Helicopters, Cover-ups and War Crimes

'Officials up and down the chain who awarded the contract knew that they were doing something extraordinarily wrong.'

New America Media, News Analysis, Jeffrey Klein and Paolo Pontoniere; Photo D.B. King Posted: Feb 20, 2009

"Obama Confronts a Choice on Copters" read this week's New York Times. The President soon "will have to decide whether to proceed with some of the priciest aircraft in the world -- a new fleet of 28 Marine One helicopters that will each cost more than the last Air Force One....The choice confronting Mr. Obama encapsulates the tension between two imperatives of his nascent presidency, the need to meet the continuing threats of an age of terrorism and the demand for austerity in a period of economic hardship."

This is a gross misrepresentation of the choice Obama faces. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn) and others have alleged that the contract for 28 Marine One helicopters was awarded to the Italian firm Finmeccanica as a thank you for Italy's participation in the Iraq War. The evidence, however, indicates that the contract was more specifically a payoff to the Italian government for supplying the forged documents showing Saddam had obtained weapons grade uranium from Niger. President Bush famously used this fraudulent "yellowcake" intelligence to justify launching the war.

When reviewing the helicopter contract, President Obama can either be actively complicit by continuing with Finmeccanica; he can duck and cover by simply switching to the proper supplier, Sikorsky; or he can use the mandated review of this purchase decision to root out those in military, the aerospace industry and Congress who were willing to compromise the security of all subsequent American presidents so that Bush could cover up his core war crime.

Officials up and down the chain who awarded the contract knew that they were doing something extraordinarily wrong. The rigged bidding process bypassed, for example, Marine One pilots who repeatedly sought to give input. They had many safety concerns. At the time of the bid, the helicopter chosen was not certified to fly in the U.S. It was an old model made of heavy materials; this flew in the face of why the President supposedly needed a new fleet: i.e., so many extra security devices had been added to Marine One after 9/11, it was struggling to lift off. In its losing bid, the Connecticut-based Sikorsky, which had manufactured virtually all presidential helicopters since Eisenhower first ordered one, proposed a new model made of much lighter, composite materials.

But the Marine One pilots' prime objection, which was raised repeatedly by many other officials in private, was national security. Finmeccanica was doing business with Iran, China and Libya. Why outsource so sensitive a project? At the time of the bid, the security clearance necessary to manufacture and maintain Marine One required U.S. citizenship and prohibited Marine One team members from being married to citizens of another country.

After the bid was awarded, John Pike, head of GlobalSecurity.org, told us: "Analyzing the defense industry for nearly 30 years, I try to stay calm and nonpartisan. But the Finmeccanica deal raised every hair on my neck. Apparently no one else sees the irony in a foreign military contractor building Marine One and Ayatollah One."

Many others did see the irony but were intimidated or paid off. For example , right after Finmeccanica won the contract, Kim Weldon, the daughter of then-Congressman Curt Weldon (R - Pa), landed a full-time job with the company. Previously she'd been a social worker. Finmeccanica also paid consulting money to Weldon's real estate agent, who subsequently
pled guilty for attempting to destroy bribery evidence sought by the FBI. Weldon's chief of staff, his wife and other Weldon aides were given free trips to Italy. The chief of staff subsequently pled guilty for failing to disclose income funneled to his wife. Like many other Congressmen, however, Weldon looks as if he will escape unscathed .

At Finmeccanica promotional events, Weldon was accompanied by Giovanni Castellaneta, the Italian ambassador to United States and simultaneously a Finmeccanica vice president. Today Castellaneta sits on Finmeccanica's Board of Directors on behalf of the Italian Government. Ambassador Castellaneta is the key figure in Italy's exchange of forged intelligence for U.S. defense dollars.

According to Italy's La Repubblica , Nicola Pollari, the head of the Italian spy agency SISMI, had failed to dispel the CIA's misgivings about the authenticity of the yellowcake papers. Giovanni Castellaneta then arranged for Pollari to bypass the CIA and meet directly with then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Stephen Hadley, Rice's chief deputy at the time. The meeting took place on Sept. 9, 2002, in the White House, and was confirmed by White House officials.

"It is completely out of protocol for the head of a foreign intelligence service to circumvent the C.I.A.," former C.I.A. officer Philip Giraldi toldVanity Fair's Craig Ungar. "It is uniquely unusual. In spite of lots of people having seen these documents, and having said they were not right, they went around them."

"To me there is no benign interpretation of this," Melvin Goodman, a former C.I.A. and State Department analyst said to Ungar. "At the highest level it was known the documents were forgeries. Stephen Hadley knew it. Condi Rice knew it. Everyone at the highest level knew."

