Posts tagged USA
A former manager for one of the biggest US defense contractors says he was removed from his job after accusing his higher-ups of defrauding the government.
Cornelius Hosch, the one-time head of counter-IED intelligence for BAE Systems Information Solutions’ eastern Afghanistan office, sued his former employer in federal court on Tuesday.
Hosch, a US Army veteran with nearly 20 years of experience in the military, says his problems with BAE began after he alerted his supervisor to what he considered fraud in December 2011, just days after he started his employment with the company.
During his tenure with BAE, Hosch says the company overcharged the US government for services they were contracted to do.
“BAE was hiring certain personnel to complete logistical and administrative tasks but BAE was using these personnel to bill the government for more lucrative labor,” he alleges in the complaint, discovered by Courthouse News.
“By falsely and purposefully miscategorizing the work performed, BAE charged the government for more work than was actually performed or which was contractually permitted,” he claims.
After voicing his concerns with his supervisor, Hosch says he was harassed by higher-ups within the company. He claims to have spoken up against in February 2012, and was warned against voicing his concerns again.
“‘You better not talk to me again about labor category fraud and time card fraud because I am using guys at my HQ to do my admin and help Mr. Tutt with ghostwriting of FRAGO’s,” Hosch claims his former supervisor, Dan Weber, told him. Courthouse News suggests that “FRAGO” is shorthand defense-speak for “fragmentary orders.”
“Weber also threatened Hosch by saying that if he ‘kept it up’ then he would ‘end up like Tony,’ an employee whose contract was not extended after the first year because Tony would ‘question things’ that did not ‘look or sound right,’” the complaint continues.
Hosch says he reported Weber’s behavior and the allegations of fraud to his employer’s ethics department, and was removed from his job shortly after. He says BAE retaliated against him in violation of the False Claims Act and is seeking compensatory damages and special damages for mental and emotional distress and harm to his reputation.
With two decades to go before it can reprocess spent nuclear fuel, the US will have to bury nearly 70,000 tons of it, a research lab reports. It comes after Congress and the Obama administration defunded a planned nuclear waste repository in 2011.
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a facility that does research for the Department of Energy (DOE), said that “about 68,450 [metric tons] or about 98 percent of the total current inventory by mass, can proceed to permanent disposal without the need to ensure retrievability for reuse or research purposes” in its report, published near the end of 2012. The rest of the waste, the report said, could be kept available for research on fuel reprocessing and storage.
The report was fairly obscure until being cited in a DOE document that showed plans to find a new permanent waste dump after Congress and the Obama administration cut funding for the Yucca Mountain repository in 2011.
Reprocessing has little support in Washington due to concerns that spent fuel could fall into the wrong hands. Nevertheless the DOE started looking into reprocessing methods in 2005.
But following the March 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, US officials became wary of recycling radioactive waste. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, co-chaired by Energy Secretary Steven Chu, said that “no currently available or reasonably foreseeable reactor and fuel cycle technology developments — including advances in reprocessing and recycling technologies — have the potential to fundamentally alter the waste management challenges the nation confronts over at least the next several decades, if not longer” in a report.
Reprocessing was not taken off the table following the report, though, with American officials saying it was “premature for the United States to commit, as a matter of policy, to ‘closing’ the nuclear fuel cycle given the large uncertainties that exist about the merits and commercial viability of different fuel cycle and technology options.”
The method is seen as a dangerous cash grab by anti-nuclear activists.
“Recycling is a euphemism for reprocessing which is one of the worst polluters of the atmosphere and the ocean, and is a direct conduit to proliferation,” Mali Martha Lightfoot, executive director of the Helen Caldicott Foundation, told Forbes. “It is not really a solution to anything except how can the industry get more of our money. It also ups the ante for reactor accident danger, as in the case of Fukushima, because MOX fuel has plutonium in it.”
So-called MOX fuel, short for mixed-oxide, is used in nuclear warheads usually consists of a mix of plutonium and uranium.
The stock of used nuclear fuel currently held at 79 temporary locations in 34 US states “is massive, diverse, dispersed, and increasing,” according to the Oak Ridge report.
