Memo Alleges Prostitution & Drugs Against Clinton's Security Detail.
State Department accused of covering up sex and prostitution investigation
Published June 11, 2013
WASHINGTON – The U.S. State Department’s ability to investigate wrongdoing by its staff is under question after a report that the agency tried to cover up several crimes committed has surfaced.
Some of the allegations are against then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s security detail who allegedly hired prostitutes, a U.S. ambassador accused of trolling public parks for paid sex and a security official in Beirut committing sexual assaults on foreign nationals.
An internal memo from the State Department’s inspector general listed eight examples of wrongdoing by agency staff or contractors.
The memo also seems to indicate that the government agency tried to use its authority to stop the investigation and instead, opting to have the official, whose name has not been released, meet with Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy in Washington. The official was then allowed to return to his job overseas.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters during Monday’s daily briefing that the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security has requested a “review by outside, experienced law enforcement officers” who are working with the IG’s office to make “expert assessments about our current procedures.”
Rep. Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the allegations of misconduct appalling and said he would ask congressional staff members to start an investigation into all of the accusations.
However, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid stonewalled reporters Tuesday when asked about the alleged misconduct and possible cover up.
"I don't know what you're talking about," the Nevada Democrat said. "What are you talking about? ... I don't know what you're talking about."
According to the memo first obtained by CBS News, four members of Clinton’s security detail received one-day suspensions.
Allegations of misconduct are not new and have plagued the Obama administration for awhile.
In April 2012, members of the president’s Secret Service detail were caught in a prostitution scandal involving 12 women they picked up during an official trip to Colombia. The Secret Service was slow to disclose any information and issued only limited public statements in the weeks following the incident in Cartagena.
In the end, a dozen agents, officers, supervisors and 12 other U.S. military personnel were implicated in a night of heavy drinking and misconduct.
Prostitution, drugs alleged in State Department memo
By Ashley Fantz and Jill Dougherty, CNN
updated 6:39 AM EDT, Wed June 12, 2013
Washington (CNN) -- Senior State Department and Diplomatic Security officials may have covered up or stopped investigations of inappropriate or even criminal misconduct by staff, according to an internal memo from the department's Office of the Inspector General.
The timeline surrounding the allegations places the incidents during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's tenure, opening the possibility that a widening scandal might taint both her record and her possible political aspirations. Clinton has also taken heat for the department's response to the September 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya.
The memo itself, purportedly written by Ambassador Larry Dinger, describes some of the information as coming from office chatter.
"Sometimes the sources are one or more agents who became aware of the case from colleagues in what, given cubicles, can be a collegial environment," the memo says.
Regarding the latest allegations, CNN was provided the documents by a lawyer for a whistle-blower who is a former senior inspector general investigator.
• An active U.S. ambassador "routinely ditched his protective security detail in order to solicit sexual favors from both prostitutes and minor children," the memo says. The ambassador's protective detail and others "were well aware of the behavior," the memo asserts. When a diplomatic security officer tried to investigate,undersecretary of state for management Patrick Kennedyallegedly ordered the investigator "not to open a formal investigation."
On Tuesday, CNN obtained a statement from the ambassador, who vigorously denied the allegations, calling them "baseless."
A source close to the investigation of the ambassador told CNN that the ambassador's security detail reported to the inspector general that the ambassador would leave his house at night without notifying the detail. The detail followed the ambassador and saw the ambassador once go to a park that's known for illegal activity, the source told CNN. The detail said they never witnessed the ambassador engage in any sexual activity, the source said.
The ambassador went to Washington and was asked what he was doing and he denied any wrongdoing, the source told CNN. The ambassador explained that sometimes he fights with his wife, needs air and he goes for a walk in the park because he likes it.
Kennedy also issued a statement Tuesday, saying it is his responsibility "to make sure the department and all of our employees -- no matter their rank -- are held to the highest standard, and I have never once interfered, nor would I condone interfering, in any investigation."
• A State Department security official in Beirut allegedly "engaged in sexual assaults" against foreign nationals working as embassy guards. The security official, the Office of the Inspector General says, was also accused of committing "similar assaults during assignments in Baghdad, and possibly Khartoum and Monrovia." The office's memo says that an inspector general's investigator who went to Beirut to try to conduct an investigation was not given enough time to complete the job.
• A member of Clinton's security detail allegedly "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries." The inspector general's agent assigned to investigate "concluded" that the "prostitution problem was endemic."
• In Iraq, an "underground drug ring" may have been operating near the U.S. Embassy and "supplying" drugs to State Department security contractors, but an agent sent to investigate the allegations was prevented from completing the job.
The allegations were first reported Monday by CBS.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responded Monday.
The State Department is strongly denying allegations from a former department investigator who claimed top officials tried to halt or delay several potentially damaging investigations.
Aurelia Fedenisn, the whistle-blowing former investigator, also claimed that when the department's Office of Inspector General tried to expose the interference in a report, that language was scrubbed.
A senior State Department official offered a point-by-point pushback in response to an internal Office of Inspector General memo dated Oct. 23, 2012, obtained by ABC News, that detailed eight investigations by the investigative arm of the department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security.
The memo alleged that, in those cases, senior officials interfered with the investigations.
The cases, according to the memo, included allegations that an ambassador solicited prostitutes in a park near a U.S. embassy, that several members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail hired prostitutes while on official travel, and that a drug ring was running near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.
In each of those cases, the memo alleged, more senior officials, including, in some cases, individuals close to Clinton, called off the investigations.
But the senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, insisted that the investigations were not called off for political reasons. Instead, the official claimed, full investigations were done and in many cases there was insufficient evidence to warrant prosecutions or in-house discipline.
A Nov. 20, 2012 draft of the inspector general's report, also obtained by ABC News, included many of the details included in the Oct. 23 memo, as well as attempts to block the investigations.
A Dec. 4, 2012 draft, however, watered down the language, focusing more on the need for investigative independence.
By the time the final report was issued in February, all of the details were removed, reduced to a line that the investigative arm of diplomatic security "does not have that independence."
But again, the senior State Department official claimed the language was removed because, when asked to provide evidence to back up those claims, the Office of Inspector General was unable to do so.
"Tell us when and show us how," the official recalled saying. "Show me."
U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman (Image source: U.S. State Department)
The U.S. ambassador reportedly named in the State Department Inspector General’s memo regarding allegations of soliciting prostitutes made news two years ago after he said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was responsible for sparking a new kind of anti-Semitism in Europe, a statement that prompted prominent Republicans to call then for his removal.
CBS News reported on Monday that it obtained documents showing that the highest ranks of the State Department “may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks.”
It further reported that State Department agents told their department’s Inspector General that “they were told to stop investigating the case of a U.S. Ambassador who held a sensitive diplomatic post and was suspected of patronizing prostitutes in a public park.”
Though CBS News did not report which ambassador was named, the New York Post later reported it as being U.S. Ambassador to Belgium Howard Gutman, and Gutman issued a statement calling the allegations “baseless.”
According to the internal State Department Inspector General’s memo cited by CBS, the ambassador “routinely ditched … his protective security detail,” and it was suspected by inspectors that this was in order to “solicit sexual favors from prostitutes.”
After a summons to Washington to meet with a senior State Department official, the ambassador was allowed to return to serve out his term, according to CBS.
Gutman said in a statement quoted by Foreign Policy: “I am angered and saddened by the baseless allegations that have appeared in the press and to watch the four years I have proudly served in Belgium smeared is devastating,” he said.