Report Suggests State Dept. Covered Up Alleged Drug Ring

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
June 10 2013 11:46 AM

Report Suggests State Department Covered Up Allegations of Sexual Assaults, Drug Ring 

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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks to workers based at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad March 24, 2013

Photo by Jason Reed/AFP/Getty Images

This is unrelated to the government's current NSA headache, but it's nonetheless worth flagging for obvious reasons:

CBS News has uncovered documents that show the State Department may have covered up allegations of illegal and inappropriate behavior within their ranks.
The Diplomatic Security Service, or the DSS, is the State Department's security force, charged with protecting the secretary of state and U.S. ambassadors overseas and with investigating any cases of misconduct on the part of the 70,000 State Department employees worldwide. CBS News' John Miller reports that according to an internal State Department Inspector General's memo, several recent investigations were influenced, manipulated, or simply called off.
The memo obtained by CBS News cited eight specific examples. Among them: allegations that a State Department security official in Beirut "engaged in sexual assaults" on foreign nationals hired as embassy guards and the charge and that members of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's security detail "engaged prostitutes while on official trips in foreign countries" -- a problem the report says was "endemic."
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Our current attention span makes it unlikely that the State Department's alleged misdeeds will be front page news, but the story certainly has plenty of rather attention-grabbing details. In addition to the allegations of sexual assault and prostitution, the IG memo details what it calls an "underground drug ring" that was operating near the American embassy in Baghdad and supplying U.S. security contractors with drugs. Perhaps the most troubling part of the report isn't the alleged misconduct itself but the possibility of the subsequent attempts to keep it under wraps. "We were very upset," Aurelia Fedenisn, a former IG investigator, told CBS. "We expect to see influence, but the degree to which that influence existed and how high up it went, was very disturbing." Go check out the full CBS report for yourself, here.

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City.