The Paradox of Transparency

In his memo on transparency and open government, President Barack Obama said:

“My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”

Obama made a down payment on that transparency promise by hiring Vivek Kundra, the CTO of Washington D.C., for the new post of government CIO. Kundra’s visionary application of technology to the procurement process had attracted national attention, and with the centerpiece of his plans to give the public a view into how stimulus money was being spent, it looked like we were off to a good start.

Then reality intervened. Last week, the FBI raided the offices of Kundra’s former employer, the Office of the CTO in Washington D.C., arresting a mid-level manager and the head of a long-time IT contracting firm who were involved in a bribery and kickback scheme. The White House promptly suspended Kundra, three days into his new job as Federal CIO, “out of an abundance of caution,” despite the fact that the FBI made clear that Kundra was not a target of the investigation, and that the corrupt official in question, Yusuf Acar, had been working for the city since 2002, well before Kundra took on the job in 2007.

While Acar’s frauds were not revealed by technological means, but by an old-fashioned whistleblower, they are exactly the kind of procurement shenanigans that Kundra set out to uncover in D.C. Without talking to CW (the “Cooperating Witness”, as he was named in the FBI request for an arrest warrant), it’s impossible to know what role Kundra’s emphasis on cleaning up the DC procurement process played in encouraging the whistleblowing, but this conviction is certainly in line with Kundra’s goals, as stated in his December 2007 testimony at the Public Roundtable on Theft and Fraud Prevention in District Government Agencies (pdf).

The paradox of transparency is that it may indeed reveal waste, fraud, and malfeasance, making things appear worse before they begin to get better. This is not something to be afraid of. It’s a sign of success.

Nonetheless, the political atmosphere in Washington has grown so sensitive that the Obama administration initially felt the need to distance itself from Kundra, lest they be touched by even the faintest whiff of the D.C. scandal.

We need to make sure that the transparency mission is not going to be hijacked by political considerations. What cabinet secretary, what governor, what mayor, what IT manager in local government, what supplier will support the Federal transparency initiative if whatever is uncovered will have to be weighed against the risk that the other party will take advantage?

We need a bipartisan commitment to transparency. It’s ridiculous to think that we won’t turn up things that we don’t like, but we need the message to be: we’re all in this together. We need to make sure that transparency doesn’t become a political weapon, or “out of an abundance of caution,” we’ll abandon the mission before it has a chance to succeed.

Fortunately, we saw news today that as of today, Kundra is back at his White House desk.

tags: , , ,
  • S. Watson

    Very good articulation of the “paradox of transparency.”

    Well done.

  • Alex Tolley

    Transparency could start with the bank bailout funds – where the funds are going. There is really no excuse for the opaqueness of this process.

  • Cameron

    Well said! America deserves to have a more transparent and accountable government. Give transparency a chance to succeed! Happy to see Mr. Kundra continuing his technology revolution in the public sector.

  • I’m glad to see that he’s back on the job. Vivek has both the capacity and the drive to revolutionize gov’t IT, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he’ll do as our first ever US CIO.

  • This is really going to be played out at the state level. I’ve begun a review of state government web pages devoted to stimulus spending reporting and expect that the variety of approaches is going to be huge.

  • I have no axe to grind on Vivek. But this happened on his watch, and we are supposed to believe that now he should be put in charge of a larger task? This is like rewarding someone for failure and then trying to justify why you are giving that reward. It’s NO different than a Banking Sector CEO standing up and saying this team did a great job and I want to give them their bonuses.

    You either are here to raise the bar, or you aren’t. This is the same old politics of before. The really scary part of this is that you are all falling for the BS. Shame on you. I don’t care what your political views are. You either stand up for doing it differently or you sit back and justify why it’s ok to do business as usual.

    This isn’t a paradox, this is just more of the same.

    Good people abound. You don’t HAVE to accept someone who has an issue like this happen. There are others. And IF you stand for change you would NOT accept this. It’s a shame I am sure he’s a good, smart and thoughtful guy. But it happened under his watch, and under his nose. How can you have ANY idea of keeping him?

    If a CEO had this happen at a bank they were running, do you think the next bank would hire them?

    Get real, wake up, smell the coffee, or in this case the hypocrisy.

    Stand up for change. Demand it. Don’t roll over because you “like” the guy.

