this is a blockbuster -- all
18 pages of the actual letter -- mostly
for the depth, and detail, of the
allegations of repeated obstructions,
and the systemic breadth of these
attempts to stall, or stop, legitimate
probes into federal malfeasance under
messers. cheney and bush -- as ever,
chairman waxman has done his homework
quite well, indeed, here.
so -- mark september 28, 2007 as yet
another document return date, and
mark october 16, 2007, as a hearing date:
September 18, 2007
The Honorable Howard J. Krongard
U.S. Department of State
2201C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Krongard:
I am writing to request your assistance with an investigation the Oversight Committee has initiated into allegations involving your conduct as Inspector General of the State Department.
Since your testimony at the Committee's hearing on July 26, 2007, current and former employees of the Office of Inspector General have contacted my staff with allegations that you interfered with on-going investigations to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarassment. Because some of these individuals still work for you, they have sought whistleblower status and have asked that their identities be kept confidential. Others have already resigned from their positions and have agreed to go on the record. These officials include John A. DeDona, the former Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, and Ralph McNamara, the former Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, both of whom resigned after you repeatedly halted or impeded investigations undertaken by their office. In all, seven current and former officials from your office have communicated concems to my staff.
The allegations made by these officials are not limited to a single unit or project within your offrce. Instead, they span all three major divisions of the Office of Inspector General -- investigations, audits, and inspections. The allegations were made by employees of varied rank, ranging from line staff to upper management.
One consistent element in these allegations is that you believe your foremost mission is to support the Bush Administration, especially with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than act as an independent and objective check on waste, fraud, and abuse on behalf of U.S. taxpayers. According to the officials, your strong affrnity with State Department leadership and your partisan political ties have led you to halt investigations, censor reports, and refuse to cooperate with law enforcement agencies. The officials also report that you are dismissive of your statutory obligations to Congress.
Some of the specific allegations include the following:o Although the State Department has expended over $3.6 billion on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, you refused to send any investigators to those countries to pursue investigations into wasteful spending or procurement fraud and have concluded no fraud investigations relating to the contracts.
o You prevented your investigators from cooperating with a Justice Department investigation into waste, fraud, and abuse relating to the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq and followed highly irregular procedures in exonerating the prime contractor, First Kuwaiti Trading Company, of charges of labor trafficking.
o You prevented your investigators from seizing evidence that they believed would have implicated a large State Department contractor in procurement fraud in Afghanistan.
o You impeded efforts by your investigators to cooperate with a Justice Department probe into allegations that a large private security contractor was smuggling weapons into Iraq.
o You interfered with an on-going investigation into the conduct of Kenneth Tomlinson, the head of Voice of America and a close associate of Karl Rove, by passing information about the inquiry to Mr. Tomlinson.
o You censored portions of inspection reports on embassies so that critical information on security vulnerabilities was dropped from classified annexes and not disclosed to Congress.
o You rejected audits of the State Department's financial statements that documented accounting concerns and refused to publish them until points critical of the Department had been removed.
In addition to these specific allegations, the officials have all described a dysfunctional office environment in which you routinely berate and belittle personnel, show contempt for the abilities of career government professionals, and cause staff to fear coming to work. The result is an office with high personnel tumover that is presently unable to fulfill its mission because it is severely understaffed. Among your office's senior management, the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, the Deputy Assistant lnspector General for Audits, and the Counsel to the lnspector General have all resigned since you became Inspector General in May 2005. In the investigations division, only 7 of 27 investigator positions are currently filled.
These allegations merit serious consideration by the Committee. For this reason, I am requesting relevant documents and will be contacting employees in your office to schedule transcribed interviews. I hope you will cooperate with my staff as this investigation proceeds.
In addition, I invite you to address the allegations described in this letter at a Committee hearing on October 16, 2007.
The Inspector General Act of 1978 provides for "independent and objective" Inspectors General in each federal department and independent agency appointed "without regard to political aff,rliation and solely on the basis of integrity and demonstrated ability in accounting, auditing, financial analysis, law, management analysis, public administration, or investigations." The Act provides that the function of Inspectors General is to "conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations" and "other activities. . . for the purpose of. . . preventing and detecting fraud and abuse." Uniquely, the Act directs all lnspectors General to report their findings both to the department head and, independently, to Congress.
You were nominated by President Bush as the Inspector General at the State Department in January 2005 and confirmed by the Senate in May 2005. Your office has three main divisions: investigations, which "conducts investigations of criminal, civil, and administrative misconduct related to otganizational programs and operations"; audits, which "conducts and coordinates audits and program evaluations of the management and financial operations" of the Department; and inspections, which examines all embassies and other State Department facilities for problems that could compromise policy implementation, resource management, or security.
