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Internal Review Shows Gross Mishandling of Military Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations

Bryan Rahija  – (POGO) – May 7, 2012 – Pentagon investigators mishandled more than half of a set of whistleblower reprisal cases, according to a damning internal assessment report obtained by the Project On Government Oversight.

The Washington Post and iWatch News published stories on the assessment over the weekend.

As POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian told iWatch’s R. Jeffrey Smith and Aaron Mehta, “This devastating report proves one of our worst fears—that military whistleblowers have systematically been getting a raw deal.”

The assessment evaluates 156 of cases from fiscal year 2010 handled by the Department of Defense office tasked with investigating complaints of military whistleblower reprisal, the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Directorate of Military Reprisal Investigations (MRI). MRI has since merged with the OIG’s Civilian Reprisal Investigations unit to form the Pentagon’s Whistleblower Reprisal Investigations unit.

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Vanishing acts and other news

Tracking Gaddafi: The case against the Canadian accused of aiding a dictator’s son
Stewart Bell – (National Post) –  MEXICO CITY – March 24, 2012 –  When a dictatorship falls, the old regime takes flight.

And so when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi began losing his grip on Libya last year, a mixed bag of friends, allies and profiteers went to work planning exile for those close to him.

A town near Puerto Vallarta was the soft landing chosen for Saadi Gaddafi, the dictator’s hedonistic third son and head of the Libyan Special Forces. To get him there, according to Mexican officials, properties were purchased, planes were rented and passports were forged.

But if there was such a plot, it was a spectacular flop. Because instead of wading in the Pacific surf, Mr. Gaddafi ended up in Niger, a landlocked sandbox, while the Canadian, Dane and two Mexicans accused of orchestrating his escape are behind bars.

Because of Mexico’s closed legal system, few details of the case have been officially released. But documents obtained by the National Post reveal the events leading up to the arrests of Canadian Cynthia Vanier, who has denied the allegations, and her co-accused.

The paper trail identifies for the first time the international team of private security contractors that left Canada with Ms. Vanier last year in a small jet, destined for Col. Gaddafi’s collapsing capital. But it also raises doubts about the reliability of the evidence presented in court by Mexican authorities — in particular a central witness with a criminal past.

Aside from a stint negotiating for the release of hostages in Colombia, Ms. Vanier, a mediator from Mount Forest, Ont., had no apparent experience in war zones when she was hired to write a report on Libya, then five months into an armed revolt against its brutal, erratic dictator.

SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based engineering and construction company, said it contracted her “in the interest of the safety and security of our personnel and operations when we will need to go back to Libya to complete our projects.”

A chain of emails shows planning got underway on July 12, 2011. Gregory Gillispie, who runs a San Diego airplane brokerage, was asked by Loren Berenda, a former employee of U.S. security giant DynCorp, in Illinois, to find a jet to transport the Canadian and her entourage. (Click HERE for article)

Pressure Mounts for Transparency in Pfc. Manning’s Court-Martial
Adam Klasfeld – (Courthouse News) – MANHATTAN – March 22, 2012 – A lawyer from a civil libertarian group representing Wikileaks and Julian Assange urged a military judge to release records related to the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged source for the biggest leak in U.S. history.

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Booz News: Top Contractor Booz Allen Making Headlines for the Wrong Reasons

Scott Amey – (POGO) – The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the agency responsible for protecting investors and economic markets, has awarded millions of dollars to top 100 federal contractor Booz Allen Hamilton for management support services. According to Reuters, some lawmakers and SEC insiders are questioning the fiscal wisdom of the SEC’s decision.

“If they’re not careful, agencies can spend billions of taxpayer dollars on outside studies and contractors and have nothing to show for it,” Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) told Reuters, adding that “The SEC appears to be headed down this path in hiring a consultant to implement another consultant’s work.”

As Reuters reports, Booz Allen consultants are costing the SEC anywhere from $100 an hour to over $300 an hour and are being paid an average of $140 per hour as compared to $93 per hour for SEC staff. That’s a differential of over 50 percent, which over a year is a cost premium of nearly $100,000 to have Booz perform those jobs.

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The Pentagon’s “revolution” & other news

Debarment Report Shows How Some Agencies Use it Well
Six agencies, including the U.S. Department of Labor, had zero suspension and debarment cases during the past five fiscal years, GAO’s report states.
(Occupational Health & Safety) – November 20, 2011 – The federal government uses a practice named suspension and debarment to exclude firms or individuals from receiving contracts to provide goods or services if they have engaged in certain crimes, such as bribery or tax evasion, or violated certain statutes or regulations. A new Government Accountability Office report says four agencies use the process more effectively than others because they employ full-time staff, have detailed policies and procedures, and encourage an active referral process.

Fortunately, the four doing it right, according to the report, include the General Services Administration, which manages thousands of federal buildings and thus buys a great many contracted goods and services. The other three are the U.S. Navy, the Defense Logistics Agency, and DHS’ Immigration and Customs Enforcement unit, known as ICE. (Click HERE for article)

Senators propose new cap on contractor pay
Charles S. Clark – (GovExec) – November 18, 2011 – As the Senate nears consideration of the Defense authorization bill, three senators have added a new wrinkle to the ongoing debate over the level of contractor executive compensation that should be reimbursed with taxpayer dollars.
 
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Ignorance is waste and other news

A culture that has allowed massive waste of taxpayers’ dollars has become business-as-usual at the Department of Defense.  Particularly in today’s fiscal environment, this cannot be tolerated.  If this is not corrected, the Department’s ability to continue defending the Nation and to provide for its national security will be compromised.  Taxpayers simply will not tolerate the continuing waste of their resources in light of the debt we face and our competing budgetary needs. ~Senator John McCain, (R-AZ) – Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC)

Government Ignores Law Limiting Executive Salaries of Contractors
Noel Brinkerhoff – (AllGov) – September 18, 2011 – United States law demands that the government limit the amount of executive salaries earned by companies with federal contracts. But the Office of Management and Budget’s Office of Federal Procurement Policy has not set the limit for fiscal year 2011, and the amount that government contractors’ top executives are making has more than doubled since the 1990s. That’s not sitting well with some lawmakers.

In a letter to the Office of Management and Budget, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-California) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), along with Representative Paul Tonko (D-New York), urged the White House office to set a ceiling on “the maximum salaries top contractor employees can receive by the end of fiscal 2011.”

“At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed, and millions more are taking home paychecks that don’t go as far as they used to, we ask you to determine the executive compensation benchmark for 2011,” wrote the lawmakers. “The American people deserve to know exactly how much government contractor executives will charge the taxpayer for their salaries this year.” (Click HERE for article)

Former and Current Soldiers and Recruiter Indicted for Allegedly Obtaining Recruiting Bonuses Through Fraud Scheme
(DoJ) – WASHINGTON – September 16, 2011 – Six current and former members of the U.S. military have been charged a 41-count indictment in San Antonio for allegedly defrauding various U.S. military components and their contractor of approximately $127,000 by fraudulently obtaining recruiting bonuses, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

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