Lawmaker: State Stonewalling Iraq Fraud Inquiry

By Kirit Radia And Justin Rood

Sep 20, 2007 2:13pm

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. In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice yesterday, Rep. Henry Waxman, Calif., chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, threatened to subpoena a batch of reports on the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity that he says State won’t turn over. "[I]t is clear that the reports are directly relevant to the Committee’s review and should be turned over immediately," Waxman wrote. The Iraqi commission is supposed to investigate fraud and corruption within the troubled Iraqi government. Waxman said he would also subpoena testimony from three officials if State did not make them available voluntarily. He acknowledged that the department had allowed his staff to interview one official, James Mattil. Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage. A State Department spokesman said he wasn’t aware of the letter or of his department’s response.
"We certainly make every effort to comply with requests from Congress," he said. 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. The letter marks the second time this week Waxman has criticized the State Department. On Tuesday, Waxman chided the department’s Inspector General Howard Krongard for alleged improprieties involving his office’s investigations. Krongard denied the allegations. Do you have a tip for Brian Ross and the Investigative Team?

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