Last week came the revelation that the State Department may have been covering up bad behavior within its ranks. The information about using drug use soliciting prostitutes, and having sex with minors was first released to CBS News via an internal memo handed to them by Aurelia Fedenisn, a former State Department inspector general investigator. Since the information was released Ms. Fedenisn (and her kids) have been under constant harassment and threats as the department is waging an intimidation campaign to stop her.
The released memo, believed to have been based on anonymous complaints from rank-and-file agents in the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security that arose during a 2012 inspector general’s review of the bureau, has sent shock waves through Foggy Bottom since becoming public Monday.
Ms Fedenisn’s attorney Cary Schulman told The Cable that the whistleblower has paid a steep price:
“They had law enforcement officers camp out in front of her house, harass her children and attempt to incriminate herself.”
After the CBS News made inquiries to the State Department about the charges, Schulman says investigators from the State Department’s Inspector General promptly arrived at Fedenisn’s door. “They talked to both kids and never identified themselves,” he said. “First the older brother and then younger daughter, a minor, asking for their mom’s place of work and cell phone number … They camped out for four to five hours.”
Schulman says the purpose of the visit was to get Fedenisn to sign a document admitting that she stole State Department materials, such as the memos leaked to CBS. Schulman says it was crucial that she didn’t sign the document because her separation agreement with the State Department includes a provision allowing disclosures of misconduct. Furthermore, none of the materials were classified.
Schulman charged that sending law enforcement officers to pressure her into signing an agreement was heavy handed. “Why not simply mail it, courier it, send it Federal Express or deliver it by any other normal means by which one delivers a demand letter? Why send two federal law enforcement agents?” he asked. He also said that officials from the Inpsector General’s Office told him they’d be having a “no kidding get together with the DOJ,” implying to him that they would push criminal charges if his client didn’t cooperate.
Intimidation and punishment seems to be a State Department standard operating procedure. Gregory Hicks deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Libya
during the 2012 attack testified before Congress that he was essentially demoted when he tried to correct the false administration account of the Benghazi attack.
In discussing the chain of events with Kel McClanahan, a D.C. attorney who has represented several agency whistleblowers, McClanahan said the case smacked of intimidation.
“This type of intimidation technique is all too common when an agency wants something from you that it is not entirely confident it can get without your cooperation, and more often than not people who don’t know any better fall for it,” he told The Cable. “Regardless of what you may think of Fedenisn’s motives, she worked for these guys for years and she knows their playbook … I would have been shocked if she did anything except promptly hire a lawyer and call their bluff.”
The allegations were revealed to CBS after Aurelia Fedenisn told Ted Cruz, R-Tex., that senior State Department officials interfered
with investigations she was involved in, and then caused a report about
the interference to be watered down.
The harassment began with after two diplomatic security agents spoke in a threatening
manner Fedenisn’s teenage children at her home in a Virginia suburb of
Washington. The agents arrived at the home to talk to Fedenisn about
documents Fedenisn had given to Cruz and demanded to speak to their mom
immediately, according to her attorney Damon Mathias (Schulman’s partner).
Fedenisn had turned to Cruz after she learned that an investigative
report she helped write before she retired in December had many of the investigative details omitted when it was published in February, Mathias said.
Her claim is that agents from State’s Diplomatic Security and other
divisions engaged in very questionable and possibly criminal conduct;
the Inspector General has been hampered in performing its oversight
role; “and the findings they wanted to put in the report end up being
left out,” Mathias said. “So you have a cover-up of the cover-up.”
When Fedenisn and her lawyers met with lawyers for the Office of the
Inspector General, the government lawyers demanded she hand over the
documents or they would refer the matter to the Department of Justice
and Fedenisn would face criminal prosecution, Mathias said.
“They made it clear that they would go after her criminally,” he
said. “We refused to turn over the documents” and Fedenisn is now
seeking whistleblower protection, he said.
Just think about how “transparent” a Hilary Clinton administration would be, after all she has demonstrated her “openness” in Benghazi and now this scandal.