Howard J. "Cookie" Krongard, was sworn in on May 2, 2005, as the Inspector General of the Department of State. In recent days, he has popped up into the news for attempting to prevent disclosure of reports on corruption in Iraq. That he is in the news must upset Mr. Krongard because he is quite a mysterious fellow and a quasi sinister man. With many connections with law firms, banks, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the CIA, and now this position, there is a treasure trove of material out there to sift through. If one can find it all and connect the dots, one could end the career of Howard J. Krongard.
What follows is a collection of information from hours of research that is largely incomplete but enough to inform the public on State Department Inspector General Howard J. Krongard.
The Building of a U.S. Embassy in Baghdad
The Wall Street Journal reported in June of 2007 that a Kuwaiti company by the name of First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting and a manager for Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR), a contracting firm which was hired to “handle logistics for the military in Iraq and Afghanistan” and is one of the “Pentagon’s primary support contractors,” had been charged with being involved in a kickback scheme connected to the construction of a Baghdad embassy. In the kickback scheme, the Kuwaiti company agreed to pay $200,000 in kickbacks so that it could obtain two unrelated Army contracts in Iraq.
The manager of KBR who was charged (and is no longer the manager of KBR), Anthony J. Martin, pled guilty to taking the kickbacks in 2003 during the month of July. According to court documents, in his plea he testified that he was involved with a kickback scheme with Lebanese businessman Wadih Al Absi, the man who controls First Kuwaiti. He also stated in his testimony that the company is building the American Baghdad embassy for $592 million, which would be the largest in the world with working space for about 1,000 people. (In total, it is thought that First Kuwaiti has billed the U.S. government approximately 2 billion dollars for work in Iraq.)
In regards to the decision to build an embassy, Truthout states that “although White House had signaled Congress in early 2004 that it was planning a permanent embassy in Baghdad, it wasn't until spring 2005 that the Bush Administration formally pushed the funding request veiled as an emergency measure. The original proposal for $1.3 billion was almost three times the price of the new embassy in China. Congress cut the project in “half to $592 million and called for strict oversight on construction of an embassy that would be “a super-bunker and the biggest US embassy every built.” The Asia Times reported that the “sprawling complex near the Tigris River will equal Vatican City in size.”
Not only is it huge but the embassy will allow for approximately “1,000 or more U.S. government officials" to call "the new compound home." They "will have access to a gym, swimming pool, barber and beauty shops, a food court and a commissary. In addition to the main embassy buildings, there will be a large-scale US Marine barracks, a school, locker rooms, a warehouse, a vehicle maintenance garage, and six apartment buildings with a total of 619 one-bedroom units. Water, electricity and sewage treatment plants will all be independent from Baghdad's city utilities.”
Among the bidders, which included Framaco, Parsons, Fluor, the Sandi Group, and First Kuwaiti, First Kuwaiti won the contract for building the embassy in the summer of 2005. And in February 2006, CorpWatch reported that “more than a few U.S. contractors competing for the $592-million Baghdad project express[ed] bewilderment over why the U.S. State Department gave the work to First Kuwaiti General Trading & Contracting (FKTC). They claim[ed] that some competing contractors possessed far stronger experience in such work and that at least one award-winning company offered to perform all but the most classified work for $60 million to $70 million less than FKTC.”
One contractor was cited saying, “It's stunning what First Kuwaiti has been able to get from the State Department.” Another contractor stated, “It’s political.”
The Baghdad embassy, which was to be completed in September 2007, has come under international scrutiny in the past two years after former laborers who worked on the embassy began telling stories about forced labor being used to build the embassy. Contractors in July 2007 communicated this information to Henry Waxman’s committee.
In September 2006, Howard J. Krongard investigated allegations of trafficking and worker abuse. After he conducted a “site review”, he posted a nine-page memorandum on the State Department’s website saying, “Nothing came to our attention.”
Contrary to that assertion is a story that IPS(Latin America) reported involving Raul Autencio, a Filipino:
...when he arrived at the Kuwait airport in December 2003, Autencio says he was quickly shuttled to a rundown three-story building managed by First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting, a Kuwaiti firm doing a booming multi-million-dollar business with the U.S. military and the Pentagon's primary support contractor Kellogg Brown and Root...