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Pentagon probes Leonie’s taxes, treatment of Afghan workers

Photo from Leonie Industries' Website

Tom Vanden Brook –  (USA TODAY) –  WASHINGTON – June 11, 2012 –  Pentagon criminal investigators have launched a full probe into the military’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan regarding taxes paid by its owners and treatment of its Afghan employees, according to a letter obtained by USA TODAY.

The paper revealed in February that the owners of Leonie Industries had owed more than $4 million in back taxes to the federal government. That debt was settled in March, federal records show. The company has received at least $120 million in Pentagon contracts since 2009.

Rep. John Tierney, a Massachusetts Democrat and a senior member of the oversight committee, requested the Pentagon Inspector General investigation of Leonie in March. He praised the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s decision to move beyond its initial inquiry and to launch a more formal investigation.

“It is critical that we hold the Pentagon, and companies working with our government, to the highest standards,” Tierney said Monday. “Claims of ongoing lack of accountability in war zone contracting cannot be ignored. We are talking about hundreds of millions of dollars, and I welcome the news that the Defense Criminal Investigative Service will be closely examining the Leonie contract.”

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Chaffetz and Tierney Investigate Multi-Billion Dollar Defense Food Contract in Afghanistan

(Press Release) – Washington, DC – May 24, 2012 – Today, Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Rep. John F. Tierney, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, sent joint letters to Supreme Foodservice GmbH and the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) requesting a host of documents relating to their ongoing investigation into a multi-billion dollar contract to provide food and other supplies to American bases in Afghanistan.

“It is outrageous that DLA could ever be in the position of possibly overpaying any vendor by three quarters of a billion dollars- especially at a time when troop levels are being scaled back because funding is tight,” said Chairman Chaffetz. “The Subcommittee will work with the Department of Defense to investigate the facts and circumstances surrounding this apparent lack of oversight.”

“The American taxpayers refuse to accept a government contractor that bills more than $750 million in unsubstantiated charges, and they refuse to accept the Pentagon’s failure to manage this contract properly,” said Ranking Member Tierney.  “Chairman Chaffetz and I plan to continue our vigorous bipartisan oversight efforts, to fully investigate the problems with this contract, and to determine how they will affect the impending award of the new contract.”

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Errs on the side of corruption and other news

The final findings of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a bipartisan coalition formed in the spirit of the legendary Truman Committee, which exposed massive waste in World War II-era defense contracting. The modern commission found that these problems persist: At least one out of every six dollars spent on defense contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than$31 billion, has been lost to fraud, waste, and abuse — and that number is climbing.~Here Is The REAL Problem With Outsourcing The Military To Contractors - Dana Liebelson

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One last fight for secret soldiers
Mark Brunswick – (Star Tribune) – Minneapolis – March 4, 2012 – In a small building on Arcade Street in St. Paul, about a dozen Hmong veterans of the Vietnam War – all trained, paid and armed to fight for the United States by the Central Intelligence Agency – gather regularly to discuss upcoming public service events or festivities where their honor guard might be needed. They dress in old military uniforms they have bought on their own and have decorated with patches of their own design.

The meetings now come with a renewed urgency.

When they die, these secret warriors of a secret American war want to buried in veterans cemeteries alongside their American comrades. But even though they now are commonly acknowledged as having fought for the United States in northern Laos, they are prohibited by law from being buried in national or state veterans cemeteries, which are reserved for American service members and honorably discharged U.S. military veterans and their families.

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Rep. Tierney says penalty for Afghan contractors too small

Richard Lardner – (Associated Press) – WASHINGTON – September 15, 2011 – An Afghan-owned security company accused of operating an illicit protection racket received “a slap on the wrist’’ from the Defense Department despite ample evidence of wrongdoing, according to a senior House Democrat critical of the military’s efforts to combat corruption in Afghanistan.

The complaint from Representative John Tierney of Massachusetts, a Democrat, were detailed in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The complaint sets the stage for a contentious congressional hearing set for today on how aggressively the Pentagon is holding contractors in war zones accountable for fraud and bribery.

In the letter, Tierney summarizes the findings an investigation he led last year that concluded that Ahmad and Rashid Popal, the owners of the Watan Group, and Haji Ruhullah, a former assistant manager for the company, bribed local Afghan officials and used heavy weapons prohibited by the $2.16 billion Army transportation contract they were working under. They all denied funneling money to the Taliban, Tierney said, but evidence gathered by his staff “raised doubts about those claims.’’

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Where’s the fraud ceiling?… & other news

House probes policies on counterfeit military electronics
Michelle  M. Stein – (Medill News Service) – July 31, 2011 – WASHINGTON – Lawmakers from both parties are challenging the Department of Homeland Security over policies that they say impede efforts to stop imports of counterfeit electronics used in military devices.

The electronic chips, which act like the brain for many electronic devices, are one of the most counterfeited parts in the Pentagon’s supply chain, according to a Commerce Department report last year. That leaves the military technology that depends on them at a great risk of failure, which experts say has huge national security implications.

“It’s very clear that there are significant numbers of (counterfeit) semiconductors that are making it through to military supply chains,” said Brian Toohey, the president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, a lobbying group. “The implications (of) that, from a reliability perspective, from a failure perspective, are very serious.”

Failing parts aren’t the only national security concern with counterfeit chips, experts say. (Click HERE for article)

Military mentors program casualty of disclosure law
Tom Vanden Brook – (USA Today) – WASHINGTON – July 29, 2011 – The number of retired generals hired by the Pentagon to advise the military has declined dramatically now that they must divulge outside income to avoid a conflict of interest and had their pay capped, according to reports obtained by USA TODAY.

Now that they must divulge outside income and have their pay capped, the number of retired generals hired by the Pentagon to advise the military has declined dramatically.

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