Our Opinion: Reign them in
Silver screen spy James Bond may have driven an Aston Martin, but one wonders how the high-end sports car fit into Afghanistan’s intelligence agency — especially since U.S. taxpayers covered the cost.
When U.S. Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., heard rumors last year about rampant abuse by a British contractor for the Pentagon, they demanded an investigation. This week, McCaskill released some of the results of a probe by the Defense Contract Audit Agency.
U.S. taxpayers have shelled out billions of dollars to private contractors helping wage the war on terrorist organizations. The companies provide various services, ranging from security guards for U.S. diplomats to specialized training for our allies.
Two British firms, New Century Consulting and Imperatis Corp., have been paid $522 million through such contracts. Much of their work involved training Afghan intelligence officers.
Pentagon auditors looked at New Century’s invoices for the years 2008-13 and found all sorts of questionable expenditures.
Among them were purchases of expensive vehicles such as Porsches, Alfa Romeos, a Bentley and the Aston Martin. Company personnel received lavish paychecks and bonuses, sometimes for work they did not perform, according to McCaskill.
A New Century official told The Associated Press his company was being accused unfairly. That line will be a whole lot easier to swallow if someone comes up with an explanation for the Bentley and the Aston Martin.
McCaskill says contracts with New Century included more than $50 million in “questionable costs.” Unfortunately, that level of waste would not be unusual in a Pentagon contract.
But concern should not focus solely on companies involved. Invoices from New Century were paid, presumably after being approved by U.S. officials. The next question Portman and McCaskill should ask is what — if anything — is being done about those in our own government who aid and abet such abuses.