Wednesday, September 19, 2007
State Department Inspector General target of congressional probe
According to seven current and former officials, State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard, pictured to the right, has repeatedly interfered with on-going investigations to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment.
House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry A. Waxman, D-CA wrote a letter to Mr. Krongard describing the allegations and asking for his cooperation in the Committee’s investigation. According to the letter:
"Since your testimony at the Committee’s hearing on July 26, 2007, current and former employees of the Office of Inspector General have contacted my staff with allegations that you interfered with on-going investigations to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment...
The allegations made by these officials are not limited to a single unit or project within your office. Instead, they span all three major divisions of the Office of Inspector General — investigations, audits, and inspections. The allegations were made by employees of varied rank, ranging from line staff to upper management..."
Some of the specific allegations include the following (from oversight.house.gov):
- Although the State Department has expended over $3.6 billion on contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan, you refused to send any investigators to those countries to pursue investigations into wasteful spending or procurement fraud and have concluded no fraud investigations relating to the contracts.
- You prevented your investigators from cooperating with a Justice Department investigation into waste, fraud, and abuse relating to the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq and followed highly irregular procedures in exonerating the prime contractor, First Kuwaiti Trading Company, of charges of labor trafficking.
- You prevented your investigators from seizing evidence that they believed would have implicated a large State Department contractor in procurement fraud in Afghanistan.
- You impeded efforts by your investigators to cooperate with a Justice Department probe into allegations that a large private security contractor was smuggling weapons into Iraq.
- You interfered with an on-going investigation into the conduct of Kenneth Tomlinson, the head of Voice of America and a close associate of Karl Rove, by passing information about the inquiry to Mr. Tomlinson.
- You censored portions of inspection reports on embassies so that critical information on security vulnerabilities was dropped from classified annexes and not disclosed to Congress.
- You rejected audits of the State Department’s financial statements that documented accounting concerns and refused to publish them until points critical of the Department had been removed.