it.

Now what should be the first thing, first inference, first conclusion, to come to mind (a rational mind that is) when one comes across a self-proclaimed tax-exempt mega corporation-funded watch-dog that happens to be adored by mega corporations, intensely liked by the Congress, truly liked by the executive branch including the White House, and very much admired and complemented by the tainted corporate media? Do you see something extremely disturbing yet very revealing with this picture? Then, with that in mind, let’s read the glowing report issued by the mega corporation, Carnegie Foundation, on their favorite watch-dog, POGO:

Its (POGO’s) offices are located between the Capitol and the White House, and POGO has been treading a path to both locations. Powered by $850,000 in Carnegie Corporation grants, POGO has made itself known at the White House, where it works with President Obama’s staff on open government.

POGO has achieved a D.C. organization’s dream by working with the White House on open government issues. “They have a really solid impact,” Miller says, “particularly in this administration, which is far more sympathetic to the notion of contractor abuse than the previous one.”

So what is Carnegie Corporation saying here? Because of their dollars, and of course many Carnegie men and women in the White House who have been appointed by the President, POGO has been working with (or ‘for’) the White House and the President’s staff (including Carnegie men and women?) on open government. Considering this White House, this President’s record as the worst US president when it comes to secrecy and persecution-prosecution of government whistleblowers, shouldn’t we go ahead and give POGO possibly deserved credit as one of the responsible parties in this sorry state of governance? Not only that, doesn’t this give you a pretty good idea as to why POGO awarded this ‘worst’ president with the ludicrous ‘Transparency Award?

Here comes POGO’s entry inside various executive branch agencies ‘enabled by mega corporations’ backing and dollars’:

Not content just to work outside the government, POGO is also trying to strengthen the progress of federal investigations inside the bureaucracy…It has an ongoing effort to work with inspectors general in various agencies throughout the vast federal government bureaucracy.

Can you imagine our corruption, inaptitude and waste ridden federal agencies giving that level of access to any ‘Real’ government watch-dog? Do you know what it takes to gain that level of trust (confidence) of these waste-ridden tax-dollar abusers? Now ask yourself, how in the world would they allow a real government watch-dog in? Even Congress can’t get that level of access; not even with subpoenas!

POGO is the type of organization where Capitol Hill aides and POGO staffers unwind at the annual holiday party by engaging in small talk on federal whistle-blower statutes.

“>A highly successful program, which spawned the book noted above, is POGO’s Congressional Oversight Training series. The monthly series is extremely popular on Capitol Hill. Topics range from “The Nuts ‘n Bolts of Investigations” to “How to Prepare for an Oversight Hearing” to “Working with Insiders and Whistleblowers.”

Congressional aides from both parties praise the training seminars. Honorary chairs are Republican and Democratic members of Congress, including well-known senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) and Carl Levin (D-Michigan). Staffers who have gone to the seminars routinely refer new colleagues to the POGO training. “There aren’t really places in Washington where you can say, ‘this is how you do oversight,’” one congressional committee aide points out. “They serve as sort of a touchstone or rallying point for like-minded individuals.”

Have you been screaming about the declining oversight and performance by Congress? Well, Carnegie says you have POGO to thank. POGO has been responsible for training the entire Congress (representatives and their staff) on oversight and whistleblowers. This Congress, the entire entity, has abdicated their oversight responsibilities for years and has done nothing (or many negative things) when it comes to protection for whistleblowers. And Carnegie Corporation says you have POGO to thank for this disastrous state of the United States Congress. Another point to consider here is how a congress known for its disdain for government whistleblowers, recognized for its contempt for pro-liberties and watchdog groups-overtly and covertly, is so willingly and readily to greet a supposed government watch-dog with open arms and accept them as their ‘trainers & partners’? Does that make sense to you?

According to Carnegie Corporation the mainstream media accepts and likes POGO very much, and in fact relies on POGO regularly for their reporting. Known for their disastrous state of reporting: burying facts and real issues, censoring and obfuscating the truth, and acting as the mouthpiece for their corporate owners and the government, should this actually be considered a complimentary statement on POGO’s integrity? I certainly don’t think so.

With congressional connections, ongoing relationships with investigative reporters, and a highly active web site and social networking efforts, POGO regularly demonstrates Washington public relations savvy in promoting its work on opening up the government. The project’s investigative research is featured in articles in The Washington Post, The New York Times, television news, public radio and congressional hearings.

