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State Department inspector general denies interfering with investigations

[JURIST] US State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard [official profile] Wednesday testified before the US House Oversight and Government Reform Committee [official website] and denied allegations [opening statement, PDF] that he politicized the Inspector General's Office by obstructing inquiries that could harm the Bush administration. The allegations brought against Krongard [Oversight Committee report, PDF] include claims that he blocked investigations of fraud and mismanaged spending in Iraq and Afghanistan, and interfered with a Justice Department investigation into whether Blackwater USA [corporate website; JURIST news archive] was smuggling weapons into Iraq. The committee also raised concerns that Krongard had a conflict of interest in the Blackwater case, as his brother serves on Blackwater's advisory board [invitation, PDF].

The investigation into Krongard was announced in September [JURIST report]. At that time Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) [official profile] sent notice to Krongard asking for his cooperation, but the committee report notes that Krongard has refused to provide requested documents, even after the committee issued a subpoena for them. In addition, employees of the Inspector General's Office have said that Krongard's congressional liaison Terry Heide told them that they could lose their jobs [Post report] if they cooperated with the committee's investigation. Heide admitted to the committee that she had made statements to that effect, but denied they were meant to intimidate witnesses. Krongard said Wednesday that he has been working to "restore the capabilities of an [Inspector General] office that had fallen into disrepair," but has been hindered by lack of funding. AP has more.

6:55 PM ET - Krongard said Wednesday that he would not participate in any State Department decisions concerning Blackwater in light of his brother's attendance at a Blackwater advisory board meeting. Krongard said he was not previously aware of his brother's connection to the company. CNN has more.

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