Chairman Royce Calls on IG to Investigate Altered Iran VideoPress Release
Today, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA) sent a letter to the State Department’s Inspector General (IG), Steve Linick, to request an investigation into the deliberate omission of portions of a State Department press briefing video on the Iran nuclear talks. The missing excerpt includes the State Department’s then-spokesperson implying that the Department concealed information from the public about when negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program started.
In the letter to the IG, Chairman Royce writes: “In tampering with this video, the Bureau of Public Affairs has undermined its mission to ‘communicate timely and accurate information with the goal of furthering U.S. foreign policy.’ This is all the more troubling given that the video in question dealt with hugely consequential nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.”
NOTE: One of Chairman Royce’s first actions upon becoming Chairman was sending a bipartisan letter to President Obama urging him to nominate a permanent IG. This letter noted that the State Department had “not had a permanent Inspector General for more than five years.” Following that letter, President Obama nominated Steve Linick for the position and the Senate confirmed him on September 17, 2013.
The signed letter to the Inspector General is available HERE.
The text of the letter follows:
June 3, 2016
The Honorable Steve A. Linick
U.S. Department of State
Dear Inspector General Linick:
Given your office’s mission to investigate mismanagement in the programs and operations of the State Department, I write to request that you conduct an investigation into the deliberate omission of portions of the Department’s “Daily Press Briefing” on December 2, 2013 from the publicly available video record.
As you know, the Department’s spokesperson has determined that this omission was made in a “deliberate step” ordered by an official in the Bureau of Public Affairs. The missing excerpt – which has since resurfaced – contained a tacit admission by then-spokesperson Jennifer Psaki that the Department concealed information from the public about the commencement of negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program.
While the Department has clarified that what was initially described as a technical “glitch” was no such thing, the explanation provided by the spokesperson at a press briefing this week raises disturbing questions. For instance, it remains unclear why the exchange between Ms. Psaki and reporters was stricken from the video recording. How is it not possible to determine who in the Administration ordered that the video be altered, as the current spokesman has asserted? Will there be no accountability? Have there been other instances where the State Department has altered the public record?
In tampering with this video, the Bureau of Public Affairs has undermined its mission to “communicate timely and accurate information with the goal of furthering U.S. foreign policy.” This is all the more troubling given that the video in question dealt with hugely consequential nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
EDWARD R. ROYCE
cc: The Honorable John F. Kerry, the Secretary of State