State Department IG Howard “Cookie” Krongard’s testimony before Waxman’s committee earlier this week is becoming the gift that keeps on giving. At the hearing, Krongard stood accused of many improprieties, among them that he’d interfered in a State Department investigation of Blackwater (one being run out of his own office), perhaps due to a conflict of interest: Krongard’s brother Buzzy sits on Blackwater’s board of advisors.
Shortly after being sworn in at Wednesday’s hearing, Krongard flatly denied his brother’s connections to Blackwater, even after Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) presented documentary evidence to the contrary—two letters from Blackwater founder and CEO Erik Prince to Buzzy, one inviting him to join the board and the other thanking him for doing so. During a break in the hearing, Krongard called Buzzy, who admitted that he indeed was a member of Blackwater’s advisory board and had, in fact, just returned from his first board meeting. After returning to the witness table, Krongard admitted as much to Waxman’s committee and recused himself from involvement in any further matters related to Blackwater.
End of story? Not quite. Later that day, TPMMuckraker‘s Spencer Ackerman called Buzzy Krongard at home. He said that he’d told his brother Cookie of his decision to join Blackwater’s board in early October. So, did Krongard knowingly lie to the committee under oath? If so, who was he trying to protect? Hopefully not his brother Buzzy, who has been very quick to sell him out. Just reference this latest missive from Waxman:
On November 15, I sent a letter to Buzzy Krongard requesting an interview and documents relating to his communications with Howard Krongard about Blackwater. After receiving the letter, Buzzy Krongard called Committee staff and provided information that differed significantly from Howard Krongard’s testimony.
Buzzy Krongard stated that Howard Krongard called him specifically to ask about any relationship he had with Blackwater “in preparation for his testimony” to the Committee. Buzzy Krongard stated: “He asked me whether I had any financial interest or any ties to Blackwater, and so I told him ‘I’m going on their Board.'” According to Buzzy Krongard, “He responded by saying, ‘Why would you do that?’ and ‘Are you sure that’s a good idea?'” Buzzy Krongard then said, “I told him that was my decision, not his, and that we just differed on that.”
Buzzy Krongard stated that during the Committee hearing, he was at home watching it live. He listened to Howard Krongard’s prepared opening statement. Then, he heard Howard Krongard offer spontaneously the comment that his brother had no connection to Blackwater. Buzzy Krongard said: “You could have blown me over.” During the hearing, he attempted to reach Howard Krongard by telephone. Before he could reach him, Buzzy Krongard received a call from Howard Krongard and explained again that he was a member of the Board.
These discrepancies between the testimony of Howard Krongard and the information from Buzzy Krongard raise questions about the truthfulness of Howard Krongard’s testimony. During the hearing, there were a number of other discrepancies between Howard Krongard’s testimony and what the Justice Department and senior officials in the Inspector General’s office told the Committee. This is a serious matter given Howard Krongard’s position as the Inspector General of the State Department. I expect the Committee to hold a hearing during the week of December 3, 2007, to provide members the opportunity to assess whether the Inspector General provided truthful testimony to the Committee.
Wish I could be a fly on the wall at the Krongard family’s Thanksgiving.