BY JONATHAN VALANIA Before we get started I should tell you in the interest of full disclosure that the bitchin logo above is actually for the band Blackwater, not the mercenary army controversial independent security contractor we are about to discuss. However, A.) it is a bitchin logo, and B.) I am pretty sure these guys are too high or drunk to notice or care. So, let’s move on.
This story is very convoluted and you really have to read the whole article to get your bearings on this, but in a nutshell: Long before the ongoing FBI probe into the September 16 drive-by murder of 17 unarmed Iraqis in Baghdad by Blackwater bodyguards, both the State Department and the Justice Department were already investigating Blackwater for smuggling illegal arms into Iraq. A lot of arms — many of which, it is suspected, wound up in the hands of insurgents. The alleged arms smuggling was discovered when two Blackwater employees tried to ship their weapons home only to have them intercepted by authorities at the U.S. border. Both of those former Blackwater employees are cooperating with the investigation. If only we could say the same about Howard “Cookie” Krongard, the man in charge of the State Department’s Blackwater arms smuggling probe [pictured below in Afghanistan, he’s the guy with the obligatory ‘wide stance,’ posing between what look like two Blackwater guys]. When told that his go-getter underlings had taken the initiative and started looking into the Blackwater matter without even being asked, his reaction was odd to say the least:
In late June, John DeDona, then chief of the IG’s investigative unit, e-mailed Krongard and his deputy, William Todd, to alert them to the probe. Krongard responded cryptically: “Please do not treat anything in the e-mail below as having been seen by me, advised to me, or understood or approved by me. If there is something significant in the message below, please come and tell me about it.”
Again, this is from the senior State Department official, who’s job it is to root out and expose corruption, abuse and waste in the disbursement of the DOS’ $35 billion annual budget. Now, I ask you, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, does that sound like the words of a man trying to get to the truth of the matter, or does that sound like a man desperately vetting his email for smoking guns that might get him indicted down the road? But wait, it gets better, a few weeks later Cookie dropped the ‘hear no evil, see no evil’ routine and ordered the State Department investigation into Blackwater arms smuggling to cease and desist ‘IMMEDIATELY’:
Two weeks later, as Militana was trying to obtain copies of Blackwater contracts from the department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, DeDona sent another message to Krongard telling him of Militana’s work. In a July 11 e-mail to DeDona, Krongard told him Militana was to “IMMEDIATELY” stop the work.
This was not the only DOS investigation that Cookie put the kibosh on. According to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Cookie stands accused of:
–Refusing to send investigators to Iraq and Afghanistan to investigate $3 billion worth of State Department contracts.
–Preventing his investigators from cooperating with a Justice Department probe into waste and fraud in the construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
–Using “highly irregular” procedures to personally exonerate the embassy’s prime contractor of labor abuses.
–Interfering in the investigation of a close friend of former White House adviser Karl Rove.
–Censoring reports on embassies to prevent full disclosure to Congress.
–Refusing to publish critical audits of State’s financial statements.
During a House oversight hearing, Cookie was asked if it was in fact true that his brother, Buzzy Krongard, sits on the board of advisors for Blackwater. No truth in that whatsoever, Cookie said under oath. But then, during a break, he apparently called Buzzy and asked him point blank if he sits on the board of advisors for Blackwater and, shoot-howdy-shucks, it turns out he does. Who knew? (Actually, his brother later told reporters that he had told Cookie in no uncertain terms that he was taking the Blackwater gig and he has no idea why his brother lied to Congress under oath when he claimed not to know.) So then Cookie marches right back into that hearing, explains that he just spoke to his brother, withdraws all prior comments about Blackwater and hereby recuses himself from any current or future investigations of Blackwater and more or less throw himself on the mercy of the court. And people wonder why the majority of the American electorate doesn’t even bother to vote anymore. If there is a silver lining here it is the fact that there are people high up in the DOS, people with integrity, who were ashamed and disgusted with Cookie’s blatant White House cronyism and obstructions of justice, and weren’t afraid to say as much in an email exchange:
“Wow, as we all [k]now that is not the normal and proper procedure,” an investigator wrote to John A. DeDona, an assistant inspector general. DeDona forwarded the e-mail to Deputy Inspector General William E. Todd, saying, “I have always viewed myself as a loyal soldier but hopefully you sense my frustration in my voicemail yesterday.”
Todd wrote back: “I know you are very frustrated. John, you need to convey to the troops the truth, the IG told us both Tuesday to stand down on this and not assist, that needs to be the message.”
DeDona responded: “Unfortunately, under the current regime, the view within INV [the office of investigations] is to keep working the BS cases within the beltway, and let us not rock the boat with more significant investigations.”
PREVIOUSLY: HECKUVA JOB, COOKIE — The Brother Of The Guy In Charge Of The State Department Investigation Into Blackwater Sits On The Board Of …wait for it…Blackwater!
RELATED: How Blackwater Rolls
”The 5-man Blackwater crew that was assinged to CPA Najaf were coming under heavy small arms and mortar fire, the city was being taken over by insurgents. The police stations and hospitals were taken over as well, after a day of fighting off hundreds of insurgents the city had been completely overrun, with the CPA in the heart of the city and no way out…”
The Team called up to Baghdad and reported the situation, they said they needed immediate extract which Gen Sanchez also denied due to the fact the city had been overrun and there were no US troops there, only contractors.
Well, Ambassador Bremer was pissed at Sanchez and I remember being on office watch during the massive arguments! Ambassador Bremer and our Baghdad TM Leader got together and Bremer said ”I don’t want another Bridge hanging! Get those boys out of there by any means nessassary!” so 12 of us — 6 pilots and 6 gunners loaded as much as we could in 3 MD530 little birds and headed 70 miles south. we flew in the first day and blind (no comms, and no intel on the heat) to try a resupply, land find out was was going on and then head back, rearm and get ready to go again. Well that night all hell broke lose and we flew back in. Over 1000 insurgents (reported by the F18 pilots) had taken the city and now wanted the CPA after a day of intense fighting by 11 BW guys, airstrikes, a handfull of Marines and 1 sniper we were able to hold them off. After it DIED down and gunships and SF guys finally started to roll in the battle was soon over and we the CPA was saved.
That’s pretty much it in a nut shell…”