State Dept. intercedes in Blackwater probeSo without an investigation the State Department is already backing the mercenaries.
A House panel reveals a letter telling the firm not to disclose information about its Iraq operations without the administration's OK.
WASHINGTON -- The State Department has interceded in a congressional investigation of Blackwater USA, the private security firm accused of killing Iraqi civilians last week, ordering the company not to disclose information about its Iraq operations without approval from the Bush administration, according to documents revealed Tuesday.
A preliminary Iraqi investigation said the shootings occurred without provocation; Blackwater and the State Department said the convoy was ambushed and the guards opened fire after being attacked.
In his letter to Rice, Waxman also objected to a move by the department to bar its officials from speaking with committee investigators about corruption inside the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki.
An e-mail received by the committee Monday night indicated that the State Department was treating information about corruption as classified, suggesting it might undermine bilateral relations.
Waxman said that previous official reports of corruption within Iraqi ministries were treated as "sensitive but unclassified." The State Department retroactively classified the reports after his committee requested them, Waxman said.
But wait, I thought there was supposed to be an investigation? Oh, right:
A joint commission of five U.S. State Department officials, three U.S. military officials and eight Iraqis has been formed to investigate the incident, though almost two weeks later, the commission has yet to meet. A U.S. Embassy statement on Thursday, the first official written comment from the embassy since the al Nisour shooting, said that the group was “preparing” to meet.It sure sounds like the State Department is engaging in a cover up.
But isn't there an Inspector Generals office that investigates things like that? Oh, right, as we noted here the State Dept's IG is actively blocking the investigations.
But wait! There's more!
Waxman: State Dept. Officials Threaten Krongard's Staffers
Congressman Says Staffers Threatened With Termination if They Cooperate in Probe
Two senior staffers for State Department Inspector General Howard J. Krongard have told employees they could be fired if they cooperate in a congressional probe of Krongard and his office, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) charged today.
Waxman said that two officials in Krongard's office had agreed to go on the record about the alleged threats. The two officials, Special Agent Ron Militana and Assistant Special Agent in Charge Brian Rubendall, work as career investigators for Krongard.
According to Waxman's letter, Militana said he kept contemporaneous notes of the conversations with Heide and an office attorney. Waxman cited them in his letter.
"The meeting happened," Heide said in response to Waxman's charges. "The conversation was not as reported. . . . I categorically deny that I was telling them they would be retaliated against. Nothing could be further from the truth."
According to Waxman, when Special Agent Militana questioned her statement, Heide told him: "You have no protection against reprisal. You have no whistleblower protections. Howard could retaliate and you would have no recourse."
Waxman said the committee "will not tolerate any intimidation of potential witnesses," noting that "Congress has passed civil and criminal prohibitions against threatening and tampering with witnesses, retaliating against whistleblowers, and providing false information to Congress."
Cross posted at VidiotSpeak