Special Counsel Staff Feared Being Seen as 'Disloyal'
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More details are coming out on the probe of the U.S. special counsel. Yesterday FBI agents raided the office of Scott Bloch. Now it appears the investigation is much broader than originally believed.
Investigators are looking into whether Bloch abused his authority as the head investigator for government whistle blower claims. The first witnesses from the office of special counsel are scheduled to testify before a grand jury on Tuesday.
Here's NPR's Ari Shapiro.
ARI SHAPIRO: When FBI agents showed up at Bloch's home and office yesterday, they carried a fistful of subpoenas. According to sources who've seen the documents, one demanded information about a 2004 investigation into Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Bloch concluded that Rice, who was then National Security adviser, did not misuse government money to campaign for President Bush's reelection. But career employees at the Office of Special Counsel say Bloch handled the investigation in an unusual way. He gave it to political appointees rather than the typical practice of leaving in the hands of career investigators. Then, employees say, Block purged computer evidence of what he'd done.
Another subpoena demanded information about Bloch's investigation of Lurita Doan. She's the chief of the General Services Administration who resigned under pressure last week, amid allegations that she abused her power to help her friends.
Agents also wanted information on a woman at OSC named Rebecca McGinley. According to a complaint that career attorneys have filed with the White House, OSC employees viewed McGinley as a spy who would report disloyalty to Bloch.
Travis Elliot used to work at OSC. He says he left after Bloch tried to force him into being reassigned to Detroit.
Mr. TRAVIS ELLIOT (Office of Special Counsel): The staff was really afraid to be viewed at all as disloyal for fear that they could be the next individual to be reassigned to Detroit, and in failing to take that, would be ultimately removed from their position. At some point, the atmosphere became so poisoned that it was literally impossible for people to complete their work.
SHAPIRO: The man leading this inquiry is has an unusual background for a prosecutor. James Mitzelfeld is a former reporter who won a Pulitzer Price with the Detroit News in the '90s. That was for his investigation of abuses at the state of Michigan's House Fiscal Agency. Now he's a prosecutor in Washington, investigating federal government abuses. Neither he nor Bloch have commented on the case, and nobody's been charged with a crime.
Scott Bloch had an autobiography in the works when yesterday's FBI raid took place. The book's working title: "Corruption in the Capital."
Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.
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