Thursday, November 15, 2007

Inspector General Removes Himself from Blackwater investigations

Nothing like insider family connections to tamp down objective investigations. Seems like I'd remember if my brother had ties to the entity I was charged with investigating and which has been in the news constantly. These people truly seem to think everyone else is an idiot. Crooks and liars - that's how I see them. Fortunately, this situation was exposed and Krongard has been forced to remove himself. Here are some highlights from the Virginian Pilot's coverage (
State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard pledged Wednesday to remove himself from any investigations involving Blackwater after a House committee chairman revealed that Krongard's brother serves on Blackwater's advisory board. Accused of a conflict of interest by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., Krongard first said his brother, Alvin "Buzzy" Krongard, had no connection with Blackwater. Waxman then released Blackwater documents indicating that Krongard's brother had attended a Blackwater board meeting earlier this week in Williamsburg.
After a break, Krongard said he had telephoned his brother and confirmed his Blackwater connection. As inspector general, Krongard is the top State Department official charged with investigating allegations of waste, fraud and abuse. Waxman, who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has accused him of impeding an investigation into alleged Blackwater arms smuggling in Iraq.
Krongard's involvement in the investigation while his brother served on the Blackwater board "would appear to violate the conflict of interest guidelines applicable to inspectors general," the committee report concluded. In testimony to the House committee Wednesday, Krongard first denied any knowledge of his brother's Blackwater connection and said: "I never impeded any investigation." Shown the letter from Prince inviting his brother to join the board, Krongard said he didn't know whether his brother accepted. "I'm not my brother's keeper," he said.
Waxman then produced a follow-up e-mail from Prince to Buzzy Krongard thanking him for joining the board and providing details about the board's first meeting Monday and Tuesday in Williamsburg, including transportation from Washington provided by Blackwater's aviation affiliate. After the committee returned from a break, Krongard said he had just called his brother. "I learned he had been at the advisory board meeting yesterday," he said. "I had not been aware of that. I want to state on the record right now that I hereby recuse myself from any matters having to do with Blackwater."
The reversal put committee Republicans who supported Krongard on the defensive. "He has done you tremendous damage," Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., told Krongard. "I don't know what kind of conversation you had with him, but I would have been one unhappy guy." The Krongard matter was the second time in two days Blackwater has been in the news. The New York Times reported Tuesday that FBI agents have concluded that at least 14 of the 17 killings of Iraqi civilians by Blackwater personnel Sept. 16 in Baghdad were unjustified.

Blackwater sees nothing wrong with Howard Krongard's actions, spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell said Wednesday: "We do not see a conflict of interest." The company has also denied any involvement in arms smuggling.

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