Amid a clash with Congress over details on the problem of corruption in Iraq, the State Department classified a previously unclassified new report which details the pervasiveness of fraud, intimidation and misdirection within Iraqi ministries.
However, the "Secret" stamp appears to have come down too late: a watchdog group obtained an early version of the report, stamped "Sensitive but Unclassified," and published it online.
Iraqi officials' malfeasance undermines the legitimacy of the Iraqi government and hamstrings its anti-corruption efforts, according to the version of the State Department report posted by the Federation of American Scientists, the group which made the document public.
"Currently, Iraq is not capable of even rudimentary enforcement of anti-corruption laws," it states.
How bad is it? The anti-corruption advisor to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki refuses to disclose his own financial holdings, the report says. Routine investigative reports by government anti-corruption watchdogs "cannot be trusted to truthfully reveal criminal activity against anyone protected by the violent or the powerful."
The report, which was first disclosed by the Nation magazine, details problems in nearly two dozen Iraqi government ministries as well as nongovernmental organizations.
Steven Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists said he had not been contacted by the State Department about the report, which he posted to his group's Web site on Wednesday.
"No one has asked me to take it down," Aftergood told the Blotter on ABCNews.com, "and in the absence of a persuasive security rationale, we wouldn't."
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The department classified the report in the middle of a spat with House Government Reform and Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-Calif. Waxman has been pressing the State Department to make several documents and officials available for a hearing on corruption in Iraq, including the anti-corruption report.
Waxman has postponed his hearing on the topic to Oct. 4.