Vetting, By Robert Reich

Was Sarah Palin properly vetted? Well here's Bob on how the thing works...

Having been through the process of “vetting” prospective cabinet members, I can tell you it’s time-consuming, detailed, and thorough. I’d like to think the vetting of a vice presidential nominee would be more so – especially one whose odds of becoming president, should she be elected, are somewhat higher than that of the normal vice president.

Sixteen years ago, Bill Clinton’s “vetting” team asked me and other prospective cabinet members for (1) our tax returns, going back at least five years, (2) our bank records, (3) a detailed listing of our assets, (4) the names and places of everywhere we had lived, and the names and phone numbers of neighbors whom they could call about us, (5) a description of every job we had ever had, every client we had ever served, and the names of employers and clients with whom they could check, (6) the names of our family members, their ages, their occupations (if any), (7) a description of any civil or criminal investigations or prosecutions in which we had been involved (8) and – perhaps most importantly – “anything we should ask you about, the answer to which might cause you or the administration any embarrassment.”

It didn’t stop there. Investigators checked our answers, interviewed our friends and neighbors and former employers, asked for more records if uncertain. Agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation did their own background checks. Staff members of the relevant congressional committees, representing both parties, looked over the files and added questions of their own.

It didn’t even stop there. I recall two large, three-ring black binders containing passages from books and articles I had written that might prove troubling to some of the Senators. My vetting team suggested I be prepared to answer questions about them.

The process took well over a month, not including the Senate confirmation hearing. I don’t recall doing anything during that interval except responding to questions from the vetting team, the FBI, and oversight committee staffers, both Republican and Democrat.

Do you believe Sarah Palin was put through anything remotely like this before John McCain decided she would be his vice presidential candidate, and possible President of the United States?

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