Citizens United Files Lawsuit Against State Dept For Harold Geisel’s Records and OIG Report on Diplomatic Security

Posted: 11:16 am PDT
Updated: 8:37 om PDT
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Via Bloomberg:

Citizens United filed its fourth lawsuit against the State Department on Thursday, this time seeking documents related to the agency’s Office of Inspector General during former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s tenure. In the suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, the conservative advocacy group complains that the State Department has not responded to two of its Freedom of Information Act requests in more than six months, beyond acknowledging receiving them. The statutory requirement is 20 business days.

In its court filing, Citizens United argues that “when left to their own devices State Department bureaucrats have taken over three years to respond to Citizens United’s FOIA requests” and that “Such extensive delays are in clear violation of both the letter and the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act.”

This latest lawsuit, asked for two specific records related the Office of the Inspector General of the State Department: the first one related to former acting IG Harold Geisel, and the second one related to inspection report ISP-I-13-18 released in March 2013. This is the inspection report (pdf) on Diplomatic Security where the inspectors concluded that Diplomatic Security’s Special Investigations Division (SID) lack independence. The OIG recommended that “The Office of the Deputy Secretary should restructure the investigative responsibilities currently assigned to the Special Investigations Division. The outcome should include safeguards to prevent any Department of State or Diplomatic Security official from improperly influencing the commencement, course, or outcome of any investigation.” We don’t know if anything happened in that front but in any case, Citizens United wanted to see all the details, potentially messy, generated by that report. We should also note that this specific report previously made a cameo appearance in another lawsuit in Texas and attracted congressional interest.

Below excerpted from court records:

CITIZENS UNITED’S SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 FOIA REQUEST (GEISEL RECORDS), F-2014-16237

11. On September 16, 2014 Citizens United submitted a FOIA request, online, to Defendant. See Exhibit B (FOIA Request Letter). The request sought:

On April 25, 2011, The Washington Post reported on the vacant State Department’s Inspector General position. The Washington Post reported that: “One high-ranking official familiar with the selection process said the State Department’s current leadership had opposed filling the top slot because it prefers the office to remain under Geisel’s supervision.” On April 5, 2011 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report titled State Department Inspector General, Actions To Address Independence And Effectiveness Concerns Are Under Way, (GAO-11-382T). The records I request can be described as follows: Any and all records, correspondence, and memos, in any and all formats, that mention, discuss, or reference the performance of Harold W. Geisel as acting State Department inspector general, the nomination of an inspector general, potential candidates for inspector general, a preference or desire to retain Harold W. Geisel as acting State Department inspector general, the aforementioned GAO report, and/or the vacant inspector general position in any context that were sent to and/or sent from any of the following individuals: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Office Manager Claire Coleman, Counselor and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, Deputy Chief Of Staff for Operations Huma Abedin, Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy Jacob Sullivan, Executive Assistant Alice Wells, Senior Advisor Jeannemarie E. Smith, Special Assistant Lona Valmoro, Special Assistant Nima Abbaszadeh, Special Assistant Bernadette Meehan, Deputy Secretary Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary William J. Burns, Under Secretary Patrick F. Kennedy, Under Secretary Wendy R. Sherman, and Acting Deputy Department Spokesman Mark C. Toner.

B. CITIZENS UNITED’S SEPTEMBER 16, 2014 FOIA REQUEST (INSPECTOR GENERAL REPORT), F-2014-16250

16. On September 16, 2014 Citizens United submitted a FOIA request, online, to Defendant. See Exhibit D (FOIA Request Letter). The request sought:

Any and all correspondence, memos, or records, in any format, that mention, reference, or discuss the State Department Office of Inspector General report The Bureau Of Diplomatic Security, Office Of Investigations And Counterintelligence, Divisions Of Special Investigations, Criminal Investigations, And Computer Investigations And Forensics (ISP-I-13-18), and/or any previous drafts of the report, and that were sent to, or sent from, the following individuals: Hillary Rodham Clinton, Cheryl D. Mills, Huma Mahmood Abedin, Jennemaire E. Smith, Lona Valmoro, Joanne Laszczych, Monica Hanley, Robert V. Russo, and Nora F. Toiv.

This should be interesting unless everything get Sharpied out.  The case is  Citizens United v. United States Department of State, Civil Action No. 15-cv-441 (pdf).

Also this:

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Inspection Report on US Embassy Eritrea Now Classified? Plus State/OIG FY2015 Inspection Schedule

Posted: 1:19 am EDT
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State/OIG has posted its schedule of FY2015 inspections.  Something we can look forward to reading, although it will probably take months before these reports will be available online.  Unless, of course, these reports are designated “classified” like the inspection report on the U.S. Embassy in Asmara, Eritrea (pdf). Some OIG reports have classified annexes. This is the first one we’ve seen in recent memory where the entire report has been designated classified.

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According to history.state.gov, the United States recognized the Republic of Eritrea on April 27, 1993, when the American consulate at Asmara informed Eritrean authorities of this decision on the same date Eritrea declared its independence. Eritrea previously had been under Ethiopian sovereignty. Diplomatic relations were established on June 11, 1993, when the American consulate at Asmara was raised to Embassy status with Joseph P. O’Neill as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

There currently is no U.S. Ambassador to Eritrea; the U.S. Chargé d’Affaires is Louis Mazel,  career Foreign Service Officer who arrived in Eritrea to take up his posting as Charge d’Affaires on July 10, 2014.

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The upcoming inspection schedule via Office of Inspector General Work Plan 2015:

Fall Cycle: October–November 2014 

Post inspections of Astana and Dushanbe, including BBG operations

Post inspections of Riga and Tallinn

Post inspections of Antananarivo and Port Louis

Inspection of the Office of Civil Rights (S/OCR)

Inspection of BBG operations in Kabul

Compliance Follow-up Review of the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO)

Winter Cycle: February–March 2015

Post inspection of Amman

Post inspection of Tokyo and constituent posts

Post inspections of Muscat and Tunis, including BBG operations

Inspection of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs

Compliance Follow-up Review of the Accountability Review Board Process

Spring Cycle: May–June 2015

Inspection of the Bureau of International Organization Affairs (IO)

Inspection of the Office of Management Policy, Rightsizing and Innovation (M/PRI)

Inspection of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, International Programs Directorate (DS/IP)

Inspection of the Bureau of Information Resource Management, Vendor Management Office (IRM/OPS/VMO)

Inspection of the Bureau of Energy Resources (ENR)

Inspection of the Bureau of the Comptroller and Global Financial Services (CGFS)

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