In response to last week's DeadHijackerVisa-gate, the Immigration and Naturalization Service "reassigned" four managers to replace four other managers -- whom the agency refuses to name -- in order to "begin the process of accountability." Begin?
Here's a closer look at how bogus the immigration reform charade really is.
One of the newly reassigned mangers is Janis Sposato. She was described last week as a "former special counsel to the (INS) commissioner" who will now become "assistant deputy executive associate commissioner for immigration services." Who is this woman with more titles than Catherine the Great, and what qualifies her to help prevent future terrorists from exploiting our immigration policies? Sposato did not return my call seeking comment, but here's what I've learned:
Sposato has worked at the Justice Department for more than a quarter-century. Her specialty is ethics, not immigration enforcement, immigration services or counterterrorism. Her past positions include trial attorney for the Criminal Division, special assistant to the assistant attorney general for the Civil Division, attorney adviser for the Office of Legal Counsel, general counsel and deputy assistant attorney general for law and policy in the Justice Management Division, and acting assistant attorney general for administration.
One of her main accomplishments involves the creation of video games for Justice Department employees. According to the Aug. 30, 1993, issue of Government Computer News, she got the idea from her 6-year-old son. "My concern about ethics training coincided with my son beginning to play educational computer games," Sposato said. "At the office, I also noticed that many people who had computers on their desks played games when they had downtime. I decided this was the way to give people ethics training inexpensively, when and where they want it."
Feel safer now? Here's a lifetime civil servant and ethics guru who thought nothing of government employees using their taxpayer-funded computers to play games. Instead of ordering them to delete Solitaire, Sposato secured a $250,000 contract with Legend Entertainment Co. of Chantilly, Va., to develop interactive ethics software for the entire workforce.
The game, using real-life scenarios, is called "Quandaries."
Legend Entertainment, by the way, is a leading maker of adult fantasy games such as "Spellcasting 101: Sorcerers Get All the Girls" -- in which, as the company describes it, "you play a nerd named Ernie Eaglebeak, who attends Sorcerer University to learn how to cast spells, and more importantly, pick up girls." The game box features a lascivious Harry Potter look-alike embraced by two buxom, barely-clad blondes.
The Clinton administration appreciated Sposato's creative management so much that it awarded her a total of $82,700 in cash bonuses.
Sposato's other claim to fame is far more troubling. In 1987, a federal judge blasted the Justice Department for stealing a private software system called PROMIS used by prosecutors to manage their cases. PROMIS was developed and enhanced by a tiny company called Inslaw, Inc. Sposato, then top ethics cop at the Justice Management Division, was singled out by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George F. Bason Jr. He lambasted Sposato for dealing "so casually with the repeated serious allegations of outrageous conduct" by a senior Justice official who oversaw contract issues involving PROMIS. That official, C. Madison Brewer, was a disgruntled ex-employee of Inslaw with a huge conflict of interest in the matter.
The government, Judge Bason said, stole Inslaw's software through "trickery, fraud, and deceit" with "contempt for both the law and any principle of fair dealing." Sposato's involvement, the judge said, "can be charitably described as willful blindness to the obvious." Yet, Sposato suffered no reprisal.
As for PROMIS, Washington Times reporter Jerry Seper reported in June 2001 that former FBI agent and convicted spy Robert Hanssen sold an enhanced version to Russian crime figures, who in turn are suspected of selling it to Osama bin Laden, who could be using it to monitor financial transactions and intelligence-gathering efforts.
Perfect. This game-playing career bureaucrat, faulted by a judge for looking the other way while the government allegedly pirated software that may be in the hands of murderous al Qaeda operatives, has now been promoted as a symbol of the INS's commitment to accountability in the war on terrorism.
"Quandaries": It's more than just a Justice Department video game. It's a living national security nightmare.