Warren B. Kanders with his wife. This douchebag’s company can’t produce enough armor-upgraded humvees to keep the troops safe but has lobbied aggressively for an exclusive contract.
The New York Times had two very enlightening stories yesterday worth mentioning. The first discussed the Pentagon’s refusal to supply the troops with safer humvees. Turns out there’s an exclusive humvee production contract held by an inept company called O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt. Not surprisingly, Warren B. Kanders, the CEO of O’Gara’s parent company, Armor Holdings, was a big contributor to the Bush campaign. The failure to produce the humvees needed to keep our troops safe is in part a result of O’Gara’s lobbying to keep their exclusive contract with our military. From NYTimes:
The Defense Department continues to rely on just one small company in Ohio to armor Humvees. And the company, O’Gara-Hess & Eisenhardt, has waged an aggressive campaign to hold onto its exclusive deal even as soaring rush orders from Iraq have been plagued by delays. The Marine Corps, for example, is still awaiting the 498 armored Humvees it sought last fall, officials told The Times.
In January, when military officials tried to speed production by buying the legal rights to the armor design so they could enlist other venders to help, O’Gara demurred, calling the move a threat to its “current and future competitive position,” according to e-mail records obtained from the Army….
Determined to hold onto its exclusive contract, O’Gara began lobbying Capitol Hill. Among those it drew to its side was Brian T. Hart, an outspoken father of a soldier who was killed in October 2003 while riding in a Humvee. Early last year, as a guest on a national radio show, Mr. Hart urged the Pentagon to involve more armor makers. Two weeks later a lobbyist for O’Gara approached him.
“He informed me that the company had more than enough capacity,” Mr. Hart says. “There was no need to second-source.”
Mr. Hart then redirected his efforts to help the company push Congress into forcing the Pentagon to buy more armored Humvees. With support from both parties, the company has received more than $1 billion in the past 18 months in military armoring contracts….
Meanwhile, the Army did not give up on trying to speed production by involving more armor makers. Brig. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly said several armor companies were eager to be part of a plan to produce armored Humvees entirely on AM General’s assembly line.
In January, when it asked O’Gara to name its price for the design rights for the armor, the company balked and suggested instead that the rights be placed in escrow for the Army to grab should the company ever fail to perform.
“Let’s try this again,” an Army major replied to the company in an e-mail message. “The question concerned the cost, not a request for an opinion.”
The Army has dropped the matter for now, General O’Reilly said, adding that he hoped to have other companies making armor by next April.
Asked why the Marine Corps is still waiting for the 498 Humvees it ordered last year, O’Gara acknowledged that it told the Marines it was backed up with Army orders, and has only begun filling the Marines’ request this month.
The other story was by Frank Rich (of course) and detailed a potential conspiracy behind the scenes at Tomlinson’s Corporation for Public Broadcasting:
Like the theoretical demise of Big Bird, this funding tug-of-war is a smoke screen that deflects attention from the real story. Look instead at the seemingly paltry $14,170 that, as Stephen Labaton of The New York Times reported on June 16, found its way to a mysterious recipient in Indiana named Fred Mann. Mr. Labaton learned that in 2004 Kenneth Tomlinson, the Karl Rove pal who is chairman of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, clandestinely paid this sum to Mr. Mann to monitor his PBS b√™te noire, Bill Moyers’s “Now.”
Now, why would Mr. Tomlinson pay for information that any half-sentient viewer could track with TiVo? Why would he hire someone in Indiana? Why would he keep this contract a secret from his own board? Why, when a reporter exposed his secret, would he try to cover it up by falsely maintaining in a letter to an inquiring member of the Senate, Byron Dorgan, that another CPB executive had “approved and signed” the Mann contract when he had signed it himself? If there’s a news story that can be likened to the “third-rate burglary,” the canary in the coal mine that invited greater scrutiny of the Nixon administration’s darkest ambitions, this strange little sideshow could be it.
After Mr. Labaton’s first report, Senator Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, called Mr. Tomlinson demanding to see the “product” Mr. Mann had provided for his $14,170 payday. Mr. Tomlinson sent the senator some 50 pages of “raw data.” Sifting through those pages when we spoke by phone last week, Mr. Dorgan said it wasn’t merely Mr. Moyers’s show that was monitored but also the programs of Tavis Smiley and NPR’s Diane Rehm.
Their guests were rated either L for liberal or C for conservative, and “anti-administration” was affixed to any segment raising questions about the Bush presidency. Thus was the conservative Republican Senator Chuck Hagel given the same L as Bill Clinton simply because he expressed doubts about Iraq in a discussion mainly devoted to praising Ronald Reagan. Three of The Washington Post’s star beat reporters (none of whom covers the White House or politics or writes opinion pieces) were similarly singled out simply for doing their job as journalists by asking questions about administration policies.
“It’s pretty scary stuff to judge media, particularly public media, by whether it’s pro or anti the president,” Senator Dorgan said. “It’s unbelievable.”
You can read the whole article here.