Each of these components is headed by its own Assistant Inspector General. The allegations set forth below relate to activities from each of these divisions.
Interference with Oversight of
the Construction of the Iraq Embassy
On July 26, 2007, the Committee held an oversight hearing relating to the ongoing
construction of the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq. At the hearing, the Committee heard allegations of poor workmanship by First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting Company, the Kuwaiti company awarded the $600 million contract to build the embassy. Specifically, the Committee was told that First Kuwaiti's workmanship at the guard camp built to house security personnel for the new embassy was dangerously deficient. According to testimony received at the hearing, when the kitchen facilities at the camp we-re first tested on May 14, 2007, the electrical system short-circuited and the wires melted.t An inspection then revealed that First Kuwaiti had used "counterfeit" electrical wire that jeopardized the safety of those who would use the camp.
E-mails that my staff has obtained show that you received warnings about problems
involving the embassy project months before the electrical system meltdown, but blocked your staff from investigating the allegations. In January 2007, the Department of Justice contacted your offtce to request assistance investigating allegations of misconduct by First Kuwaiti, the prime contractor. An internal e-màil states that "the allegations are basically contract fraud and public. . . corruption." According to the e-mail, the public corruption allegations implicated a
senior State Department offrcial overseeing the embassy construction project. A former official told my staff that the warnings you received also included warnings
about the guard camp at which the electrical problems later occurred.
You instructed your investigators not to pursue the Justice Department allegations. This led Tim Marcum, Special Agent-in-Charge of fraud cases in the investigations office, to e-mail John DeDona, the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, as follows:Wow, as we all [k]now that is not the normal and proper procedure. When looking at the IG act, DOJ and PCIE guidelines, and the OIG community as a whole, we are supposed to work under the direction of USAO/DOJ. . . I am stunned. . . I hope you documented the orders that were provided to you. Wow.
Mr. DeDona forwarded this e-mail to your deputy, William Todd. Mr. DeDona wrote:This is not good, and I cannot argue against them. Ralph attended the National Procurement Task Force Meeting yesterday and DOJ was stressing assistance from the investigative agencies with DOJ. . . I have always viewed myself as a loyal soldier, but hopefully you sense my frustration in my voicemail yesterday. This is not a sound and prudent decision.
Mr. Todd responded to Mr. DeDona the next day, writing:I know you are very frustrated. John you need to convey to the troops the truth, the IG told us both Tuesday to stand down on this and not assist, that needs to be the
message. I think the key here is "why" did he said this, what is the reasoning behind this decision? I think the answer is because of all of the competing and conflicting issues on First Kuwaiti that we have to sort through, manage, prioritize, and assign in order of most importance, within INV [Office of Investigations] and the rest of the OIG. . . [B]y some, there is a view, that with INV's lack of resources, increased required workload, "assists" are on the list of important things to do, but are not at the top of the list. Also, there is the view that several INV matters have fallen through the cracks, are late to the FO [front
office] and of inferior quality. Hang in there anã above all tell the truth.
Mr. DeDona responded three days later. He wrote that "the current regime" wants the
investigations division" to keep working the BS cases within the beltway" and "not rock the boat with other more significant investigations." According to his e-mail:Within INV there is a view that the lack of resources, and ability to discharge our mission is intentional, and much to my dismay I will probably be lumped up in that view. I thought the INV required mission was to be the arm of the IG that investigates allegations of fraud, waste and mis-management within the DOS. I, and my other supervisors, have endeavored to get our folks out ofthe penny-ante cases that they had been working, and to focus on allegations received that not only warrant our work, but would also be useful to the department. Unfortunately, under the current regime, the view within INV is to keep working the BS cases wjthin the beltway, and let us not rock the boat with other more significant investigations.
Another e-mail obtained by the Committee states that you personally informed the Justice Department that a concern about conflicts of interest would prevent your office from assisting the Justice Department investigation. Dennis Gallagher, a State Department attorney, wrote an official in the Diplomatic Security Service:My office was contacted by the Department of Justice concerning an ongoing proceeding for which the Justice Department sought the assistance of a Department of State investigator. We contacted the Office of Inspector General, but the Inspector General himself has advised DOJ that OIG cannot provide assistance due to a perceived conflict of interest.
Mr. Gallagher then asked whether the Diplomatic Security Service would be able to
assist the Justice Department because the matter "does involve allegations of criminal activity by a Department contractor."
