Saturday, June 24, 2017

'Fat Leonard' bribery case: Navy officer is first to face military trial. The commander is accused of accepting prostitutes, travel and other gifts from Malaysian defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis.

While Pentagon officials are initiating what will become an extensive JAGMAN-- amongst other investigations, into the USS FITZGERALD collision incident,  Fox News recently reported ongoing corruption involving senior Navy officers and Asian businessman, Leonard Glenn Francis, who is said to have bribed senior Naval officials for over 20 years.

Fox News reports, “A Navy commander could be the first officer court-martialed in the massive $35 million “Fat Leonard” bribery scandal.

The commander has been accused of accepting prostitutes, travel and other gifts from rotund Malaysian defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis in 2012 and 2013, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The alleged gifts included four “suckling pigs,” as well as tickets to a Julio Iglesias concert and a Gucci fashion show for the officer and his wife, the paper reported.

Navy officials said the commander’s name would be made public next week at a preliminary hearing, according to the Post. He is currently assigned to the Naval Air Force Atlantic.

If the case reaches trial, it would mark the first time the Navy has court-martialed anyone in the scandal, the paper reported.

Francis has pleaded guilty to bribing scores of Navy officials in a decades-long billing scam to resupply Navy ships in Asia.

The investigation has resulted in criminal charges in federal court against 21 current and former Navy officials. Ten have pleaded guilty.

Three other Navy officials have also been charged with accepting bribes from Francis and they may also face court-martials, the Post reported.”

The Washington Post article:

Food for thought:
  There are a number of unanswered questions surrounding this ongoing corruption scandal that raises even more questions!! 

Meanwhile, in my view, the junior officers are simply a scapegoat to deflect the attention from the senior officials who put this scheme in place from day one, over 20 years ago.

What I learned as a former inspector general investigator---whistleblower, was to follow the money trail, which typically leads to the top.

Yet it baffles me that these guys are only charged with prostitution (not adultery) and travel fraud?! 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


 Farewell Shipmates, Rest in Peace!! reportsOn Saturday, at about 2:30 AM local time, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and the Philippine container ship ACX Crystal collided southwest of Yokosuka, Japan — the home of the United States Navy’s Seventh Fleet. Several crew members were injured (including the commanding officer), and when flooded spaces were accessed pier-side, the bodies of seven sailors were found.
It is difficult to understand how something like this could happen, given the size of the vessels, the well-understood rules that govern the movement of ships, the expanse of the ocean, the technology available to avoid collisions, and the (relatively) slow speed at which ships move. As this tragedy unfolded in near-real time, on Friday night (Eastern time), I participated in a robust exchange on Twitter, trying to offer what little I could to concerned people trying to make sense of the news. Concern for the crew dominated the discussion, but there were many well-intentioned “how does something like this happen?” tweets. It would be premature and irresponsible to comment on the specifics of this collision, because I know nothing of them. What we have are photographs of two ships which give us some idea of the alignment of the vessels at impact, but which tell us little about their relative positions when the error chain began. There will be investigations and they will affix responsibility — such is the way of admiralty law and the practice of the U.S. Navy. Blame and responsibility have no place in this essay.
From 2004 to 2006 I commanded USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), a ship very much like the Fitzgerald, and during the rest of my 21-year Navy career I spent a good bit of time at sea. I have never been involved in a collision, but I have been in very tight situations which, had my ship or the other not properly responded, could have resulted in one. During my career, on the rare occasions in which Navy ships were involved in collisions, voluminous lessons learned were promulgated. We studied these incidents and incorporated them into our training. In virtually every instance, decisions made by fallible human beings were contributing factors. I hope to add to a common understanding of these factors.
The Rules of the Road
The movement of maritime traffic is governed by the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS, 1972). This is essentially a compendium of international law that, among other things, lays out for mariners what is commonly referred to as “the rules of the road.” It describes in exhaustive detail how ships are required to maneuver to avoid collision. In simple terms, when ships are in a meeting, a crossing, or an overtaking situation, one of the vessels is the “stand-on” vessel — which privileges them to remain at present course and speed – and one is the “give-way” vessel — which obligates them to alter course to avoid collision. To put this in more familiar terms, it is a little bit like coming to a four way stop in your car and “yielding to the right.” The car on the right is the “stand-on” car, and the car to the left is the “give-way.”

