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Public Statements

Letter to The Honorable John McHugh, Secretary of the Army and General Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army - Renew Call for Army to Fully Review Contractor Cases With Links to Terrorists Groups

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and a bipartisan group of senators led by U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) are expressing continued concern and frustration over the Army's use of contractors that have potential ties to terrorist groups. The senators specifically referred to a longstanding backlog of 43 referrals pending before the Army's Suspension and Debarment Official that involve individuals or companies with links to groups including the Haqqani Network and Al Qaeda as reason for concern that underscores the Army's need to take swift action.

In a letter to Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno -- sent by Senators Blumenthal, Shaheen, Richard Burr (R-NC), Tom Coburn (R-OK), John Cornyn (R-TX) and James Inhofe (R-OK) -- the Senators follow up on a letter sent in December calling for greater responsiveness by the Army in processing these and other suspension and debarment recommendations.

"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 letter said regarding the 43 cases.

The recommendations to suspend or terminate work with a contractor were made by U.S. Central Command and the Department of Commerce and are then sent to the Army for review and to make a final decision on whether or not to end a contract with the individual or company in question. Significant lapses between when these referrals are submitted and when they are finally processed increases the risk that taxpayer dollars could flow to terrorist groups.

"We strongly believe that these debarment referrals are sufficient to call into question the acceptability of doing business with the named individuals or companies," the letter said.

"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 stated goal for the Army's Suspension and Debarment Official is to complete referrals from an inspector general or investigative agency within 30 days; the 43 referrals of concern were sent to the Army in September 2012 and still require attention.

The full text of the letter is below:

March 27, 2013

The Honorable John McHugh
Secretary of the Army
1600 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-1600

General Raymond Odierno
Chief of Staff of the Army
1600 Army Pentagon
Washington, DC 20310-1600

Dear Secretary McHugh and General Odierno:

We write to express our continued concern and deep frustration over the Department of the Army's lack of progress to date regarding the 43 debarment referrals involving individuals or companies with links to terrorist groups including the Haqqani Network and Al Qaeda.

As you know, nine of these referrals made by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) are based on findings fromU.S. Central Command. Under the "No Contracting with the Enemy Act" provision of the Fiscal Year 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the CENTCOM commander is authorized to designate individuals and entities with direct links to an insurgent or terrorist group in order to prevent them from obtaining U.S. contracts. The remaining 34 referrals from SIGAR came from the Entity List, a notification by the U.S. Department of Commerce Bureau of Industry and Security supported by all-source intelligence analysis designating individuals and entities involved in activities undermining U.S. national security interests.

Both processes result in the production of unclassified, publically available, final determinations that specifically state the named 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." 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.

In your January 15 letter, you stated that "the 43 recommendations did not include any supporting evidence other than the fact that the subject individuals or entities were so listed." In fact, the supporting evidence for these cases is based on classified materials. According to SIGAR, when the 43 cases were referred to the Army on September 4, 2012, the unclassified case files included notice of these classified documents. 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.

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. We respectfully request the Army SDO to commit to fully reviewing all supporting materials, including all classified materials for these 43 cases, and to making a determination on each case within 30 days. In this response, we ask that the SDO confirm in writing that he has thoroughly reviewed all materials and notify us of the final decisions on each case.

Thank you for your consideration of our request and your continued service on behalf of our men and women in uniform and our nation.

Sincerely,

JEANNE SHAHEEN
United States Senator

RICHARD BURR
United States Senator

RICHARD BLUMENTHAL
United States Senator

TOM A. COBURN
M.D. United States Senator

JOHN CORNYN
United States Senator

JAMES M. INHOFE
United States Senator


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