Soldiers spent 35 days training at Camp Clark for pre-mobilization training that allowed them to learn necessary skills for deployment. They learned how to use a Defense Advanced GPS Receiver for land navigation, the proper technique for removing a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical suit, how to move as a team during urban operations and much more. Soldiers finalized appropriate training for deployment at Fort Dix, N.J., before heading to Iraq.
Spc. Jeffery A. Norris, of Independence, has been with the Missouri Army National Guard for over 19 years and is a military policeman for the 1139th Military Police Company in Harrisonville. He has also served in the active duty Army.
The above is from Rachel Knight's "Local soldiers deploy to Iraq with 1139th MPs" (Independence Examiner) and, yes, the Iraq War continues and, yes, US troops continue to deploy there. KWTX reports on the VA in Waco, Texas plan to employ an additional 100 workers in order to meet claims processing needs (link has video and text including House Rep Chet Edwards and VA Secretary Eric Shinseki speaking). The 100 additional employees will bring to 359 the number of employees the Waco VA will have added in the last two years.
In yesterday's snapshot, we noted the latest on Marc Hall who was attempting to have his court-martial held in the US and not in Iraq but Judge William T. Moore Jr. did not grant his appeal. Dahr Jamail (MidEast Dispatches) reports:
It is believed that Hall is still incarcerated in the Liberty County Jail in Hinesville, Georgia, but it is possible that Hall could already be in Iraq. Neither Hall's attorneys, nor even the military prosecutor, know of Hall's whereabouts.
"Not just the Constitution, but the rules for courts-martial, prohibit prosecutors from holding a court-martial in a combat zone as a pretext for depriving an accused of a public trial, counsel of his choice and necessary witnesses," David Gespass, Hall's civilian attorney and the president of the National Lawyers Guild, said of the Army's decision, "Whatever the Army may claim, that is exactly what the Army is doing to Marc."
UPI covers the latest news here, AllHipHop Daily News here. Meanwhile, remember the silence over the US-based firms that are set to profit from Iraqi oil? A number of right-wingers as well as journalists with feeble minds were insisting, "It wasn't about oil! It had nothing to do with oil! If it did, the US would be getting Iraq fields!" That insane argument required that you believe all companies were nationals (as opposed to multi-nationals), that you weren't aware the prize fields still haven't been auctioned off and that you weren't aware of what oil production entails. Monica Hatcher's "Iraq's oil revival could be a gusher for Houston firms" (Houston Chronicle) will probably be ignored in the same way other reports on how US-based firms are set to profit:
With Iraq poised to begin the first major overhaul of its energy sector in decades, Houston stands to benefit in a big way from the multibillion dollar effort to redevelop the country's battered oil fields, a project one analyst described as the greatest opportunity in the oil patch today.
A 23-member delegation from the country's oil ministry visited Houston this week, meeting with officials of engineering and oil field services companies and other businesses likely to play a major role in the reconstruction efforts.
Valerie Harper is amazing in Looped. The show is now doing Broadway previews. For some reason, Joe Allen decides to weigh in on Tallulah in "Another side of a movie legend" (US Socialist Worker). First off, Tallulah Bankhead (whom Valerie plays so amazingly well) was not a "movie legend." She was a stage legend. Were she a "movie legend," Looped going to Broadway would be news because it would be another film being translated to a Broadway play. It's really sad that Allen can't even mention The Skin of Our Teeth -- let alone any of Tallulah's many successes in London and New York. Yes, after returning from a failed movie career, she stumbled onstage; however, prior to that she was guaranteed ticket sales which is why she was hired so often. Instead, he focuses -- kind-of, sort-of -- on the Little Foxes. And he ends his article with:
The other reason is the mysterious choices that biographers and playwrights make about their subjects, usually based on what they think will be "popular." Sometimes they're right, and other times they're wrong. But either way, it usually means that we never see the complete person.
As a new play about Tallulah Bankhead opens, it's important to remember there was another side to her that is worth knowing.
No, not on what is "popular," on what you can do in the limited time frame. I'm getting damn sick of people who don't know the first thing about a script or a play 'informing' us of how decisions are made. Ally Sheedy has a wonderful moment in The Breakfast Club, a scene of just her, singing a Phil Ochs song and hugging herself. Obviously, that scene was cut because it was too much, right? Wrong. It just didn't fit with the movie and the movie was already too long. Sometimes a banana is just a banana. Tallulah lived a long, long life and there's way too much for any one play. The decisions made on what to include in Looped weren't made in terms of "popular" -- in fact, there are some very 'scandalous' moments in the play.
