December 7th, 2007
02:06 PM ET
15 years ago

State Department IG resigns amid contract controversy

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Embattled State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard announced his resignation Friday, a department spokesman said.

"We thank him for his dedication to public service and wish him well in his future endeavors," said Gonzo Gallegos, director the State Department's office of press relations.

Krongard came under scrutiny over his handling of investigations into State Department contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee, led by California Democrat Henry Waxman, is investigating allegations that Krongard interfered with investigations and blocked fraud probes.

Waxman said that Krongard's oversight of construction of the nearly $600 million U.S. Embassy in Baghdad - which remains unfinished - was conducted with "reckless incompetence," and that he refused to pursue allegations of fraud and labor trafficking by contractor First Kuwaiti.

The Waxman committee also said Krongard's office had threatened staff members with dismissal if they cooperated with congressional investigators, which Krongard denied.

Another concern surfaced during a hearing last month before the committee when it was revealed that Krongard's brother, former CIA No. 3 Alvin "Buzzy" Krongard, was an advisor to security contractor Blackwater.

That North Carolina-based company has won more than $800 million in State Department contracts to provide security for U.S. diplomats in Iraq - a job that has come under intense scrutiny since the September killings of 17 Iraqis by Blackwater contractors in Baghdad.

The company has denied wrongdoing, but the shootings have prompted Iraq's government to roll back a U.S. order giving security contractors immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts.

During the Nov. 14 hearing, Krongard first denied that his brother had any role with the company, but reversed himself when confronted with evidence that Alvin Krongard had attended an advisory meeting for Blackwater that very week.

Howard Krongard immediately recused himself from any decisions involving Blackwater, and his brother resigned his advisory post two days later.

Howard Krongard maintains that his brother had told him he was not going to accept a position on the advisory board, but Alvin Krongard disputes that.

Waxman, who had been talking of bringing Krongard and his brother back for more questioning, released a brief statement Friday.

"Mr. Krongard's decision removes an enormous distraction from the inspector general's office and will allow the office to focus on its important oversight responsibilities," he said. "The committee will certainly take this new development into account."

Earlier, the inspector general's private lawyer had written Waxman asking that the rift between the brothers not be the focus of another hearing.

"There is no legislative purpose to be gained by publicly pitting two brothers against each other," the letter said.

Krongard's State Department office released a list of his various appearances before the House Oversight Committee, other letters to Congress and his resignation letter to President Bush.

"I have said publicly, in the various materials listed below, everything I have to say on these matters," he said in a statement released with the documents. "I have nothing further to say at this time."

In the three-page letter to Bush, Krongard said he was leaving with concerns over what he called "the grave threat to public service posed by the current rancor and distrust between and among the political parties, the legislative and executive branches of government, the media and various interest groups.

"I fear that if the current environment in Washington persists, too many
of the most qualified prospective public servants across the country will be dissuaded from serving," he said.

Krongard also told the president he was proud of establishing the first State Department inspector general office outside Washington. Krongard said the new branch of the office in the Mideast - set for opening next month in Jordan - will be able to more closely monitor what is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq.

- CNN's Charley Keyes contributed to this report

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. David Allen Linkenheimer. East Brady, Pa.

    This looks like another rat jumping off a sinking ship...

    December 7, 2007 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  2. Independent in IA

    I'm not a bit surprised by this. This entire administration is beset with nepotism, corruption and blatant criminality.

    December 7, 2007 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  3. Carol Lipski SC

    Just another Bush hack, who contributor to the campaign and was rewareded a job he knew nothing about and cared less, just give me the pay check and contacts so I can make millions more.

    December 7, 2007 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  4. David A. Linkenheimer

    People are waking up to the fact that our government is little more than organized criminals disguised as so called "Public Servants".
    If the rule of law should be restored a lot of these people would be tried as traitors to the constitution ie. high treason and or as outright "War Criminals".
    The impending economic collapse of the United States and its "fiat dollar" will be the catylist for the fundamental changes that the status quo crowd, media included are seeking to avoid.
    As the situation deteriorates into chaos all of the politicos and their minions of parasites will seek to drop out of sight hoping to avoid the noose.
    Mike Huckabee knows for sure that if the status quo is not maintained the whole criminal class will pay for their crimes either by beheading if the so called "War on Terror" is lost or at the hands of the "home grown terrorists" a.k.a. (We the People), posse comitatus and or militia.
    Just ask yourself what is it that we the people are free to do without a license or a permit and the honest answer is nothing... Defacto Communism and defacto martial law imposed by the police state advovates.
    The prisons are bursting now and it is doubtful that the military and police would be abel to cope with a well armed and well informed domestic population.

    December 8, 2007 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  5. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    Bush has always accused democrats of not supporting our troops when he ask for more war funding. This administration supports a house of theives and it's disgusting. Many soldiers who have lost limbs, facial disfigurements, mental disorders, etc. are begging for financial and medical support from the country they served while theives are profiting. We will never know how much money has been stolen or given away to theives who profit from the blood of American soldiers.

    December 8, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  6. Bob, Roxboro, NC

    David A. Linkenheimer wrote:

    "Just ask yourself what is it that we the people are free to do without a license or a permit and the honest answer is nothing."

    I can think of two things,,,work until dead and ,,,,,,oops,, I can't think of the other one.

    December 8, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  7. Jan, Evergreen, CO

    Does anyone besides me think that our country is being run by corrupt and crooked creeps? This administration puts U.S. Grant's administration to absolute shame. We need another American revolution folks.

    December 9, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |