The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) has obtained a version of the May 2005 Defense Department Inspector General (DoD IG) report on the Boeing Tanker Lease scandal that shows the original report hid the text of Boeing emails and references to Boeing executives from the public. Redactions made by the White House Counsel office still remain in the newly released version.
The final version of the DoD IG report was issued with several blacked out portions. However, earlier this month the department's inspector general posted a version of the report on its website that has fewer redactions. (See http://www.dodig.osd.mil/fo/Foia/tanker.htm). The website posting came in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by POGO and others. POGO is in the process of filing and administrative appeal to have the remaining redactions made public.
"The original report's secrecy begs the question of why the DoD IG was hiding Boeing's role," notes POGO investigator Nick Schwellenbach.
Last week Boeing agreed to settle with the government for $615 million to end federal probes in part connected to the aerospace company's efforts to recruit Darleen Druyun, a former senior Air Force procurement officer, while she was overseeing the federal government's plans to lease Boeing tanker aircraft. The cost to lease the aircraft would have been much higher than buying them outright and would have been a windfall for Boeing.
POGO spoke with the DoD IG Chief FOIA Public Liaison Darryl R. Aaron about the reasons for the original secrecy. Aaron told POGO that the original public release redacted Boeing emails and several references to Boeing out of deference to the company's privacy. This decision was a discretionary one by the DoD IG. As a result of FOIA requests, the DoD IG reviewed these redaction decisions and "as a courtesy to Boeing" and other government agencies allowed them to review the less secretive version before it was placed on the DoD IG's Electronic Reading Room this May.
The full verbatim text of numerous emails in the DoD IG Boeing tanker lease report continue to remain hidden from the public. Also, references to members of Congress and their staffers in the report are obscured by replacing names with vague identifiers in brackets.
Some of the redactions in the DoD IG Management Accountability Review of the Boeing KC767A Tanker Program refer to an agreement between the White House and Congress to shield some information from the public:
The Report does not include full verbatim text of this email [POGO note: this paragraph is reference each time redactions are made per this agreement] because staff of the White House Counsel has indicated its intent to invoke an agreement between Members of Congress and the White House covering the production of tanker-related emails – the inclusion of which full verbatim text in the Inspector General's independent judgment would have circumvented the agreement. [Emphasis POGO's]
In 2005, DoD IG Joseph Schmitz resigned under a cloud of allegations that he had allowed inappropriate political interference in the Boeing tanker lease investigation by the White House, as well as other politically sensitive investigations. At that time, Senator Grassley sent an August 8, 2005 letter to Schmitz questioning his "decision to submit an Inspector General (IG) report to the White House Counsel for review," referring to the Boeing tanker lease report. Sen. Grassley wrote that the legal authority Schmitz cites "for submitting an IG report to the White House Counsel for review appears to be inapplicable and invalid" and that the White House-Congressional agreement has "no legal standing whatsoever" and that Schmitz was "not bound by the protocols." Furthermore, Grassley argued that because of the White House's redactions "potential targets were shielded from possible accountability."
Click here to view the Grassley letters or follow this link to the Original more secretive version of the DoD Boeing report