Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Price of Patriotism

David Brooks and Sandra Hatfield
If you thought our story on Joel Potter -- the man who received two years in prison for selling the US military bad helicopter parts -- was bad, then wait until you read this.

David Brooks is the founder and former chief executive of DHB Industries, the US Military's leading supplier of body armor. Sandra Hatfield is the company's former chief operating officer.

Together, the two swindled the US Military out of more than $190 million, according to the feds.

Brooks and Hatfield are accused of lying about the performance and stock value of their best selling product, the Interceptor bullet-proof vest, in order to sell it to the US Military at an inflated price. The Interceptor vest is used by most of the country's servicemen and women.

After ripping off the US Military, Brooks and Hatfield proceeded to open up a series of off-shore bank accounts, into which they deposited the exorbitant profits. Scotland Yards has said that it discovered Brooks hiding more than $3.6 million in a London safe deposit box.

With that cash, Brooks bought himself a stable of race horses, porno for his sons, a $100,000 gem-encrusted US flag belt buckle, plastic surgery for the wife, and prostitutes for his staff. He also paid to have Aerosmith and 50 Cent perform at his daughter's Bat Mitzvah, while Tom Petty and The Eagles played at other private parties for the family.

But the shopping spree came to an end when Brooks and his partner in crime were finally charged with defrauding the US Military. They both resigned from their posts and the company, shortly after changing its name, filed for bankruptcy.

Their six-month long federal trial just came to an end this week. If found guilty, Brooks faces up to 30 years in prison.

I caught this news item on Colbert's show last night. I did not see it anywhere else, not on any major news show or newspaper.

On a late-night comedy show.

I remember the stories about body armor, families buying their loved ones sets they believed would keep them alive, the tests and the back-and-forth claims from both companies.

In its investigative report, however, NBC interviewed Jim Magee, a retired Marine colonel who designed the current body armor in use by the military, known as Interceptor. Magee said he felt Dragon Skin was the best available -- "two steps ahead of anything I've ever seen." Other people interviewed for the show claimed that officers at lower levels tried to sabotage the use of Dragon Skin because it was not Army developed and would threaten their funding and programs.

NBC also reported that the CIA had approved Dragon Skin for its elite operatives and that select soldiers assigned to protect generals and VIPs in Iraq and Afghanistan wore Dragon Skin.

The Army has decided to launch "an aggressive campaign" to counter the claims of NBC and the company that makes Dragon Skin, Pinnacle Armor, so I doubt we've heard the last of this one. The discussion boards at Military.com are already filled with comments pro and con.

I do not know enough to comment about the effectiveness of Brook's Interceptor armor vs. Pinnacle's Dragon Skin nor do I know the military folks' term for suppliers whose products are maximized for profit and minimized for reliability.

I do know that in times of war there exist many opportunities for business and profit and jobs back home. But I just cannot help thinking how many of our people might have survived Iraq or Afghanistan if they had the armor a jewel-encrusted American Flag belt buckle could have paid for.



  1. basil, it was accepted wisdom among the troops - and probably has been since the first Hittite grunt's spear broke off in his hands leaving him with two worthless three-foot-long sticks - that you never forget that your kit was bought from the low bidder.

    Combine that with the astronomical possibility for graft and rake-offs...read about the procurement system in the American Civil War if you want to get assed up about callous bastards profiting off the misery, illness, death and wounds of coldiers...well, SSDD.

    What IS infuriating is the degree to which this loathsome business has infested the entire ruling class. Why else has there been no furious hunt to catch all these SOBs, and no more fierce publicity, with these skeevy bastards forced to make the perp walk?

    Because...perhaps they've bought everyone they can, regardless of party and "principle"?


  2. After the First World War, the French government seized all profits earned by military contractors. It was considered despicable to profit from the destruction of a whole generation.

    Of course, the U.S. government, which has made a kind of religion out of capitalism, could not be expected to do anything comparable.

    Podunk Paul

  3. What IS infuriating is the degree to which this loathsome business has infested the entire ruling class.

    I ran into this piece, I think you can appreciate it.



  4. Imagine if we had seen the emergence of a haberdasher Senator from the Midwest during the splurge of trillions? Sadly, all those millionaires are, by their nature, part of the "vampire" class so well put by Mannion in the post BB highlights.


  5. From DailyKos:


    Catfood Commissioners push military contractors over soldiers

    by Joan McCarter

    Thu Aug 05, 2010 at 07:40:05 PM PDT

    Why defense contractors are on the catfood commission is a question for another day, but for now, ponder this:

    Though most of the commission's work occurs behind closed doors in small working groups, early reports indicate that the GOP's unwillingness to support any significant tax increases are pushing the group toward proposed entitlement slashes and larger budget cuts.

    And while Americans might expect that the commission would look at all spending, some members are seemingly using their positions to advance professional interests. A source familiar with the proceedings of the working group on discretionary spending tells TPM that some commissioners, including one military contractor, would prefer to save money by freezing military pay and scaling back benefits, rather than by eliminating waste in defense contracting.

    The source said that different members of the commission come down on different sides of the issue. The discussion group is led by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), whose primary aim is trimming fat on the contractor side, but, according to the source, David Cote, the Honeywell CEO who was appointed to the panel by President Obama, is pushing to find savings elsewhere.

    "Coburn raised concerns about all of the cost overruns and redundant weapons system," the source told TPM. "Cote made excuses for it all."

    According to the source, Cote and other members, including the commission's co-chair Alan Simpson, are focusing instead on "freezing military pay, making military people pay for their health care."

    Yep, in the middle of two wars, in which our soldiers and their families have been stretched beyond their limits with multiple deployments, cut their pay and scale back their benefits. Make them pay for their own health care. All so the likes of Blackwater--and Honeywell--can continue to suck at the public teat.

    The GOP's unwillingness to support any significant tax increases should be cause to dissolve the whole damned debacle as irresponsible and unrealistic. Any recommendation that the men and women in our military be asked to sacrifice even more should be enough to kill it.