Nonetheless, after the White House meeting that Castellaneta arranged for Pollari, the story of the yellowcake shipments to Saddam was treated as hard proof despite multiple attempts by America's top spies to discredit it.

Especially when no WMDs were found, President Bush needed to find a way he could control to repay the Italians for their help. Bush pressed for a new fleet of Marine Ones. He demanded the contract be awarded through an expedited bidding process because of heightened security concerns. A senior Finmeccanica executive told us that long before the Navy announced the award in January 2005, he and other company executives were told that the fix was in.

Finmeccanica hid the payoff by cutting U.S. companies Bell Helicopter and Lockheed Martin into the deal. Although Lockheed doesn't make helicopters, it acted as the ostensible lead partner.

"Lockheed pimped itself out," says Lt. Col. Gene T. Boyer, a retired Army pilot who flew three presidents in Marine One for 10 years. Boyer thinks the mushrooming of the Marine One fleet is a disgrace. "Many of the Marine Ones are used just to ferry around Washington VIPs who brag afterwards that they've flown in the same chopper used by the president."

Boyer believes that the Pentagon officials and members of Congress who pushed this contract through should be investigated not just because of the massive cost overruns, but "because they didn't cover the country's back."

The ballooning of Finmeccanica's contract from $6.1 billion to $11.2 billion ($400 million per chopper) was predictable given Bush's push to bypass procedures and sign a deal with Finmeccanica. The massive cost overruns now compel the Secretary of Defense to re-certify to Congress that this acquisition program is essential to national security. It isn't. President Obama needs to appoint an independent, public commission to examine who drove the Marine One procurement process, which many officials say (off the record) was the most secretive, rigged award they've ever seen. Put all officials involved on the record, and under oath. Rarely does one bloated contract connect both to military fraud and to the corruption of our intelligence agencies. Fiscal austerity and our future safety demand a full accounting.

Related Articles:

Was Presidential Helicopter Deal a Pay Off for Italy's Pre-War Yellow-Cake Intel Role?

Weldon Case Recalls Ike's Warning: Corrupting Power of Military-Industrial Complex

Can Obama Give America’s Soul a Stimulus?

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User Comments

DWIGHTBAKER on Mar 21, 2009 at 18:59:29 said:


In the saving of our Nation --- a people sound sane and grounded in being kind, caring, loving our fellow man here in the USA and around the world are going to be the ones to lead us into a better form of Democracy. So in doing we cannot live in a dream-enhanced state such as some want to do with heads in the clouds waiting for some one to come along and fix the mess are in. We must take ACTION in the use of our words first then our deeds will follow while wanting to be a contributing part of a civil society where all would have the RIGHTS to LIFE regardless of their education, status in life, creeds, customs or color of their skin.

Now coming soon very soon is a GOOD CHANGE with thundering in the clouds that will produce a cool rain that will shower all ----- that has a desire to work toward getting all Americans a voice in our Democracy. Thus arriving is WE THE PEOPLES Advocacy or WTPA we will have six regions around the USA to be the hub with a director and staffers to work on local levels assessing the needs, wants and wishes of the people then upstream those matters to Washington DC to our OVERSIGHT COUNSEL and legal staff to work with CONGRESS the SENATE and ADMINISTRAITON to implement.
Until recently that concept was called WE THE PEOPLES LOBBY but after some thought we changed to ADVOCACY.

Dwight Baker
To JOIN IN contact dbaker007@stx.rr.com

DWIGHTBAKER on Mar 21, 2009 at 13:29:19 said:

March 21, 2009
To the Honorable President Barack Obama
Of the Untied States of America
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

OPEN LETTER --- To whom it might concern

Mr. President,

Thanks for all the good work you are doing, and in keeping with your status as our President. We have prayed that you would not back down or cower to anyone not your equal and that is simply not many.

Many of WE THE PEOPLE is proud to be Americans and we are NOT inane of political science and the actions needed to protect and insure our equity in justice. And because of that we respect your work for those goals to be the centerpiece of your Administration. With you as our solicitous vanguard we do have HOPE once more. IN you taking the lead with your strong and strident voice and will in words and deeds to overcome all the many things, people and matters facing our solvency and sovereignty in our rich and abundant America.

But, Mr. President you cannot do all that alone or be the last call for all that must be sure and factual. Many of the matters that have come about in the press lately has taken me aback at the lacks of others not perusing all matters before putting in essence your seal of approval.

