CIA able to keep its se­crets on bud­gets, bad ap­ples

The Washington Times Weekly - - Geopolitics - BY JIM MCELHATTON

From con­tract fraud and false billing to nepo­tism and pos­ses­sion of child pornog­ra­phy, wide-rang­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of mis­con­duct have sur­faced at agen­cies all across the fed­eral gov­ern­ment — even, it turns out, inside the na­tion’s revered spy agency.

But un­like al­most all of its fed­eral coun­ter­parts, the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency’s of­fice of in­spec­tor gen­eral pro­vides no in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic about the re­sults of its work in­ves­ti­gat­ing ac­cu­sa­tions of mis­be­hav­ing em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors.

Yet nearly 200 pages of heav­ily redacted, pre­vi­ously undis­closed CIA doc­u­ments ob­tained by The Wash­ing­ton Times through the Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act pro­vide a win­dow into just some of the watch­dog’s re­cent ac­tiv­i­ties.

Dur­ing an 18-month span from July 2010 to De­cem­ber 2011, for in­stance, the of­fice closed at least a half-dozen cases in­volv­ing “nonac­cred­ited de­grees.” Among dozens of other cases, the of­fice also closed three probes stem­ming from ac­cu­sa­tions of nepo­tism and two oth­ers in­volv­ing child pornog­ra­phy, records show.

For the most part, the records re­leased to The Times are so heav­ily redacted that it’s im­pos­si­ble to tell, on a case-by­case ba­sis, whether the in­ter­nal probes fo­cused on con­trac­tors, of­fi­cers or agents, nor do they pro­vide much de­tail on the out­comes: whether any­one was pros­e­cuted, fired, sus­pended or ex­on­er­ated.

A CIA spokesman said the agency takes swift ac­tion in re­sponse to mis­con­duct find­ings.

“In­for­ma­tion about pos­si­ble crimes that comes to light as a re­sult of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion is re­ported to the ap­pro­pri­ate law en­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tion, like the Depart­ment of Jus­tice,” CIA spokesman Pre­ston Gol­son said.

“Any in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing pos­si­ble crimes against chil­dren is re­ferred im­me­di­ately,” he said. “This is a re­spon­si­bil­ity the CIA takes very se­ri­ously.”

Among other cases, a tech­ni­cal in­tel­li­gence of­fi­cer, a global re­sponse staff of­fi­cer, a project man­ager, a lo­gis­tics of­fi­cer and an ad­ju­di­ca­tor all came un­der in­ter­nal CIA in­ves­ti­ga­tions into nonac­cred­ited de­grees, records show.

A for­mer of­fice of gen­eral coun­sel at­tor­ney was in­ves­ti­gated for time and at­ten­dance fraud, as was a na­tional clan­des­tine-ser­vice of­fi­cer. A se­nior man­ager came un­der scru­tiny for false ex­pense claims. Yet an­other in­ves­ti­ga­tion delved into “pos­si­ble unau­tho­rized in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tion by Di­rec­torate of In­tel­li­gence Of­fi­cers,” ac­cord­ing to records.

Both of the child pornog­ra­phy in­ves­ti­ga­tions were closed dur­ing the sec­ond half of 2010, one stem­ming from ma­te­ri­als found on an agency lap­top and other on an agency net­work.

The doc­u­ments make no ref­er­ence to the sex scan­dal in­volv­ing David H. Pe­traeus, and State de­part­ments and USAID], the CIA OIG re­ceived no sup­ple­men­tal or op­er­a­tional fund­ing dur­ing the con­tin­gency op­er­a­tions in Iraq, Afghanistan or the War on Ter­ror, and did not for­ward de­ploy to the war zones,” Mr. Buck­ley wrote.

He also out­lined his of­fice’s work on 21 au­dit re­ports and six in­spec­tion re­ports cov­er­ing “var­i­ous covert ac­tion, pro­pri­etary, field sta­tion and other in­tel­li­gence ac­tiv­i­ties of the CIA.”

