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Bridget Johnson


March 29, 2013 - 1:05 pm

Americans’ tax dollars may currently be supporting terrorist groups by way of 43 questionable contractors used by the U.S. Army.

After passage of the “No Contracting with the Enemy Act” provision of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) identified nine contractors and the Entity List, a notification by the Department of Commerce supported by all-source intelligence analysis, identified 34 more as potentially having direct links to an insurgent or terrorist group.

These recommendations to suspend or terminate work with a contractor were referred to the Army for investigation in September 2012. The Army’s Suspension and Debarment office has a stated goal of 30 days to process referrals from an inspector general or investigative agency, but all of the cases are backlogged.

The individuals and companies identified are believed to have links to groups such as the Haqqani Network and al-Qaeda. Ground-level investigations into the referred contractors found the parties “were active supporters of the insurgency or were otherwise engaged in actively opposing U.S. and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan” or had provided “material support to persons engaged against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan.”

In a letter this week to Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno, Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), John Cornyn (R-Texas) and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) called for a review of these 43 outstanding cases.

“Given the serious nature of these determinations, we strongly believe these cases continue to warrant special and immediate consideration from the Department of the Army,” the lawmakers wrote.

They noted a Jan. 15 response from the Army chiefs stating “the 43 recommendations did not include any supporting evidence other than the fact that the subject individuals or entities were so listed.” But the Army needed to look at classified materials to see that evidence.

“Despite numerous attempts by the SIGAR office to facilitate involvement in these cases by the Army’s Suspension and Debarment Official (SDO), it is our understanding that this individual has not yet conducted necessary reviews of the classified materials,” the senators wrote.

“We strongly believe that these debarment referrals are sufficient to call into question the acceptability of doing business with the named individuals or companies. However, we also believe that a thorough review of the underlying evidence is essential to effectively processing these 43 cases. While we understand that the review process may have started with some cases, it is time for the Army’s Procurement Fraud Branch and the SDO to fully process these designations without further delay.”

The senators asked for a determination to be made on each case within 30 days.

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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