The Pentagon has approved a deal to supply 6,900 precision bomb kits to replenish Israel’s weapons stockpiles, diminished by the recent war against Hamas in Gaza. The contract is valued at $647 million.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability,” the Pentagon said in a statement. The deal is expected to sail through formal approval by legislators.
The Boeing-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions are complex electronic guidance devices fitted onto missiles to make them vastly more accurate. Precision air-strikes were the main tactic employed by Israel during the 8-day attack on Gaza last month.
10,000 explosive charges are also part of the contract. Of these, 3,450 are one ton bombs, 1725 bombs weighing 250 kilograms with the rest being BLU-109 and GBU-39 bunker busters.
The Gaza bombardment, which Israel says it started in response to more than 2,000 Palestinian rockets launched this year, has been costly for both sides.
Palestinian authorities said that the cost of 120 buildings destroyed and 8,000 damaged buildings amounted to $1.2 billion.
Meanwhile, military operation Pillar of Defense cost Israel around $760 million. Officials estimate the conflict also indirectly cost the country $1.8 billion in lost tourist revenues.
More than 180 Palestinians were killed in the conflict and six Israelis.
As President Obama insists on a speedy end to the war in Afghanistan, his administration has other plans. A facility owned by the private security force once known as Blackwater has been awarded a $22 million contract to house US troops through 2015.
The private military company Academi — formerly Blackwater and, more recently, Xe — is the proud winner of a no-bid contract that will keep them profiting off Uncle Sam’s wars for the next few years. Under a deal first reported by Wired.com’s Danger Room, Academi will assist the recently created US Special Operations Joint Task Force–Afghanistan with housing facilities and office space on their massive 10-acre compound in Kabul named Camp Integrity.
According to Danger Room reporter Spencer Ackerman, Academi won the rights to lease Camp Integrity to the special ops team through May 2015, providing accommodations for some 7,000 elite troops.
If the growing use of governmental tip-toeing to wiretap phone lines and emails doesn’t seem serious, think again. So heightened lately are concerns over surveillance that two major organizations have published a primer on federal spy programs.
Both ProPublica and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have released thorough guides this week that explore what the US government can and can’t do in terms of tracking US citizens using an array of weirdly-worded wiretap laws currently on the books.
The EFF, a long-time opponent of the expanding evasive spy state, published on Thursday a collection of information they’re considering “Warrantless Surveillance 101: Introducing EFF’s New NSA Domestic Spying Guide.” Just two days earlier, the independent journalism project ProPublica released their own breakdown, “No Warrant, No Problem: How The Government Can Still Get Your Digital Data.”
The United State Department of Agriculture has finalized a report to address concerns from farmers who fear they’ll be next on an ever-expanding list of defendants sued by biotech giants Monsanto, but those worries aren’t about to end.
The Monsanto Company dominates more than just grow fields across the US, as evident in their stellar track record of taking small-time farmers to court and winning cases, an occurrence that Think Progress acknowledges happens roughly a dozen times a year. Time and time again, Monsanto’s patented, lab-made genetically engineered seeds are sold to one farmer, only for Mother Nature to move the crop onto neighboring fields with the help of a bit of wind. Just as often, of course, Monsanto’s team of high-paid litigators take the little guys to court, only to triumph thanks to a legal counsel that collects around $10 million a year just to take other farmers to court.
With Monsanto-led lawsuits all too common, the USDA was tasked with putting together a panel — the Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture, or AC21 — to analyze, among other items, “What types of compensation mechanisms, if any, would be appropriate to address economic losses1 by farmers in which the value of their crops is reduced by unintended presence of genetically engineered(GE) material(s)?”
The AC21 panel released their findings in a report [PDF] entitled ‘Enhancing Coexistence’ that was sent to the secretary of agriculture this week. In it, however, they have little to say to the farmers who are likely to be brought before a judge while Monsanto and other biotech kings come out on top.
Right as the sailors and Marines aboard three of the US Navy’s assault ships were on their way home for Thanksgiving, they received an order to turn the ship around and set sail for Israel.
After passing the Strait of Gibraltar, south of Spain, the USS New York, USS Iwo Jima and the USS Gunston Hall were forced to return in the direction they had just come from. The ships had been on their way back to the US after a six-month deployment, but will now have their deployment extended on the Israeli coast.
