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A matter of interpretation and other news

Defiant ‘Lord of War’ Sentenced to 25 Years
Adam Klasfeld – (Courthouse News) – MANHATTAN – April 6, 2012 – Victor Bout, depicted in nonfiction as “The Merchant of Death” and in Hollywood as the “Lord of War,” pointed an accusatory finger at federal agents at his sentencing hearing Thursday, as a federal judge gave him the minimum 25-year sentence based on qualms about the sting operation that caused his downfall.

A Russian national, Bout armed dictators, despots and warring factions in the Congo, Angola, Sierra Leone and other conflict zones around the world.

Sanctioned by the United Nations, Bout remained free for more than a decade until the U.S. government snared him in “Operation Relentless,” a sting in which undercover informants posed as guerrillas with the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC), which the U.S. classifies as a terrorist group.

Bout was defiant at his sentencing hearing. He turned to the federal agents who snared him, seated in the front row, and pointed at them when his time to speak came.

“I am not guilty,” he began, speaking in Russian through an interpreter. “They will live with this truth. They will have to go to bed with this truth.” (Click HERE for article)

Alaa Ali case questions whether civilians should be court-martialed
Michael Doyle – McClatchy Newspapers – WASHINGTON – April 6, 2012 – Iraqi-born translator Alaa “Alex” Ali never served in the U.S. military, but the Army still tried him and put him in jail.

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That bird won’t fly and other news

Hold that Revolving Door! Four-Star General Coming Through
Dana Liebelson – (POGO) – January 28, 2012 – The revolving door that carried former Department of Defense honcho William Lynn III to a well-paying job with an Italian defense contractor keeps on spinning – now Gen. James Cartwright, who retired as the nation’s second-highest ranking military officer in August, is following Lynn into the private sector.

Cartwright is joining the Board of Directors at Raytheon, a major U.S. defense contractor. Earlier in the week, DRS Technologies named Lynn as its chief executive officer. (Coincidently, before Lynn was tapped as deputy defense secretary, he was a top lobbyist for Raytheon.)

“General Cartwright’s deep understanding of defense and broad experience in military operations and matters of national security will be of great value to our Board,” Raytheon Chairman and CEO William H. Swanson said in a press release.

Well, Cartwright certainly has a deep understanding of defense: He’s a four-star general with 40 years of service in the Marine Corps, including four years as the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. But then there’s that sticky “great value to the Board” comment. And that’s where the problem with the well-oiled revolving door that leads from the Pentagon to the defense industry rears its ugly head. (Click HERE for article)

Former United Nations Employee Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison
(DoJ) – WASHINGTON – January 27, 2012 – Jeffery K. Armstrong, 52, of South Riding, Va., was sentenced today to 18 months in prison for obtaining more than $100,000 in salary payments by fraudulently holding concurrent jobs at the United Nations (U.N.) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). He was ordered to serve a three-year term of supervised release following his sentence and to pay $128,153 in restitution.

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Houston you have a problem & other news

…In April 2003, Dyncorp dropped its appeal against the verdict, and three days later announced an award by the US state department for a contract to police Iraq…
…”These crimes are perpetrated by individual men who rape and torture girls on mission, then go home to their wives. And it’ll carry on until there’s a knock at the door and they find themselves getting arrested in front of the wife and kids.” ~ Ed Vulliamy – Has the UN learned lessons of Bosnian sex slavery…

Soldier faces hearing at Afghan base over suicide
Associated Press – (Wall Street Journal) – KABUL, Afghanistan – January 15, 2012 – An American soldier charged with abuse that led to the suicide of a 19-year-old fellow soldier in Afghanistan is facing a preliminary hearing Sunday on a base in the country, the military said.

The hearing came as two more members of the international force in Afghanistan died of what NATO described as “non-battle-related” injuries.

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The Pentagon & Department of Justice’s “cash to convicts” policy & other news

…At an LBG annual meeting in September 2001, Salvatore Pepe, 58, of Tuckahoe, N.Y.—who was then the controller and eventually became the chief financial officer—presented a USAID overhead rate that was significantly below Wolff’s target. In response, Wolff denounced Pepe, called him an “assassin” of the overhead rate, and ordered him to target a rate above 140 percent, meaning that for every dollar of labor devoted to a USAID contract, LBG would receive an additional $1.40 in overhead expenses supposedly incurred by LBG… ~ FBI Newark Division, October 20, 2011

On September 29, 2011, Contract DJJ12-C-2242 was awarded to The Louis Berger Group (Louis Berger), 250 23rdStreet, NW, Washington, DC, 20037 This contract will provide worldwide support services for the Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Criminal Division. ~David Isenberg – ‘Bad Pennies and Louis Berger Group’

That’s right folks the U. S. Department of Justice (DoJ) just gave Louis Berger Group a contract. What is OPDAT? Here is a description from the DoJ’s website:

OPDAT’s mission is to assist prosecutors and judicial personnel in other countries develop and sustain effective criminal justice institutions. OPDAT recognizes that international cooperation in the investigation and prosecution of criminals and organized crime groups is central to countering international crime at its source; and that the efficient and fair administration of justice offers the greatest protection from lawlessness and support for basic human rights.

