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Secret squirrels squandering tax dollars & other news

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?

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Rocky Mountain hijinx and other news

Rocky Mountain Instrument to Pay U.S. $1 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations
WASHINGTON— October 29, 2010 – The United States has reached a settlement with Rocky Mountain Instrument Company (RMI) to resolve claims that the manufacturer violated the False Claims Act, the Justice Department announced today. The Lafayette, Colorado-based company is alleged to have submitted claims for payment to various Defense Department prime contractors. The contractors, it is alleged, in turn claimed reimbursement from the government for optical and laser products manufactured overseas using sensitive technical data exported by RMI in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

On June 23, 2009, RMI, a manufacturer of optical components used in laser and imaging applications, filed a petition for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Colorado. To settle the False Claims Act allegations, RMI has agreed to pay the United States $1 million as part of its bankruptcy reorganization. This amount is in addition to a $1 million criminal forfeiture and five year probationary term ordered in connection with RMI’s June 22, 2010, plea of guilty to knowingly and willfully exporting defense articles without a license in United States v. Rocky Mountain Instrument Company, 10-cr-00139-WYD-01 (D. Colo.).

“Some foreign countries and terrorist organizations are actively seeking sensitive U.S. technology and equipment to advance their weapons systems and other programs,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “We are committed to vigorous enforcement of our export control laws, all of which are designed to keep America’s critical technology from falling into the wrong hands.” (Click HERE for article)

Maryland Contractors and Their President to Pay United States for Falsely Obtaining Hubzone and SBA 8(a) Contracts
WASHINGTON – October 29, 2010 – Platinum One Contracting, located in Capitol Heights, Md., its president, Anthony Wright, and Capitol Contractors, also located in Capitol Heights, and its president, Vernon J. Smith III, have agreed to pay the United States $200,000 to settle claims that they used false statements to obtain contracts from the Department of Defense, the Justice Department announced today. The contracts had been set aside for companies that qualified for the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) business development program, as well as for businesses that qualified for the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) program.

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Spies “R” Us….privatizing intelligence gathering in Afghanistan?

From Left: United States Air Force; Robert Young Pelton; Mike Wintroath/Associated Press; Adam Berry/Bloomberg News

Did contractors hire spies?

Associated Press – Monday, March 15, 2010
WASHINGTON — A Defense Department official is under investigation for allegedly hiring private contractors to gather intelligence on suspected insurgents in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The Associated Press, citing a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity, reported Monday that Michael D. Furlong directed a defense contract to gather information about the region that could be shared with military units. After military officials suspected that he was using Defense Department money for an off-the-books spy operation, defense officials shut down that part of the contract. Read the remainder of this entry »