  • Thanks, Tim, for articulating the paradox of transparency–and that it’s bigger than one CIO.

    The fact is that transparency is like living in a glass house. It’s too easy for people to throw stones rather than see that there are people trying to solve tough (and sometimes entrenched) problems. It will be a bipartisan effort to recognize that we ALL live in glass houses.

    @firebrand, if the CEO of a bank had this happen, they would make sure that all the crooks got bonuses. grrrr There is some irony that the folks who made the financial mess are asked to stay on to fix it, but folks trying to fix mess in government seem to get tarred for lacking super human skills.

  • @Gwynne. I agree with you, but take a different stand. I think that the crooks in business need to be beheaded publicly. It would be a huge deterrent to those thinking of doing ill. Those crooks in government should be publicly put in stocks out in front of the White House for all to see.

    Ok so that’s a bit overboard. But you get the point. This sort of crap shouldn’t be tolerated regardless of where it’s found.

    I also think that one of the marketing ploys of Obama, other than he’s a cool dude, is that he was going to hold a higher standard and NOT do business as it was normally done in the government. As far as I can tell, he’s pretty much doing the same as the last President.

    And that’s hiring known crooks, trying to get tax evaders into the government, etc… Tell we where this is any different? He even going to the same old tired group of people, those who are currently involved in government… Come on, if you are going to change things you don’t do it by putting the same people in place. You go outside of the click and hire new people with a fresh look and fresh attitude about government.

    As far as I can see he’s done nothing more than the same same as before. I keep waiting for him to prove me wrong. But all of his appointees have either bowed out, or been found to be crookds, or are in the government. They all fall into one of the above categories.

    Do I wish that it was different? You bet. I would be the first one in line to cheer him on. But as I suspected he’s managed to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes. Meantime those of us who were a bit more from Missouri, were like “show me” first… He’s not lived up to it.

    Other than telegraphing to the enemy that we are pulling on a set schedule (that didn’t work in Veitnam), hiring the same people on the Hill that have been there before, and given out trillions to pork.

    Where the change in all of that? I want to believe, but I can’t.

    This current issue is like, oh yeah more of the same. Oh and let’s let it blow over and then leave him in place so that we can continue to hire crooks and people were asleep at the wheel in the first place.

    Wake up, and Smell the Coffee… Please.

  • Firebrand,

    To your first comment, I agree that it’s awkward that one of the first big busts of the DC transparency era happened in the “Office of the CTO” rather than in, say, the Building Department, or the DC schools, or the Police Department, or any other part of the DC government. And it’s a bit awkward that Kundra’s tools for transparency didn’t uncover this fraud, and that it was uncovered by an old-fashioned whistleblower instead.

    But the bigger awkwardness is that Kundra was no longer on the scene, making it easy for others to portray the case as a result of his lapses. Imagine for a moment that the bust came a week earlier, while Kundra was still on the job. It would have been him doing the press conference about the event, rather than Mayor Fenty, and I would bet that the story would have been seen as a triumph for Kundra’s approach to transparency rather than an embarrassment.

    So to answer your criticism that “this happened on his watch,” I’d answer, “it was also *uncovered* on his watch.” And given that the people in question were deep in the system long before Kundra even arrived on the scene, it’s pretty clear that you do indeed have an axe to grind. (That also becomes clear in your second comment, which tries to turn this issue into a critique of the entire Obama administration.)

    I don’t think this is at all parallel with the case of rewarding bank execs, who actually initiated or supervised the activities that brought down their institutions.

    And meanwhile, you’ve ignored my main point. Imagine, for a moment, that we want to uncover fraud, waste, and other problems. We find them, and we not only punish the perpetrators, but we give a black mark to all their supervisors up the chain, whether or not they were in on the crime. All of a sudden, you’ve given everyone a big incentive to keep things quiet.

    If we’re going to make a dent in government waste, inefficiency, and outright fraud, we have to be very clear to punish the wrongdoers, but give everyone else plaudits for helping to root them out, creating a culture of transparency and accountability.

    And that’s what both Barack Obama and Vivek Kundra have been asking for.

    P.S. I’m not thrilled with some of the Obama decisions either (his financial guys seem too much part of the group that caused the problems, and still looking out for their old buddies) – but he got handed a mess, and is balancing a lot of factors in trying to work it out. Anyone who thinks there are easy answers, and no tradeoffs to be made, isn’t thinking very hard.

