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So much for the pleas of defense attorney Barbara van Gelder not to turn brother against brother.

On Saturday, van Gelder, attorney for State Department Inspector General Howard "Cookie" Krongard, asked Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) to abandon a planned hearing into whether Krongard lied to the House oversight committee about his brother's ties to Blackwater. But Waxman isn't buying it. Says a committee staffer: "Our plans are the same. The dispute with his brother reinforces the questions regarding his credibility and competence."

No word yet on whether Buzzy Krongard will testify at the hearing, which is scheduled to occur the week of December 3rd.

On Friday, we noted Sen. Ted Stevens' (R-AK) vague threats to the media, particularly The Anchorage Daily News. If reporters didn't stop tying him and his son to the ongoing Veco bribery scandal, then he'd... well, he didn't say what he'd do. But he'd do something, and those reporters would be sorry.

Well, that wasn't the first time, TPMm Reader DW pointed out to us. Back in 2005, Stevens was furious that journalists were asking about a 2003 earmark of his which gave exclusive fishing rights of pollock to Alaska natives in the remote Aleutian community of Adak. The papers were zeroing in on a lawsuit which claimed that Stevens' son, Ben, had an option to buy 25 percent of the fishery there at the time of the earmark. The FBI has since launched an investigation of the Adak measure among many other entanglements between Stevens, his son, and area fisheries.

Reporters' questions about Adak sent Stevens into a flurry of threats. From the Daily News:

"I know who you're after," he said, wagging his finger at the Daily News reporter in his office. "You're after me, and you've done a good job so far of keeping me tied down."

He said the "attack" on him involving his son in effect alleged a criminal conspiracy and was "very close to libel."


And when would that suit come? "I'm going to wait and see just how far you go in libeling me," he replied, according to The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner account of the remarks, which he made to four reporters in his Capitol Hill office. Apparently neither the Daily News, nor KTUU, Anchorage's NBC affiliate, have gone far enough, because Stevens never sued.

But the possible retaliation wasn't limited to just legal reprisal. Stevens lamented that he used to have such a good relationship with the Daily News. But then McClatchy Newspapers came along and bought it. From the News-Miner:

Stevens said he personally helped the Daily News with at least two financial challenges over many decades.

"Why the subsequent owners, the McClatchy people, have decided to continue this malicious attack on me, I don't know," he said.

"I intend to pursue to find out why it is the owners of these media that I have had a relationship with for over 40 years have changed and decided to maliciously attack me as consistently as they have."


So, what to do? Maybe McClatchy needed to be taught a lesson. Again, from the Daily News:

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The investigation into Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) lives! Or at least investigators were doing some investigating this summer. Roll Call reports (sub. req.) that an FBI agent peeked at Lewis' personal financial records in July of this year, along with those of former aides.

The FBI also took a look at Rep. Ken Calvert's (R-CA) personal records, as they did once before, about a year ago.

The apparently stalled probe of Lewis has focused on his relationship to buddy and lobbyist Bill Lowery. Roll Call notes that the feds pulled records for two of Lowery's lobbyists, Jeffrey Shockey and Letitia White. Both once worked to Lewis, but moved over to work for Lowery. Shockey has since moved back to Lewis again. The feds also pulled records for Lewis' wife, his chief of staff Arlene Willis.

As for Calvert, it's unclear just what the feds are scrutinizing (one of his "honest graft" schemes?) or even if he's the focus of a full-blown investigation:

His trouble started last May, when the Los Angeles Times reported that he and a partner pocketed a profit of nearly a half-million dollars in less than a year on a land deal. The report found that while he owned the land, Calvert earmarked $1.5 million for commercial development nearby and $8 million for a freeway exchange 16 miles away.

About a week later, the California FBI agent pulled Calvert’s financial disclosure forms for 2000 through 2005. Calvert never retained legal counsel, but buzz over the issue compelled GOP leaders to skip over him last year when a slot opened on the Appropriations panel....

In July, a local FBI agent pulled Calvert’s financial disclosure forms for 2006 and 2007. Rudman said the lawmaker welcomes the scrutiny. “As far as we know, there is no investigation. He has no problems whatsoever and any time they want to look at any publicly available documents, that’s completely fine with him.”


Maybe the feds are just curious?

It may be a pale substitute for his old job heading the National Counterterrorism Center, but it's not bad.

Last month, NCTC Director Scott Redd told NBC News that the Iraq war had not "tactically" made the U.S. safer, and acknowledged that it had provided al-Qaeda with a recruiting tool. Mere days later, Redd announced his resignation. Draw your own conclusions.

Now comes word that Redd's ex-boss, Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, saw him off with full honors. From a prepared statement:

Director McConnell presented Redd with the award – the highest granted by the DNI – at a Nov. 9 ceremony held in Redd’s honor at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C.

“Scott Redd has devoted his life to serving his nation,” the DNI said at the event, which attracted several other heads of IC agencies, including FBI Director Robert Mueller; CIA Director Gen. Michael Hayden; Vice Adm. Robert Murrett, director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency; and Scott Large, director of the National Reconnaissance Office.

Redd also received at the ceremony other awards from IC partners, including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, and the NGA.


Palliative or kiss-off? You make the call.

When you talk to your brother on the phone, you take notes, right? Well, Howard "Cookie" Krongard does.

As we mentioned, Cookie's criminal attorney Barbara van Gelder sent Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) his notes of what brother Buzzy Krongard told him about Buzzy's relationship with Blackwater. We've added Cookie's notes to our document collection (read them here), along with van Gelder's request that Waxman stop investigating her client (read that here).



I, for one, envy Cookie's handwriting. Line one: Buzzy has "NO financial interest whatever" in Blackwater. Paragraph three: "Was on short list for Advisory Board position but is not taking it." That, of course, contradicts what Buzzy Krongard told me and Waxman and anyone else who'll listen. We'll see what he has to say about his brother's notes.

