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Red Star’s Bagram contract extended again

Walter Pincus – (Washington Post) – March 20, 2012 – A heavily redacted notice posted recently by the Defense Logistics Agency discloses that for [deleted] millions of dollars, Red Star Enterprises Ltd. will continue for [time period deleted] delivering roughly 10 million gallons of jet fuel a month to Bagram Air Base for aircraft flying missions that support the fighting in Afghanistan. (Click HERE for notice PDF)

Red Star, the Gibraltar-registered firm that is owned by the French wife of an elusive California businessman, Douglas Edelman, who once ran a bar and hamburger shop in Kyrgyzstan, and Erkin Bekbolotov, Edelman’s then-35-year-old Kyrgyz partner, has held the contract for more than seven years.

The firm’s jet fuel contract for Bagram was supposed to expire on Aug. 31, 2011, but it was extended for six months to give U.S. officials time to award the permanent contract put up for bid in November 2010. That approach was modified in February 2012, when the contracting officer extended Red Star an additional two months because “the source selection process was not expected to be completed in enough time to allow a new contractor to begin performance.”

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Prosecutions, corruption, greed and other news

p.s. Don't Forget to Prosecute!

More are being prosecuted for crimes in Afghan, Iraq rebuilding effort, reports show
(Washington Post) – WASHINGTON - October 29, 2011 - A Marine in Iraq sent home $43,000 in stolen cash by hiding it in a footlocker among American flags. A soldier shipped thousands more concealed in a toy stuffed animal, and an embassy employee tricked the State Department into wiring $240,000 into his foreign bank account.

As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the number of people indicted and convicted by the U.S. for bribery, theft and other reconstruction-related crimes in both countries is rapidly rising, according to two government reports released Sunday.

“This is a boom industry for us,” Stuart Bowen, Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, or SIGIR, said in an interview.

“Investigators and auditors had a productive quarter,” said a report on the theft of Afghanistan aid by Steven Trent, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, or SIGAR. The report covered August through October.

In the last 13 months U.S. investigators in Iraq secured the indictments of 22 people for alleged aid-related offenses, bringing to 69 the total since the SIGIR office was created in 2004. Convictions stand at 57. Several hundred more suspects are under scrutiny in 102 open investigations and those numbers are expected to climb.The rise in caseloads derives partly from spinoff investigations, where suspects facing prosecution lead investigators to other suspects, said Jon Novak, SIGIR’s assistant inspector general for investigations.

“More and more people are ratting out their associates,” he said, turning in conspirators who helped launder money after it was stolen, others who were aware of it and others implicated in the crimes. (Click HERE for article)

Pentagon shifts away from disputed fuel contracts
Walter Pincus – (Washington Post) – October 28, 2011 – For years, Pentagon contracts to deliver jet fuel to Kyrgyzstan have been the subject of controversy, with allegations, so far unproved, that the families of two former Kyrgyz presidents profited from them. Now, the allegations involving the Mina Corp. and Red Star Enterprises may fade away.

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Bloopers, boondoggles and other news

U.S. War Spending to Drop to “Only” $360 Million a Day
Now, it’s “really” down—to $131.6 billion—for 2012. That averages out to about $360 million a day…or $250,000 a minute. ~ Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky

Boondoggle (project), term for a scheme that wastes time and money

Commentary: Army reservists helped Ugandan women escape human traffickers
Mary Sanchez – The Kansas City Star – May 8, 2011 – Word spread quickly among the desperate Ugandan women:

If you can somehow escape from the Iraqi household, go to the “Flying Man” statue. The Americans will help you.

Eventually, 17 women, many beaten and raped by their enslaving employers, made it inside the U.S. base in Baghdad in 2009.

The women were not U.S. citizens, nor hired by U.S. contractors, and the Americans had no jurisdiction beyond the walls of their base, having turned security matters over to Iraqi forces months earlier.

So, it would have been easy for the men of the 326th Area Support Group, an Army Reserve unit from Kansas City, Kan., to do nothing, to not get involved, to avoid risk of an international incident. That’s not the choice they made.

