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Funds for SIGIR, agency charged with oversight of Iraq reconstruction, set to expire in March

Ernesto Londoño – (The Washington Post) – January 19, 2013 – George Lee, a Kuwait-based U.S. defense contractor who was reaping millions as America’s quagmire in Iraq deepened, sent an e-mail to an Army major who awarded bids in Baghdad, warning her not to visit him.

“None of us want Uncle Sam, or anyone else, looking where they should not be looking,” he wrote in one of the trove of messages and intercepted phone calls that exposed the biggest fraud conspiracy from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So far, 22 people have been indicted and $67 million has been recovered in that single scheme, which remains under investigation.

But the little-known agency that uncovered the scam is about to close its doors, even though Lee remains a fugitive and 91 additional criminal investigations into the disappearance of Iraq reconstruction funds remain unsolved. Read the remainder of this entry »

MAJ Christopher Bradley sentenced for accepting gratuities at FOB Diamondback

U.S. Army Major Sentenced to Federal Prison for Accepting Gratuities

(DoJ) – June 6, 2012 – United States Attorney Robert Pitman announced that in El Paso, 42-year-old U.S. Army Major Christopher Grant Bradley of El Paso was sentenced to six months in federal prison and ordered to pay $20,000 restitution to the U.S. Department of Defense for illegally accepting gratuities while deployed in Iraq in 2008.

According to the factual basis filed in this case, Bradley was deployed to Mosul, Iraq, at Forward Operating Base Diamondback from January 2008 to November 2008. During that time, Bradley served with the Ninawa Operation Command Military Transition Team where he assisted in the development of facilities at the base and the training of a companion Iraqi Army unit that was stationed on an adjacent Iraqi base.

On April 9, 2012, Bradley pleaded guilty to two counts of illegally accepting gratuities. By pleading guilty, Bradley admitted that he accepted $20,000 cash from an Iraqi contractor at FOB Diamondback. Bradley escorted the contractor around the base when the contractor was unable to hire a properly credentialed employee. Further, Bradley assisted the contractor to circumvent security procedures requiring the off-loading and reloading of trucks prior to entering the base. He arranged for the contractor’s trucks to be allowed onto the Iraqi portion of the base without previously being off-loaded and re-loaded, thus saving the contractor substantial costs and time. Bradley admitted that, on two separate occasions, he accepted an envelope filled with $10,000 cash from the Iraqi contractor. Bradley admitted that the payments were given to him because of his assistance to the contractor.

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Pentagon can’t account for nearly $2 billion in Iraqi funds

Sara Sorcher – (National Journal) – January 30, 2012 – A federal audit that found the Defense Department cannot account for nearly $2 billion in Iraqi funds is likely to fuel Baghdad’s interest in pursuing a claim against Washington for failing to handle its money responsibly, the special inspector-general for Iraq reconstruction Stuart Bowen told National Journal.

An audit published on Sunday investigated the roughly $3 billion the Iraqi government gave the Defense Department to pay bills for contracts the Coalition Provisional Authority awarded before it dissolved in 2004. Most of these funds were deposited into an account at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Even though DOD was responsible for maintaining the proper documentation, it could only account for $1 billion of the money.

“Its systematic of the poor record keeping that was rife throughout the early stages of the reconstruction effort,” Bowen, who has conducted three other major audits into the original pot of roughly $21 billion in Iraqi funds the U.S. managed in 2003 and 2004, said.

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Hearing: Oversight in Iraq and Afghanistan: Challenges and Solutions

Gov’t Investigators Testify on Iraq & Afghanistan Rebuilding

Witnesses:
The Honorable Gordon S. Heddell
Inspector General
U.S. Department of Defense
(Click HERE for testimony PDF)

The Honorable Harold W. Geisel
Deputy Inspector General
U.S. Department of State
(Click HERE for testimony PDF)

Mr. Michael G. Carroll
Acting Inspector General
U.S. Agency for International Development
(Click HERE for testimony PDF)

Mr. Stuart W. Bowen
Inspector General
Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction
(Click HERE for testimony PDF)

Mr. Steven J. Trent
Acting Inspector General
Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction
(Click HERE for testimony PDF)

(C-Span) – Washington, DC – December 7, 2011 – A House Oversight subcommittee heard from the Inspectors General of the State Department, the Defense Department, and the U.S. Agency for International Development – as they try to decide whether to create a special Inspector General position to oversee just overseas contracting in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Commission on Wartime Contracting, which was created by Congress in 2008, recently issued its final recommendations which included establishing the special IG position to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse. (Click HERE for article)

“That’s not your jurisdiction” aka “Stay in your lane” & other news

Rare ailment found in Iraq, Afghanistan vets
(Detroit Free Press) – July 24, 2011 – Researchers in Tennessee say they’ve discovered scarring inside small airways in the lungs of U.S. troops returning from Afghanistan and Iraq, causing a rare condition called constrictive bronchiolitis.

The cause of the scarring — and the number of troops that may have it — isn’t yet clear. But the findings, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, could help veterans prove disabilities stemming from their war service.

“These guys had very believable stories,” said Dr. Robert Miller of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “They were elite athletes. … Now, they can’t run 2 miles.”

Although many were exposed to a 2003 sulfur-mine fire near Mosul, Iraq, not all were, so the cause remains a mystery. (Click HERE for article)

U.S. wastes $34 billion in Afghan and Iraq contracting
Phil Stewart – (Reuters) – WASHINGTON – July 23, 2011 – The United States has wasted some $34 billion on service contracts with the private sector in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a study being finalized for Congress.

The findings by a bipartisan congressional commission were confirmed to Reuters by a person familiar with the draft of the study, which is due to be completed in coming weeks.

The analysis by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, details of which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, offers the most complete look so far at the misuse of U.S. contracting funds in Afghanistan and Iraq, where more than $200 billion has been doled out in the contracts and grants over nearly a decade.

It also gives the most complete picture of the magnitude of the U.S. contracting workforce in the two countries.

The source, who declined to be named, said more than 200,000 contractors have been on the U.S. payroll at times in Iraq and Afghanistan — outstripping the number of U.S. troops currently on the ground in those countries. (Click HERE for article)

Kailua man admits aiding Marine to launder bribes
(Star Advertiser) – HAWAII – July 23, 2011 – A 40-year-old Kailua man admitted in federal court Friday that he helped a Marine Corps sergeant launder bribery money from military contractors in Iraq.

“A friend of mine was getting bribes. I was helping him conceal the bribes,” Francisco Mungia III said.

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