Investigating the Investigator? Or Pre-Emptive Slime?
I don’t know if many of you know this, but I once worked in an IG’s office. And one of the first things you learn in an IG’s office, is never to let the government you are investigating catch you doing your job.
Today’s New York Times has an article about the FBI opening an investigation into the actions of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.
The investigation of Stuart Bowen involves possible electronic tampering, including alleged efforts by the inspector general to go through e-mails of employees in his office, said two officials close to the inquiry Thursday. It is being handled by the FBI’s Washington field office, according to law enforcement officials, who like the first officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.
Now, I find myself wondering WHY are supposedly professional DOJ officials blabbing about this investigation to the press?
Who benefits from that? If the investigation is still in its covert stage, the last thing you want to do is let your targets know that you are investigating them, it gives them a chance to destroy evidence, influence witnesses, you know, screw up your chances of making your case. So, why blab to the press, unless the investigation is already known to your target. Except
A spokeswoman for the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said nobody in the office had been notified of any FBI investigation.
”I can neither confirm or deny the existence of any investigation. However, no SIGIR official has received notice that they are the subject or target of a criminal investigation,” SIGIR spokeswoman Kristine Belisle said.
OK, so it’s not that the cat was already out of the FBI’s bag. Hmmm? So what could it be? Why are DOJ Officials talking about SECRET Grand Jury proceedings? Who benefits?
According to one of the officials close to the investigation, the FBI is looking into several issues of possible fraud and abuse and has interviewed a number of former and current employees — some two or three times. A grand jury has been impaneled, and has issued subpoenas for documents.
Who benefits from publicly exposing a Grand Jury investigation and impugning the credibility of a sitting IG?
In May, the White House confirmed that Bowen’s office, whose revelations of waste and corruption in Iraq have repeatedly embarrassed the Bush administration, was being investigated by the President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency after complaints from former employees. The executive branch organization was created to investigate allegations of misconduct by inspectors general at federal agencies.
At the time, the White House rejected suggestions the integrity inquiry was an act of retribution against Bowen, with then-press secretary Tony Snow saying the council was ”an independent investigative organization” that did not directly follow the White House’s direction.
Oh, well, if Tony Snow says it’s not retaliation, then of course it couldn’t be retaliation. However, I have in my mind a vague memory of Carol Lam, fired for "performance reasons" just as she was closing in on indicting Duke Cunningham. You know one of the very best ways to obstruct justice is to derail the investigator or prosecutor BEFORE they have quite completed their investigation. Who would benefit from that?
That investigation, triggered by a lengthy anonymous complaint filed by former staff members, focused on a number of fraud and abuse allegations, as well as descriptions of possible workplace violations, including sexual harassment.
Question, since when does the FBI investigate workplace violations (which are violations of administrative law, not crimes) or sexual harassment? I mean, gosh, I wish they would investigate sexual harassment, maybe put some teeth into that particular bit of civil rights law, but up until now, it hasn’t been happening.
The President’s Council on Integrity and Efficiency appears to be made up of senior people from other IG Offices. Could it be that their lengthy investigation hasn’t turned up anything?
The council’s administrative probe is still under way but has been overtaken by the criminal probe.
Note it does NOT say that the Council referred its findings to the FBI for a criminal investigation. It seems someone wasn’t satisfied with the amount of disruption to the IG’s work caused by having to respond to the Council’s investigation, so now the Bureau has to jump in uninvited. Who benefits?
Look, I don’t know what, if anything, this IG did or didn’t do. I have no special knowledge. But the timing and unnecessary dissemination of information about this criminal investigation looks pretty fishy.