Feb 5, 2007

Oversight or Undersight?

"Flaws found in firefighters line of defense" from MSNBC

Here we have another example of our current Federal government blocking investigations and preventing the oversight of important issues:

Documents made public under the Freedom of Information Act reveal that nine of those deaths came after the federal government blocked an investigation by its own expert into possible failures of PASS alarms and other firefighting equipment. A manager for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the federal agency that is charged by Congress with investigating firefighter deaths, ordered an agency fire safety engineer on Feb. 14, 2000, to "minimize your fact gathering during investigations" and to restrict his investigations to issues relevant "for the prevention of future similar events."

This is a problem that has swelled to epidemic proportions under the current administration. Over and over, federal officials tamper with the evidence of serious problems that they are supposed to be overseeing, and as a result, people die. In this case firefighters.

This is happening with the EPA, this is happening with the Dept. Of Homeland Security, this is happening in instances of government reports on terrorism, global warming and countless other issues of importance to the nation.

This is not simply negligence, these are examples of men and women who are downplaying the facts for their own, or their political parties' benefit. Sometimes, they just don't want to rock the boat.

This story speaks for itself. The woman in charge, Dawn Castillo, first reprimanded the investigator, Eric Schmidt, then set obstacles in his way that prevented him from doing his job, and finally, fired him. Schmidt went through other channels, seeking to get someone to continue the investigation to prevent more firefighter's deaths. But Castillo was the final word on the matter and her word was no. Schmidt's hunch was right, the devices had a dangerous problem. But unfortunately, it was several years (and deaths) later before the investigation was started again.

What was Castillo hiding? Was she just trying to prevent lawsuits by stifling investigations? Or did she have more at stake? Three years after she fired Schmidt, she finally admitted they now realized the equipment had a problem. But it took ANOTHER year for her to announce a warning to the Fire Prevention Association.

So now we know the truth. The devices haven't been replaced with ones that work, though. The equipment manufacturers still deny responsibility, even though at least one has settled a lawsuit with the family of a dead firefighter. And the federal oversight organization still sits on its hands, collecting their paychecks while ignoring the problem that endangers thousands of firefighters daily.

The moral of the story is that oversight and investigations are NECESSARY in order to safeguard our nation, whether it is the case of a firefighter or a private citizen. Millions of dollars are spent for these organizations to exist. That money is squandered when the people who run these federal task forces turn a blind eye to problems.

Like global warming, problems don't disappear when you ignore them. They just get worse.

UPDATE 1 : http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16991877/


ablelam said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Fade said...

fricking spam! I may have to go back to word verification...

Old Broad said...

The people in charge will not be happy until we are back to having our children work 16 hours a day in extraordinarily dangerous places and ALL OF US working for the company store, living in company housing and getting paid in company 'script.
Ah, for the good ole Robber Baron days.

Fade, you might want to give Haloscan a try for your comments. MUCH easier to use, and you control bans, etc.
No trolls, no spam.

caveman said...

Well broad trolls are ok..we give the other viewpoint you know..the one you dont like...America is great huh?