The Department of State is legally bound to investigate and prosecute the video editing of department press briefings, according to the nonpartisan Cause of Action Institute.
The watchdog group submitted a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and the department’s inspector general, advising it is a federal crime to unlawfully remove, destroy, or mutilate a federal record. The State Department revealed the party responsible for the editing was ordered to do so by a superior. The group also raised concerns about a criminal conspiracy.
“As the head of the State Department and its Office of Inspector General, respectively, you each have an obligation to refer matters to the Attorney General whenever there is a reason to believe that a violation of federal criminal law occurred,” the letter reads.
Federal authorities have not begun a criminal inquiry into the deletion of material from the Dec. 2, 2013, press briefing, and State Department officials have said they do not intend to investigate further. The names of those responsible for the editing have not been released to the public, but a State Department attorney has interviewed at least one of the responsible parties. (RELATED: State Dept. Refuses To Provide Name Of Employee Order To Scrub Iran Video)
Penalties for defacing, removing, altering, or destroying a federal record include a fine, imprisonment, or both, according to the Federal Records Act.
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