Furthermore, why is the Socialist Worker writing about Tallulah? And if they're going to be, why don't they do so honestly. Lillian Hellman wrote The Little Foxes. A great play (Bette Davis is amazing in the film directed by William Wyler). Joe Allen wants to talk about that -- and really only that -- but leaves out Hellman and Talluah's conflict. Strange because Lillian couldn't talk about Tallulah without anger long afterwards (I knew Lillian after Tallulah was dead). The two women hated each other. Why didn't Joe Allen include that? Did he not think it was 'popular'?
He may not know. Tallulah was a Democrat. Why is the Socialist Worker writing about her? Her conflict with Lillian was over the USSR and Communism. And Tallulah was strongly anti-communist. Allen writes about how Tallulah didn't have an FBI file. Why would she? She was never suspected of being a Communist which was one of the reasons J. Edgar Hoover would order surveillance. In addition -- and Joe Allen should have known this, Tallulah was very good friends with Hoover.
Again, why did the Socialist Worker write about Tallulah? I have no idea. But she was staunchly anti-Communist. It was the conflict between her and Lillian -- a huge conflict -- that led the two women to loathe one another.
Allen wrote, "The other reason is the mysterious choices that biographers and playwrights make about their subjects, usually based on what they think will be 'popular.' Sometimes they're right, and other times they're wrong. But either way, it usually means that we never see the complete person." Maybe that's a confession? Maybe he's telling us he chose to write what he thought would be "popular" with readers of the Socialist Worker and that's why he left out Tallulah's very public loathing of Communism? I have no idea. I'm writing about it because a friend sent me the article and because Valerie's show Looped has made it to Broadway and she's amazing in it, so see it if you can, you won't feel the evening was wasted. She'll blow you away with her performance. I've seen her performance three times and each time I've been amazed. It's a great piece of theater and Valerie should easily garner a Tony nomination for her performance.
And for the record, I like Joe Allen's writing. But I'm getting really tired of ulterior motives being ascribed to every project by people who don't know better. Community members can put this with my problems with a person who thought you could show up as a movie was being filmed with 'character notes' and everyone would be thrilled, as the movie was being shot, to get your notes on how the characters they had already created should be.
The following community sites updated last night:
Lastly the US Justice Dept. First, they issued the following yesterday:
U.S. Army Contracting Official Charged with Bribery and Related Crimes in Off-Post Housing Scheme
A U.S. Army contracting official was charged today with bribery and unlawful salary supplementation in connection with two schemes to solicit more than $30,000 in bribes from an Egyptian businessman in Kuwait, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia.
William Rondell Collins, 46, of Bartlett, Tenn., was charged today in a four-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia, with two counts of soliciting and accepting bribes as a public official and two counts of unlawful salary supplementation from a source other than the U.S. government.
According to the indictment, the U.S. Army Area Support Group-Kuwait (ASG-KU) is responsible for maintaining Camp Arifjan, a U.S. military installation providing support for operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other locations in the Southwest Asian Theater. As part of those responsibilities, the ASG-KU maintains an off-post housing office in downtown Kuwait City, which procures, leases and supervises off-post housing for government employees and military service members stationed at Camp Arifjan. According to the indictment, Collins was employed in the ASG-KU’s off-post housing office as a housing specialist responsible for supervising private contractors and procuring off-post apartment rentals.
The indictment alleges that, in January 2009, a company owned by an Egyptian businessman was awarded a fixed-price U.S. government contract to provide maintenance services for off-post housing managed by Collins and the ASG-KU off-post housing office.
According to the indictment, in July 2009, Collins allegedly solicited a monthly fee of approximately $1,400 from the Egyptian businessman in return for Collins’s agreement to provide favorable and preferential treatment and advice to the Egyptian businessman’s company on the performance and renewal of the contract. Collins also allegedly agreed to conceal from his supervisors the existence and nature of the monthly fee arrangement. According to the indictment, Collins allegedly accepted five $1,400 payments from the Egyptian businessman between July and December 2009.
The indictment also alleges that, between July and December 2009, Collins solicited a monthly payment of approximately $962 from the Egyptian businessman in exchange for drafting and submitting an inflated off-post apartment lease to the United States for approval. According to the indictment, Collins allegedly received approximately $5,775 from the Egyptian businessman on Dec. 13, 2009, representing a six-month advance on the scheme.
The bribery counts each carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost. The unlawful salary supplementation counts each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of the greater of $250,000 or twice the value gained or lost.
