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Foiled by FOIA and other news

Many western multinational companies have been indicted for paying bribes to Nigerian government officials to secure contracts running into billions of dollars. One of the high profile cases involved former US vice president, Dick Cheney. He was head of the American oilfield services company, Halliburton when its engineering subsidiary, KBR, allegedly paid bribes totaling 180 million dollars to secure contracts worth six billion dollars. Nigerian authorities dropped corruption charges against him after Halliburton agreed to pay a 250 million dollar fine. But anti-corruption campaigners say the settlement is illegal. One of them has gone to court in an effort to make the former US vice president face trial. Sam Olukoya reports from Lagos. ~Free Speech Radio News – September 23, 2011

FOIA Friday: Was the Military the Victim of a War Profiteer Fuel Supplier?
NEIL GORDON – POGO – September 23, 2011 – Last March, the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoDIG) released an audit of contracts for the delivery of fuel to U.S. troops in Iraq. Only a summary of the report’s findings has been made available to the public. Yesterday, POGO received the full report (with redactions). DoDIG’s website still promises that the report will be made publicly available “at a later date.”

The DoDIG conducted the audit in response to concerns former House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) had about the competitiveness and prices paid under fuel supply contracts awarded to the International Oil Trading Company (IOTC). In October 2008, Waxman wrote to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that IOTC “appears to have engaged in a reprehensible form of war profiteering” and may have overcharged the government as much as $180 million to deliver fuel to troops in Iraq.

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The spoils of sole sourcing & other news

The White House is making it easier for people to press the federal government to act. It is bringing that constitutional right to petition one’s government into the digital age with a webpage, “We the People,” where people can create and sign petitions seeking the government’s action on a range of issues.

An official response is guaranteed for any petition that draws enough signatures — 5,000 names within 30 days — after it is reviewed by staff and the appropriate policy experts within the Obama administration. ~ White House Creates Website for Online Petitions (AP)


Ex-Blackwater guards kept working in Iraq: US cable
W.G. Dunlop – (AFP) – BAGHDAD – September 4, 2011 – A leaked US diplomatic cable says that “hundreds” of former employees of Blackwater, which was barred from Iraq over a deadly 2007 shooting, later worked with other firms guarding US diplomats here.

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Hall of shame inducts/indicts new members & other news

Mr. Bush is gone now, but that algorithm remains ruthlessly in place. War-oriented companies like DynCorp, Washington Group International, Aegis Defense Services, URS Corporation, BAE Systems, Renco, CACI, Bechtel, General Dynamics, General Electric, and Titan, along with oil giants like ExxonMobil and Chevron, have profited to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars off these conflicts, and are poised to continue doing so well into the future. ~ William Rivers Pitt, Truthout

Troops photograph every grave at Arlington cemetery
Kimberly Hefling – (AP) – Arlington –  August 27, 2011 – Night after night this summer, troops from the Army’s historic Old Guard have left their immaculately pressed dress blues, white gloves and shiny black boots at home to slip into Arlington National Cemetery in T-shirts and flip-flops to photograph each and every grave with an iPhone.

The sometimes eerie task to photograph more than 219,000 grave markers and the fronts of more than 43,000 sets of cremated remains in the columbarium is part of the Army’s effort to account for every grave and to update and digitize the cemetery’s maps. The Old Guard works at night to escape the heat and avoid interrupting funerals.

Last year, a scandal over mismanagement at the nation’s most hallowed burial ground revealed unmarked and mismarked graves. Congress then mandated that the cemetery account for the graves of the more than 330,000 people interred in the cemetery.

The troops taking the photos are from Delta Company of the 1st Battalion of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, known as the Old Guard – the Army’s official ceremonial unit, which provides escorts to the president and helps put on military funerals.

The photos taken at night are matched with other records to find discrepancies that need to be fixed, and officials say it’s too early in the process to draw any conclusions. Military officials hope they can eventually use the photos to create an online database for the public. Four million people annually visit the cemetery. (Click HERE for article)

This Will Improve KBR’s Image
Mark Thompson – (Battleland Blogs) – August 26, 2011 – If KBR’s one-time management by the autobiographical Dick Cheney doesn’t buff the company’s reputation, this ought to do the trick: KBR is suing a woman who claimed that she was raped while working in Iraq for KBR in 2005. In the crazy world of torts and courts, Jamie Leigh Jones had sued KBR for $145 million, claiming the company let a hostile sexual climate exist in Iraq. Last month, a jury found the company not guilty of the charge.

