Friday, September 21, 2007

Committee Chairman to Rice: State Department stonewalling Iraq fraud inquiry

Above: Iraqis load Iraqi Dinar into trucks at the Central Bank in Baghdad on August 28, 2007, part of the movement of 105 billion Iraqi Dinar from the Rasheed and Rafidayn Central Banks to banks in Haditha, Fallujah, and Ramadi.

Lawmaker: State Stonewalling Iraq Fraud Inquiry

The State Department won't give Congress access to key documents and officials with information on corruption in Iraq, a key Democratic lawmaker charged Wednesday...

Corruption and the rule of law are major concerns in Iraq. Recently, the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction James Bowen told that death threats and assassination attempts against judges are common, and corruption investigators work under a cloud of fear.

Fueling sectarian tensions, the Commission on Public Integrity, operating within the Shia-dominated Interior Ministry, has only been successful in bringing cases against Sunni politicians, Bowen said.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have acknowledged that the problem of political corruption in Iraq is serious and undermines the government's ability to function.

Read the rest at ABC News

Test of the House Oversight Committee Letter

The Honorable Condoleezza Rice
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
220I C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Madam Secretary:

On September 10, 2007,I sent you a letter announcing that the Committee would be holding a hearing on corruption in Iraq on September 20,2007. In that letter, I requested that the State Department provide "all reports prepared by the Office of Accountability and Transparency, whether classified or unclassified, relating to the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity." I also requested that the State Department make available for interviews two officials from the Office of Accountability and Transparency: James Mattil and Vincent Foulk. Subsequently, my staff requested an interview with a third official in that office, Christopher Griffith.

With one exception, the State Department has not complied with the Committee's requests.

On September 14, the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs informed Committee staff that the State Department would not produce the Office of Accountability and Transparency reports. Rather than provide the reports, the Deputy Assistant Secretary offered to allow Committee staff to come to the State Department and review the reports. On September T7, majority and minority Committee staff read the reports. Based on their review, it is clear that the reports are directly relevant to the Committee's review and should be turned over immediately.

With respect to interviews, James Mattil appeared for a transcribed interview with the Committee on September 12. On September 17, however, the Deputy Assistant Secretary informed Committee staff that the State Department would not make Mr. Foulk or Mr. Griffith available to the Committee. Based on the interview with Mr. Mattil, it is apparent that both Mr. Foulk and Mr. Griffith have information relevant to the Committee's inquiry and also should be made available immediately.

The Committee has rescheduled the hearing to September 27,2007. Because of the imminent hearing, I request that you provide copies of the documents reviewed by Committee staff to the Committee by noon tomorrow, Thursday, September 20,2007. I also request that you make arrangements by the same deadline for transcribed interviews with Mr. Foulk, Mr. Griffith, and a third official, James Santelle, the Rule of Law Coordinator at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. If the State Department persists in refusing to provide the documents and to arrange the interviews, the Committee will issue subpoenas for the documents and the officials' appearance at depositions. I would like to avoid the need for the use of this compulsory process.

I am also concerned about the possibility that the State Department may retroactively classify the reports to protect the Department from the release of embarrassing information in the reports. I would like to work with the Department between now and the hearing to make sure that this does not occur.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is the principal oversight committee in the House of Representatives and has broad oversight jurisdiction as set forth in House Rule X. If you have any questions about these requests, please contact me or ask your staff to contact David Rapallo or Steve Glickman of the Committee staff at (202) 225-5420.


Henry A. Waxman

From the House Oversight Committee

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