The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve A. Linick, Deputy Chief of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section; and Fraud Section Trial Attorneys James J. Graham and Ryan S. Faulconer. The investigation is being conducted by the FBI, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and members of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force and the International Contract Corruption Task Force (ICCTF).
The National Procurement Fraud Task Force, created in October 2006 by the Department of Justice, was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention, and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs. The ICCTF is a joint law enforcement agency task force that seeks to detect, investigate, and dismantle corruption and contract fraud resulting from U.S. Overseas Contingency Operations, including in Kuwait, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
And they issued this on Wednesday:
Former U.S. Military Contractor Pleads Guilty to Bribery and Money Laundering Scheme Related to Defense Department Contracts in Support of Iraqi War
Defendant to Forfeit $15,757,000 to the U.S. Government
Former military contractor Terry Hall, 43, of Snellville, Ga., pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to pay more than $3 million in bribes to U.S. Army contracting officials stationed at Camp Arifjan, an Army base in Kuwait, and to money laundering conspiracy, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Criminal Division.
Terry Hall was indicted on May 6, 2009, along with U.S. Army Major Eddie Pressley, 39, and his wife, Eurica Pressley, 37, both of Harvest, Ala. According to court documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, Hall’s companies received approximately $21 million between 2005 and 2007 in connection with contracts his companies received. To obtain the contracting business and facilitate unlawful payments by other contractors, Hall admitted he made more than $3 million in unlawful payments and provided other valuable items and services to U.S. Army contracting officials stationed at Camp Arifjan, including U.S. Army Major Eddie Pressley, and former Majors John Cockerham, James Momon and Christopher Murray, among others.
According to court documents, Hall owned and operated several companies, including Freedom Consulting and Catering Co., (FCC) and Total Government Allegiance (TGA), which provided goods and services to the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in connection with Operation Iraqi Freedom. Hall’s companies received a Blanket Purchase Agreement (BPA) to deliver bottled water in Iraq and a contract to construct a security fence in Kuwait.
A BPA is an indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract by which the DoD agrees to pay a contractor a specified price for a particular good or service. Based on a BPA, the DoD is permitted to order the supplies on an as-needed basis, and the contractor is bound by the price agreed upon in the BPA. The term for this type of order by the DoD is a "call."
The case against Hall arose out of a wide-ranging investigation of corruption at the Camp Arifjan contracting office. To date, eight individuals including Hall have pleaded guilty for their roles in the bribery scheme. On Dec. 2, 2009, former Cockerham was sentenced to 210 months in prison and ordered to pay $9.6 million in restitution. According to court documents, Cockerham arranged for Hall’s companies to receive bottled water calls worth more than $2.6 million, as a result of which Hall paid Cockerham approximately $800,000.
According to court documents, Momon arranged for Hall’s companies to receive bottled water calls worth approximately $6.4 million, as a result of which Hall paid Momon more than $300,000. Momon pleaded guilty on Aug. 13, 2008, to receiving bribes from various contractors at Camp Arifjan, including Hall, and is awaiting sentencing.
Also according to court documents, Murray arranged for Hall to receive contracts to construct security fences at Camp Arifjan, as a result of which Hall paid Murray approximately $30,000. Murray pleaded guilty to receiving bribes from various contractors at Camp Arifjan, including Hall, and making a false statement. He was sentenced on Jan. 8, 2009, to 57 months in prison and ordered to pay $245,000 in restitution.
The case against Eddie Pressley and his wife, Eurica Pressley, is scheduled for trial on April 5, 2010. The indictment alleges that the Pressleys received more than $2.8 million in money and other valuable items from Hall, in exchange for Eddie Pressley’s agreement to take official actions to benefit Hall. Eurica Pressley, at her husband’s request, allegedly arranged for an entity named EGP Business Solutions Inc., (EGP) to be incorporated, opened a bank account in the name of EGP, and opened bank accounts in her name in the United States, Dubai, United Arab Emirates and the Cayman Islands, all in order to receive the bribe payments.
The charge of bribery conspiracy carries a maximum prison sentence of five years and a $250,000 fine. The money laundering conspiracy carries a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a $250,000 fine. According to the court documents, Hall will forfeit $15,757,000 to the U.S. government.
The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Peter C. Sprung and Edward J. Loya Jr. of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section. The case is being investigated by special agents of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, the Army Criminal Investigation Command, Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI.
The National Procurement Fraud Task Force, created in October 2006 by the Department of Justice, was designed to promote the early detection, identification, prevention and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity for national security and other government programs.
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