  • Totally agree with you about getting handed a mess. Obama’s job is not one I would want, and I don’t pretend to have answers for. So that being said it doesn’t mean that holding someone’s foot to the fire on promises they have made is a bad thing.

    I am doing my part to hold that foot to the fire.

    Yes those people were in the system before hand and deeply entrenched. My understanding is that none of what Kundra put in place actually caught these folks. So it does leave open for speculation if what he was working on actually worked? After all, you get jobs based on what you did in the past that worked, not what you say is going to work. So in this instance it seems that there was a failure to discover the fraud that the systems he put into place were supposed to uncover. Do you reward for that?

    More importantly, was he covering up? If his systems were to uncover things like this, then why didn’t they uncover that in the very department he was in charge of? So yes, it was uncovered on his watch. Worse, it wasn’t uncovered by him. So your argument about that really isn’t valid, and a poor one to point out since it only makes him look worse.

    Let’s be clear. I don’t know Kundra, and have no personal axe to grind, and perhaps he is just unfortunate in being caught in the middle.

    However, this administration has stood up and said that they don’t want to run things like before, and they want to hold a higher standard. In this case holding that higher standard means that SOMETIMES good people are passed up or need to resign. This isn’t about the person, this is about the institution and about what is supposedly being built.

    I find it amazing that folks who support Obama leap to the defense instead of saying. You know holding that bar high has a cost. And sometimes good people can’t quite make that leap. So be it. Instead it’s all about justifying why it’s ok that this happened.

    If this was the only instance, then perhaps you could turn a blind eye. I would argue that turning a blind eye got us here in the first place. IF you are going to change things, then change them. Hold that bar high. Keep it there and don’t let anyone duck no matter how good they are, or how innocent. This is about expectations and setting a new direction. You can’t do that if you allow the line to move based on random feelings of how good someone is.

    I don’t want folks running things for me who dodged taxes. I don’t want those who broke the law in the past. I don’t want those tainted by corruption. You can’t force change without costs and people getting nailed along the way. In the end you will have a better and more accountable government. Not less by holding that bar high.

    Do I think Kundra did something wrong? Does it matter if there is smoke? Do we need lily-white appointee’s, this time around we do. We need to know that our leader is good to his word. And that when he says this will Change, then they change. Not change as in here’s the line today and tomorrow we are going to change it to suit our purposes. That’s pretty much what the others did. I expect more out of Obama and his team. Now deliver.

    Wake up and Smell the Coffee.

  • Vivek Kundra has been very good at articulating vision, and at understanding the technology needed for that task. On the other hand, like a number of technology visionaries (and technologists in general), he was blindsided by the human side of the equation, by the fact that not everyone’s ulterior motive is the strength and beauty of the technology but rather that some are motivated by greed and (let’s be honest) laziness.

    My suspicion, based upon commentary from others who do know him, is that Kundra is probably not a strong people manager, at least for those under his immediate charge. If his role is championing certain technologies and approaches (which it seems to be) then he’s probably ideal for the job. If his job is to manage a bureaucracy, then I’d agree with the other comments here that the affairs of the last couple of weeks are definitely a black mark on his record.

    This is probably one of those cases where Obama needs to also appoint a deputy CIO, whose role is to act primarily as project manager. Certainly, both are needed, and just as certainly, finding one person with both of these skills (and the time to accomplish both of them and still be able to get home before midnight) is well-nigh impossible – so why even attempt it?

    Given that Bush era appointees included largely friends and cronies with little experience but lots of political connections, I’d rather take a slightly tarnished white knight like Kundra over someone like Michael Brown, Bush’s infamous FEMA director and former race horse commissioner (which he was also fired from), any day.

  • The party in power will always stand to suffer most; they just have more to lose. You can’t expect them to act on principle over against self-preservation. But “transparency” will still come in the form of leaks:

    “…Acar’s frauds were not revealed by technological means, but by an old-fashioned whistleblower…”

    There’s “transparency” for you–good insider leaks and tips cast out to people who can publish or pass on the information to others where it will shake up the government, get people fired, etc. Partisan or other very interested interests probably account for 99% of tips and leaks, not pure principle.

