It's late Friday afternoon, and yet, Howard "Cookie" Krongard still appears to be in office as the State Department inspector general. (His voice is still on his office voicemail, at least.) His spokeswoman says he has no intention of resigning, even as the likelihood of a congressional perjury investigation increases. So if he won't resign, who can fire Krongard?
In the final analysis, it would be up to President George W. Bush. Only a handful of federal inspectors-general can be fired by their agency chiefs, and State's is not among them. That's a good-government measure: after all, it's probably not conducive to integrity in governance if top officials can dismiss their internal watchdogs. (Only top U.S. allies can do that.) Savor the irony: by not firing a supposedly-independent public servant, President Bush is helping the cause of transforming the U.S. into a banana republic.
There are, however, procedures to be followed for cashiering Cookie. The first is to refer a complaint to the Inspector Generals' inspector -- Kenneth Kaiser of the FBI, who runs the integrity committee of the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. His committee is presumably the one State Department spokesman Sean McCormack meant when he said yesterday that State has "asked the overseer board of inspectors general to look into the work of the State Department Inspector General Office." However, when I called the State Department to confirm that, and to find out when the referral occurred, a charming State flack told me that it was after 5 p.m. on Friday and he had "a million things to do." I left a message with Kaiser's spokeswoman, and I'll bring you more as soon as I have more to report.
However, in the event that Kaiser thinks Cookie's gone a bit stale, Kaiser's boss might be more sympathetic. That would be famed Bush crony Clay Johnson III, who vetted such Bush administration luminaries as Mike Brown and David Safavian. If Krongard wants to fight on to the bitter end, he might have a friend in a very convenient place.