Things become more complicated at sea. Although there are road-like areas (with traffic separation schemes and channels) in which ships move largely like cars on a highway, the vast majority of the ocean is not anything like that. Ships encounter each other from all directions of the compass, and the meeting, crossing, and overtaking situations can become confused. This confusion leads to poor assessments of just which vessel is the “give-way” and which is the “stand-on.” Make no mistake — there is an absolute definition of these terms that can be applied to every situation based on the relative direction each ship is traveling. The problem is that humans on each ship are making this determination and, as we all know, to err is human. A common error is to mistake an overtaking situation and a crossing situation, as we see in the “overtaking” situation graphic above this paragraph. A ship being overtaken is the stand-on vessel and so maintains its course and speed. If the other ship involved is to its right side generally, the second ship may believe the situation to be a crossing situation — and since it is to the right, it would be the “stand on” vessel. Two ships believing they are equally the stand-on vessel is a recipe for disaster.
Situations like this are compounded at night. In the daytime, assessments are made based on the visual presentation the other ship offers. You see the other ship, you assess where you are relative to it (abeam, on the bow, abaft of the beam, etc.) and you act accordingly — based on what COLREGS tells you. At night, a system of lights of varying colors and arcs of visibility create a “virtual” picture of what one would see in the daytime (see the figure below to understand how this virtual picture emerges). One stands on the bridge at night and sees lights on the horizon. As those lights come into view, their color and arrangement creates a visual picture in the mind of the watch-stander that corresponds to a visual image he or she would have created from day-time watch-standing. This image is then plugged into the COLREGS prescriptions and proper determinations of the stand-on and give-way vessel are made.

But what if one of the ship’s navigation lights is obscured either physically or visually by other lighting (lighting not in accordance with COLREGS)? Such situations are not unusual. Cruise ships can sometimes be particularly difficult to assess based solely on topside lighting configuration. Fog is another special problem for visually assessing responsibility to maneuver, and fog at night is worst of all.
We don’t have to rely solely on the human eye and brain to make determinations of give-way and stand-on vessel at sea. Virtually all ships plying international waters (and certainly both ships involved in this incident) are equipped with electronic means for tracking other ships and alerting watch-standers (people working on the ship’s bridges) to the danger of collision.
When I was in command, I had a monitor installed next to my bed that replicated one of the main command-and-control pictures available to my watch-standers. This monitor was a “God’s-eye view” straight down on my ship out to 8 nautical miles. My ship was in the center, and other ships in the area were represented by ship avatars which indicated both their direction of movement and their speed. When the bridge watch called and woke me up to report a nearby ship that would pass close enough to be of interest, I swiveled this monitor away from the wall and matched what they were telling me with what the “radar” picture was telling me. Virtually all the time, the stories matched. Now and then, I saw something in the radar picture that was not reflected in the narrative from the bridge and asked for clarification. On occasion, I was concerned with a conflict and shuffled up to the bridge to have a look for myself.
Sometimes, the weather and waves conspire to create cluttered radar pictures. Such clutter is especially prevalent close to the ship, and this clutter can sometimes mask ships especially small ones, or contribute to not being able to hold a steady track on a contact, thereby creating a confusing evaluation of its course and speed.
On occasion — again, because of the presence of humans in the decision loop — plainly obvious situations are misinterpreted because of confirmation bias: Anomalous information might not match the mental picture that a bridge watch-stander has developed, and is then ignored. A classic case of this happening was the October 1996 collision involving the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 72) and the USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55). Essentially, the Roosevelt “backed down” into the Leyte Gulf while, unbeknownst to the Leyte’s watch-standers, conducting engineering drills. The radar picture told a story of a massive aircraft carrier moving astern at a high rate of speed, but the mental picture of the bridge personnel on the Leyte — who did not know that such a maneuver was going to happen — disregarded what their system was telling them, and they failed to turn in sufficient time to avoid collision.
Big ships do not turn or stop on a dime. A 29,000-ton merchant vessel traveling at 15 knots takes a long time to stop or slow, and its turning radius is quite large. Using formulas from the ABS source cited here, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) standard for the container ship involved in this collision appears to be approximately 2.5 nautical miles to stop (at 15 knots) and over a half mile turning radius. The 9000-ton destroyer in question is quite nimble comparatively, but our automobile-infused understanding of last second swerves or the power of anti-lock brakes simply fails in this context. Decisions to avoid collision must occur far earlier and at far greater distances than in an automobile, and the longer that decision is delayed, the fewer options for avoidance will exist. In a car accident, the point at which maneuvers by either car will be insufficient to avoid the collision happen in milliseconds before impact, but that point is reached in the tens of seconds or more before impact between ships. Without early action, all either ship can do is to try and minimize the angle of impact.
The Human Factor and the Unforgiving Seas
Because ships at sea are required to have embarked humans in the decision loop (something that may indeed become a relic of the past as automation and artificial intelligence improves), human factors will continue to dominate as the cause of collisions. Were the watch-standers on each ship well-qualified? Were they distracted? Were they properly rested? Did they understand the rules of the road? Was the proper maintenance performed on installed electronic navigation systems? Were those systems ignored or devalued?
These questions and more will be posed by the various organizations — Navy and civilian — who will investigate this collision. It is nearly inconceivable that human factors will be eliminated as a contributing cause of this incident. It is quite likely that they will be cited as the primary causes.
But the human factor cuts both ways. I am certain that the crew of the Fitzgerald harnessed many very human factors to save their ship. Given what is already being reported about the spaces that flooded and their size, a heroic effort was required to keep that ship from sinking. Americans young and not so young fought through the night and into the next day to bring that ship safely back to port—all the while knowing that several shipmates were injured, possibly dead, and that their captain had been badly hurt.
There will be time later to affix blame for this tragedy. For a few days, I will spend my time thinking about families who have lost, and a crew that is hurting. I hope you will too.

