Howard Krongard Testifies He Did Not Know His Brother Buzzy Sat on a Blackwater Board, Then Recants
But Buzzy Krongard Says He Told His Brother about His Blackwater Ties Quite Recently
By Jon Ponder on 11/15/2007, 8:54am PT  

Guest blogged by Jon Ponder, Pensito Review.

The White House is probably busy right now dusting off a Medal of Freedom --- as well as complete and full pardon --- for Howard "Cookie" Krongard, their inspector general (IG) at the State Dept. It appears that in Krongard's testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform yesterday, he made false statements under oath about the membership of his brother, Buzzy Krongard, on an advisory board for Blackwater, the controversial paramilitary security contractor based in North Carolina's Dismal Swamp.

Blackwater has close ties with Howard Krongard's bosses in the Bush administration, who have awarded over $100 million in contracts to the company since the invasion and occupation of Iraq began. The fact that the brother of the Bush State Dept.'s chief investigator into Blackwater's activities in Iraq is on Blackwater's payroll would appear to be a conflict of interest, to put it mildly.

Early in the hearings, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) laid out a series of allegations from officials in the State and Justice departments that Krongard has been stonewalling investigations into corruption and illegal activities by Blackwater and other U.S. personnel and companies in Iraq.

Here is video of Waxman's questioning and Krongard's evasive responses:

Laters, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asked Krongard if his brother was a member of the Blackwater advisory board:

Howard Krongard responded, under oath, with a flat denial:

"I can tell you very frankly, I am not aware of any financial interest or position [my brother] has with respect to Blackwater. It couldn’t possibly have affected anything I’ve done, because I don’t believe it. And when these ugly rumors started recently, I specifically asked him. I do not believe it is true that he is a member of the advisory board, as you stated, and that is something I think I need to say."

But during the break, Howard Krongard called his brother and found out that Buzzy did, indeed, sit on a Blackwater board:

Krongard recanted his earlier statements and immediately recused himself from future Blackwater investigations:

"This is in response to something I think you found important. During the break, I did talk contact my brother. I reached him at home. He is not at the hotel. But I learned that he had been at the [Blackwater] advisory board meeting yesterday. I had not been aware of that, and I want to state on the record right that I hereby recuse myself from any matters having to do with Blackwater."

But when exactly did Krongard learn that Buzzy had taken a seat on the board? Under questioning from Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), the IG insisted that he learned about Buzzy's ties to Blackwater during the phone call just minutes beforehand, and that in a conversation "five or six weeks ago," Buzzy told him he had no ties to Blackwater.

And yet after the hearings yesterday, Buzzy Krongard told TPM Muckraker that he had informed his brother "Cookie" that he was accepting the seat on the Blackwater advisory board quite recently:

"I had told my brother I was going on the advisory board," Buzzy Krongard says. "My brother says that is not the case. I stand by what I told my brother."

Buzzy Krongard says the phone conversation was more recent than Cookie Krongard indicated to the committee. Cookie said it took place about five or six weeks ago. Buzzy says it was about two or three weeks ago. Both men say there was just one phone conversation. How to reconcile the two accounts?

"I told him I was going on this board. He claims I didn't tell him," Buzzy Krongard says. "So what can I tell you?"

After Howard Krongard recanted his testimony at the hearing yesterday, he made a telling statement:

"I am not my brother's keeper," he said.

Of course, I was joking about the pardon. What we have learned in the Bush era is that perjury is only a crime when Democrats do it, and only a serious crime if the lie under oath is about sex.

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