4/01/2008

Another Case of Efficiency Through Bush-Style Privatization

A lengthy investigation published Thursday reveals that the Pentagon gave an inexperienced 22-year-old a $300 million contract to provide ammunition to Afghanistan. The shady deal resulted in decades old, substandard munitions being delivered to US and Afghan troops fighting on the front lines of the war on terror.

Following publication of a lengthy New York Times article, the House Oversight Committee announced it would investigate AEY Inc., a fledgling company that thrived after 2003 as the US government began handing out billions of dollars to private defense contractors. Chairman Henry Waxman invited company officials as well as representatives of the State and Defense departments to testify at a hearing next month, according to a news release.

The results of that investigation, which sent seven reporters across three continents, were published Thursday.

But to arm the Afghan forces that it hopes will lead this fight, the American military has relied since early last year on a fledgling company led by a 22-year-old man whose vice president was a licensed masseur. With the award last January of a federal contract worth as much as nearly $300 million, the company, AEY Inc., which operates out of an unmarked office in Miami Beach, became the main supplier of munitions to Afghanistan’s army and police forces. Since then, the company has provided ammunition that is more than 40 years old and in decomposing packaging, according to an examination of the munitions by The New York Times and interviews with American and Afghan officials. Much of the ammunition comes from the aging stockpiles of the old Communist bloc, including stockpiles that the State Department and NATO have determined to be unreliable and obsolete, and have spent millions of dollars to have destroyed. In purchasing munitions, the contractor has also worked with middlemen and a shell company on a federal list of entities suspected of illegal arms trafficking.

The company's president was 22-year-old Efraim E. Diveroli, who ran the company with a 25-year-old from Miami Beach, Florida. Waxman has requested that Diveroli testify, along with company vice president David M. Packouz and Levi Meyer its general manager.

On his MySpace page, Diveroli claims that "problems in high school" forced him to work through most of his teenage years, but that "of course im (sic) a super nice guy!!!"

"I finally got a decent apartment and im (sic) content for the moment," he writes on the page, "however i (sic) definately (sic) have the desire to be very successful in my business and this does take up alot (sic) of my time.

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