Over the weekend, Newsweek and ProPublica co-published a piece that says, in short: The $6 billion the U.S. government has spent since '02 training the Afghan police force has gone to waste, and the entire program -- which has involved "buying weapons, building police academies, and hiring defense contractors to train the recruits" -- has been "a disaster." Among the reasons cited: The State Department didn't give outside defense contractors -- among then DynCorp, whose recruiting offices are based in Fort Worth -- enough time to train officers, which wouldn't have mattered anyway, since many Afghan cops were corrupt to begin with. Not so's the U.S. government noticed: According to the report, "Only three [State Department] contract officers were on the ground overseeing DynCorp's $1.7 billion training contract," and the whole relationship turned "dysfunctional." A government audit in January said the same thing.
To that story, then, add this new wrinkle courtesy Courthouse News: On Friday in Dallas federal court, North Texan Michael Riddle, a former senior employment manager in Fort Worth, sued DynCorp and several of its locally based employees, claiming they fired him in September 2009 after he refused to cover for the company with the State Department.
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Riddle alleges that DynCorp -- no stranger to lurid scandals in recent years -- took millions from the government to create "a list of ready, willing and able Americans with prior law enforcement backgrounds" who could be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan, among other hotspots. But, Riddle says, DynCorp never actually created the database, codename CADRE. It was, Riddle alleges, "a phantom database," for which State paid $1 million annually. Says the suit, Riddle's "complaining about this ruse earned him a fast exit to the unemployment line."
For several years, he says, the government never asked for CADRE. And on those rare occasions when it finally did, DynCorp asked for deferrals, which it received. But in December 2008, Riddle says, State said, Now or never. Riddle alleges that his higher-ups told him to submit to State his own database, used in conjunction with a training facility in Virginia, in place of CADRE. Riddle alleges that when he told his higher-ups that he would do no such thing, he was reminded to be a loyal team player. In the end, Riddle says, he refused to play ball and was eventually fired late last year.
Which is just some of what the lawsuit alleges. It reads like an outline for a screenplay, alleging that DynCorp and the State Department were in bed together in more ways than one. Efforts to reach DynCorp spokesman Douglas Ebner have been unsuccessful this morning. And messages have been left for Riddle's downtown Dallas attorneys.
So happens the suit was filed the very week the General Accounting Office ruled that the Army fouled up when gave The Company Formerly Known as Blackwater a billion-dollar contract to train the Afghan police. The reason GAO intervened in the first place: DynCorp claimed it should have been allowed to bid on the contract ... since it already has a similar deal to train Afghan police with the State Department. Which means DynCorp now gets a shot at that billion as well.