Too good to check: Disgraced ex-chief of Penn State now working on … national security

posted at 10:41 am on July 27, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Consider this a mystery solved.  What kind of work can a man do after having helped keep quiet the child molestations being perpetrated by an underling?  Why, beefing up national security, of course:

Graham Spanier might have been ousted from his post at the helm of Penn State over the sex-abuse scandal that engulfed the university, but it seems he’s found a backup employer: the American taxpayer. …

His lawyer confirms to the Loop that Spanier is working on a part-time consulting basis for a “top-secret” agency on national security issues. But the gig is so hush-hush, he couldn’t even tell his attorneys the name of the agency. In April — months after his ouster as president but before the release of the internal report — he told the Patriot-News of central Pennsylvania that he was working on a “special project for the U.S. government relating [to] national security.”

But who’s he working for? The CIA? Homeland Security? Or maybe just a dull consulting firm with a government contract?

“I have no idea,”says his lawyer, Peter Vaira. “We know the work is in security and he’s prohibited from disclosing which agency or agencies he’s working for.”

National security, huh?  Well, we know he can keep a secret … sort of.  Spanier complained during the probe into Penn State’s actions that investigators had ignored the fact that his clearance had been “reaffirmed” by the government after Jerry Sandusky’s actions came to light. Normally, one doesn’t publicly discuss their federal clearances, in part to keep from attracting attention from people who want to penetrate national security.

So, we’re paying for Spanier’s fallback career, which should make us feel warm and fuzzy indeed — kind of like a stuffed Nittany Lion.

While we’re on the subject, Paul Mirengoff wrote earlier this week that the Freeh report was not nearly as conclusive on Joe Paterno as its executive summary claimed.  Last night, Paul responded to criticisms of his take:

Paterno did not “conceal” Sandusky’s activities from the Board in 1998 when allegations of misconduct came to his attention. These allegations were investigated by several people or entities, and Sandusky was cleared. Thus, there was nothing for Paterno to report to the Board or to anyone else. And Freeh’s complaint that Paterno “allowed” Sandusky to retire in 1999 as a valued member of the Penn State football legacy, instead of a suspected child molester, makes no sense for the reasons set forth by my friend.

2001 is different. When the graduate assistant brought his allegations to Paterno’s attention, Paterno reported the matter to Schultz and Curley, as he should have. But Paterno should also have kept himself apprised of the situation after handing the matter over to these two. If he didn’t, then he didn’t do enough; this, I assume, is what Paterno had in mind when he said he wished he had done more. If Paterno did, then he may have been part of a cover-up. But, for the reasons stated by my friend, I don’t think the evidence cited by Freeh shows this.

Paterno’s apparent failure to circle back with Schultz and Curley doesn’t constitute concealing misconduct from the Board. When a person reports misconduct to the next levels on the chain of command, he doesn’t conceal that misconduct from the body at the top of that chain.

Moreover, Freeh cites no meaningful evidence to support his conclusion that Paterno didn’t tell the Board and others because he wanted to avoid the consequences of bad publicity. This is pure speculation on Freeh’s part, and speculation that ignores the most obvious reason why Paterno did not report misconduct to the Board and others — the fact that Paterno had reported it to the next levels of the chain of command.

Freeh’s report, then, is irresponsible as it relates to Paterno. The “findings” at the beginning of the report are not supported by the evidence that follows.

The 2001 incident was different, and I disagree a little with Paul.  It’s one thing to report wrongdoing of other types to one’s superiors and assume they’re handling it.  When the wrongdoing involves molestation, it’s also different.  Having been warned of the problem, allowing Sandusky to continue to have access to the locker room and young boys for recruitment is not just an occasion to say that Paterno should have circled back again to check on the status of Sandusky.  It should have been an opportunity to demand action and take a principled stand to protect potential victims from abuse.  However, Paul is an experienced attorney with a sharp eye, and both posts are well worth reading.


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