“They’ve spread out” from their origins, says David Burnham, a former New York Times reporter and investigative journalist who believes in the organization to the point of having his own investigative nonprofit’s D.C. office at POGO headquarters in downtown Washington.

New York Times Burnham serves on POGO’s board.

Carnegie Corporation likens POGO to savvy investigative journalists who watch and expose government through investigative reports. In the same breath, Carnegie Corporation brags about their pet-dog POGO being loved by the executive and legislative branch, so much that they are given access and entry to these agencies and Congress. Imagine what would be said of media investigative reporters targeting government agencies who receive the constant approval and affection of these targets. Can you? We have seen a few cases like that; haven’t we? Remember our embedded journalists covering our wars from the inside? You remember, right? Recall Judith Miller and in-bedded journalists adored by the executive branch and with ‘special access?’ Well, according to Carnegie Corporation that’s exactly the kind of ‘investigative journalism’ POGO is engaged in; adored by all its targets and proud of unprecedented access to government.

RobberBaronsThe Robber Barons of the 1800s and 1900s grew not only in mega fortunes but also in calculative suaveness and shrewdness when it came to politics, government, societal control and manufacturing consent. They had to. It was and still is a matter of survival for them. The Carnegie Corporation, the Rockefeller and Ford dynasties, and their modern day counterparts such as George Soros, knew only too well that purchasing, propping and controlling government operators would not suffice in controlling the masses, thus their mega fortunes and influence. Other needed ingredients were the information source- education and media, and means to keep a close tab on dissent, grassroots and public restlessness and activism- foundations and NGOs. As long as they had their men and women in key places, from the White House to key government agencies, from mainstream publications to government watchdog and activist groups, all was going to be well that ended well:

Foundations like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford have a corrosive influence on a democratic society; they represent relatively unregulated and unaccountable concentrations of power and wealth which buy talent, promote causes, and, in effect, establish an agenda of what merits society’s attention. They serve as “cooling-out” agencies, delaying and preventing more radical, structural change. They help maintain an economic and political order, international in scope, which benefits the ruling-class interests of philanthropists and philanthropoids

The hefty grants, fierce backing and glowing reports by Carnegie Corporation when it comes to a supposed government watchdog tell quite a story. Remember all the Carnegie Corporation men and women in the White House and key executive branch agencies: Condoleeza Rice, Vannevar Bush, Thomas Kean, Richard Celeste, Sam Nunn, Thomas Pickering and …Now, would the Carnegie Corporation want a real government watchdog on these men and women’s back? Add to this the men and women from other megas-Rockefeller-Soros-Ford who have confiscated various high-level seats within the executive branch and the president’s office, start using some common sense, and you have it.

We already know about the mega dollars coming to POGO from Mega corporations. We are aware of dozens of these mega corporations’ men and women in the executive branch and others. We pretty much understand how congressional election campaigns are financed by the megas. And we have long suspected and finally accepted our mainstream media’s role as servants of the same megas and megas’ men and women in government. As Carnegie puts in this report: The White House, the executive agencies, the Congress, and the mainstream media all approve, support, and partner up with this government watchdog. So do the Megas. For them POGO is a watchdog for all seasons, and for all players involved. Who they ‘really’ are watching is the question that remains.

This Article was Originally Published here at Boiling Frogs Post*Our investigative researchers Julia Davis & Bill Bergman have contributed to this series.

Coming up Next: Part IV. Project on Government Oversight (POGO) – Lap-Dance for Corporate-Foundation Sugar Daddies



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Sibel Edmonds is the founder and publisher of Boiling Frogs Post, an online news, analysis, and weekly Podcast interview site covering select but significant blacked out stories and issues. Ms. Edmonds is also the founder and director of National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, NSWBC, a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding national security whistleblowers. PEN American Center awarded Ms. Edmonds the 2006 PEN/Newman's Own First Amendment Award for her "commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy". She is also the recipient of the 2004 Sam Adams Foundation Award. Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, and a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University. She is certified as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and as an instructor for the Women's Domestic Violence Program. She is fluent in Turkish, Farsi and Azerbaijani. She has appeared on national radio and TV as a commentator on matters related to whistleblowers, national security, and excessive secrecy & classification, and has been featured on CBS 60 Minutes, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and in the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The American Conservative, and others.