The State Department's embattled inspector general suddenly removed himself Wednesday from investigations into security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, after belatedly acknowledging that his brother sits on a Blackwater advisory board.
The revelation came at a House of Representatives hearing that cited allegations from current and former State Department employees — and the Justice Department — that Inspector General Howard Krongard had impeded investigations into Blackwater and the construction of the $740 million U.S. Embassy complex in Iraq.
The allegations before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee added to the questions about Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's management of the massive U.S. diplomatic presence in Iraq and of the State Department in Washington.
Krongard initially said that he was unaware that his brother, former CIA executive director Alvin "Buzzy" Krongard, had any financial ties with Blackwater. He said he'd asked his brother about "ugly rumors" concerning his relationship with Blackwater and had been assured there was none.
But after Democratic committee members told him that his brother had stayed at a Williamsburg, Va., hotel where Blackwater's "Worldwide Advisory Board" was meeting this week, Krongard used a break in the hearing to call his brother.
He said that Buzzy Krongard confirmed that he'd been at the meeting.
"I hereby recuse myself from any matters having to do with Blackwater," Howard Krongard announced.
Yes, you read that correctly. Krongard is apparently the last person Earth to discover that his brother has had some dealings with Blackwater. Howard is now asking Congress to believe that his brother not only denied his involvement when supposedly questioned by Howard in the past, but that "Buzzy" also waited to confess until Howard called him-dramatically-in the middle of a Congressional hearing on the matter. No doubt there is some family dysfunction in the Krongard clan, but that's really taking the cake. Republican Rep. Chris Shays-trying to throw Krongard a bone-says after this revelation that Krongard's brother "has done you tremendous damage...I would be one pretty unhappy guy." But (and I bet you weren't expecting this surprise) it appears that Howard's assertion isn't exactly true:
TPM Muckraker’s Spencer Ackerman also called and interviewed Buzzy Krongard and learned that Buzzy had filled Cookie in on his Blackwater relationship.
Earlier today, the State Department inspector general repeatedly told the panel that he was unaware his brother, A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard, had joined the advisory board of State Department security contractor Blackwater. Krongard said he had a single phone conversation with his brother about the issue, in October, in which Buzzy didn’t tell Cookie he was joining the board. Only Buzzy says that’s not true.
In an exclusive interview with TPMmuckraker, Buzzy Krongard says that in that phone conversation, he specifically told Cookie Krongard he had agreed to join Blackwater’s advisory board. “I had told my brother I was going on the advisory board,” Buzzy Krongard says. “My brother says that is not the case. I stand by what I told my brother.”
Buzzy Krongard says the phone conversation was more recent than Cookie Krongard indicated to the committee. Cookie said it took place about five or six weeks ago. Buzzy says it was about two or three weeks ago. Both men say there was just one phone conversation.
I guess Buzzy didn't feel like taking the blame for his brother's somewhat less than accurate testimony. I have a feeling that Thanksgiving dinner is going to be a little awkward for the Krongard's this year.