Over the past few weeks we've seen plenty of evidence that the federal government has in fact not done much post-9/11 in the way of improving Homeland Security other than establish a huge, apparently ineffective bureaucracy run by unqualified, incompetent cronies of the current administration and their corporate pals to whom said cronies hand out billions in no-bid contracts.
There's another festering problem: security at U.S. nuclear weapons facilities, including Oak Ridge. Here's a dispatch from the Service Employees International Union about the next big contracting scandal...
Click "there's more" for the rest of the article.
"With regular revelations about procurement corruption in Iraq and the emerging mess of hurricane reconstruction, security at our nation's nuclear weapons plants could be the next contracting scandal to erupt.There have been disturbing local reports of problems at the Oak Ridge nuclear weapons facility, where Libyan nuclear weapons materials are still being stored and where it was recently disclosed that terrorists could easily raid the facility and gain access to materials for a "dirty bomb." (One absurd suggestion was to build barricades out of drums containing nuclear waste to "deter" attackers.)
Despite multiple security problems at U.S. nuclear facilities and Army Bases guarded by the foreign-owned security conglomerate Wackenhut, the Administration still uses the company as its leading supplier of private guards.
This month the Energy Department gave Wackenhut a $4.3 million bonus for its contracts at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant and the Oak Ridge Lab in Tennessee, just two months after its own Inspector General found problems with Wackenhut.
What does it take to win big contracts in spite of a poor performance? Consider the resumes of Wackenhut Services Inc. Board:Admiral David E. Jeremiah - Board Chair: Formerly Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, president of one defense contractor and director of several others, member of the Defense Policy Board; paid consultant for Boeing regarding the Air Force's tanker acquisition.Wackenhut's performance guarding our most sensitive nuclear facilities has been plagued by security blunders. Since Bush took office Wackenhut has:
John S. Foster - Director: After a long career in the Defense and Energy world, moved on after retirement from government to membership in a range of advisory bodies, defense company boards, and neocon causes.
Troy Wade - Director: Assistant Secretary for defense programs at DOE during the Reagan Administration, former Deputy Manager of DOE's Nevada Operations Office, and a member of President Bush's Transition Advisory Team on Energy, where Ken Lay -former CEO of Enron - served as a co-member.Problems have also been persistent at the Army Bases they guard:
- Been caught cheating on security drills at the Y-12 nuclear weapons site in Tenn.
- Botched a similar security drill at the Nevada Test Site (NTS)
- "Systematically" violated weapons inventory and handling policies at NTS
- Been found not providing the training they were reporting they had done at Y-12 site where guards were also found to be working excessive overtime
- Inappropriately stored explosives at NTSWhat does Wackenhut guard?
- Felons were granted access to base facilities before they had security clearances.
- Guards forced to use rusted weapons and old ammunition.
- Broken gates, no searchlights and old radios with dead batteries.In the last two presidential elections, Bush has received $10,000 from Wackenhuts PAC (the maximum possible contribution), while the two Democratic candidates, Al Gore and John Kerry have not received any contributions. In the 2002 and 2004 elections 79% and 70% respectively of Wackenhut's PAC campaign contributions went to Republicans.
- 7 DOE sites, including their Washington, DC offices
- 18 U.S. Army Bases
- Dept of Homeland Security Headquarters
- More than half of the nation's nuclear power plants (31)
For more, visit www.EyeonWackenhut.com"
So, four years after 9/11, first responders still don't have critical communications systems, FEMA doesn't have a plan for managing emergencies, and Homeland Security doesn't seem too concerned about securing U.S. weapons of mass destruction.
I'm sure the SEIU has an axe to grind with Wackenhut regarding labor practices and the outsourcing of security jobs, but it's pretty disappointing that we have to rely on a labor union to highlight these potentially disastrous national security issues.