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We’re Back and other news

Not-Quite-Lost Shipping Containers May Cost Feds
Lorraine Bailey – (Courthouse News) – May 17, 2013 – A fourth company will join the fight to prove that the government lied about losing 1,000 leased shipping containers so it could keep using them without paying, a federal judge ruled.

Three container companies, CAI International, Cronos Containers and Textainer Equipment Management, had leased shipping containers to TOPtainer, which in turn leased the containers to the U.S. Army for equipment shipments to Afghanistan and Iraq.

On Wednesday, Judge Nancy Firestone with the Court of Federal Claims joined

Capital Lease to the case because it had been Textainer’s supplier.

They claim that the government told TOPtainer that it lost 1,000 when its lease was up, and paid TOPtainer for the loss, but TOPtainer never remitted that money to its suppliers and is now defunct.

The container companies say that the government took the title to their property without paying just compensation.

Capital also “presented undisputed evidence to the court to show that 125 containers that had been owned by Capital and were now the subject of plaintiff Textainer’s claim were never ‘lost,’ but were instead sent to Okinawa, Japan and thus appeared to have been ‘taken’ outside the terms of the master lease,” Judge Firestone wrote. (Click HERE for article) (Click HERE for Judge’s Order)

Soldier Given Second Shot at Suing Gun Maker
Rose Bouboushian – (Courthouse News) – April 3, 2013 – A soldier who was injured when his M2 machine gun exploded and a shell casing pierced his leg will get a chance to hone his federal lawsuit against the gun’s manufacturer.

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Request DENIED: Army Refuses Legal Indemnification for KBR (Updated)

When asked if KBR has considered settling the soldiers’ cases, Harrison said no. 

“The company is not at all interested in paying any money to settle claims brought by these plaintiffs’ lawyers,” he said.  – Geoffrey Harrison – Susman, Godfrey

NEIL GORDON – (POGO) – June 25, 2012 – POGO has obtained a document that sheds new light on the ongoing litigation between defense contractor KBR and National Guardsmen who claim the company exposed them to a deadly chemical at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant in Iraq. The document could help the Guardsmen in their nearly four-year fight for justice and will come as good news to taxpayers, who stand to save potentially hundreds of millions of dollars.

POGO’s occasional blog posts about the Qarmat Ali lawsuits have focused on a formerly classified provision in KBR’s contract that obligates the government to indemnify KBR for all legal damages and expenses. With taxpayers ultimately footing the bill, we worry the indemnification provision gives KBR an incentive to perform the contract recklessly. Others, such as U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D–Ore.), claim the provision is encouraging KBR to drag out the Qarmat Ali lawsuits while running up excessive legal expenses.

However, our concerns were alleviated when we received this letter through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In the November 18, 2011 letter, U.S. Army contracting officer John Rogers informed KBR contracts manager Michael Morrow that the government will not indemnify KBR for the Qarmat Ali litigation.

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A taxing situation and other news

Pentagon defends millions to contractor despite unpaid taxes
Tom Vanden Brook – (USA Today) – WASHINGTON – April 15, 2012 –  The tax problems of the military’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan would not have prevented the Pentagon from awarding it multimillion-dollar contracts, a top official said in a letter to U.S. senators.

The owners of Leonie Industries, the contractor, owed at least $4 million in federal taxes when the contracts were awarded. Because the owners had entered into agreements to pay the overdue taxes with the Internal Revenue Service, they were not required to tell the Pentagon about their tax debt, acting Undersecretary of Defense Frank Kendall wrote in a letter to Sen. Tom Carper.

Carper, D-Del., said he wants the IRS and Pentagon to work more closely to ensure that contractors with large tax debts receive more scrutiny. (Click HERE for article)

Confusion over S3.2bn fraud penalty fund
Olawale Rasheed, Abuja Monday – (Nigerian Tribune) – April 16, 2012 – Nigeria and the United States of America are now locked in a struggle over an accumulated $3.2 billion penalty paid by American companies who were convicted of bribing Nigerian officials in order to secure juicy contracts.

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“That’s not your jurisdiction” aka “Stay in your lane” & other news

Rare ailment found in Iraq, Afghanistan vets
(Detroit Free Press) – July 24, 2011 – Researchers in Tennessee say they’ve discovered scarring inside small airways in the lungs of U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, causing a rare condition called constrictive bronchiolitis.

The cause of the scarring — and the number of troops that may have it — isn’t yet clear. But the findings, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could help veterans prove disabilities stemming from their war service.

“These guys had very believable stories,” said Dr. Robert Miller of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “They were elite athletes. … Now, they can’t run 2 miles.”

Although many were exposed to a 2003 sulfur-mine fire near Mosul, Iraq, not all were, so the cause remains a mystery. (Click HERE for article)

U.S. wastes $34 billion in Afghan and Iraq contracting
Phil Stewart – (Reuters) – WASHINGTON – July 23, 2011 – The United States has wasted some $34 billion on service contracts with the private sector in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a study being finalized for Congress.

The findings by a bipartisan congressional commission were confirmed to Reuters by a person familiar with the draft of the study, which is due to be completed in coming weeks.

The analysis by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, details of which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, offers the most complete look so far at the misuse of U.S. contracting funds in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than $200 billion has been doled out in the contracts and grants over nearly a decade.

It also gives the most complete picture of the magnitude of the U.S. contracting workforce in the two countries.

The source, who declined to be named, said more than 200,000 contractors have been on the U.S. payroll at times in Iraq and Afghanistan — outstripping the number of U.S. troops currently on the ground in those countries. (Click HERE for article)

Kailua man admits aiding Marine to launder bribes
(Star Advertiser) – HAWAII – July 23, 2011 – A 40-year-old Kailua man admitted in federal court Friday that he helped a Marine Corps sergeant launder bribery money from military contractors in Iraq.

“A friend of mine was getting bribes. I was helping him conceal the bribes,” Francisco Mungia III said.

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Mucking about and other news

Drugmaker pays $25 million to settle military claim
Robert Little – (The Baltimore Sun) – June 10, 2011 – The medical questions about the Army’s use of Factor VII, its one-time wonder drug, have largely been resolved by the scientific evidence: Yes, it is potentially dangerous. No, it doesn’t seem to work.

But to critics of the drug’s use, some practical questions remained. Such as: Why was an obscure and extremely expensive hemophilia drug embraced by Army leaders as a treatment for combat injuries? And why was it injected into thousands of wounded troops and civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan despite a near-complete lack of evidence that it was safe or saved lives?

A federal whistle-blower lawsuit unsealed in Baltimore on Friday offers the first hints of an answer.

In a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice, the drug’s Danish manufacturer, Novo Nordisk, agreed to pay $25 million to resolve allegations that it illegally promoted the drug to the Army as a treatment for traumatic bleeding. (Click HERE for article)

FOIA Friday: List of Defense Logistics Agency Audit Reports
NICK SCHWELLENBACH – (POGO) – June 10, 2011 – This week’s document:List of audit reports completed by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) Accountability Office, now known as the DLA Office of Inspector General, from November 2008 through March 2011.

Originating agency: Defense Logistics Agency.

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