    That is why politicians will embrace transparency for the very interested reason that it is an equal opportunity weapon–unlimited ammo for everyone on the political battlefield. Also, with the press dying off, politicians need to help support the press’s primary services to government: getting politicians shamed, poked, prodded, fired, jailed, sued, etc.

    I also have to agree with FireBrand: if you want government of any institution to act on principle and be highly accountable, then you have to be willing to see people like Kundra face removal for having out-of-control subordinates.

    Regardless of a lack of direct culpability, a key way to enforce high standards of accountability in organizations is to make it clear to all in leadership that major failure on your watch will result in your removal.

    This may seem “unfair” on an individual basis, but it is simply a stern principle that, if applied consistently, is in the best interests of the greatest number of people. Sure, there are always exceptions, but exceptions greatly affect institutional and public perception of what you can be gotten away with, if not a lack of evenhandedness.

  • @Kurt. I agree with most of what you say. With one exception and it’s a large one.

    Why settle? Your last line you knock Bush and then state that anything is better than that. I am not looking for anything is better. I am looking for better. For words to mean something and deeds follow.

    Why would we, no matter what side of the political equation you are on, allow someone who is leading us to make statements that they are unwilling to back up with deeds? Further more, if you are tainted why aren’t you man/woman enough to step down, others did this already. Just look for the search for Treasury. We might have someone in there by the time next year they way they are falling like flies hit with Raid ™.

    Why would you be willing to accept someone who has a taint on them, with questionable activities going on around them, knowingly or not? Further why wouldn’t that person step down and say, sorry but I can’t allow the administration to take flack for something like this. That I too support the words and will take action with my deeds.

    I am sure that much the same argument went on in Bush’s camp. Well yeah he’s done these things, but hey the other side appointed far worse people… That’s just wrong. You can’t point to the other party NO matter who they are and justify your choice by saying, “hey he’s not perfect, but he’s better than X”. I want the best of the best. Those who stand behind their actions good or bad and take responsibility and who are looking out for the greater good. As far as I can tell Kundra is allowing the taint to stay in the administration and hence setting up the administrations defenders to have to defend.

    If you are doing change right, you will get howls and complaints, but you had better have people who can stand tall about their past and can lead from a position of power. Not from a position of childishness stating, well my guy is better than the last guy… How about my guy is the absolute best we can find. He/she is above reproach and we stand firmly behind them because we have done our work and checked them out so carefully that we know more about them than they know about themselves.

    And here’s the rub. If you are doing the job, then that sort of “backbone” carries down through everything. Now wouldn’t that be refreshing?

    You might think I am not behind what Obama is trying to do. Actually I hope he succeeds. But to really deliver the Change he promised he has to hold a high bar for everyone no matter how far down the chain. What you allow will grow into something bigger. What you squash out will diminish and go away. Why do you fire the bad hires in an organization? It’s to show that you value the rest of the organization’s hard work. If you leave them in place because you feel sorry for them, you create a situation where the best pack up and leave, the good start not caring and the bad thrive.

    Wake up and Smell the Coffee..

  • Kurt Cagle

    My concerns on Kundra’s potential ouster stem from a couple of areas. Like you, I have no particular axe to grind. I can think of several people who may be as devoted to transparency and openness in Government. The question is whether in giving Kundra the heave ho this may also result in an opportunity for those who are waking up to the dangers of transparency to their company or agency to put up a dark-horse candidate – that by throwing out Kundra you also throw out the ideas that transparency is an essential part of the process of reform.

    The second danger that I see is the danger of raising the bar so high that the person who ends up in that position is a compromise candidate, someone who may have no blemishes on their record, but the record itself is uninspiring. Now, I’m not sure myself that Kundra would have been my first candidate in that role – he’s done some very impressive things, admittedly, but he is also comparatively young, and I would question the extent to which his accomplishments translate into the political experience necessary to deal with both politicos and lobbyists (and this will DEFINITELY be a magnet for lobbyists) at the federal level.

    Having said that, I’d take a wait and see attitude. Kundra will make mistakes – most cabinet members will at some point, its one of the joys of working at that level of power, and at that stage it will be Obama’s decision to decide whether the mistake was sufficient to warrant dismissing him. Of course, the same can be said of people like Tim Geithner.

