State Dept. official steps aside from Blackwater probe
The State Department's embattled inspector general suddenly removed himself Wednesday from investigations into security contractor Blackwater...
WASHINGTON — The State Department's embattled inspector general suddenly removed himself Wednesday from investigations into security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, after belatedly acknowledging his brother sits on a Blackwater advisory board.
The revelation came at a House 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 U.S. diplomatic presence in Iraq and of the State Department in Washington.
Krongard initially said he was unaware his brother, former CIA executive director Alvin "Buzzy" Krongard, had 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 Buzzy Krongard confirmed he'd been at the meeting.
"I hereby recuse myself from any matters having to do with Blackwater," Howard Krongard said.
Blackwater, which protects U.S. diplomats in Iraq, is under investigation for a series of lethal shootings of Iraqi civilians.
The revelation dismayed even Krongard's Republican defenders on the committee, who had attempted to portray the investigation by chairman Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., as partisan score-settling.
Your brother "has done you tremendous damage," said Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn. "I would be one pretty unhappy guy."
The advisory board role pays a $3,500 honorarium per meeting, according to Blackwater correspondence released by the committee.
It isn't known whether Buzzy Krongard accepted the honorarium. He didn't return a phone call seeking comment.
Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company
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