Bush nominates former counterintelligence official as State IG

President Bush has nominated Thomas Betro, director of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, to be State Department inspector general, a position roiled by controversy and turnover over the last year.

If confirmed, Betro would fill the slot of Howard Krongard, who resigned under fire in December, and take over for acting State IG Harold Geisel.

Betro, who was nominated Friday by Bush, has headed NCIS since 2006.

He first joined the agency -- popularized by the hit CBS crime drama starring Mark Harmon -- in 1982 and has been a "special agent afloat" on the USS John F. Kennedy and USS Enterprise, as well as assistant director of counterintelligence and deputy director of operations.

He also served a stint as deputy to the national counterintelligence executive and as acting national counterintelligence executive, according to his NCIS biography.

He has even had some fun with his NCIS position, making a cameo performance in an episode of "NCIS" last year, "Identity Crisis."

Betro takes over at a time of flux for the State IG's office. Before resigning last year, Krongard was hammered by Democrats for allegedly blocking investigations into State activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, including gun-running by security contractor Blackwater Worldwide. Blackwater is a major State Department contractor, having provided security details and other logistics. Krongard resigned after it was revealed that he had incorrectly stated that his brother, Alvin, was not affiliated with Blackwater.

Alvin Krongard had actually served on Blackwater's advisory board. A GAO report last fall said the IG's office had hired too many former State officials and that the office's budget was not keeping pace with demands. When Geisel stepped in as acting IG earlier this month, there was speculation the administration might keep him in place through the end of Bush's term in January. He replaced a Krongard deputy, William Todd, who left to become ambassador to Brunei. Geisel previously had served as acting State IG in 1994, deputy inspector general, and worked under former State Department IG Sherman Funk.

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