by David Phinney
Sunday June 16th 2019

Insider

Archives

US State Department Inspector General Probed for ‘Cover Ups’

The US State Department’s chief investigative arm is on the hot seat for allegations that Inspector General Howard J. Krongard routinely thwarts investigations for political reasons to cover up embarrassing contracts with the US State Department and the Bush administration.
According to a letter by the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government, Krongard’s staff has suffered from a sweeping exodus of resignations because of Krongard’s antagonism towards investigations.
One investigation regards allegations of labor trafficking and worker abuse at the $592-million embassy project in Baghdad. Interestingly enough, I approached Krongard last January about the complaints following a congressional hearing on another matter.
Krongard’s jaw dropped when I told him I had transcripts of workers who claimed they had been coerced to work at military camps in Iraq by the contractor building the embassy. Krongard told me he couldn’t comment because it was under investigation. He told me to call his office the next day but no phone calls were ever returned.
Of course, Krongard never spoke to the people making the complaints about workers at the embassy. And his investigation was specious at best: He gave the contractor a heads up about his investigation months in advance of personally arriving at the embassy site. He then asked the contractor to select six workers out of an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 for him to interview. He then reported “nothing came to our attention,” in April 2007 indicating poor treatment of the workers after questioning from Aljazeera about the allegations.
When Krongard was asked at a congressional hearing last July why he didn’t speak to embassy workers John Owens and Rory Mayberry about their complaints that the contractor was smuggling workers into Iraq and then hosting them to less-than acceptable conditions, Krongard said he didn’t feel it was necessary. He said he had read my work on the subject and that was sufficient.
One problem: My stories that included Mayberry and Owens first appeared mid-October 2006. Krongard made his inspection the month before in September. Krongard must be telepathic. Then again, some believe Krongard was party to telling the contractor to clean up its act before he visited the embassy site.
That July hearing prompted the Philippine government ot investigate the contractor and the conditions its citizens were working under. Some 100 Filipino workers were then repatriated from Iraq who were working around Iraq for the contractor. Interestingly enough, the Philippine investigators, like Krongard, only spoke to the embassy contractor, First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting during their probe. They never contacted Owens or Mayberry.
Here is the AP report.
Here is Waxman’s press release and link to the letter to Krongard.

Share

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.