Agency Chief Al­leges In­ter­fer­ence In Probe of U.S. At­tor­ney Fir­ings

The Washington Post - - In The Loop - By Glenn Kessler

The fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tor who is prob­ing pos­si­ble White House mis­con­duct and who him­self is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion over al­leged wrong­do­ing in his of­fice is now ac­cus­ing an­other in­ves­ti­ga­tor of try­ing to thwart his probes.

Scott J. Bloch, head of an ob­scure agency charged with pro­tect­ing the rights of fed­eral work­ers, sent a fivepage let­ter last week to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Michael B. Mukasey com­plain­ing that his agency, the U.S. Of­fice of Spe­cial Coun­sel, had been asked to step aside from an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the fir­ing of nine U.S. at­tor­neys un­til in­ter­nal Jus­tice De­part­ment probes into those fir­ings are com­pleted.

Bloch wrote that months might pass be­fore that hap­pens, push­ing his agency’s role “into the very last months of the ad­min­is­tra­tion when there is lit­tle hope of any cor­rec­tive mea­sures or dis­ci­pline pos­si­ble.”

Bloch’s let­ter, which was briefly dis­cussed dur­ing ques­tion­ing of Mukasey yes­ter­day on Capi­tol Hill, strikes an un­usual, al­most peev­ish tone for of­fi­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tions be­tween gov­ern­ment agen­cies. He ac­cused Jus­tice De­part­ment In­spec­tor Gen­eral Glenn A. Fine of “mis­lead­ing and fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect rep­re­sen­ta­tions” and com­plained that Fine in turn had ac­cused his of­fice, an in­de­pen­dent agency, of “a pat­tern of mis- rep­re­sen­ta­tion.” Also, he ac­cused an­other of­fi­cial of “de­lib­er­ate dis­re­gard for the law” for not ad­e­quately re­spond­ing to his in­quiries.

Bloch has achieved no­to­ri­ety for his own prob­lems with gov­ern­ment in­ves­ti­ga­tions. The White House in 2005 asked the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment (OPM) to in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions that Bloch had re­tal­i­ated against whis­tle-blow­ers among his own staff mem­bers and im­prop­erly dis­missed whis­tle-blower cases brought to the agency by oth­ers.

Bloch in Novem­ber con­firmed that his of­fice had wiped clean the hard drives of his com­puter and those of two aides in what he said was an ef­fort to get rid of a virus. He re­fused a re­quest from the OPM to turn over per­sonal files that were deleted from the com­puter.

Dur­ing yes­ter­day’s hear­ing, Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein (D-Calif.) said she is con­cerned about Bloch’s al­le­ga­tions. “He es­sen­tially says he is be­ing stiffed, not re­sponded to,” she said, not­ing, “It’s a rather lengthy let­ter.”

Mukasey said, “You’re right, it’s a lengthy let­ter,” and promised that an of­fi­cial re­sponse would be soon forth­com­ing.

In the let­ter, Bloch also com­plained about Fine’s re­sponse to an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the man­age­ment style of the for­mer U.S. at­tor­ney for Min­nesota, Rachel K. Paulose. Bloch wrote a let­ter to Mukasey on Nov. 19 — the same day that Pau- lose an­nounced her res­ig­na­tion to re­turn to Wash­ing­ton — in which Bloch con­cluded that there is a “sub­stan­tial like­li­hood” that she had mis­man­aged her job and abused her author­ity.

In last week’s let­ter, which was dated Jan. 25, Bloch wrote that Fine did not ap­pear to take his com­plaint se­ri­ously, point­edly ask­ing Mukasey: “Are you re­quest­ing that I re­port to the pres­i­dent that you refuse to in­ves­ti­gate dis­clo­sures of wrong­do­ing made by a ca­reer fed­eral pros­e­cu­tor, an em­ployee of your agency?”

Fine’s of­fice gen­er­ally does not com­ment on in­ves­ti­ga­tions, but Cyn­thia Schnedar, a spokes­woman for the in­spec­tor gen­eral, re­jected Bloch’s let­ter as “both fac­tu­ally in­ac­cu­rate and mis­lead­ing.”

She added: “We agree with the De­part­ment of Jus­tice that the more re­spon­si­ble course would be for Mr. Bloch to post­pone his lim­ited re­view — as OSC has stated that it has done in other in­stances — so that it does not in­ter­fere with the Of­fice of the In­spec­tor Gen­eral and the Of­fice of Pro­fes­sional Re­spon­si­bil­ity’s com­pre­hen­sive joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the U.S. At­tor­ney fir­ings.”

James P. Mitchell, a spokesman for Bloch, chal­lenged Fine’s of­fice to ex­plain the al­leged in­ac­cu­ra­cies in de­tail. “We have our ju­ris­dic­tion,” he said. “We have al­ways said we will not be in­ter­fer­ing with this in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

BY LOIS RAI­MONDO — THE WASH­ING­TON POST

Spe­cial Pros­e­cu­tor Scott J. Bloch says the Jus­tice De­part­ment in­spec­tor gen­eral is try­ing to thwart his in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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