Friday, March 10, 2006

Grand Old Police Blotter: Where's The Justice (Department) Edition?

A little over a year ago, we reported linked to a story about Republican war profiteers stealing millions from the United States government.

No, not MZM and Mitchell Wade.

These Republican war profiteers.

World O'Crap has more of the details here.

Today, Atrios has the followup report from the L.A. Times:

As outlined in a Los Angeles Times story, two whistle-blowers came forward in the fall of 2003 to accuse Custer Battles of fraud. Robert Isakson and William "Pete" Baldwin eventually filed a claim under the False Claims Act, a Civil War-era anti-fraud measure that allows private citizens to file suit on behalf of the government and to receive a portion of any money recovered. In this case, the two men stand to receive as much as $3 million, with the government recovering the rest.

The False Claims Act allows the Justice Department to join whistle-blowers in the prosecution of cases. But in this case, government attorneys did not intervene. Grayson, the lawyer for Isakson and Baldwin, attributed the decision to political considerations. Battles ran as a Republican candidate for Congress in 2002, and Custer boasted of the company's ties to the administration.

Baldwin and Isakson described a scheme in which Custer and Battles inflated invoices to recover more money than allowed under the currency exchange contract. A separate trial is expected concerning the airport contract.

Among other things, the men recounted how company officials created offshore companies in the Cayman Islands, drawing up fictitious leases and other documents to justify the high costs.

The company also inflated charges for a helicopter pad, portable housing units and forklifts, which it had taken from Baghdad airport and repainted to look like Custer Battles equipment.

Note that this isn't a criminal trial, but a private action under the False Claims Act. So why hasn't the government prosecuted Custer Battles and its principals? It is because, according to Scott Custer, "[Mike] Battles is very active in the Republican Party and speaks to individuals he knows at the White House almost daily"?

It's beyond time for the Justice Department to start prosecuting.

For treason.

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