Now that someone else is saddled with the job of salvaging the department he damaged, Alberto Gonzales is free to speak to the nation's youth. It's a whistle-stop tour to spread the good news of cronyism, mismanagement, and politicization, to tell tales from his years as the administration's doormat at the Department of Justice. He's already scheduled a couple of speaking engagements.

But Gonzo doesn't come cheap. It's costing the University of Florida $40,000 for his appearance tonight. And Washington University in St. Louis is looking to pay him $30,000 for a speech in February (plus $5,000 for the necessary security). The student paper, Student Life, reports that "The decision to bring Gonzales to campus comes as part of a larger effort on the part of [the Student Union] to bring well-known and controversial speakers to campus." He fits the bill.

For those who can't mount the funds necessary to bring Gonzales to campus, remember: you can always give to his defense fund.

Prosecutors have accused Representative William Jefferson (D-LA) of two more crimes. Both involve soliciting bribes, but no new charges will be filed. (USA Today)

A federal appeals court has sided with the government’s argument that state secrecy laws can be used to preclude evidence about the NSA’s wiretapping program. But the court also acknowledged that the government's voluminous public statements in defense of the program mean that many parts of the program may not be secret. (New York Times)

The push has begun in the New Hampshire and Iowa Republican primaries: push polls, that is. New Hampshire’s attorney general is now investigating calls in his state that smear Romney on the basis of his Mormon faith. Opponents John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have denied involvement and the focus is on Western Wats, a Utah-based market research firm. (Boston Globe)

The State Department has launched a "digital outreach team" to spread its message in Arabic blogs. The State Department’s three bloggers will seek to counter misrepresentations of Bush policy and promote moderate views among Islamic youth. But according to high officials, because blogging is “informal” and “chatty,” thus making it “very dangerous to blog," State will have a senior supervisor checking every post. (Washington Post)

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State Department Inspector General Howard "Cookie" Krongard's new strategy to get out of a possible perjury investigation? Begging.

It turns out Krongard has retained a criminal defense lawyer named Barbara van Gelder. (Maybe for the perjury fight, maybe because of the FBI's recent parley with Cookie's subordinates.) Van Gelder wrote to Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) on Saturday to ask the House oversight committee chairman to cancel an upcoming hearing on whether Krongard lied to the committee about what he knew of his brother's (since-renounced) position on Blackwater's advisory board. According to van Gelder, the committee would be doing little more than interfering in an unseemly family feud: "There is no legitimate purpose to be gained by publicly pitting two brothers against each other."

And yet she makes it so tempting. Van Gelder provided what she describes as Krongard's notes of his crucial phone conversation with his brother Buzzy on Halloween. Buzzy says he told Cookie he was joining the Blackwater board during that conversation. Van Gelder says that's not so, and Cookie has evidence to prove it. Take it away, Justin:

A page van Gelder purports to be Howard's contemporaneous notes on the conversation appear to indicate Buzzy Krongard said he had no financial ties to Blackwater and would not take the board position he had been offered.

"No financial interest whatsoever," the alleged notes read. The word "no" is underlined. "Was on short list for Advisory Board but is not taking it," the document states.


But, she argues, Waxman shouldn't seek to resolve the contradiction between the two accounts -- one of which was administered under oath, and the other of which was formally reported to Congressional investigators. Van Gelder is surely worth every penny.

Oh, and if that name sounds familiar: Barbara van Gelder, an ex-federal prosecutor, was last seen representing former OMB procurement official David Safavian.

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.

We're that much closer to a perjury investigation. Buzzy Krongard has told House oversight committee staff what he told TPMmuckraker on Wednesday: that he told his brother, State Department Inspector General Howard "Cookie" Krongard, about his decision to join the advisory board of State Department contractor Blackwater. Cookie Krongard told the committee on Wednesday his brother had told him no such thing.

Waxman says he'll hold a hearing the week of December 3 to determine if Krongard lied to the committee under oath. Both Krongard brothers will be invited to testify. And you thought your last family reunion was awkward. But will Howard Krongard resign before then?

Here's what Buzzy Krongard told Waxman's staff, according to a just-released Waxman memorandum:

Buzzy Krongard stated that Howard Krongard called him specifically to ask about any relationship he had with Blackwater “in preparation for his testimony” to the Committee. Buzzy Krongard stated: “He asked me whether I had any financial interest or any ties to Blackwater, and so I told him ‘I’m going on their Board.’” According to Buzzy Krongard, “He responded by saying, ‘Why would you do that?’ and ‘Are you sure that’s a good idea?’” Buzzy Krongard then said, “I told him that was my decision, not his, and that we just differed on that.”

Buzzy Krongard stated that during the Committee hearing, he was at home watching it live. He listened to Howard Krongard’s prepared opening statement. Then, he heard Howard Krongard offer spontaneously the comment that his brother had no connection to Blackwater. Buzzy Krongard said: “You could have blown me over.” During the hearing, he attempted to reach Howard Krongard by telephone. Before he could reach him, Buzzy Krongard received a call from Howard Krongard and explained again that he was a member of the Board.


Apparently Buzzy called the committee after receiving a letter from Waxman yesterday. As Waxman reiterated at the hearing, lying to committee staff -- even if not deposed under oath -- is a potential criminal offense, and Buzzy offered this account without being subpoenaed.

Update: Just got off the phone with Cookie Krongard's spokeswoman, Diane Quest. Quest says she just saw Waxman's letter and has taken it in to Krongard for review. "I don't see us having any comment on it," she says. No word yet on whether he'll go back to testify at the just-announced hearing. And, for the record: Will Krongard resign? "As far as I know, no."

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