Feds raid office and home of special counsel Scott Bloch
National Public Radio reported in an exclusive story that Special Counsel Scott J. Bloch’s home and the Office of Special Counsel [OSC] in Washington DC was raided on Tuesday morning by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The FBI seized computers and documents and shut down the agency’s computer network and email systems.
In an ironic twist, the Office of Special Counsel [OSC] is an independent agency created after Watergate and charged with protecting whistleblowers and enforcing a ban on federal employees engaged in partisan political activities and Bloch, a Bush loyalist and appointee in 2004, has been under investigation since 2005 by the Inspector General on allegations that he retaliated against employees and obstructed an investigation.
The raid today was a result of a grand jury in Washington issuing subpoenas for Bloch and several OSC employees charging that Bloch had used the private computer firm, Geeks on Call, to scrub the agency’s computers.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Geeks on Call visited Mr. Bloch’s government office on M Street in Washington on December 18 and 21, 2006. The total charge was $1,149 and was paid with an agency credit card.
Bloch admitted to hiring Geeks on Call to purge his computer and two of his deputies’ computers, claiming the computers contained a virus.
However, the Wall Street Journal reported that ‘Geeks’ receipt did not mention a virus and showed only “a seven-level” swipe, which makes it nearly impossible for forensic experts to restore the data. A ‘swipe’ is not the protocol used when searching for a virus.
While Karl Rove was still in the White House, Bloch and his staff had been investigating whether Rove and other administration officials had illegally used federal agencies to elect Republicans in 2006.
The subpoena authorizing the seizure of the computers was part of an investigation of whether Bloch violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits federal employees from using their offices for political purposes. The computer erasures are now part of the investigation which prompted the federal raid.