Congressman Bruce Braley is railing against what he calls another case of cronyism in the Bush Administration. Braley, a Democrat from Waterloo, sits on the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee which heard testimony Wednesday from a Bush Administration official who’s investigating Blackwater, the private contractor hired to provide security to diplomats and others in Iraq.
According to Braley, the committee’s staff had "uncovered evidence" the Inspector General’s brother had been invited by Blackwater to serve on its advisory board. Braley says despite that, the Inspector General had refused to take himself off the State Department investigation of Blackwater and told the Oversight Committee yesterday Thursday that his brother had no involvement with the company.
"After we took a break to vote, (the inspector general) called his brother and learned that his brother was indeed at a Blackwater advisory board meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia," Braley says. "Then, the press contacted (the inspector general’s) brother and his brother indicated he had told the inspector general, you know, weeks ago that he was going to participate on this advisory board."
Braley says that kind of deception is unacceptable. "Just another classic example of cronyism in the Bush Administration, refusal to recognize a clear conflict of interest," Braley says.
Inspector General Howard Krongard withdrew himself from the investigation of Blackwater yesterday after the public disclosure of his brother’s involvement with the company. Blackwater security contractors are under investigation after a September shoot-out in Iraq that left 17 Iraqis dead. Since 2003, the State Department has paid the private security firm nearly a billion dollars to protect diplomats and other American officials serving in the world’s danger zones, including Iraq.