Therefore it is our recommendation that NO financial matter come about from this time on from your administration without being approved by a core of confidants that agree totally and are willing to put their name honor and reputation on the line as it being sound sane and with all the language needed to protect our backs and wallets.

Accordingly the use of the term TOXIC DEBT first used by the BUSH BUNCH before your term began. We think you should get full disclosure from the banks exactly what that means on their books. And if that takes a month a year or never then they can just wait and by doing that maybe they will fold their tent then a better bunch of bankers can ensue. Our fears is that hidden very good in all the MUM BO JUMBO of the term TOXIC DEBT is unsecured credit card debt with all the tomfoolery that goes along with that like large amounts of late payment fees added in and excessive amounts of interest added in collection fees and all the other things that a bankruptcy judge would immediately dismiss as not owing.

Again our fears is that the murky mess that has gone on ----- will continue ----- if you the BOSS does not step in and say boys enough is enough.

The Lady Bank owner and operator that spoke out in the town hall meeting in California represents the core of our solid bankers in America. Get her to help find the scumbags. It takes some one on the inside to find what is and what is NOT sane and sound.

We are with you 100% and you can count on us to watch your back as we have been doing and will continue.

We all count it a blessing to help you and your administration with the challenges that face our nation and our posterity.

Dwight Baker
Co-founder Bondservants of Christ Jesus Ministries
Chairman for Grass Roots Actions WE THE PEOPLES LOBBY WTPL
PO BOX 7065 Eagle Pass, TX 78853
Tel/fax 1-830-773-1077
E-mail dbaker007@stx.rr.com

llr on Mar 11, 2009 at 12:31:29 said:

This is new to me.

DWIGHTBAKER on Mar 11, 2009 at 05:44:31 said:

All of this work and the horror of daily being pushed to have our voices heard by someone--- must be amended in a form and a fashion that makes sense. THE VOICES OF WE THE PEOPLE need to form our own lobby in Washington DC. Thus we can beat back the crime ridden folks up there with a BAT ready to do the snooping, writing good laws for us--- taking on all the riff raff and bringing there name to bear on CSPAN nightly REAL NEWS not views.

We have the plan and we need you to JOIN IN to TAKE BACK our liberties and equities in our Great America.
Now all you need to do is contact Dwight Baker dbaker006@stx.rr.com to get the plan then decide if you want to JOIN IN the Grass Root Actions of forming our own LOBBY.

DWIGHTBAKER on Mar 11, 2009 at 05:38:14 said:

First--- HATS OFF to some good investigative news reporting THANK GOD not views reporting as is watched night and day on all networks.
Second--- our Great and Abundant American Society is on the rise from the pits of hell that the BUSH BUNCH OF BANDITS tried to put us in. But like all good and morally minded people what they thought they could do to us has now backfired on them. The LEAY TRUTH COMMISSION oh NO we don’t need that we need Federal Prosecutors that go for the throat and when a hold don’t give in or up. Suspicion of misconduct is where it must begin ---- forget about all the facts just the suspicion of wrongdoing is enough to indict. Then take that to a GRAND JURY of honest folks then when they sign the indictment let the fire works begin.
Third---seems to me all this mum boo jumbo --- knee jerk not sound sane or sanguine mentality has to go ---- some might say OH NO cant do that to the BUSH BUNCH they will call a death squad from Mexico and take us or me out. Let me remind you of who they are ----CHICKEN HAWKS THAT LOVE THE LIKES OF WAR ----- that hide in the closets make plans then turn those plans over to others to enforce, but at the core of their existence they are rank cowards, misfits, social outcast and, hard core criminals.
Fourth ---we the American people need to get to fixing our Federal Government then go right on down the ladder to the cities, counties and state governments all alike.
Fifth ---- how can that be done? THE VOICES OF WE THE PEOPLE need to form our own lobby in Washington DC. Thus we can beat back the crime ridden folks up there with a BAT ready to do the snooping, writing good laws for us--- taking on all the riff raff and bringing there name to bear on CSPAN nightly REAL NEWS not views.
Sixth--- We have the plan and we need you to JOIN IN the effort to TAKE BACK our liberties and equities in our Great America.
Now all you need to do is contact Dwight Baker dbaker006@stx.rr.com to get the plan then decide if you want to JOIN IN the Grass Root Actions of forming our own LOBBY.

Stephen on Feb 27, 2009 at 18:18:46 said:

If Obama doesn't cancel this contract, then I say he is an accomplice in this whole scandal. Nobody is above the law. That goes for Cheney, Bush, Rove and Obama. There will come a time to pay the piper for your crimes. So choose wisely Obama. Your future may depend on it.




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