Tuesday, January 16, 2007

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: "DEFENDING" THE TOP-BIDDER THE WORLD OVER

When I've said recently that the US's increasingly aggressive posturing in Iraq was all about "contracts," military & otherwise, I had no idea how correct I actually was. According to AP:
The U.S. military has sold forbidden equipment at least a half-dozen times to middlemen for countries — including Iran and China — who exploited security flaws in the Defense Department's surplus auctions. The sales include fighter jet parts and missile components.
Wow. In the worst example, a Pakistani arms broker convicted of exporting U.S. missile parts to Iran resumed business after his release from prison and:
"purchased Chinook helicopter engine parts for Iran from a U.S. company that had bought them in a Pentagon surplus sale. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, speaking on condition of anonymity, say those parts made it to Iran."
A "Pentagon surplus sale"! At the Military Outlet Shop in the mall next to Banana Republic.

These "surplus sales can operate like a supermarket for arms dealers," according to AP. The article says that the "Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service Web site" says it's "the place to obtain original U.S. Government surplus property . . . Right Item, Right Time, Right Place, Right Price, Every Time. Best Value Solutions for America's Warfighters."

Their web address seems to have changed, because I didn't see this when I went to the "Global Security" website, which describes the Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service in this way:
Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service (DRMS) is a primary level field activity of the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA). Its mission is to provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with services for the disposal of material no longer needed for national defense, comply with legislative and regulatory requirements, protect the public good from dangerous defense items, and to pursue maximum value for tax dollars. This mission includes responsibility for property reuse (including resale), hazardous property disposal, demilitarization, precious metals recovery and recycling program support . . . sales are either held through bid or auction. Retail, fixed-price sales are offered at some DRMOs, aimed at customers interested in buying inexpensive items for personal use. DRMS also offers a sales service for those DoD customers who have direct sales authority (such as under the Exchange Sale Program). For a modest percentage of the proceeds, DRMS will perform all merchandizing, advertising and contracting functions, providing the DoD property holder peace of mind that all laws and regulations are followed.
A modest percentage for modest due diligence. Sounds like a fair bargain to me. And how did this happen? What's our federal government doing about this? Well, Greg Kutz of the Government Accountability Office (Oxymoron Alert!) told reporters that: "It shouldn't happen the first time, let alone the second time."

Thanks a lot, Greg. Helluva job. And the Pentagon? Any word from Gates? No, but important members of the Defense establishment like Fred Baillie -- the "Defense Logistics Agency's executive director of distribution" -- said his agency followed procedures:

"The fact that those individuals chose to violate the law and the fact that the customs people caught them really indicates that the process is working. Customs is supposed to check all exports to make sure that all the appropriate certifications and licenses had been granted."

Anyone finding that logic juuuuuuuust a bit short of convincing? By that reasoning, the War in Iraq has been a smashing success. Our soldiers go out looking for IEDs, and when they step on one, they're blown to bits! IED sought, IED found. Success.

Check out the rest of the article, which lists a few other examples of the burgeoning trade in the "reutilization" of "demilitarized" US weapons & equipment.

5 Comments:

Blogger DED said...

In defense of the GAO, it has no teeth. It's a non-partisan outfit which answers to Congress, but all it can do is research/investigate. It has no power to subpoena.

They're also the one gov't agency that's been "screaming" about how the national debt is leading us to ruin.

But yes, selling military equipment to our enemies through middlemen is criminal, and should be treated as such.

11:29 AM  
Blogger Dwilkers said...

Hmm. This is a good spot to link this graphic.

1:03 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I always thought the GAO was the General Accounting Office, so shows what I know.

Dwilkers - Great link. Notice which Senator appears in the largest number of those graphics at bottom.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Ed in Westchester said...

I'm waiting for my F14 to come by Fed-Ex. They need a signature though.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

They need a signature though.

Unlike the DoD, apparently.

2:31 PM  

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