This explanation for your refusal to investigate -- a perceived conflict of interest -- raises further questions about your conduct. The allegations from the Justice Department implicate a major contractor in "contract fraud" and a senior State Department offrcial in "public. . . comrption." If you have a personal conflict of interest, the appropriate response would be to recuse yourself not to shut down any investigation by your staff.
According to officials who contacted my staff these are not the only allegations
involving the construction of the embassy that you instructed your staff not to investigate. Mr. DeDona and others have reported that your office became aware of allegations that First Kuwaiti had not built blast-resistant walls as required by the contract specifications, but was unable to pursue them. Mr. DeDona and other officials also told my staff that your offrce received allegations that a subcontractor working on the project did not adequately perform the important
task of de-mining the embassy compound and conducting a survey of underground tunnels at the site to identifr security risks. According to Mr. DeDona and others, you would not approve travel requests for investigators to pursue this investigation.
Questionable Investigation of
Iraq Embassy Labor Conditions
There is one aspect of the Baghdad embassy that you did investigate: allegations of
illegal labor trafficking and substandard working conditions by the contractor, First Kuwaiti.
But the unusual procedures you apparently used to examine the allegation and exonerate First Kuwaiti raise questions about your findings. At the July 26 hearing, the Committee heard allegations that First Kuwaiti brought laborers from foreign countries into Iraq against their will. The Committee received testimony
that laborers from the Philippines and other countries were hired with the understanding that they would be working in Dubai (and were even given boarding passes marked "Dubai"), but were taken instead to Baghdad to work at the embassy site. The Committee also heard testimony that workers had their passports confiscated and were subjected to verbal and physical abuse, lacked sufficient safety equipment, and lived in overcrowded trailers."
You testified that you personally visited the construction site in Baghdad in early
September 2006 to conduct a "review focused on trafficking in persons and the fair and ethical treatment of a foreign workforce." You concluded that "nothing came to our attention that caused us to believe that traffrcking in persons violations. . . occurred at the construction workers camp at the new embassy compound."
According to officials who contacted my staff, your investigation was highly irregular. You personally conducted the investigation and drafted the report, without seeking or permitting any input from your investigative staff. Contrary to established investigative procedures, you allowed the subject of the investigation, First Kuwaiti, to select the employees you interviewed about the trafficking allegations. By your own description, yow inquiry could not properly be described as an investigation or audit, but "consisted essentially ofagreed upon procedures or
Before the hearing, the Committee requested "copies of all investigative materials"
relating to your investigation, including "witness statements, interview notes, and interview memoranda." You failed to provide these documents to the Committee voluntarily, forcing the Committee to issue a subpoena for the documents on July 23,2007. You did not produce these documents until September 7, 2007, over six weeks after the deadline in the subpoena.
My staff has now had a chance to review the documents you provided to the Committee.
They raise significant issues about the thoroughness of your investigation. Your entire document production consists of only 20 pages. Four pages are a memo from another Inspector General's Offtce, the Multinational Force-Iraq Inspector General's Office, about its own separate site visit.
There are eight pages of a standard employee contract translated into four languages. There is a one-page document that appears to be a signed request from a foreign worker noting that he voluntarily surrendered his passport.
With respect to your own original work product, there are a total of six pages of
handwritten notes showing that you interviewed six foreign workers. There is also a one-page email sent to you from an official at the Multinational Force-Irag Inspector General's Office proposing alist of 22 questions to ask during the interviews.
You have produced no documentation that identifies the six employees you interviewed
or explains how they were chosen. The interview notes contain no documentation that each employee was thoroughly interviewed. In several instances, there are no answers noted to many of the 22 questions. There is no documentation indicating that you talked with any other employees at the site, or with any of the individuals who raised the allegations of trafficking.
The FBI is now investigating the allegations of labor abuse. On August 14, 2007, the
State Department contacted John DeDona, the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, to determine if the Inspector General's office had any objections to the Department providing translation services to this FBI investigation. Mr. DeDona appropriately responded that the office would have no objections if the State Department provided translation services to the FBI.
Remarkably, Mr. DeDona's actions prompted you to reprimand Mr. DeDona, writing:What gave you the right to make and communicate this decision without even discussing it with Bill or me? This is directly contrary to the specific instructions you have been given, and you continue to ignore and flout the authority Bill and I have over the investigatory function. This particular decision is not controversial, but you have been instructed clearly and repeatedly that all matters relating to the New Embassy Compound need to be discussed or cleared with Bill or me before a decision is made or action taken . . .What does it take to get you to be part of the OIG team?
