House Foreign Affairs Committee Chariman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) has asked the State Department’s inspector general to elaborate on the “undue influence” found to have been exerted by higher-ups to interfere with investigations into department misconduct.
The final OIG report that Congress got lacked any references to the specific cases of criminal and other misconduct apparently detailed in an October 2012 OIG memorandum, Royce noted.
After the report was issued 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, the chairman said.
“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,” Royce wrote to Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel. “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 referenced in the October 2012 memorandum were allegations that 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.”
A Dec. 4 draft of that memo reportedly “watered down the language,” focusing more on the need for investigative independence, Royce noted.
“The final version of the report submitted to Congress in February 2013 was bereft of any reference to these specific cases,” the chairman wrote. On March 14, committee staffers received the briefing with scant details.
“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,’” Royce added.
“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.”
Royce wants the information by June 27.