Waxman: State Dept. Watchdog’s ‘Foremost Mission Is To Support The Bush Administration’

krongard1.jpgThe Inspector General Act of 1978 states Inspectors General (IG) must be “independent and objective” in their analysis. The State Department IG, led by Howard Krongard, has a core mission of “promot[ing] integrity” and “prevent[ing] and detect waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement” within the Department.

But today, House Oversight Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) wrote to Krongard under allegations from seven employees that he “has repeatedly interfered with on-going investigations to protect the State Department and the White House from political embarrassment.”

Waxman wrote that one “consistent allegation” is that Krongard believes his “foremost mission is to support the Bush Administration, especially with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan,” rather than “act as an independent and objective check.” Waxman also noted complaints of Krongard’s “partisan political ties.”

Among the allegations:

— Refused to send “any investigators” into Iraq and Afghanistan to “pursue investigations into wasteful spending or procurement fraud.”

— Stalled investigators from cooperating with a “Justice Department investigation into waste, fraud, and abuse relating to the new U.S. Embassy in Iraq.”

— Used “irregular” and incomplete investigative procedures to help exonerate a prime contractor of the U.S. embassy in Iraq of charges of labor trafficking.

— Impeded investigators’ efforts to cooperate with a Justice probe into allegations that a “large private security contractor was smuggling weapons into Iraq.”

— 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.”

— Censored portions of inspection reports on embassies so that information on security vulnerabilities was “not disclosed to Congress.”

The report adds that under Krongard, the IG office has seen an “exodus of trained staff” as “people come to work every day fearful” of his “daily antagonism.”

The allegations against Krongard reflect a disturbing trend in the IG offices under the Bush administration. Currently, at least four IGs are under investigation into allegations of “fraud, wasteful spending and abuse of power” — the very flaws they are supposed to be preventing.