FBI Raids Home, Office of Office of Special Counsel

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From The Wall Street Journal:

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided the Office of Special Counsel here, seizing computers and documents belonging to the agency chief Scott Bloch and staff.

More than a dozen FBI agents served grand jury subpoenas shortly after 10 a.m., shutting down the agency’s computer network and searching its offices, as well as Mr. Bloch’s home. Employees said the searches appeared focused on alleged obstruction of justice by Mr. Bloch during the course of an 2006 inquiry into his conduct in office.

The independent agency, created by Congress in the wake of the Watergate scandal, is charged with protecting federal employees and deciding whether their complaints merit full-scale investigation — a first line of defense against fraud and mismanagement in government. It also enforces a ban on U.S. employees engaging in partisan political activity.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Mr. Bloch had used “Geeks on Call,” an outside computer-service firm, to erase his computer and those of two former staff members in December 2006….

The computer erasures became part of that investigation and are one of the reasons behind today’s raid, employees said.

To refresh your memory, Bloch’s agency is a little known one that is charged with investigating whistleblower complaints, Hatch Act violations, and the like — but who is himself being investigated for retaliating against whistleblowers and politicizing his office. The Office of Personnel Management’s inspector general has been conducting that investigation since 2005. The feds are apparently investigating whether Bloch tried to obstruct that investigation by deleting his hard drive, among other things.

To give you an idea how fraught this investigation is with unique issues, Bloch is not only busily investigating the White House for political briefings Karl Rove and his aides made to various agencies, but he’s also conducting an investigation of the politicization at the Department of Justice and issues related to the U.S. Attorney firings — a probe that he complained was being blocked by the DoJ. Of course, he can’t do much to block the DoJ investigation of him.

Update: NPR, also reporting on the raid, reports that the entire’s office email system was shut down this morning.