EPA documents question justification for Pruitt’s costly security, travel - http://travelporn.info | luxury travel sites

April 10, 2018 9:37 pm
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Two Democratic senators demanded a congressional inquiry Tuesday into the justification underpinning the round-the-clock security detail for Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, citing new documents suggesting that level of security is not justified.

Writing to Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso R-Wyo., fellow panel members Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., and Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., reference several internal EPA documents – which they kept confidential “in an abundance of caution to protect any specific ongoing security efforts” – that allude to the kind of threats that have not traditionally triggered 24/7 protection. Those include messages threatening to leave scrapings of old paint at the administrator’s office and one telling Pruitt “we are watching you” on the agency’s climate-related policies.

In a Feb. 14 “Preliminary Intelligence Enterprise Threat Assessment Review” memo from EPA’s Office of Homeland Security Intelligence Team, according to the senators’ letter, agency officials used all caps and bold print as they concluded that the justification for the coverage outlined by Pruitt’s protective security detail in an Oct. 17 memorandum “DOES NOT employ sound analysis or articulate relevant ‘threat specific’ information appropriate to draw any resource or level of threat conclusions regarding the protection posture for the Administrator.”

Continuing with the use of bold and underline print, the memo states that “[u]sing all source intelligence resources, EPA Intelligence has not identified any specific credible direct threat to the EPA Administrator.”

But the new documents detail an ongoing disagreement among the agency’s intelligence officials, the EPA inspector general and senior political appointees over the level of threat Pruitt faces. The Feb. 14 memo states that EPA intelligence officials told the others that “the ‘threat’ to the Administrator was being inappropriately mischaracterized” by the security detail and inspector general’s office and notes that EPA Intelligence has “not seen any analysis to indicate why the Administrator would be at any greater risk on a commercial airline than any other passenger, or why a trained EPA [security agent] could not protect the Administrator in a different location on the aircraft” than in the business or first-class section.

EPA’s Intelligence Team asked the United States Secret Service to provide a “Direction of Interest Query” in February 2017 and again this February on potential threats against Pruitt, the senators write, and neither query returned any “reports of behaviors of interest directed toward EPA Administrator Pruitt.”

“It is hard to reconcile the public statements of EPA, and the President, with these internal and external assessments. It may be that the materials we have been provided are incomplete and that EPA has additional information that justifies its public position,” Whitehouse and Carper write. “However, another view is that certain factions within EPA have justified the exorbitant taxpayer spending incurred by the Administrator’s first-class travel and large entourage of security personnel through unsubstantiated claims about threats to his security, either at the direction of the Administrator himself or others in the agency.”

“Either way,” they add, their committee “has a responsibility to look into these matters.”

Though Pruitt has shown no intention of relinquishing his post, and President Donald Trump has continued to voice his support, the ongoing scrutiny has influenced the administrator’s travel schedule. Pruitt had planned to travel to Mexico this week, according to multiple agency officials, but has postponed the visit.