IMAGE: State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard
U. S. State Department
Unitl now State Department Inspector General Howard Krongard had resisted heavy pressure to resign his postion.
updated 12/7/2007 2:46:01 PM ET 2007-12-07T19:46:01

The embattled State Department Inspector General, who has been accused of impeding a Justice Department investigation of Blackwater Worldwide, announced his resignation Friday to colleagues.

Howard Krongard revealed his departure to co-workers at the department on Friday, said Gonzalo Gallegos, a department spokesman.

Gallegos offered no other details, including when Krongard's departure takes effect.   "We thank him for his service," Gallegos said.

Blackwater Worldwide -- a private contractor that protects U.S. diplomats in Iraq -- is alleged to have smuggled weapons into the country. In November, Krongard was forced to recuse himself from any inquiries into Blackwater after it was disclosed that his brother had joined the company's advisory board.

In addition to recusing himself from matters related to Blackwater, Krongard also said he is no longer involved in corruption investigations related to the flawed construction of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, a $600 million project that is beset by logistical delays and security concerns.

Howard Krongard's brother, Alvin, quit as an adviser to Blackwater two days after the relationship with the security contractor was sharply criticized by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Blackwater is a major State Department contractor and the subject of ongoing federal investigations. One of those is examining whether Blackwater guards violated use-of-force rules during a Sept. 16 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqis dead.

Howard Krongard, who took over as the State watchdog in 2005 after a career in business, was unpopular with underlings who said he was abrasive and failed to understand the duties of the office. Numerous investigators quit or requested transfers during his tenure.

Krongard's colorful and troubled professional and family relationships were aired during a dramatic hearing last month before a House oversight panel. Howard Krongard first insisted under oath that his brother has no such affiliation with Blackwater, then called his brother during a break and discovered it was true. He returned to the hearing room and announced that he had been wrong.

Krongard maintained he never interfered with any investigations, and he blamed allegations that he did on a dysfunctional office that he was attempting to transform.

Krongard said he has no political ties and has never communicated with anyone in the White House since he took the job nearly two and half years ago.

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Erik Prince, Blackwater's top executive, said last month that the conflict-of-interest questions raised by the brothers' relationship prompted Alvin Krongard to submit his resignation.

"I have reluctantly accepted it," Prince said in a statement.

Alvin Krongard never received any payment for his work on Blackwater's advisory board, which only met once, Prince said.

Prince said there are no allegations of impropriety against Alvin Krongard for his membership on Blackwater's board, a group recently created to help the North Carolina-based security company plan future business activities.

"I'm not my brother's keeper," Krongard said when he was pressed to explain how he could have been unaware of the connection.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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