Justice Department Probes US Embassy price Cost
ABC News Blog
Justin Rood
November 17, 2007

The Justice Department is investigating whether laws were broken during the contracting and constructing of the massive Baghdad embassy complex, the Washington Post reports today.

The price tag on the project -- the largest U.S. diplomatic complex in the world -- has ballooned to over $700 million, and the embassy opening is months overdue.

Despite serious questions about the State Department's choice of contractors, the quality of the work performed and the conditions faced by some of the workers, the State Department's inspector general, Howard "Cookie" Krongard, has allowed only one inquiry into the project, which he handled personally.

Krongard's investigation did not substantiate whistle-blowers' concerns that foreign workers were mistreated and put in dangerous situations.  He interviewed only employees pre-selected for him by the company, and did not interview the whistle-blowers themselves, a congressional investigation later revealed.

Krongard said Wednesday he would recuse himself from any investigation into the embassy. He also said he would recuse himself from investigations into Blackwater, on whose advisory board his brother sits. The State Department has paid hundreds of millions of dollars to the controversial private security firm since 2001.

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