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Tyrants of the Pentagon and other news

Pentagon personnel chief investigated for ‘tyrannical’ leadership
Megan Scully – (GovExec) – August 19, 2011 – The Pentagon inspector general is investigating Clifford Stanley, the official charged with overseeing the Defense Department’s massive personnel bureaucracy, after a spate of highly detailed allegations of gross mismanagement and abuse of power. He’s accused of firing respected senior staff, neglecting programs for wounded troops, and using limited funds on expensive consultants and a lavish new conference room.

Senior civilian and military officials filed at least four separate complaints with the IG’s office and to Capitol Hill since May, alleging that Stanley, the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, has hurt the military’s ability to deliver crucial services to troops and their families. Stanley, a retired two-star Marine Corps general, has been on the job since February 2010.

Stanley did not respond to email and phone messages seeking comment for this article. Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said “the department is aware of the allegations and takes them seriously.” She added, “As a matter of policy, the DoDIG does not confirm or deny the existence of, or comment upon investigations or investigative issues.”

In the complaints, four of which were obtained by National Journal, Stanley is portrayed as vindictive, wasteful, and unfit for service. The officials charge in their complaints that he has largely ignored pervasive problems such as sexual assault and the rising rates of suicides among military personnel. Other senior officials outside Stanley’s office have stepped in to handle some of his core responsibilities, according to a July 11 complaint filed by unidentified senior civilians and military personnel. (Click HERE for article)

FOIA Friday: Audit of Texas Prison Factory That Made Flawed Army Combat Helmets
Andre Francisco – (POGO) – August 19, 2011 – In May of last year, the Army recalled 44,000 combat helmets after the discovery of a paint problem led to tests that showed the helmets failed when hit with multiple gunshots from a specific angle. Inmates from a federal prison in Beaumont, Texas helped make the helmets while working for UNICOR Inc., also known as Federal Prison Industries, Inc., a wholly-owned government corporation. As of 2010, UNICOR employed nearly 16,000 inmates who received pay of 23 cents to $1.15 per hour, according to its website. UNICOR only sells products to the federal government, mostly to the Department of Defense.

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Spelling it out for contractors & other news

Three former U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) employees and two foreign contractors are charged in a 54-count Indictment for their alleged roles in a bribery and kickback scheme and for defrauding the U.S. government in connection with the award of more than $50 million in USACE construction and infrastructure contracts in Iraq… ~ U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of New Jersey

Kuwait’s Agility says committed to resolve U.S. dispute
Eman Goma – (Reuters) – KUWAIT – July 17, 2011- Kuwaiti logistics firm Agility said it was committed to resolve the dispute with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), following an adverse ruling last week, the firm said in a statement on Sunday.

“The company continues to believe the case involves a civil contract dispute and should not be a criminal matter,” Agility said in the statement.  (Click HERE for article)

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act: the Chamber of Commerce’s Campaign to Weaken the Act and a Potential Investigation into News Corp.
Bryan Rahija – (POGO) – July 16, 2011 – I’d wager that until this week, most Americans (except, of course, for the dutiful readers of this humble blog) probably hadn’t heard of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA). Now, as the ugly scandal involving News of the World unfolds, the 1977 statute has been thrust into the limelight.

The FCPA makes it illegal for U.S. companies to bribe foreign officials, and this week, several lawmakers have called on the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to investigate whether News Corp., Rupert Murdoch’s media heavyweight and parent company of the now-shuttered News of the World, violated the Act.

Yesterday, CNN reported that Attorney General Eric Holder is looking these requests to investigate and other allegations:

“There have been serious allegations raised in that regard in Great Britain; there is an ongoing investigation,” Holder told reporters in Sydney, Australia.

“There have been members of Congress in the United States who have asked us to investigate those same allegations. And we are progressing in the regard using the appropriate federal agencies in the United Sates.”

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