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Oversight Committee to Hold Further Hearing on Krongard Testimony

The Oversight Committee will hold a hearing after the Thanksgiving recess to examine whether Howard Krongard, the Inspector General of the State Department, provided truthful testimony at the Committee's November 14th hearing. See the key exchange from the hearing:

Rep. Elijah Cummings: “This is a September 5th email that Eric Prince sent to your brother. It says, quote: ‘Welcome and thank you for accepting the invitation to be a member of the board.’ My question is this: did you know that your brother, Buzzy Krongard, was on Blackwater’s advisory board?”
Krongard: “Sir, I dispute that, as far as I know that is not correct… I don’t see anything in here that suggests my brother accepted or attended, and as far as I know he did neither.”

Today Chairman Henry Waxman sent the following memo to Committee members.

MEMORANDUM

November 16, 2007

To: Members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Fr: Chairman Henry A. Waxman
Re: Testimony of Howard J. Krongard

______________________________________________________________________________

On Wednesday, November 14, 2007, the full Committee held a hearing entitled, “Assessing the State Department Inspector General.” At this hearing, Inspector General Howard J. Krongard testified that his brother, Alvin “Buzzy” Krongard, told him that he was not on the board of Blackwater USA and had no connections to Blackwater. Yesterday, 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.

The information from Buzzy Krongard raises serious questions about the veracity of Howard Krongard's testimony before the Committee. To help answer these questions, I expect the Committee to hold a hearing immediately after the Thanksgiving recess at which Howard Krongard and Buzzy Krongard will be invited to testify.

At the hearing this week, Inspector General Howard Krongard called assertions that Buzzy Krongard has a connection to Blackwater “ugly rumors.” He testified that “about six weeks ago,” he “specifically asked” Buzzy Krongard about his ties to Blackwater and was told that he had no connections and was not on the Blackwater advisory board. Later in the hearing, after having been shown documents that appeared to establish Buzzy Krongard's membership on the Blackwater board, Howard Krongard testified that he called his brother during a break in the hearing and was told that for the first time that Buzzy Krongard is, in fact, a member of the board and “had been at the advisory board meeting yesterday.”

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.

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