Royce Calls on State Department Office of Inspector General to Explain its Report on Misconduct and Political Interference in Investigations

Jun 13, 2013

Washington, D.C. Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called on the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) to explain in detail how it produced the February 2013 OIG report on misconduct within the State Department and reported interference by senior State Department officials to stymie the subsequent investigations.  The final OIG report lacked any references to the specific cases of criminal and other misconduct apparently detailed in an October 2012 OIG memorandum. 

The final OIG report in February simply referred generally to “undue influence” from Diplomatic Security and Department hierarchies. 

Following the publication of the final OIG report in February, Foreign Affairs Committee staff met with and asked OIG staff for specific examples of misconduct and senior-level interference.  OIG staff refused to share examples with the Committee. 

In a letter today to the State Department’s deputy inspector general, Chairman Royce wrote: “[T]he lack of detail appears to be inconsistent with the OIG’s mission to keep Congress ‘fully and currently informed.’”

In the letter, Chairman Royce demanded that the OIG produce the October 2012 memorandum, any draft OIG reports, and all documents and communication about the OIG report.  Royce also asked the OIG to explain whether it agreed to omit information at the request of any State Department official.  [Yesterday in a separate letter, Chairman Royce asked Secretary of State John Kerry to explain the reports of misconduct and political interference.] 

Today’s signed letter to the deputy inspector general is available HERE

The text of the letter follows: 

June 13, 2013

The Honorable Harold Geisel
Deputy Inspector General
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Geisel:

As you are aware, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs is investigating allegations of undue influence upon State Department internal investigations.  I am troubled by reports that senior State Department officials may have prevented the Diplomatic Security Service (DSS) from investigating instances of administrative and criminal misconduct within the Department.  I am likewise concerned that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) was reportedly aware of eight separate instances in which senior political appointees within the Department “influenced, manipulated, or simply called off” these cases, yet it failed to disclose this information to Congress.

Among the cases reportedly investigated by DSS described in an October 23, 2012 memorandum: a Department security official in Beirut was alleged to have sexually assaulted foreign nationals hired as embassy guards; members of the Secretary’s security detail allegedly “engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries”; an “underground drug ring” may have supplied security contractors at Embassy Baghdad with drugs; and a U.S. Ambassador at a “sensitive diplomatic post” was “suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park.” 

According to reports, the October memorandum further indicates that senior political appointees within the Department intervened to manipulate these investigations.  Subsequently, the OIG produced two drafts of a report for Congress.  A November 20, 2012 draft included many of the details contained in the October memorandum, in addition to referencing the attempts to block the investigations.  However, a December 4, 2012 draft reportedly “watered down the language,” focusing more on the need for investigative independence. 

The final version of the report submitted to Congress in February 2013 was bereft of any reference to these specific cases.  Instead the OIG concluded, without the requisite context, that “The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) Special Investigations Division (SID), which investigates allegations of criminal and administrative misconduct, lacks a firewall to preclude the DS and Department of State (Department) hierarchies from exercising undue influence in particular cases.”  According to reports, some or all of these omissions came at the behest of senior State Department officials.

On March 14, 2013, representatives from your Office briefed Committee staff on a final version of the report.  At no time during this meeting did OIG personnel explain the basis of this finding or provide details concerning “undue influence” on DSS investigations.  When asked, officials declined to comment on specific examples.  While the Department and OIG deny any wrongdoing, the lack of detail appears to be inconsistent with the OIG’s mission to keep the Congress “fully and currently informed.”

Therefore, I request the immediate production of both the October 23, 2012 memorandum and the draft Inspection report(s), as well as all documents and communications referring or relating to the February 2013 Inspection of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, Office of Investigations and Counterintelligence, Divisions of Special Investigations, Divisions of Special Criminal Investigations, and Computer Investigations and Forensics (ISP-I-13-18).  Additionally, we respectfully request a briefing from your Office at the earliest possible convenience to discuss your Office’s knowledge of this entire matter.  Finally, please clarify in writing whether, and on what basis, OIG agreed to omit information from this final report pursuant to any State Department official’s request.

I request that you provide the requested documents and information as soon as possible, but no later than 5:00 p.m. on June 27, 2013.  When producing documents to the Committee, please deliver production sets to the Majority Staff in Room 2170 of the Rayburn House Office Building and the Minority Staff in Room B360 of the Rayburn House Office Building.  The Committee prefers, if possible, to receive all documents in electronic format.  An attachment to this letter provides additional information about responding to the Committee’s request.

If you have any questions, please contact Thomas Alexander, Chief Counsel for Oversight and Investigations, at 202-225-5021.  Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

                                   

EDWARD R. ROYCE                                             
Chairman        

Enclosure                                                                   

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