Statement of Chairman Henry J. Hyde House Committee on the Judiciary
Oversight Hearing on the Department of Justice Office of Inspector Generalís September 2000 Report titled, "An Investigation of Misconduct and Mismanagement at ICITAP, OPDAT, and the Criminal Divisionís Office of Administration"
September 21, 2000
A quorum being present, the Committee on the Judiciary will come to order. Today, the Committee holds an oversight hearing on the recently released Justice Department Office of Inspector General Report titled, "An Investigation of Misconduct and Mismanagement at ICITAP, OPDAT, and the Criminal Divisionís Office of Administration." We have several distinguished witnesses here to assist the Committee in understanding how the problems uncovered by the Office of Inspector General (IG) occurred, why the warning signs were ignored or dismissed, and what will be done to correct these egregious findings of misconduct and mismanagement.
This 415 page report is troubling. Senior managers at the Department of Justice -- the folks who wear the white hats -- engaged in potentially criminal misconduct and serious mismanagement and other senior managers paid no attention to the problems.
According to this report, security violations, visa fraud, financial mismanagement, abuse of the travel rules and regulations for self aggrandizement, preselection and favoritism for some employees, were the norm in the Criminal Divisionís International Criminal Investigative Training Assistant Program (ICITAP) and Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT). The facts and findings described by the IG make ICITAP sound more like a daytime soap opera than an office in the vaunted Criminal Division. It is truly ironic that a program intended to foster human rights and professionalism by training foreign police agencies in new and emerging democracies, was rife with mismanagement, corruption, and disregard for Department rules and regulations.
I will not summarize the findings of the report now; that will be done by one of our witnesses. However, I want to highlight the problems of security for a moment. The IGís investigation reveals long-standing and extensive security violations at ICITAP. The IG found a pattern and practice of improper disclosure, handling, and storage of classified documents. In fact, many of these problems were known after security reviews in 1994 and 1996. The IG identified numerous disclosures of classified materials to individuals not cleared to receive them.
The IG found abundant evidence of improper handling and storage of classified materials at ICITAPís headquarters. For example, classified documents were filed in unclassified files in unsecured locations. The ICITAP secure room, which was oftentimes left open, contained open safes that stored classified materials. I am shocked that security procedures were so sloppy. Who knew about the earlier security warnings? What was done to correct the problems? Why did the situation only get worse? And what assurances can the Department of Justice give this Committee that this type of reckless disregard for security will not be tolerated and that the same types of problems do not exist elsewhere in the Department? Someone was asleep at the switch on these issues of security, and it is this Committeeís job to demand accountability and corrective action from the Departmentís senior officials.
The OIG report does a fine job laying out the facts; however, it does not answer the basic questions that will help fix the long-standing problems at ICITAP. The report does not answer the question why and how security problems went unaddressed for years. It does not explain why or how Bob Bratt, the executive officer of the Criminal Division, was able to authorize his own travel, preselect employees from a bar he and other ICITAP managers apparently frequented, or why contractors were given free reign within ICITAP?
Why did the Justice Management Division miss problems that they are charged with the responsibility of overseeing? The report lays out the facts, but does not answer those essential questions and others that we will seek answers to today.
I want to say a word about the whistleblowers who had the courage to come forward and tell the IG what they knew. But for their courage, the OIG would not have uncovered the problems that we will review today. I believe they deserve our thanks. I can tell you that they felt intimidated and scared over the last several years. A couple of the whistleblowers have cases pending before the Office of Special Counsel. I trust that the Department will do the right thing with regards to the whistleblowers whose allegations have been largely substantiated by the OIG.
I now turn to Mr. Conyers for his opening statement.