Blackwater Investigator Called Back to Capitol Hill

Must appear with his brother, who has resigned from Blackwater board.

February 19, 2009, 3:51 AM

Nov. 16, 2007 — -- Days after testifying that he had only just learned during a congressional hearing that his brother was a Blackwater board member, the State Department inspector general has been asked to return to Capitol Hill -- with his brother in tow.

Wednesday, Howard Krongard, the State Department official who was in charge of investigating allegations of Blackwater weapons smuggling, denounced as "ugly rumors" the fact that his brother, Buzzy, was a board member at the embattled private security contractor.

"I can tell you, very frankly, I am not aware of any financial interest or position he has with respect to Blackwater," Krongard said Wednesday during a congressional hearing.

"When these ugly rumors started recently, I specifically asked him. I do not believe it is true," he said.

Pressed by Democrats who produced letters from Blackwater CEO Erik Prince to Buzzy inviting him and then welcoming him to the Blackwater board, the inspector general emerged dramatically from a hearing recess to tell lawmakers that he had just spoken to his brother, and that he was in fact serving on Blackwater's board.

"During the break, I did contact my brother," Krongard said.

"I learned that he had been at the advisory board meeting yesterday. I had not been aware of that. And I want to state on the record right now that I hereby recuse myself from any matters having to do with Blackwater," he said.

The inspector general recused himself from all Blackwater-related matters, thereby stepping down from one of the most high-profile cases that his office oversees, with the private security contractor the subject of an FBI investigation into a Sept. 16 incident in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead.

In a report from the committee's majority staff, Howard Krongard was accused of stalling and impeding investigations into Blackwater.

Today, Waxman told committee members that Buzzy Krongard, contacted following the hearing, had disputed his brother's account, providing "information that differed significantly from Howard Krongard's testimony."

"In response to a letter from the committee, Buzzy Krongard called the committee staff and said that contrary to Howard Krongard's testimony, he did tell his brother about his relationship with Blackwater," Waxman said. "The information from Buzzy Krongard raises serious questions about the veracity of Howard Krongard's testimony before the committee."

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 told the committee that, as he watched the hearing on television at home, when he heard his brother's initial statements that "you could have blown me over."

He has since resigned from the board.

"In light of the unfortunate and distracting public attention to allegations that Buzzy's membership on our advisory board has created an "apparent conflict of interest" for his brother.. .Buzzy has tendered his resignation, and I have reluctantly accepted it," Prince said in a statement.

Prince added that "Buzzy Krongard never received any remuneration for his service on the Blackwater Board of Advisors, which has only met once," noting that "as far as I know, no allegations of impropriety have been lodged against Buzzy for his membership on our board, and the publicized allegation of an 'apparent conflict of interest' against his brother Howard, with whom Buzzy has not been close for years, is just that, an allegation."

Waxman told his committee that he expects the hearing to be held the week of Dec. 3, following the House of Representatives' Thanksgiving recess.

Waxman told his committee that he expects the hearing to be held the week of Dec. 3, following the House of Representatives' Thanksgiving recess.

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