Secrecy News

State Dept Classifies Report on Iraqi Corruption

Updated below

After a congressional committee requested a copy of an unclassified internal State Department report on corruption in the Iraqi government (pdf), the Department classified the report and declined to provide it. But the document is in the public domain and widely accessible.

“The State Department initially informed Committee staff that the reports were designated ‘sensitive but unclassified’,’ wrote Rep. Henry Waxman, chair of the House Oversight Committee, in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (pdf).

“After receiving the Committee’s inquiry, however, the State Department retroactively classified the documents and refused to provide them voluntarily to the Committee.”

“The Committee subpoenaed the documents last week, but they still have not been provided to the Committee in either classified or unclassified form,” Mr. Waxman complained.

The primary document at issue is an assessment of Iraqi corruption that was prepared by the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The document was first reported in The Nation magazine last month, and it was published last week on the Federation of American Scientists web site.

“Obviously, the State Department’s position on this matter is ludicrous,” wrote Rep. Waxman.

“If there is widespread corruption within the Maliki government, this is information that both Congress and the public are entitled to know.”

But according to State Department officials, “any information about corruption within the Maliki government must be treated as classified because public discussions could undermine U.S. relations with the Maliki government.”

Update: The story is picked up by Justin Rood of ABC News in ‘Classified’ Iraq Corruption Report Posted Online.