There are so many accusations directed at State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard for preventing inspections of State Department mismanagement in Iraq, it can get confusing. But two things became clear after today’s House Committee Hearing on Oversight and Government Reform:
1. Howard Krongard’s brother Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard is, irrefutably, on Blackwater’s Advisory Board.
2. Howard Krongard is a pain in the ass to work for.
We know the first because Krongard told the committee he called his brother to ask him about it during a break in the hearing. It’s a good thing Buzzy picked up the phone, because the dispute between the Inspector General and committee members was getting strange.
During his under-oath testimony Krongard called allegations his brother advises Blackwater an “ugly rumor.” The matter was then seemingly dropped until Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings questioned Krongard and referenced two e-mails Blackwater CEO Erik Prince sent to Krongard’s brother. One invited him to join the advisory board and the second provided an itinerary for the board’s meeting yesterday in Virginia.
Then California Democrat Diane Watson said the committee staff had called the hotel and found that, indeed, Buzzy had checked in as a guest.
Howard Krongard reasoned at the time that, “He might be at the hotel to tell them he’s not joining the advisory board.” Though, in fact, he was there as part of a strategic planning session for Blackwater. My bad, said Howard Krongard. “I am not not my brothers keeper.”
The botched sibling communications aside, the bigger issue may be Krongard’s failed interactions with State Department colleagues. Whistleblowers who worked with Krongard have called him an “embarrassment to the community” and “an affront to our profession.”
A report by the Republican staff committee disputes Krongard’s obstruction of investigations but confirms he had “an extraordinarily abusive management style.”
Krongard himself doesn’t really contest this.
“I know I was being too hard; I know I was expecting too much,” he admitted but added that as a “teammate in sports” and “partner in private partnerships” there “wasn’t a personal affront when you tried to change what someone is doing or correct it.”
Oh, and the actual accusations against Krongard brought by Committee Chair Henry Waxman: They include stonewalling an investigation into construction of the Bagdhad embassy, not cooperating with a Justice Department criminal probe into Blackwater arms smuggling, not scrutinizing fraud in rewarding DynCorp contracts, and failing to audit the State Department’s financial statements. The people blowing the whistle are several of Krongard’s former direct underlings at State, including the Deputy Inspector General.
So if Waxman and the Democrats are right and these allegations are largely true, Krongard’s State Department oversight is a major, major scandal. And if the Republicans are closer to the truth, Krongard was such a nightmarish boss that his employees go behind his back to tell elaborate lies. At least his brother seems to be doing well.