- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 1, 2014

In 2009, Peace Corps volunteer Kate Puzey was found on the porch of her hut with her throat slit shortly after she reported to authorities a colleague she suspected of molesting girls they had taught in the West African village.

The 24-year-old’s death exposed what some critics called a decades-old “blame the victim” culture at the Peace Corps, where sexual assaults often were dismissed or went unreported.

After a two-year legislation campaign led by congressional Republicans, President Obama signed into law the Kate Puzey Act to grant whistleblower protection, improve treatment of sexual assault victims and implement preventive training and education at the Peace Corps.

But the administration’s opaque interpretation of that law is thwarting inquiries by the Peace Corps inspector general, who is tasked with overseeing the law’s implementation, protections and effectiveness.

The Peace Corps‘ inspector general isn’t the only government watchdog being hamstrung by the Obama’s administration, which has promised to be the most open and transparent in history.

Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, has testified numerous times that his agency’s independence is threatened because he must ask Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s permission for access to information for some investigations, which at times have included Mr. Holder himself.

Instead of rebuking the system, some inspectors general find it easier to just comply with their agencies’ agendas by hiding or ignoring instances of government abuse.

A former inspector general at the Department of Homeland Security delayed potentially damning reports about scandals that had been covered up and workers who had been punished for speaking out, a Senate report uncovered this week.

In addition, records show that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy personally intervened to delay an inspector general’s investigation into the agency’s Homeland Security Division.

“A big problem is some inspector generals aren’t acting as independently as they should,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, Iowa Republican, told The Washington Times. “We have a few very good inspector generals. We have a lot of inspector generals who want to do their job, but some of them are a little timid. Then we got some that will really comply to political pressure.”

A ‘blackout of information’

Kathy Buller, inspector general at the Peace Corps, does not appear to be one of the timid watchdogs.

In January, Mrs. Buller testified to Congress that the Peace Corps is refusing to hand over to her office information related to sexual assault investigations.

“We’ve currently reached an impasse with the agency” over her office’s role in accessing reports made by volunteers who are victims of sexual assault, Mrs. Buller told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Under the Kate Puzey Act, her office is tasked with overseeing accusations of mismanagement in sexual assault cases.

Story Continues →