State Department Inspector General Accused of Multiple Cover-Ups
By Matt Renner
t r u t h o u t | Report
Wednesday 19 September 2007
The State Department's inspector general has allegedly interfered with and blocked numerous investigations into contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as probes related to domestic issues, according to several whistleblowers who provided detailed accounts of the widespread malfeasance to a Democratic congressman.
Congressman Henry Waxman (D-California), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to Howard Krongard, the inspector general for the State Department, requesting his participation in a Congressional investigation into Krongard's work as inspector general.
The letter contained allegations of misconduct made by seven current and former members of Krongard's staff, including the assistant inspector general for investigations and his deputy, both of whom resigned after Krongard allegedly blocked and interfered with their investigations. According to the letter, the allegations have been backed up by emails given to the Committee.
Waxman contended Krongard turned his office into an arm of the president. "One consistent element in these allegations is that you believe your foremost mission is to support the Bush Administration, especially with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than act as an independent and objective check on waste, fraud, and abuse on behalf of U.S. taxpayers," Waxman's letter stated. Krongard was appointed by Bush and confirmed by the Senate in 2005.
Current and former colleges of Krongard pointed to his loyalty to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Republican Party as motivation for his potentially criminal behavior. The whistleblowers alleged that Krongard's "strong affinity with State Department leadership," and his "partisan political ties," led him to "halt investigations, censor reports, and refuse to cooperate with law enforcement agencies," according to the letter. A spokesperson for the State Department would not comment on the allegations of an improper relationship between Krongard and Rice.
Rice refused to comply with a subpoena for her testimony issued by the oversight committee in April. A spokesperson for the oversight committee had no comment when asked about the committee's commitment to enforcing the subpoena.
In the letter, Waxman's sources claimed that Krongard stymied multiple internal investigations into State Department projects in Afghanistan and Iraq, interfered with multiple investigations by other agencies, and censored State Department reports and audits.
According to Waxman, Krongard's office has not concluded a single fraud investigation relating to State Department contracts in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Whistleblowers told Waxman that Krongard prevented his staff from cooperating with a Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into problems with the construction of the US Embassy in Iraq and a DOJ investigation into the smuggling of weapons by private security contractors into Iraq.
Controlling investigations into the Iraq Embassy project was a priority for Krongard according to members of his staff. Reports of human trafficking and the use of slave labor by contractors who were building the embassy were not investigated properly by Krongard or his office. According to his own testimony in front of the House Oversight Committee, Krongard personally conducted what he termed a "review" that "essentially consisted of agreed-upon or limited procedures."
According to Waxman's letter, the "review" consisted of interviews with workers who were hand-picked by the contractor. After issuing a subpoena, Waxman received a report prepared by Krongard as a result of his "review", which according to Waxman's letter, consisted of "six pages of handwritten notes showing that Krongard interviewed six foreign workers ... Krongard produced no documentation that identified the six employees ... there is no documentation indicating that you talked with any of the individuals who raised the allegations of trafficking."
Waxman also included internal emails that show Krongard instructed his staff to clear "all matters relating to the New Embassy Compound," with Krongard or William Todd, the deputy inspector general.
According to Waxman, Krongard interfered with the on-going Congressional investigation of Kenneth Tomlinson, the head of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and a close associate of Karl Rove, for possible unethical behavior. According to staff members, Krongard received a request from members of Congress to investigate Tomlinson. Krongard allegedly had the request and accompanying testimony from whistleblowers faxed directly to Tomlinson. According to the letter, Congressional investigators said Krongard's actions were "inconsistent with standard investigative procedures," and "jeopardized the investigation."
The letter states officials from Krongard's office faced "daily antagonism" from Krongard. According to the letter, officials said Krongard would "'chastise the employees without warning,' causing 'people to come to work every day fearful.'" Waxman asserted this work environment caused the retention rate of trained staff to fall. "In the investigative division, for example, only 7 of 27 investigator positions are currently filled. This serious under staffing raises its own questions about your commitment to conduct investigations into waste, fraud, and abuse at the State Department," Waxman wrote.
The Oversight committee scheduled a hearing on this issue for October 16.
(In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. I.U. has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is I.U endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)
The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.