James Clapper and the "Revolving Door" of Corruption in the Military Industrial Complex... reports, 

James Clapper is known for many things:

Being accused by Colonel W. Patrick Lang of “damn near destroy[ing] the DIA.” 

Withholding information from lawmakers and not having a good reputation in the intelligence committees for being orostraightforward and actively forthcoming. 

Lying under oath in 2013. Receiving the Rosemary Award for having the worst open-government performance of 2013. Being derided as “another old hack in a job without teeth” by the global intelligence organization Stratfor and describing Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood  as “largely secular.”

Underestimating the war in Syria while also underestimating ISIS and overestimating the fighting capability of the Iraqi army. Stating that changes to the Benghazi reports were not made for political reasons, and that there was “no attempt to mislead the American people about what happened in Benghazi.” 

Having US senators remove a section of an intelligence bill requiring the White House to disclose information on “noncombatant civilians” killed by US drone strikes overseas.

Lying to Congress by asserting that Julian Assange has been indicted for a sex-crime and falsely claiming under oath that there was no release of Republican data during the 2016 presidential elections.

Clapper also has contended that he played in integral role in reporting on the presence of WMD’s in Iraq, stating that “my fingerprints were on that national intelligence estimate, I was in the community then” as well as his involvement in the manipulation of military intelligence reports.

However, there is one aspect of Clapper’s history that has not received as much media coverage: his involvement with private intelligence contractors at the heart of corruption and inefficient defense policy.

I. Booz Allen Hamilton

James Clapper, who served as the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) from August 9, 2010 – January 20, 2017, was appointed by President Barack Obama to succeed Bush appointee Mike McConnell.

While both men were appointed to their position by Presidents from opposing parties, both have one thing in common: Booz Allen Hamilton.

Before being appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence in 2006, Clapper was an executive on the board of Booz Allen Hamilton.

Similarly, Mike McConnell was Senior Vice President at Booze Allen Hamilton before his promotion to serving as DNI. In the aftermath of Clapper being appointed to DNI in 2010, McConnell returned to Booze Allen Hamilton where he become the Vice Chairman in 2011.

In 2010, during his nomination hearing, Clapper was asked about the close relationship between the federal government and contractors. Clapper responded by defending the private sector’s role, stating: “I worked as a contractor for six years myself, so I think I have a good understanding of the contribution that they have made and will continue to make.”

In fact, the relationship between the federal government and Booz Allen Hamilton is so close that as Bloomberg noted, one could: “Name a retired senior official from the NSA or the CIA or the various military intelligence branches, and there’s a good chance he works for a contractor—most likely Booz Allen. Name a senior intelligence official serving in the government, and there’s a good chance he used to work for Booz Allen.”

