Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Corruption: U.S. Defense contractor admits bribery

US defence contractor Mitchell J. Wade of MZM inc. admitted that he had tried to illegally influence government officials, and had given more than $1m in bribes to the convicted congressman Rep. Randy Cunningham.

He also identified Reps. Virgil H. Goode Jr. and Katherine Harris as other targets for illegal campaign donations. He said that he had provided further benefits to an anonymous defence official in order to further the commercial interests of his company.

The US. attorney for the District of Columbia, Kenneth L. Wainstein, said the company was "apparently" an American success story that had, in fact, been built through corruption.

MZM Inc. is a high-tech national security firm based in Washington, D.C. The private firm provides intelligence gathering, technology and homeland security analysis and consulting for both international and domestic governments and private-sector clients. The firm also provides consulting on political and public message strategies. Its government clients include Congress, the White House, the Defense Department, the U.S. intelligence community, the Foreign Terrorist Tracking Task Force and state and local governments.

On March 21, 2003, MZM received a $1.2 million contract from the Defense Department to send 21 interpreters to Iraq. MZM would not disclose any specific information about the contract. But, according to a copy of the eight-page contract, disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act, MZM would provide linguists to serve as interpreters for U.S. government representatives, ministries and other government offices, and during interrogations and investigations. The company will "provide collections of foreign language voice signals" and transcribe recorded voice communications.

The contract also calls for MZM to "produce written and/or taped materials to support civil affairs and/or psychological operations (PSYOPS)."

Apart from Wade, other executives include:
Joseph Romano, executive vice president, is the former head of the Defense Intelligence Agency's Technology Assessment Group

James C. King, senior vice president, is a retired lieutenant general in the U.S. Army, where he spent 33 years. King established and led the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, which is an agency in the Defense Department that collects and analyzes satellite images. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a private organization that unofficially advises the U.S. government on matters of foreign policy.

Susan Hogan, executive vice president, National Security Liaison, worked for eight years on the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she handled classified defense spending.

Wayne M. Hall, vice president for homeland security and future conflict, is a retired military general. He commanded a military intelligence battalion during the 1991 Gulf War.