Other Allegations of Interference with
Investigations in lraq and Afghanistan
Beyond the embassy, multiple offrcials have alleged that you delayed, impeded, or
thwarted other significant investigations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In one case, multiple sources informed my staff that you blocked the investigation and potential criminal prosecution of a large State Department contractor operating in Afghanistan. According to a preliminary activity report obtained by my staff, investigators in your office opened an investigation in September 2006 into allegations that counterfeit computers had been provided by the contractor to a police training facility in Afghanistan. The computers were alleged to contain counterfeit hardware components as well as pirated software, which in
addition to being a fraudulent procurement may have constituted a serious breach in security.
Your investigators identified an Assistant U.S. Auomey who was willing to consider
criminal proceedings if your investigators could obtain one of the counterfeit computers with a carefully preserved chain of custody. According to John DeDona, your investigators were poised to make the trip to Afghanistan to seize evidence and conduct interviews when you refused to approve the travel. As a result, one internal e-mail summarized the fate of the investigation: "Basically, this case will be closed because the AUSA will not take criminal case without [a law enforcement officer] collecting evidence."
The investigation was officially closed on January 31,2007. According to Ralph
McNamara, the then-Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, "[NIV had to close its investigation without determining how the counterfeit computers were purchased, what the potential dollar loss was to the government, or whether the computers represented a security threat."
In another case, a federal prosecutor asked your investigators to provide assistance in an investigation into whether a large private security contractor working for the State Department was illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq. V/hen you learned of this request, you sent the following e-mail to Mr. DeDona:INV is directed to stop IMMEDIATELY any work on these contracts until I
receive a briefing from the AUSA regarding the details of this investigation. SA
Militana, ASAIC Rubendall, and any others involved are to be directed by you
not to proceed in any manner until the briefing takes place.
According to several sources, after weeks of delay, a briefing was arranged at which the Assistant U.S. Attorneys overseeing the investigation made a personal request for assistance. In response to their request, you asked an official on your congressional and media relations staff not a professional investigator, to take the lead in seeking evidence from the State Department to assist the federal prosecutors. This unorthodox anangement has reportedly impeded the investigation.
Officials from your office told my staff that you have consistently failed to pursue
allegations of wasteful spending or procurement fraud in any contract involving Iraq and Afghanistan. The State Department has spent more than $3.6 billion on over 1,000 contract actions in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002. According to Mr. DeDona, however, you rejected multiple requests to send investigators to Iraq or Afghanistan to investigate fraud allegations.
The result is that during your tenure, the Office of the Inspector General had no trained investigators in either Iraq or Afghanistan and concluded no fraud investigations involving contracts in either country.
Investigation into Mr. Tomlinson
According to current and former offrcials in your office, you improperly tipped off
Kenneth Tomlinson, the head of the Broadcasting Board of Govemors, which operates Voice of America and all other government-sponsored international broadcasting, about an ongoing investigation into allegations of misconduct by Mr. Tomlinson.
In July 2005, your office received a request from several members of Congress for an
investiçation of the activities of Mr. Tomlinson, a close associate of White House advisor Karl Rove."
According to the congressional letter, sources within the Broadcasting Board of Governors were concerned that Mr. Tomlinson was "double-dipping" by seeking compensation for the same hours worked from both the Broadcasting Board of Governors and from the Board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which he also ran. Mr. Tomlinson was also alleged to have commonly sought compensation for up to 40 hours of work per week, when much of that time was spent doing work unrelated to the Broadcasting Board of Govemors. Included in the congressional request was a confidential communication from a former Board employee which described a number of other allegations of illegal or unethical behavior by Mr. Tomlinson.
According to officials within your office, you directed your assistant to fax the
congressional request -- including the whistleblower's complaints -- directly to Mr.
Tomlinson's office. This action was inconsistent with standard investigative procedures and, according to multiple sources, jeopardized the investigation. One source told Committee staff that these actions caused an important source to become wary of cooperation with the investigation because of fear of retaliation.
Inspections of State
Department Embassies Abroad
One of the primary functions of the inspections division of your office is to inspect the Department's embassies and facilities abroad for potential management and security problems. According to a former official in your office, you also interfered in this important process.
According to the official, you engaged in a practice of sanitizing the reports written by your inspectors to remove descriptions of embassy security vulnerabilities.
I can understand why you or other officials might be reluctant to release to the public reports of embassy security vulnerabilities. Your changes, however, were apparently not limited to the public version of the reports. According to the official, you deleted descriptions of problems from the classified section of inspections reports, which would be available only to personnel with the appropriate security clearance and an offrcial need to know the information.
