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At least Congress agrees on something – stop aiding and abetting government contractors’ that profit from slavery

These people thought they had a job that provided a good wage, food and housing. They found out they had none of that.

Portman, Blumenthal Secure Inclusion of Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation in Defense Bill

Office of Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) – Washington, D.C.- Novemeber 30, 2012 – Yesterday, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) secured inclusion of the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S.2234) in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (S.3254).  Earlier this month, Portman and Blumenthal launched the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking.  The caucus will bring Senators together to combat human trafficking by promoting awareness, removing demand, supporting prosecution efforts, and providing appropriate service systems for survivors.

Despite the U.S. government’s zero tolerance human trafficking policy, investigations have found that human trafficking by government contractors and subcontractors who operate overseas is still an issue. For example, in 2011, the Commission on Wartime Contracting – an independent, bipartisan legislative commission established to study wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan – concluded that “[e]xisting prohibitions on such trafficking have failed to suppress it.” The commission also concluded that “evidence of the recurrent problem of trafficking in persons by labor brokers or subcontractors of contingency contractors.”

More than 70,000 third-country nationals work for contractors and subcontractors of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Pentagon Fraud – “This has got to stop”

Photo: Office of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

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)

~ Senate Passes Amendments to Shed Light on Contractor Misbehavior

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.

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McCaskill, Collins Demand Answers on $70 Million Settlement with Contractor DynCorp

Severe soil settling has caused this guardhouse to lean and its surrounding walls to crack. SIGAR has recently identified significant soil stability issues at the construction site of the Kunduz ANA garrison. (SIGAR photo)

Senators see ‘harm to taxpayers’ in government’s decision to pay contractor for inadequate and incomplete work on construction contracts in Afghanistan

(Office of Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) – WASHINGTON – November 20, 2012 -In a bipartisan effort to protect taxpayer dollars, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today sought answers from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) concerning its decision to approve a $70.8 million dollar settlement with the contractor DynCorp International for faulty construction of an Afghan Army garrison. According to a report by the Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) that questioned the settlement, some of the structures built by the contractor had completely “failed” and were either “unsafe, uninhabitable, or unusable.”

In a letter to Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers for the Army Corps, McCaskill and Collins address multiple reports of waste and mismanagement associated with the contract, asking General Bostick to provide them with information that would justify the $70.8 million settlement.

“It looks like we paid $70 million for a contract that delivered next to nothing-any reasonable person is going to ask why,” said McCaskill, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. “Every taxpayer dollar spent in Afghanistan is a dollar that wasn’t spent to build a school or repair a road right here at home, and I think it’s critical that we really scrutinize what we’re getting for the money we’re spending on projects halfway around the world.”

“Many questions are raised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to let Dyncorp off the hook for poor performance in a settlement agreement made in connection with contracts to construct a garrison for the Afghan National Army,” said Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “The Corps of Engineers has been unable to provide a justification, despite repeated requests from Congress and the Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The IG audit on the construction of this garrison documented a number of failures. Such failures undermine our national security objective in Afghanistan to train and support the Afghan National Army. This settlement agreement appears to be yet another inexcusable failure of oversight that undermines the overall mission in Afghanistan and wastes taxpayer dollars.”

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KGL – A Test Case on Sanctions?

Despite Ongoing Federal Probe, Pentagon Asserts Big Contractor Has No Iranian Ties

A Whistleblower Alleges Death Threats

Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company (KGL), a major U.S. military contractor, is facing renewed allegations that it is working with Iran, possibly violating U.S. sanctions. In the political climate where sanctions on Iran are one of the few things people can agree on, KGL may become a test case for what happens when a U.S. contractor violates those sanctions.

Adam Zagorin – (POGO) – April 4, 2012 – If there’s one thing most Americans support in foreign policy, it’s sanctions against Iran to halt its alleged drive for nuclear weapons. From President Obama to Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Newt Gingrich, leading candidates all want to put the economic squeeze on Tehran and to signal their support for Israel. President Obama recently announced he will ratchet up sanctions on the country’s oil exports and declared a “national emergency” to deal with the Islamic Republic. The Senate will try to iron out its differences over anti-Iran measures in coming weeks, as bus stations around Washington, DC, are studded with advertisements questioning the President’s resolve on the issue.

In this politicized environment, the last thing any candidate or legislator would countenance is gobs of U.S. taxpayer money going to a military contractor caught doing business with the Islamic Republic. Indeed, Congress specifically addressed that possibility in 2010, when contractors were required to certify in writing that they have no ties to Iran’s sanctioned enterprises.

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How does your garden grow and other news

The Department of Defense plans to exempt records of internal law enforcement investigations from Privacy Act disclosure requirements.

The act, which governs record systems maintained by federal agencies, normally requires that individuals be allowed to view records that pertain to them unless the records were gathered for law enforcement purposes, congressional investigations or administrative purposes where the identity of the individual is not disclosed such as census records.

The exemption would allow the DoD to neither confirm nor deny the existence of such records to individuals and government agencies, when disclosure could reveal the existence of an ongoing investigation.

The public may comment on the DoD proposal until May 15. ~Travis Sanford, Courthouse News

Guard Officer Recalls Night Of Alleged Rape
Says current commander got out of car with woman near beach, returned alone
Sean P Murphy and Andrea Estes – (Boston Globe) – March 31, 2012 – A National Guard officer said he remembers the night in 1984 when a woman says she was raped by the current commander of the Massachusetts National Guard, recalling that Joseph C. Carter got out of the car with the woman near a Florida beach, but returned alone.

Carter, who was placed on administrative leave Thursday by Governor Deval Patrick while the Army investigates the rape allegations, denies the attack and insists he has no recollection of Susan Pelletier, who accused him of raping her and agreed to let her name be used.

But Charles Mouris, who in 1984 was a captain and Carter’s superior in a military police unit, clearly remembered Pelletier becoming nauseated as the trio rode together in a car after an evening of socializing at a Florida restaurant. Mouris said Carter escorted a wobbly Pelletier from the car and returned alone sometime later, saying nothing about Pelletier.

“I said to Carter, `Are we all set?’ and he said, `Yes,’ ” said Mouris in an interview at his home. Mouris said he and Carter drove away, leaving Pelletier – who had been vomiting – behind, though Mouris pointed out that the restaurant where they had been socializing was only about a quarter-mile away.

Mouris said he was never questioned about the evening again until January of this year, when an Army investigator interviewed him about the event for approximately 40 minutes. Mouris declined to say what he told the investigator about the alleged rape, but said he answered all the investigator’s questions completely. (Click HERE for article)

Kuwait’s Agility Q4 net profit rises 114 pct
(Reuters) – March 31, 2012 – Kuwait’s Agility, the logistics firm facing U.S. fraud charges, posted a 114-percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit compared with the same period in 2010, the firm said in a statement on Saturday.

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