    One last point to consider, however. There are a lot of sharpened knives in Washington right now (on both sides of the aisle) and the media, which has been cheerleading the Republican agenda heavily until it had become obvious that Obama would win, are now going to be extra-dilligent about making sure that EVERY mis-step and miscue gets played up in the worst possible light. In many cases, they have little to gain by additional transparency, and a great deal to lost.

    I’m not saying that I believe Kundra falls into this – I have my own reservations there – but nor am I dismissing outright the notion that there aren’t people using character assassination to weaken Obama through his surrogates.

    Once again, I think it is advantageous to keep Kundra – let him prove or disprove himself appropriately within the context of the job, but keep an understudy ready in the wings just in case.

  • Well said. Excellent post. By the way, I wish the politicians, the President included, would do something like a fireside chat with charts and graphs and explain what the real problem is concerning the economic crisis. Specifically I am referring to the derivatives fiasco that was allowed to grow to such mamouth proportions, something between 50 and 500 Trillion dollars at its peak. And its the unwinding of those bad bets that overhang our economy. I am especially bothered that the main stream media seems clueless and to the real cause of this crisis. President Obama has his work cut out for him with this mess.

  • Robert Young

    @Tim: “And given that the people in question were deep in the system long before Kundra even arrived on the scene,”

    Well, no if you read this report: the smell of good old fashioned influence peddling wafts by. These folk were known to each other well before Mr. Kundra was installed as CTO. It was widely reported that Tim Kaine pressured to get Kundra reinstated; this was not spontaneous.

    While O’Reilly Media has served up, and drinks deeply from, Web 2.0 doesn’t mean it is appropriate for the Federal government to do likewise. Whether there is any there, there with regard to Web 2.0 has been discussed at length many places. Not here, of course. I do grant that, in the previous thread on this subject, Mr. O’Reilly did acknowledge that not all of what Mr. Kundra peddles is wise.

  • Wicky

    How much transparency is too much? Does everyone get to know anything they want about anyone? How might that afeect your privacy in financial matters? See

  • @Wicky / Robert… I fear that government will embrace technology without understanding that technology. Would you want a government Facebook? I mean I really don’t need that much info and do you really want to know who is dating who and who is pissed at whom? What songs your senator likes, etc… Can you imagine sending a beer to your congresscritter? :-)

    Do I think technology can be used in ways that will help to inform the public? Yes. Do I think that technology for the sake of technology is good? No.

    Hopefully whoever ends up here, will have the good graces to figure out exactly what and how.

  • Robert Young

    @FireBrand (ya gotta love that handle): My main concern with Mr. Kundra’s “vision” is that data should remain with its owners; in this case the citizens of the USofA, not private corporations foreign or domestic. As will be mentioned below, privatization is a greater source of waste and abuse than public employees.

    As the AIG fiasco demonstrates, corporate malfeasance is always pawned off as “the market making the decisions, and the market is always right”. Market control of public data becomes fascism really soon. Can “RoboCop” be far away? For those in the audience who get itchy about the f* word, look it up. It was invented by Mussolini, and has a specific meaning: merging government control with corporate control to their mutual benefit. It isn’t some random epithet.

    The Bushies turned war making over to the private sector to a degree only now being made known. At an order of magnitude more cost with no control. Not only that, do you really want our public data in the hands of a nation that twice (that we know for sure) nearly nuked south Asia? Over religion? Give me a break. Same goes for Russia and China, so far as that goes.

    The cloud and off shoring of data is being lemmingly embraced by those with little critical thinking. The cloud and off shoring of data is being promoted by those with own agendas; which agendas are not necessarily in the best interest of citizens of the USofA.

    Mr. O’Reilly took exception, but the reports so far indicate that Mr. Kundra, SAIC, and AITC were in cahoots before he was made CTO of DC. It is on the record that AITC’s fortunes improved immensely only after Mr. Kundra was installed. It is on the record that Mr. Acar was in his position for years before AITC’s fortunes thus improved. Happenstance? Only two explanations make sense: 1) Mr. Knudra was the dupe Mr. Bansal and Mr. Acar had been waiting for, 2) Mr. Kundra was the tooth fairy Mr. Bansal had been waiting for. The story is not finished.

    Mr. O’Reilly titled this thread “The Paradox of Transparency”. I do not think he understood the irony of that title. I infer from his text that he saw the Paradox as Mr. Kundra had bad actors working for him, and that they were outed not by Mr. Kundra’s transparency efforts, but by a simple whistleblower, reportedly an Army veteran and not Mr. Kundra.

