Rethuglican strong on corruption not so much on Homeland security

Discussion in 'Politics and Religion' started by justbill_redux, May 14, 2006.

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  1. justbill_redux

    justbill_redux King Missile

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    WASHINGTON, May 13 — The Department of Homeland Security has invested tens of millions of dollars and countless hours of labor over the last four years on a seemingly simple task: creating a tamperproof identification card for airport, rail and maritime workers.

    Yet nearly two years past a planned deadline, production of the card, known as the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, has yet to begin.

    Instead, the road to delivering this critical antiterrorism tool has taken detours to locations, companies and groups often linked to Representative Harold Rogers, a Kentucky Republican who is the powerful chairman of the House subcommittee that controls the Homeland Security budget.

    It is a route that has benefited Mr. Rogers, creating jobs in his home district and profits for companies that are donors to his political causes. The congressman has also taken 11 trips — including six to Hawaii — on the tab of an organization that until this week was to profit from a no-bid contract Mr. Rogers helped arrange. Work has even been set aside for a tiny start-up company in Kentucky that employs John Rogers, the congressman's son.

    "Something stinks in Corbin," said Jay M. Meier, senior securities analyst at MJSK Equity Research in Minneapolis, which follows the identification card industry, referring to the Kentucky community of 8,000 that has perhaps benefited the most from Mr. Rogers's interventions. "And it is the sickest example of what is wrong with our homeland security agenda that I can find."

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    Mr. Rogers, 68, whom The Lexington Herald-Leader last year called the Prince of Pork, has never been shy about using clout gained over 13 House terms to steer federal dollars to his sparsely populated, poor corner of southeastern Kentucky.
    "We see Hal pretty often," Mayor Amos Miller of Corbin, a Republican, said in an interview. "And he always brings good news."

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    The Clinton administration needed Congressional backing — and money — to fix problems it was having in printing a new fraud-resistant green card for permanent legal immigrants. To win Mr. Rogers's endorsement, administration officials offered to set up the centralized card production plant in Corbin.

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    Language added in 2003, again in a report submitted in Mr. Rogers's name, urged the agency to use "existing government card issuance centers" to make the card, which Homeland Security officials said, in their view, referred to Corbin. The law blocked spending until the department bowed to the mandates.

    Two former Homeland Security officials said they were confounded. They had already identified a more flexible and secure technology known as a smart card, which relies on tiny computer chips embedded into the identification card. Most other federal agencies were moving toward this approach rather than the technology used for the green card, in which data are recorded on a reflective optical stripe affixed to the card.

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    Executives at LaserCard Systems, Maximus, Shenandoah Electronic Intelligence and a lobbying firm that represents BearingPoint have also since contributed at least $30,000, with their spouses, to Mr. Rogers's political causes, federal records show. All four companies either sold services through Homeland Security for work done at the identity card plant in Corbin or won contracts to test the identification card.
    In all, about $100,000 in contributions have come to Mr. Rogers from parties with at least some ties to the identification card effort, records show.

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    Yet while the debate over card technology and printing dragged on, a separate fight involving Mr. Rogers was playing out. Starting in 2004, his staff repeatedly pressed the Transportation Security Administration to hire a nonprofit Virginia-based trade association, the American Association of Airport Executives, to help handle background checks that transportation workers had to undergo to get identification cards. The trade association had no connection to Corbin, but it had longstanding ties to Mr. Rogers.
    Since 2000, it has paid for trips by Mr. Rogers and his wife worth more than $75,000, including the six visits to Hawaii, four to California and one to Ireland, financial disclosure records show. Last year alone, Mr. Rogers spent a total of two weeks traveling on the association's tab.

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    Mr. Rogers, after his staff was unable to persuade Homeland Security officials to hire the trade association voluntarily for the identification card program, inserted language last May into the 2006 appropriations bill that mandated such a move.

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    Government oversight groups questioned the effort to sell benefits gained from the special treatment by Congress. "This is really a perversion of every part of the contracting process," said Danielle Brian, executive director for the Project on Government Oversight, a contract watchdog group.
    Charles M. Barclay, the executive director of the airport group, and two other senior executives did not respond to ****** and phone messages requesting comment.

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    After Homeland Security moved this spring to comply with Mr. Rogers's legislative mandate and hire the airport trade group, executives in the intensely competitive biometrics industry protested. "It is a sleazy arrangement," said Walter Hamilton, chairman of the International Biometric Industry Association.
    Finally, last Thursday evening, as lobbyists for Daon's rivals pressed Congress to rescind the deal, Homeland Security, and Mr. Rogers, issued separate statements, reversing course. The no-bid contract for the airport executives would be killed.

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    Source http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/w...92e4a354e44&hp&ex=1147665600&partner=homepage
    Good to see the Congressmen is looking out for his district thats straight out of Deliverance, too bad hes fucking the rest of us.