Removing such descriptions from these reports may save the State Department from
embarrassment. But it has the unforhrnate effect of making it unlikely that these problems are ever addressed, which is precisely the aim of the inspections program. Moreover, the former official expressed concerned that not including the information anywhere in the report, even in the classified annex, would effectively withhold information from Congress.
According to the official, "This performs a disservice to Congress because the IG is
supposed to be the eyes and ears for the oversight committees - but that place just isn't working."
Audit Reports of
Department's Financial Systems
Two former employees of your office have alleged that you weakened audit reports of the State Department's financial statements by repeatedly requesting that they be revised. The former employees told Commiuee staff that you refused to publish them until points critical of the Department had been removed.
The Office Environment
Several offrcials raised concems with my staff about the exodus of trained staff under your leadership and the decline in staff morale. One former employee stated that you have a "total lack of trust" in your staff and that you exacerbate that environment with "daily antagonism." Officials also told Committee staff that you would routinely and randomly "chastise the employees without waming," causing "people come to work every day fearful."
You also reportedly have expressed contempt for govemment professionals, telling your staff that government standards were lower than those to which you were accustomed in the private sector and asking them to "meet me halfway." This hostile work environment has led to the departure of key officials in your office.
Just among the senior management, the Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Investigations, the Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits, and the Counsel to the lnspector General have all resigned since you were confirmed as Inspector General in May 2005. In addition, many key professional staff positions remain unfilled. In the investigations division, for example, only 7 of 27 investigator positions are currently filled. This serious understaffrng raises its own questions about your committment to conduct investigations into waste, fraud, and abuse at the State Department.
Requests for Interviews and Documents
As part of the Committee's investigation of these allegations, I request that the following employees of the State Department Office of Inspector General be made available for transcribed interviews no later than Friday, September 28, 2007:l. William Todd, Deputy Inspector General
2. Mark Duda, Assistant Inspector General for Audits
3. Robert Peterson, Assistant Inspector General for Inspections
4. Erich Hart, Counsel, Office of the Inspector General
As the investigation continues, the Committee may identify additional personnel to be
interviewed or deposed.
In addition, I request that you provide copies of the following documents no later than Friday, September 28,2007. Unless otherwise noted below, the relevant time period is May 1, 2005 to the present:1. Documents sufficient to show allocated and actual staffing levels for each component of the Offlrce of Inspector General ftom2002 to the present;
2. All internal or extemal audits, reports, or analyses, or peer-reviews of the State
Department Office of Inspector General ftom2002 to the present;
3. All travel requests submitted by investigative staff in the Office of Inspector General and all documents relating to the consideration and disposition of such requests;
4. All travel vouchers and supporting documentation for trips conducted by the
5. All documents relating to communications to or from the Inspector General about
potential or actual investigations involving Iraq or Afghanistan;
6. All documents relating to any perceived or actual conflicts of interest that the
Inspector General or the Inspector General's Office had with potential or actual
investigations involving Iraq or Afghanistan;
7. All documents relating to the May 2007 mortar attack that resulted in damage at the New Embassy Compound in Baghdad;
8. All communications relating to allegations of human trafficking and labor abuses in the construction of the U.S. Embassy in Iraq;
9. All documents relating to communications to or from the Inspector General relating
to any of the companies listed in Attachment A to this letter, or any subsidiaries,
predecessor or successor entities, or affrliated entities thereof;
10. All documents relating to communications to or from the Inspector General about
audits of State Department financial statements;
1l. All documents relating to communications to or from the Inspector General about
audits of State Department or contractor activities in Iraq or Afghanistan;
12. All documents relating to communications to or from the Inspector General about
embassy inspection reports;
13. All documents relating to a potential or actual investigation into the activities of Ken Tomlinson, or the Broadcasting Board of Governors; and
14. All documents relating to the investigations of senior State Department offrcials
whose names are listed in Attachment A to this letter.
The Committee will be holding a hearing on these allegations on October 16, 2007. You are invited to testisify at the hearing to respond to the issues raised in this letter.
The allegations we have received are serious and deserve to be thoroughly investigated. I hope you will agree and cooperate voluntarily with the Committee's inquiry.
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. Enclosed with this letter are instructions on how to respond to the Committee's document request. Information for witnesses appearing before the Committee is contained in the enclosed Witness Information Sheet.
If you have any questions regarding this letter or the investigation, please contact David Rapallo or Theodore Chuang of the Committee staff at (202) 225-5420.