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Secret squirrels squandering tax dollars & other news

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One project that attracted high-level scrutiny last year: a program started by DoD senior civilian strategist Michael Furlong that hired professional contractors to scoop up information in Afghanistan. Furlong, an ex-Army officer, said through his attorney Nancy Luque that the project was approved by Army Gen. David McKiernan, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and by the newly nominated Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus. – JIEDDO: The Manhattan Project that bombed

In effort to stop roadside bombs, Pentagon hires 1,666 contractors
Peter Cary & Nancy A. Youssef – (Center for Public Integrity & McClatchy Newspapers) – WASHINGTON – March 27, 2011 – Launched in February 2006 with an urgent goal — to save U.S. soldiers from being killed by roadside bombs in Iraq — a small Pentagon agency ballooned into a bureaucratic giant fueled by that flourishing arm of the defense establishment: private contractors.

An examination by the Center for Public Integrity and McClatchy of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization revealed an agency so dominated by contractors that the ratio of contractors to government employees has reached six to one.

A JIEDDO former director, Lt. Gen. Michael Oates, acknowledged that such an imbalance raised the possibility that contractors in management positions could approve proposals or payments for other contractors. Oates said the ratio needed to be reduced.

The 1,900-person agency has spent nearly $17 billion on hundreds of high-tech and low-tech initiatives and had some successes, but it’s failed to significantly improve soldiers’ ability to detect roadside bombs, which have become the No. 1 killer of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. (Click HERE for article)

In the line of duty
Former cop Mark Mitchell’s exploits in the Middle East sound like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster – but has he got what it takes to make it as a politician?

MIRIYANA ALEXANDER – (Sunday Star Times) – March 27, 2011 – HE’S HAD violent confrontations with gangs and criminals during 14 years in the New Zealand police force. He’s spent eight years as a top international hostage negotiator, at one point fighting for his life in a five-day siege in Iraq, a story which is set to feature in a movie made by Brad Pitt. He’s built a multimillion-dollar business from scratch.

He’s engaged to Peggy Bourne, the widow of Kiwi rally ace Possum Bourne.

Now Mark Mitchell is chasing a political career, and hopes to succeed Lockwood Smith in the safe National seat of Rodney.

Wouldn’t the 42-year-old find parliament a bit, um, dull?

MAYBE NOT, if things continue as they’ve started. Mitchell was one of five people contesting the National Party candidacy for Rodney when the selection process was abruptly postponed earlier this month amid allegations of delegate stacking.

That dirty laundry was aired, but there’s been little publicity about a smear campaign against Mitchell. Documents were circulated questioning his work in the Middle East, appearing to suggest he was involved in a Muslim-funded Somalian private army. Things were getting nasty: cue the false start. (Click HERE for article)

Managers Took Kickbacks On Their Own: KBR (NYSE:KBR) Says Unacceptable
Mike Thomas – March 26, 2011 -Terry Hall, who was KBR’s regional food services manager for the two countries, and his deputy, Luther Holmes, were accused of violating the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Act yesterday in U.S. claims court in Washington. The allegation came as a counterclaim in a 2009 lawsuit against the government by Houston-based Kellogg Brown & Root Services Inc., a KBR unit seeking $41 million for an alleged breach of contract.

Wartime Profiteering
“Kickbacks in military subcontracts open the door to wartime profiteering and corrupt the integrity of our government contracting process,” Assistant Attorney General Tony West, who oversees the civil division, said in a statement. “When we learn of such illegal conduct at the expense of taxpayers, we will pursue it.”

KBR Fights Back
KBR in no way condones or tolerates illegal or unethical behavior. Each employee is expected to adhere to the Company’s Code of Business Conduct and all applicable laws. When violations come to the attention of the company, immediate and appropriate action is taken. The DOJ’s claim that KBR improperly awarded food services subcontracts to Tamimi is not supported by facts or law.  (Click HERE for article)

Did the Army Blow Off DCAA’s Warnings About the Stoner Arms Dealers?
Nick Schwellenbach – (POGO) – March 25, 2011 – The new issue of Rolling Stone magazine has a great inside look at how two South Florida stoners built an arms trading network—and how their illicit deals with the Defense Department delivering defective Eastern European and Chinese ammo and grenades to Afghan forces landed them in Club Fed. The article offers a lot of insight into how Efraim Diveroli and his partner David Packouz of AEY Inc were able to snag a $300 million deal to supply the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Afghan National Police (ANP) after having won only relatively tiny contracts previously.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee under the Chairmanship of Henry Waxman (D-CA) investigated the episode some years back, concluding:

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