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[Washington Babylon]

Washington Post: Four Government Probes of Iraq Special Inspector

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Last May, I filed a story saying that Stuart Bowen Jr., the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), was under investigation himself. Bowen is charged with uncovering misspending of Iraqi and U.S. funds. My story, based on whistleblower complaints that I had reviewed, said SIGIR employees had charged that Bowen’s office had misspent federal money and alleged a number of other abuses by Bowen and a top aide.

Today, a front-page story in the Washington Post said that employee allegations had “prompted four government probes into [SIGIR], including an investigation by the FBI and federal prosecutors into the agency’s financial practices and claims of e-mail monitoring… Federal prosecutors have presented evidence of alleged wrongdoing to a grand jury in Virginia, which has subpoenaed SIGIR for thousands of pages of financial documents, contracts, personnel records and correspondence, several sources familiar with the probe said.”

SIGIR has done good work digging up corruption in Iraq and some observers have wondered whether the White House had targeted the agency in retaliation. We’ll have to see where the investigations lead, but it’s hard to see Bowen being the victim of a vendetta by the Bush Administration, even if his reports on Iraq-related corruption did prove embarrassing. Formerly a Texas lawyer, Bowen worked for George Bush for eight years before being appointed Inspector General, both at the White House and at the Texas governor’s office.

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