What is the significance of this? As reported in September of 2016, “For the first time since spy agencies began outsourcing their core analytic and operational work in the late 1990s, the bulk of the contracted work goes to a handful of companies: Leidos, Booz Allen Hamilton, CSRA, SAIC, and CACI International.” In other words, there is almost a complete monopoly on defense contracting in the U.S..

There is a club, and only former government employees are able to join it.

II. Booz Allen Hamilton History Through Clapper’s Tenure as DNI

Throughout Clapper’s tenure as Director of National Intelligence, Booz Allen Hamilton has had a series of problems in maintaining the intelligence secrets of the U.S. government.
In 2011, the hacking collective, Anonymous, broke into a server operated by Booz Allen Hamilton, disclosing log-in credentials including 90,000 military email addresses and passwords.

This information contained the login information for personnel from CENTCOM, SOCOM, the Marine Corps, Air Force facilities, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, as well as other private sector contractors.

According to Anonymous, Booz Allen Hamilton, despite working with federal government on defense matters, lacks security. Anonymous targeted Booz Allen Hamilton due to the company’s involvement in the controversial SWIFT surveillance program.

The Privacy Commission of Belgium, where the SWIFT program is headquartered, declared that the surveillance was a violation of European privacy laws.

Despite this hack, Booz Allen Hamilton continued to receive government contracts.
In February 2012, the Air Force proposed the debarment of the Booz Allen office in San Antonio, Texas, along with five of its employees, after a senior associate allegedly shared protected, non-public information regarding information technology support services contact that would have given Booz Allen an unfair competitive advantage.

 The Air Force agreed to lift their suspension of Booz Allen after the company agreed to pay the Air Force a $65,000 penalty.

In 2013, Edward Snowden stole a significant amount of data from Booz Allen Hamilton before passing it to Wikileaks.

These leaks showed the massive government surveillance being conducted by the NSA, in violation of American’s Fourth Amendment Rights. However, one important detail that was vaguely mentioned was that Edward Snowden was and employee of Booz Allen Hamilton.

More importantly, Snowden was an employee for Booz Allen for less than three months. While the information provided by Snowden has been extremely beneficial to the American people, it should be concerning to all Americans that an employee can pass a federal background check, and leak highly classified information to the public after being employed for three months.

In fact, as reported by Reuters, hiring screeners at Booz Allen Hamilton found possible discrepancies in Snowden’s resume, but the company still chose to employ him. This raises questions of how competent these contracting agencies are in performing simple background checks.

However, despite the “Snowden leaks”, the company would continue to win government contracts, as months later, Booz Allen would become one of 16 other companies to win a $6 billion contract, becoming one of the largest unclassified cybersecurity agreements in U.S. history. Some of the most notable contracts awarded to Booze Allen in 2013 included:

June 17, 2013: $133 million award from GSA for program, tech, & sustainment IT support to assist PM TR & Product Mngmnt (PdM) Offices to procure & field tactical radio network communication systems.

June 21, 2013: $25.8 million award from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to provide program and technical support to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Policy in coordination and management of its policy research and assessment.

July 23, 2013: $78 million in competitive contract actions to support critical national health offices in its first quarter of fiscal year 2014.

August 2, 2013: $900 million to support the integrated cybersecurity and Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance (C4ISR) operations of the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic (SCC Atlantic).

August 22, 2013: $243 million award from Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR)/NAWCAD Pax River to provide technical products & engineering services for JPALS, N-UCAS & UCLASS programs.

Booz Allen Hamilton would continue to be awarded many notable contracts throughout 2013.

In August 2013, when asked how Booz Allen is able to continue to be awarded such high profile contracts, Joe Newman, communications director for the watchdog group Project on Government Oversight, responded: “When you start talking about these contractors at the top of the list, a lot of times they’re what we call ‘too big to suspend or debar.

Their tentacles are so deep in the government that it’s very hard for the government to punish them.”

Newman went on to state that firms such as Booz Allen have a personal advantage, in that they not only spend millions on lobbying, but that, “Former executives of Booz Allen are in government, and people in government have gone into Booz Allen’s payroll; they know each other—they look out for their friends.”

In October 2016, it was reported that another employee of Booz Allen was found to be in unauthorized possession of Top Secret information.

