War on Terror

U.S. Army Refuses to Suspend Contracts With Companies Tied To Al-Qaeda, Cites Due Process

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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The U.S. Army is refusing to suspend contracts with 43 companies tied to Afghan rebels, "including supporters of the Taliban, the Haqqani network, and al-Qaeda."

Special Inspector General John Sopko wrote a report asking the Army to debar the 43 contractors, but the Army said in response the "suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights."

Sopko, chief watchdog on Afghanistan reconstruction, said the Army rejected every single case he gave them.

"The Army Suspension and Debarment Office appears to believe that suspension or debarment of these individuals and companies would be a violation of their due process rights if based on classified information or if based on findings by the Department of Commerce," Sopko wrote in his report.

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The report claimed that having a relationship with companies tied to insurgency is “legally wrong” and “contrary” to national security goals.

The Army said he didn’t give them enough evidence to back up his claims. An Army spokesman in a written statement said debarring a contractor requires a "preponderance of the evidence" showing serious misconduct.

The Army noted it "stands ready to re-examine the 43 cases if all relevant unclassified and/or classified information is provided." 

"The Army Procurement Fraud Branch did receive and review the 43 recommendations late last year, but the report did not include enough supporting evidence to initiate suspension and debarment proceedings under Federal Acquisition Regulations," the statement said.

"I am deeply troubled that the U.S. military can pursue, attack, and even kill terrorists and their supporters, but that some in the U.S. government believe we cannot prevent these same people from receiving a government contract," Sopko said in a letter accompanying the report.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers has proposed a bill that would allow the inspector general to review and suspend contracts with Afghanistan contractors tied to extremist groups.

"The fact that U.S. taxpayer money has ended up in the hands of terrorists and insurgents in Afghanistan is totally inexcusable,” said bill co-sponsor Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in a statement. “It's sickening to think that we've been giving money to the very people who are killing our brave service men and women.”

Sopko’s report was released last week. Since then the U.S. government issued a global travel warning to all Americans abroad. Two dozen American embassies in the Muslim world were closed.

Sources: Newser, Fox News