    >>”they are exactly the kind of procurement shenanigans that Kundra set out to uncover in D.C”

    I, on the other hand, have come to the view, which I hadn’t reached at the time of the first thread since the additional facts had not yet been revealed, that the Paradox lies in Mr. Kundra being outed as a shenanigan or dupe by good old fashioned whistleblowing and news reporting. The chance that all this went on under Mr. Kundra’s nose whilst he remained chaste and innocent are vanishingly small. The Sgt. Schultz excuse.

    Whether the contracts to AITC were, ipso facto, illegal is less important than the appearance of influence peddling. Influence peddling is the rot in government. The Halliburton contracts were not illegally given, but they were unethical. Mr. Kundra will have to answer for the same behaviour. The nature of the answer will determine his fate. Unless the question gets swept under the rug by those with a Web 2.0 and/or off shoring agenda. “Don’t look behind the curtain”.

    >>”We find them, and we not only punish the perpetrators, but we give a black mark to all their supervisors up the chain”

    This bit of CYA is irritating. The whole point of managers is, at least, to keep the underlings from stealing the store. In the military, before Bush and Rummy anyway, officers were responsible for the conduct of those under them. Ignorance *was no excuse*. It is the officer’s duty to know what’s going on. Was Mr. O’Reilly among those (I certainly was) who were and are incensed that no officers, no Rummy, no Abrams, were held responsible for Abu Ghraib and the rest? If so, then why not in this case? If not then, why?

    My strongest hope is that the truth is found before Mr. Obama suffers any further damage. You are judged by the company you keep. My Pappy told me that.

  • Transparency seems paradoxical, yet to the extent that we have engaged in a current civil war, lost thousands of jobs, and threatened our very economic independence, transparency seems to be the obvious rebuttle to the denial of the last decade. Kundra is actually more of the same behavior of confused priorities. Get on with the task of hard work, hold to the notion that we as a people have been handed hollow wood. Complex issues are sometimes addressed with simple actions. Hold the course of democratic action.

  • The question to ask is why Kundra, CTO of Washington, didn’t know about this great fraud going on under his nose.

    Transparency Gov 2.0 stuff is a racket for digital Beltway bandits to sell more geek consulting.

    So far, is a joke for the user. It’s a primitive template which you fill out to enable the gov to scrape your data, which has no feedback or interactivity or social media or forums. It’s not new media or 2.0 anything, but as ancient and outdated as a 1990s web template. so far is about enabling the army of widgeteers who want APIs to sell their consulting off the public’s scraped data.

    It does not demonstrably serve the public; it serves widgeteers.

  • Robert Young –

    I hear you about the idea that an officer takes responsibility for everything that happens on his or her watch, whether or not he knew of it. It’s an attractive concept, and has a lot of merit.

    But I struggle with it in practice. For example, over the years at O’Reilly, I’ve had employees steal from the company, threaten other employees, and carry out various other acts of malfeasance. Should I have stepped down as CEO at O’Reilly because of these unfortunate events? I don’t think so.

    As to the various allegations about Kundra’s connections to SAIC made in the piece you linked to – they are certainly worth looking into. But SAIC is such a huge player in DC that it’s reading a lot into very little. It’s a bit like noting that Sheryl Sandberg once worked for Google, and so there’s clearly a business tie up in the works between Google and Facebook, or noting that Stephen Elop was a senior executive at Adobe and now runs Microsoft Office, so clearly there’s something in the works there.

  • Steve

    Well said. It’s always darkest before the dawn. If real transparency does indeed take place, it is to be expected that there will be some issues uncovered in the first stages. It’s part of the healing process I suppose. Tim, your response to Robert was executed well. Association alone is not a guilty verdict. But transparency and privacy can be difficult to juggle, that’s why I depend on justaskgemalto to educate me on data security/privacy.

  • Warren De Struckshon

    They are all pathological liars. The Obaman military is still in Iraq. It was an illegal war under Bush and its status doesn’t change one iota under Obama. Now the troops are being redeployed to Afganistan sucking out billons per month from US taxpayers. That conflict is likely to drag on for years to come. Finally, Obama refuses to prosecute or even investigate any members of the Bush administration for possible war crimes committed agains Iraq. In my book Obama is a black Napoleon and a traitor to the nation.