Harold T. Martin III, who worked as a contractor to the NSA through the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, was found to be in possession of approximately 50,000 gigabytes, enough to store 500 million documents containing images and text.

This information ranged from 1996 to 2016, and included a document regarding specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States and its allies.

The Justice Department disclosed that these documents included the names of covert intelligence officers were among the pilfered data.

However, despite the arrest of a former employee in possession of Top Secret information, Booz Allen profit margins would not be hurt. In fact, despite this arrest, Booz Allen’s stock hit historic highs since it went public in 2010. Booz Allen’s stock would be upgraded from “neutral” to a “buy” rating, increasing the value from $33 to $41.

III. Booz Allen Hamilton Is Owned By The Controversial Carlyle Group

Booz Allen also acts as a subsidiary for a larger holding company with controversial connections to international private equity group which has troubling ties to figures linked to terrorism and oppressive regimes.

In May 2008, Booz Allen Hamilton was purchased by the Carlyle Group. In 2010, the same year that James Clapper was appointed Director of National Intelligence, Booz Allen Hamilton went public.

 By 2013 the Carlyle Group owned 95.66 million shares, around 69% of company, which was valued at about $1.66 billion.

The Carlyle Group is a global alternative asset manager with $162 billion of assets under management across 287 investment vehicles.

The Washington Post has noted that as of March 31, 2010, Booz Allen Hamilton’s reported operating income of less than $200 million on revenue of $5.1 billion.

However, within only 3 years, revenue rose to $5.8 billion, as operating income doubled to $446 million. As the Post notes, while sales rose slowly, profit margins rose dramatically, which explains how, “bottom line earnings went from $25 million in fiscal 2010, to almost nine times that in 2013.” 

Reports have indicated that this surge in profits was due to a massive influx of government spending. In 2013, it was further reported that company filings showed that 99% of Booz Allen’s overall revenue came from the federal government.

In 2016, it was reported that 97% of Booz Allen’s overall revenue came from the federal government.

On October 31st, 2001, The Guardian reported that the family of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was listed as one of the firm’s multi-million dollar investors.

The Bin Laden family is reported to have been invested in the Carlyle Group for six years.

 In fact, as a member of the board, former President George H.W. Bush is also reported to have visited the Bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia twice on the firm’s behalf.

On January 8th, 2011, ABC News reported that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, considered by many to be an oppressive dictator, was using tear gas in order to disperse crowds of protestors.

However, these tear gas canisters were labeled “Made in U.S.A.” and were being produced by Combined Systems International of Jamestown, Pennsylvania. Combined Systems International is partially owned by Point Lookout Capital and the Carlye Group.

In 2012, the relationship between the Carlyle Group and the Middle East was further revealed with the release of the Global Intelligence Files by Wikileaks.

According to an email from September 19, 2007, David Marchick, former Deputy United States Assistant Secretary of State who served in the Clinton Administration, represented the Carlyle Group in a sale of aviation assets to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise, in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2016, after the release of the Panama Papers, the identity of another major investor in the Carlyle Group was brought to light. This investor was none other than billionaire George Soros.

According to the Panama Papers, it was revealed that Soros Capital set up an offshore company in the Cayman Islands for the purpose of investing private equity with the Carlyle Group.

Soros has spent hundreds of millions to support various anti-government movements, including the Women’s March, the People’s Climate March, the Tax Day protests and far left Berkeley protest group Refuse Fascism.

The ACLU also began actively organizing and training protest movements just one month after Soros sank $35 million into the group.

On May 26th, 2017, Disobedient Media reported that Soros was also supporting groups who were using the net neutrality movement as a means of promoting censorship of alternative and conservative media outlets.

James Clapper’s close affiliation with a defense industry riddled with corruption and firms who have specifically affiliated with figures who openly engage in hostile behavior towards the United States severely calls his credibility into question given the central role he has played in informing the U.S. government and public on matters pertaining to the current administration. 

Clapper has in the past disingenuously tried to claim that the Russian government intervened in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, while also admitting that there was no evidence of Russia affecting the vote tallies in any U.S. states.

Given the current U.S. president’s public commitment to cutting back on fraud, corruption and waste in all sectors of the U.S. government, the professional ties of those speaking as authorities on American political issues are of high importance.

Clapper’s indicate that they incentivize him to defend harmful and unethical practices, and will influence him to mislead rather than speak truthfully to the American people.