“I don’t know if I could have lived with myself,” said Lt. Col. Ted Lockwood, who organized the sanctuary where the victims of a human trafficking ring hid.

At least 150 Ugandan women, maybe more, are believed to have been lured into Iraq with the promise of jobs on an American military base. Instead, some were sold to wealthy Iraqi families for about $3,500 each. (Click HERE for article)

Watch: Osama’s Blooper Reel, Courtesy of the Navy SEALs
Spencer Ackerman (Danger Room) – May 7, 2011 – In life, Osama bin Laden carefully crafted his image as a pious, anti-American leader. In death, he surely wouldn’t appreciate the U.S. government releasing his blooper reel.

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The naked truth about transparency and other news…

If transparency—including public access to past performance information—were added to the process, maybe the government would be deterred from awarding taxpayer dollars to risky contractors and the contractors would improve their performance. But then again, maybe these contractors are too big too fail. –  Scott Amey, General Counsel Project On Government Oversight (POGO)

The Dog Ate My Performance Report

In brig, WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning ordered to sleep without clothing
Ellen Nakashima – (Washington Post) – March 6, 2011 – Military jailers are forcing Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old soldier accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.org, to strip naked in his cell at night and sleep without clothing, a requirement his attorney says was imposed after Manning made a “sarcastic quip” about his confinement.

For most of the past eight months, Manning has been required to sleep wearing only boxer shorts, because of his status as a detainee under “prevention of injury watch,” said 1st Lt. Brian Villiard, a spokesman for the military detention facility, or “brig,” in Quantico. Beginning Wednesday night, the facility commander ordered that Manning turn over his boxers, too.

“The intention is not to cause any sort of humiliation or embarrassment,” Villiard said. “The intention is to ensure the safety and security of the detainee and make sure he is able to stand trial.”

Villiard said he could not explain how Manning might harm himself if he were allowed to keep his underwear, citing rules to protect detainees’ privacy. All he could say was that “circumstances warranted” the measure, which was ordered by the brig commander, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Denise Barnes. The requirement will remain in effect until a review next week, he said.

But Manning’s attorney, David E. Coombs, said he thought the order was “punitive” under the “guise of being concerned” about Manning’s welfare. (Click HERE for article)

Lawmakers criticize military funeral protesters
Ben Terris – (National Journal) – March 4, 2011 – Members of the Westboro Baptist Church, who won a Supreme Court ruling this week supporting their right to protest military funerals, are misusing their right to free speech, say Senate Armed Services Committee members Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., and Sen. Mark Begich, Alaska.

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Pentagon turns blind eye toward contractors, again! (Updated)

It looks like DLA is having second thoughts about this contract award:

Kyrgyzstan: Manas Fuel Supply Contract to Be Re-Opened?
December 22, 2010 – 4:20pm
Losing bidders in a recent tender to supply jet fuel to the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan have been contacted by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) and encouraged to renew their offers. The move suggests that the Pentagon agency, which is responsible for awarding the fuel supply contract, is weighing its options before scandal-hit Mina Corp’s new contract to deliver 96 million gallons of jet fuel commences in February.
(Click HERE for article)

Russia Was Misled Over Fuel for U.S. Use, Report Says

Andrew E. Kramer
The New York Times

Moscow - December 20, 2010 –  For a number of years ending in April, two Pentagon middleman companies misled the Russian authorities into thinking that the large quantities of jet fuel they were purchasing were for civilian use, not military, apparently with the intention of evading a tariff, a Congressional report scheduled for release on Tuesday concludes.

But the fuel was being bought by the Pentagon for shipment to the American airbase in Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and from there on to Afghanistan, the report said. Once Russian officials discovered the true identity of the recipient, they cut off supplies, creating a major logistical headache for United States military commanders.

Officials for the contractors expressed little remorse for their actions, the report shows.

“We got one over on ’em,” the report quotes one company official, Charles Squires, as telling investigators. “I’m an old cold warrior, I’m proud of it, we beat the Russians, and we did it for four or five years.”

Until, that is, the Russians objected and the system unraveled.

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