November 15, 2007 in Nation/World

Official quits Blackwater probe

Warren P. Strobel McClatchy

WASHINGTON – 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.

Blackwater, which protects U.S. diplomats in Iraq, is under investigation for a series of lethal shootings of Iraqi civilians.

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