Rather than return shortly after Thanksgiving, the estimated 2,500 Marines will now be delayed until the most recent Israel-Gaza clash settles down.
The ships will be on reserve for Americans who need to escape Israel as a result of the recent conflict with Gaza or require treatment for injuries from the conflict. Deadly rocket attacks and bloody missile raids have left many dead in a week of continuous fighting.
Six years after the White House first started running amok on the computer networks of its adversaries, US President Barack Obama has signed off on a top-secret order that finally offers blueprints for the Pentagon’s cyberwars.
Pres. Obama has autographed an executive order outlining protocol and procedures for the US military to take in the name of preventing cyberattacks from foreign countries, the Washington Post reports, once and for all providing instructions from the Oval Office on how to manage the hush-hush assaults against opposing nation-states that have all been confirmed by the White House while at the same time defending America from any possible harm from abroad.
According to Post’s sources, namely “officials who have seen the classified document and are not authorized to speak on the record,” Pres. Obama signed the paperwork in mid-October. Those authorities explain to the paper that the initiative in question, Presidential Policy Directive 20, “establishes a broad and strict set of standards to guide the operations of federal agencies in confronting threats in cyberspace.”
Confronting a threat may sound harmless, but begs to introduce a chicken-and-the-egg scenario that could have some very serious implications. The Post describes the directive as being “the most extensive White House effort to date to wrestle with what constitutes an ‘offensive’ and a ‘defensive’ action in the rapidly evolving world of cyberwar and cyberterrorism,” but the ambiguous order may very well allow the US to continue assaulting the networks of other nations, now with a given go-ahead from the commander-in-chief. Next in line, the Post says, will be rules of engagement straight from the Pentagon that will provide guidelines for when to carry out assaults outside the realm of what is considered ‘American’ in terms of cyberspace.
A former intelligence officer with the Department of Defense has been given the go-ahead by a federal judge to sue the Pentagon and the CIA for censoring his best-selling account of the war in Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer can follow through with his plans to take his former employers to court, US District Judge Rosemary Collyer decided this week, ruling against the government’s arguments that the author of “Operation Dark Heart: Spycraft and Special Ops on the Frontlines of Afghanistan and the Path to Victory” had no standing to sue.
Shaffer has been after the government since 2010 when the Pentagon recalled 10,000 copies of “Operation Dark Heart” after it had already been printed, then order redactions on 250 pages — or around five-sevenths of the book. Shaffer says the Army Reserves cleared the contents of his book before it hit the presses, and insists that all materials cited in his account come from unclassified documents.
Speaking to RT after his book was originally yanked from stores, Shaffer said the government wasted nearly $50,000 on destroying his book although they had ample time to intervene before that.
“No surprise,” he said. “Unless I would have gone out with a blow horn and stood in front of the Pentagon and yelled about my book, I don’t know how else I could have made it any more clear the book was coming out.”
The unmanned drones that have become a hallmark of the Obama administration’s foreign policy wreak havoc across the world every day as part of the broadening war on terror, but you don’t have to be an insurgent or soldier to have a front-row seat.
The US military relies on stealthy, remote controlled Reaper and Predator drones — unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVS — to take out insurgents and suspected terrorists overseas without ever putting boots on the ground. But while the transmissions sent from the empty cockpits to control centers around the globe broadcast each and every move of America’s insanely expensive and extraordinary technology, that doesn’t mean the data is streamed solely to Uncle Sam.
In 2008, the US discovered that Shi’ite militants in Iraq had accessed the video feed sent from those stealth drones using only a $26 piece of software, then sent the footage to laptops that eventually landed in the hands of American intelligence. Wired.com’s Danger Room reports that the problem stemmed from something that warranted a relatively easy solution: retrofitting those aircraft with encryption devices that ensured only authorized eyes could see the stream. Four years down the road, however, a source involved in those upgrades tells the website that it’s still easy to hijack transmissions with hardly any trouble.
Only “30 to 50 percent” of the United States’ Predator and Reaper drones are using fully encrypted transmissions, a source familiar with the retrofitting effort tells Danger Room, adding that the United States’ missile-firing fleet of secret spy ships aren’t likely to be fully fixed until 2014, at which point US President Barack Obama says we will already be ending the war in Afghanistan.