Congressional committee investigating alleged State Department corruption
Probe prompted by charges raised in former DEA agent’s lawsuit
The House Committee on Foreign Affairs has launched an investigation into alleged corruption within the State Department and its Office of Inspector General that was exposed in a lawsuit filed by former DEA agent Richard Horn, Narco News has confirmed.
In addition, according to a well-placed Congressional source, the House and Senate Intelligence committees as well as the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs all have been put on notice about the alleged corruption, which, in Horn’s case, also involves CIA attorneys as well as CIA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG). The source says those committees may well be pursuing separate lines of investigation related to the issues raised in the Horn case.
The stakes for the U.S. State Department and CIA, if these investigations proceed to full-blown hearings, could be enormous, given the pattern of fraud and corruption exposed in the Horn case appears to involve systemic dysfunction. That possibility led the judge in the case to press the Department of Justice to make a referral to the appropriate Inspector General offices for an investigation into the allegations of government wrongdoing in Horn’s case and to notify the appropriate oversight committees in Congress.
“The CIA and State Department’s OIGs gave notice to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency [CIGIE] and they also notified the appropriate [Congressional] committees” about the corruption allegations raised in Horn’s litigation, says the Congressional source, who asked not to be named. The source adds that an investigation is now underway by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and possibly additional committees, that is focused not only on the corruption charges that surfaced in Horn’s lawsuit, but also some “bigger issues.”
The source declined to be more specific about the precise parameters of the investigation, however.
Horn’s attorney, former federal prosecutor Brian Leighton, also confirms that, at a minimum, the House Foreign Affairs Committee has initiated an investigation and that it appears to focus, at least in part, on alleged OIG corruption linked to Horn’s case.
There are nearly 70 Inspector General offices now in place across the federal government that are supposed to serve as independent oversight entities for their respective departments, such as State or CIA, with the common mission of promoting efficiency and serving as a check against fraud, waste and abuse. The activities of the IG offices are overseen and coordinated by CIGIE.
Leighton says last month an investigator with the House Foreign Affairs Committee contacted him seeking information on how to contact former State Department OIG agent Paul E. Forster, who served as a witness in the Horn case.
“That investigator did get in contact with Paul [Forster] and from what I understand, Paul laid it all out for him,” Leighton says.
Leighton earlier this year struck a deal with government attorneys to settle the nearly 16-year-long legal battle in which Horn accused former CIA and State Department officials of spying on him and sabotaging his anti-narcotics mission in Burma — now known as Myanmar. The lawsuit was cloaked from public view for more than a decade because the CIA claimed it involved facts that could compromise national security, hence the judge in the case allowed the spy agency to invoke what is known as “state secrets privilege” in the case, making it nearly impossible for Horn to present evidence.
The CIA’s claims, however, were later shown to be bogus, prompting the judge, Royce Lamberth, last year to unseal the case and allow Horn’s attorney to openly challenge the CIA’s state-secrets privilege claims.
In a ruling issued on March 30 of this year, Lamberth agreed to dismiss the case and all pending motions except two. The ruling triggers the government’s requirement to pay Horn a total of $3 million per the terms of the settlement agreement ironed out between Leighton and attorneys representing the U.S. government.
The two motions not dismissed, but rather held in “abeyance,” dealt with the government’s request to vacate “opinions and orders” issued by the judge on Jan. 15, 2009, and Feb. 6, 2009 — both of which lay the groundwork for potential sanctions against CIA officials for an alleged fraud perpetrated on the court. The judge makes the termination of those two opinions and orders contingent on the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, agreeing to notify the appropriate Inspector General offices and Congressional oversight committees about the alleged corruption.
The current investigation underway by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and possibly additional Congressional committees, represents more fallout from Horn’s case and the alleged deceptions perpetrated by CIA and State Department officials, as well as their respective Inspector General offices.
In addition to chastising the government for the conspiracy by former CIA Station Chief Arthur Brown and former State Department Chief of Mission Franklin Huddle Jr. that prompted the litigation, and the alleged cover-up by CIA lawyers that nearly derailed Horn’s lawsuit, Lamberth, in his March 30 ruling, references “disturbing evidence in a sealed motion indicating that misconduct [also] occurred in the Inspector General’s offices at both the State Department and Central Intelligence Agency.”
A court pleading filed in the litigation indicates that a former supervisory agent with the State Department OIG had agreed to testify under oath that an investigative report he prepared in the Horn matter “was rewritten without his knowledge or permission, and his signature forged, and his intended conclusions changed.”
In addition, the former State Department OIG agent, Paul E. Forster, according to the court filing, planned to testify that his “counterpart” at the CIA’s OIG (an individual named Michael E. Grivsky) also was subjected to similar treatment.
Another source familiar with the Horn case and OIG operations, who asked not to be named, indicates that the alleged OIG misconduct highlighted in the Horn litigation is not an isolated event and that a number of OIG officials are “corrupt, partisan or incompetent,” which might mean the current House Foreign Affairs Committee investigation, and any others being pursued by separate Congressional committees, could be broader in scope than only the specific allegations raised in the Horn case.
Narco News did contact staff at the various Congressional committees seeking comment on the notifications related to the Horn case and the status of any resulting investigation. The committee staff members promised to look into the matter and get back to Narco News — which has not happened to date.
In addition, Narco News contacted the Department of Justice to inquire whether Attorney General Eric Holder initiated the notifications to Congress and the OIG offices, as requested by the judge in Horn’s case. Charles Miller, a spokesman for Justice, indicated that the department has “no comment.”
Leighton says one irony of Horn’s struggle for justice is that Huddle, one of the key players in the conspiracy to sabotage DEA’s mission in Burma, has since gone on to work for State OIG “auditing operations overseas.” In fact, according to two State OIG reports dug up by Narco News, Huddle has served in the past as a “team leader” in auditing State Department programs that target Iraq and Cuba.
Prior stories on Horn’s case