From AP via GovExec.com -
Agriculture orders auditors to stop questioning employees
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Agriculture Department abruptly ordered congressional auditors to leave its headquarters and told its employees not to cooperate with them.
"You are hereby instructed not to meet with any member of the (Government Accountability Office) today, or until this matter is resolved," Michael Watts, a top USDA attorney, wrote to employees Wednesday in an e-mail obtained by The Associated Press.
The auditors were seeking information for an ongoing audit on Agriculture's office of civil rights and its handling of discrimination complaints. Specifically, they were investigating allegations that the department had previously provided false information for the audit.
All this does, this stonewalling of Congressional investigators (the GAO is the investigative arm of Congress), is to attract more investigative attention.
Lesson for the Bushies - there isn't a surer way to tell investigators that you have something to hide than to act like you're hiding something...
Background on Ag Department discrimination complaints -
GovExec.com article from 1997 detailing some of the history of Ag Department discrimination here
OxFam America press release backgrounder/press release here
NY Times article on the settlement of a lawsuit in 1999 here
NPR report on discrimination against Native American farmers (and a lawsuit) here
Another lawsuit filed (AP via Santa Fe New Mexican)