Given the agency’s pen­chant for se­crecy, how­ever, the docu- could be more trans­parency with­out com­pro­mis­ing na­tional in­tel­li­gence.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the CIA IG pro­hibits pub­lic ac­cess to any spe­cific plans or re­ports high­light­ing waste, fraud, abuse or ethics vi­o­la­tions,” Mr. Amey said.

“It is re­ally hard to imag­ine that ev­ery au­dit or in­ves­ti­ga­tion in­volves clas­si­fied pro­grams, meth­ods or sources, and there­fore a more bal­anced po­si­tion re­gard­ing pub­lic ac­cess should be on the ta­ble.”

Un­like al­most all of its fed­eral coun­ter­parts, the Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence Agency’s of­fice of in­spec­tor gen­eral pro­vides no in­for­ma­tion to the pub­lic about the re­sults of its work in­ves­ti­gat­ing

ac­cu­sa­tions of mis­be­hav­ing em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors.

who re­signed this month as CIA di­rec­tor, but re­veal a watch­dog agency some­what ham­strung early this year by bud­getary con­straints.

“Over the past decade, the re­sources pro­vided to the OIG have not kept pace with the dra­matic growth in CIA op­er­a­tions and spend­ing,” CIA In­spec­tor Gen­eral David B. Buck­ley wrote in a Jan­uary re­port, which de­tailed his agency’s ac­tiv­i­ties over the pre­vi­ous six months.

“In fact, un­like the [in­spec­tors gen­eral at the De­fense ments weren’t re­leased to the pub­lic even in redacted form as a mat­ter of pol­icy.

“The CIA in­spec­tor gen­eral’s re­ports are clas­si­fied and there­fore they are not pub­licly avail­able,” Mr. Gol­son said Nov. 13. He added, how­ever, that the re­ports are sent to the CIA’s di­rec­tor, who for­wards them to in­tel­li­gence over­sight com­mit­tees in Congress.

Scott H. Amey, gen­eral coun­sel for the Project on Gov­ern­ment Over­sight Group, a non­par­ti­san watch­dog, said there

For­mer CIA In­spec­tor Gen­eral Fred­er­ick Hitz, an ad­junct law pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia, said he un­der­stands the need to keep the work of the in­ter­nal watch­dog se­cret as well as ar­gu­ments push­ing for more trans­parency.

But he said the no­tion that the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice doesn’t have the re­sources it needs does raise con­cerns.

“There are plenty of ways in which the CIA IG, if he or she feels stran­gled for dough, can make that known,” Mr. Hitz said.

Mr. Buck­ley raised con­cerns about fund­ing in a Jan. 13 let­ter to Mr. Pe­traeus that was in­cluded in a re­port on the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s ac­tiv­i­ties.

In the same mes­sage to Mr. Pe­traeus, Mr. Buck­ley also sought greater statu­tory author­ity for the watch­dog of­fice.

“As pre­vi­ously re­ported, I had de­ter­mined that our abil­ity to best con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions of al­le­ga­tions of wrong­do­ing by CIA em­ploy­ees and con­trac­tors, per­tain­ing to CIA ac­tiv­i­ties, is ham­pered by the lack of statu­tory author­ity to sup­port the con­duct of such in­ves­ti­ga­tions, en­joyed by the other in­spec­tors gen­eral,” he wrote.

When he ap­peared be­fore the Se­nate in 2010 for a con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing, Mr. Buck­ley was asked by Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat, whether the CIA in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice had all of the pow­ers it needed to op­er­ate in a “vig­or­ous and ef­fec­tive” way.

“Madam Chair, I, as I un­der­stand the au­thor­i­ties of the of­fice to­day and the mis­sion that lies ahead … I be­lieve so,” he re­sponded at the time.

Mr. Gol­son said the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice had, in­deed, sought “statu­tory en­hance­ments” and that the re­quests have since been sent to con­gres­sional over­sight com­mit­tees.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Not the only dirt at CIA: Dis­graced for­mer CIA Di­rec­tor and Re­tired Army Gen. David Pe­traeus with mis­tress Paula Broad­well

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