If this pisses you off, and it should, according to FedBizOpps the primary point of contact, for this contract is:  R. Steven Frate, DoJ Contracting Officer, feel free to contact him and tell him what you think or ask him “Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?” on this contract award! ~Forseti

Fraud Convictions and Settlements Won’t Staunch Flow of Pentagon Contract Dollars
Bryan Rahija and Neil Gordon – (POGO) – October 21, 2011 – A new Pentagon report finds that the Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded hundreds of billions of dollars to companies found guilty of, convicted of, or that settled charges of contract fraud. In total, DoD awarded $1.1 trillion to these companies and their parent companies.

The report found that from 2000 to 2010, DoD awarded more than $250 million to 54 companies that were convicted of a crime in connection with a DoD contract. It awarded $33 million of that to companies after they had been convicted. At the same time, DoD awarded more than $570 billion to more than 300 companies that were found liable or settled charges of a civil violation in connection with a DoD contract. In regard to civil wrongdoing, it appears DoD was much more forgiving: nearly $400 billion of the total was awarded after the companies had settled or were found liable.

POGO’s Scott Amey issued a statement this morning, pointing out that the report confirms what we already knew about the consequences for defense contractors accused of fraud: they’re basically nonexistent. (Click HERE for article)

Former United Nations Employee Found Guilty of Fraud
(DoJ) – WASHINGTON – October 21, 2011 – Jeffery K. Armstrong, 52, of South Riding, Va., was found guilty today by a federal jury on nine counts of wire fraud for obtaining more than $100,000 in salary payments by fraudulently holding concurrent jobs at the United Nations (U.N.) and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

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UN calls for an investigation on the attack at Camp Ashraf (video)

(This video link was provided by a reader and has yet to be fully authenticated-CAUTION GRAPHIC)

Protect Iran’s Freedom Fighters in Camp Ashraf
Louis J. Freeh and Michael B. Mukasey – (Time) -April 18, 2011 – In the early hours of Friday, April 8, while Washington and the media focused on a possible government shutdown, the Iraqi army assaulted a camp of Iranian civilians, called Camp Ashraf, murdering at least 28 residents and wounding hundreds more. Though the Iraqi government has claimed that only three people were killed and describes the events as an attempt to reclaim farmland, a U.N. inspection team found 28 bodies, including those of women, and determined that most were shot to death. Iraqi officials have not allowed journalists to visit the camp.

Located in northwestern Iraq, 120 km (75 miles) from the Iranian border, Camp Ashraf has for more than 20 years been the home of 3,400 members of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq (MEK, also known as the PMOI), a key opposition group working against the Iranian regime. Camp Ashraf residents were promised legally protected status under the Fourth Geneva Convention in 2003 by senior U.S. commanders in Iraq. General David Petraeus, who served as deputy commander of allied coalition forces, has stated that the turnover of responsibility for Camp Ashraf to the Iraqi government was conditioned on a direct Iraqi assurance that the protected status of its residents would continue. Yet the brazen assault mounted by 2,500 heavily armed Iraqi soldiers on April 8 was not the first unprovoked assault against Camp Ashraf civilians. In July 2009, during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates to the country, the Iraqi army invaded the camp and killed unarmed residents.

On both occasions, the U.S. has lamented the violence but has failed to take effective action, perhaps in its haste to leave Iraq. Until recently, there was a U.S. military forward operating base called FOB Grizzly adjoining Camp Ashraf. But it has been closed, and this also brought the withdrawal of the U.N.’s observation mission. In the most recent assault, American soldiers were in or near the camp shortly before the attack but happened to withdraw before Iraqi forces proceeded. And sadly, in each case, President Obama and the Secretaries of State and Defense have responded lamely after these violations of humanitarian law by the Iraqi regime. A State Department statement acknowledged that the “crisis and the loss of life was initiated by the government of Iraq and the Iraqi military” but said that the U.S. government has done nothing more than “urge” the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki “to avoid violence and show restraint.” Mark Toner, the State Department’s acting deputy spokesman, helpfully added on April 12 that “we do need to be mindful that this is a sovereign matter for the government of Iraq” — a posture of deference that will hardly shake the al-Maliki government to its senses. (Click HERE for article)

Iranian journalist with ties to East Bay killed in April 8 raid by Iraqi forces

Barbara Grady -(Mercury News) – April 18, 2011 – A young Iranian journalist who lived in the East Bay for most of her childhood was among 34 Iranian exiles killed in Iraq on April 8 in a clash with Iraqi forces, her relatives in El Sobrante and Albany said.

Asieh Rakhshani, whom aunts, cousins and uncles remembered as always smiling, talkative and an avid basketball player when she was in school in El Cerrito and Albany, was living in a camp of Iranian dissidents inside Iraq known as Camp Ashraf, when Iraqi security forces visited and a clash ensued.

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