Monday, June 13, 2005
Contracts in Iraq: A Rotten Mess
Thanks to Aunt Deb for forwarding me this article featuring some great investigative reporting by Deborah Hastings of the AP. The article is about high-ranking officers in Custer Battles (to read a bit about their business practices, go here) going on to be involved in other companies receiving big government contracts of doing work in Iraq.
Former executives of Custer Battles — an American firm accused of stealing millions from Iraq reconstruction projects and banned from further government contracts — have continued doing contracting work and have formed new companies to bid on such projects....Americans in Iraq are dying, Americans at home are being bilked out of millions of dollars by these fraudulent enterprises. But it's a good thing we took all those nuclear weapons out of the hands of Saddam, right? Umm... or at least we've managed to reduce terrorism by stabilizing the region, right? Of course, there could have been no other reasons to push for war, could there have been? The quote that closes the article is a fantastic way to go out:
The new companies (there are at least three) are all headed by Rob Roy Trumble, who previously was operations chief for Custer Battles, according to state records.
The fledgling firms have different names but all are housed in the same office as Custer Battles — Suite 100 on Hammerlund Way in Middletown, R.I., 3,000 square feet on the ground floor of a squat building in an industrial park.
Meanwhile, Custer Battles' former chief financial officer Joseph Morris, accused of submitting fake invoices to the government, has been working for another American contractor in Iraq, according to interviews.
The military was not aware of either the new companies or Morris' new employment, a Pentagon official said, speaking only on condition of anonymity. Military investigators would have to decide whether these actions violate the suspension order.
"They are extremely clever. They are extremely brazen. They've never let truth get in the way of their economic ambitions."