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The Senate has approved several amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (S. 3254), which will bring greater transparency and accountability to federal contracting. The amendments, which OMB Watch endorsed, would:
- Strengthen whistleblower protections for federal contractors and grantees, which ensures that employees of contractors and grantees cannot be fired or punished for reporting misconduct, modeled after the protections pioneered in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 – sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Require the Defense Department to publish its “revolving door” database of senior department officials who seek employment with defense contractors – sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
- Require the Defense Department to conduct an annual study on defense contracting fraud, including an assessment of its business with contractors previously penalized for fraud against the government and recommendations for reform – sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Joe Manchin (D-WV)
The Senate on Friday agreed to make the Pentagon compile annual reports on contracting fraud. The provision by Sen. Bernie Sanders was added to a Department of Defense authorization bill. Another Sanders amendment added to the bill today would make public a list of senior military officials who leave the government and land on the payrolls of defense contractors. “This country has a $16 trillion national debt. It is unacceptable that the Department of Defense continues to lose vast sums of taxpayer money because of fraud perpetrated by major defense contractors. This has got to stop,” Sanders said.
Tracking Gaddafi: The case against the Canadian accused of aiding a dictator’s son
Stewart Bell – (National Post) – MEXICO CITY – March 24, 2012 – When a dictatorship falls, the old regime takes flight.
And so when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi began losing his grip on Libya last year, a mixed bag of friends, allies and profiteers went to work planning exile for those close to him.
A town near Puerto Vallarta was the soft landing chosen for Saadi Gaddafi, the dictator’s hedonistic third son and head of the Libyan Special Forces. To get him there, according to Mexican officials, properties were purchased, planes were rented and passports were forged.
But if there was such a plot, it was a spectacular flop. Because instead of wading in the Pacific surf, Mr. Gaddafi ended up in Niger, a landlocked sandbox, while the Canadian, Dane and two Mexicans accused of orchestrating his escape are behind bars.
Because of Mexico’s closed legal system, few details of the case have been officially released. But documents obtained by the National Post reveal the events leading up to the arrests of Canadian Cynthia Vanier, who has denied the allegations, and her co-accused.
The paper trail identifies for the first time the international team of private security contractors that left Canada with Ms. Vanier last year in a small jet, destined for Col. Gaddafi’s collapsing capital. But it also raises doubts about the reliability of the evidence presented in court by Mexican authorities — in particular a central witness with a criminal past.
Aside from a stint negotiating for the release of hostages in Colombia, Ms. Vanier, a mediator from Mount Forest, Ont., had no apparent experience in war zones when she was hired to write a report on Libya, then five months into an armed revolt against its brutal, erratic dictator.
SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based engineering and construction company, said it contracted her “in the interest of the safety and security of our personnel and operations when we will need to go back to Libya to complete our projects.”
A chain of emails shows planning got underway on July 12, 2011. Gregory Gillispie, who runs a San Diego airplane brokerage, was asked by Loren Berenda, a former employee of U.S. security giant DynCorp, in Illinois, to find a jet to transport the Canadian and her entourage. (Click HERE for article)
Pressure Mounts for Transparency in Pfc. Manning’s Court-Martial
Adam Klasfeld – (Courthouse News) – MANHATTAN – March 22, 2012 – A lawyer from a civil libertarian group representing Wikileaks and Julian Assange urged a military judge to release records related to the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged source for the biggest leak in U.S. history.
Deportation likely for porn man
Dan Oakes – (Sydney Morning Herald) – March 12, 2012 – An Australian man facing up to 10 years in prison for a child pornography offence in the United States could be deported to Australia after serving any jail sentence.
US legal documents obtained by the Herald show Christopher Mark King, 55, pleaded guilty to possessing hundreds of hardcore images and videos of young children being abused.
The documents show that King’Is employer, KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown & Root), contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation after the images were found on King’s work computer by IT personnel looking for viruses. (Click HERE for article)
Double sacrifice: Family loses sons in Afghanistan
Jeannie Nuss – (Associated Press) – PRESCOTT, Ark. – March 11, 2012 – When their older brother Jeremy died in Afghanistan, Ben and Beau Wise did what loyal brothers and soldiers do. They stood solemnly in uniform at his memorial, laid red roses in front of his picture, and Ben spoke bravely to a chapel full of loved ones who came to mourn.
NEIL GORDON – (POGO) – February 8, 2012 – The Air Force has just suspended from federal contracting a unit of global consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and recommended it for debarment. The notice was posted in the Excluded Parties List System on Monday.
The EPLS record cites the action as a proposed debarment pursuant to Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) section 9.406-2, which outlines the various causes for debarment: conviction of or civil judgment for commission of fraud or a criminal offense in connection with a contract; violation of federal or state antitrust laws relating to the submission of offers; commission of embezzlement, theft, forgery, bribery, falsification or destruction of records, making false statements, tax evasion, violating federal criminal tax laws, or receiving stolen property; commission of any offense indicating a lack of business integrity or honesty; or serious violations of the terms of a federal contract or subcontract.
In a statement to Federal News Radio, Booz Allen said the Air Force’s action “relates specifically and solely to the San Antonio office and individually to two current and three former employees based there.” The EPLS notice indicates that the proposed debarment includes four individuals. According to the company, the incident “involved a former government employee who we hired who inappropriately retained and provided government procurement-sensitive information.”
“When I served four years in the military, it wasn’t so that Bechtel, KBR, Halliburton and all the other corporations could make money and buy politicians to further drag out the war and create policies that support all that,” Bodell said. “I fought for the Constitution, for representation and for freedom of the American people.” ~ Kole Bodell, Salt Lake City, UT
Ex-officer indicted for coercing soldiers
(Windsor Star) – January 21, 2012 – A former Danish officer has been indicted for threatening to send troops under his command to the Afghan front line if they refuse to pay a fine for certain errors, website Politiken said Friday.
The 33-year-old, in charge of a royal guard unit in Afghanistan, “put pressure on a number of soldiers in Afghanistan daily to contribute to a system of illegal financial penalties,” said the website.