Today, the Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on the U.S. reconstruction effort in Iraq and corruption in the Iraqi government. Two former State Department employees testified, including Judge Arthur Brennan, the former director of the Office of Accountability and Transparency (OAT) in Iraq. He said that his office’s work “was ignored and demeaned by the Department of State, the Department of Justice, and the government of Iraq.”
He also revealed the State Department completely altered a report he sent to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) that criticized an Iraqi watchdog agency as being a “disaster”:
MCCASKILL: And your testimony — I want to make sure that you have said the Department of State has negligently, recklessly and intentionally misled Congress, the American people and the people of Iraq. And you stand by that testimony, Judge?
BRENNAN: I stand by that testimony.
MCCASKILL: And so, what we’re learning today is that SIGIR, the information we’re getting from SIGIR is not, in fact, always factual, that sometimes it is being spun by Ambassador Crocker and that it is your testimony today that Ambassador Crocker knows the level of corruption in the Iraqi government and has failed to be honest with the American people about it.
BRENNAN: If he doesn’t know, then he’s negligent. If he does know, then he’s intentionally misleading Congress and the American public.
According to Brennan, when the House Oversight Committee requested a copy of OAT’s report on Iraqi corruption last fall, the State Department “then retroactively classified the report in an effort to prevent it from being made a subject of public knowledge and discussion.” The department also ordered all State personnel not to testify at the House committee hearing examining corruption in Iraq.
James Mattil, who worked with Brennan, agreed with Brennan’s assessment, blaming the Bush administration for failing to demand greater action on corruption: “It seems reasonable to conclude that the reasons are either, gross incompetence, willful negligence or political intent on the part of the Bush administration and more specifically, the Department of State,” he said.