The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Monday, October 15, 2007

Yet another US contractor defrauding the nation

Here's an item from last week that slipped past my radar like a nuke past SDI. To think, Friday could've been about two of my most-hated topics: the zillion-dollar pretend missile defense we've "deployed," and American companies' treasonous behavior in Iraq.

A mom-and-pop Texas company that provides security in Afghanistan is accused of overbilling the U.S. government by charging for nonexistent employees and vehicles, an American security official with close ties to the company told The Associated Press.

Houston-based U.S. Protection and Investigations, which does security work for the U.S. State Department arm USAID, is the latest firm to face scrutiny since private guards allegedly killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

The overbilling by USPI could add up to millions of dollars, the American security official said, speaking on condition of anonymity in Kabul. . . .

In a 2004 interview with the Houston Chronicle, Barbara Spier said helping the United States meet its goals in Afghanistan was worth the sacrifice of working in such a dangerous country.

"I come back here and all I hear is bad, bad, bad," she told the newspaper. "But over there, the people are wonderful. They don't want us to leave. They are afraid the Taliban will take over again."

The company employs more than 3,600 people in the war-torn country, nearly all of whom are Ministry of Interior supplementary troops, its Web site says. . . .

USPI's hiring practices in Afghanistan have drawn criticism from the International Crisis Group, a Belgium-based think tank that works to prevent and resolve deadly conflict.

In a 2005 report on disarmament in Afghanistan, the group said a majority of the men on USPI's payroll are associated with private militias and have not gone through formal channels.

Later that year, the firm drew attention again when an Afghan official said an American supervisor for USPI allegedly shot to death his Afghan interpreter and was flown out of the country the next day. USPI officials have declined to comment on the incident.

The American security official said agents from the private security firm Blackwater USA raided USPI's Kabul office last month and seized computers and office files.

Ignoring the general bizarre-ness of this story (what the hell is that final line all about?), we have yet another example of a US firm not only robbing the government during a time of war, but abusing their position in such a way as to incite violent action against American forces. That's traitorous on a a couple of levels, yet nothing has been done at the national level to stop it. And I can't get over that quote from one of the founders: "I come back here and all I hear is bad, bad, bad," she told the newspaper. "But over there, the people are wonderful. They don't want us to leave."