e-Ariana - Todays Afghan News
 Home 
 News 
 Articles 
 Cartoons 
 Feedback 
 Opinion  
 Contact Us  
 An Ariana Media Publication 09/02/2014
 Excluded co-owner keeps ties to Pentagon firm

USA Today
07/27/2012
By Tom Vanden Brook

[Printer Friendly Version]

WASHINGTON - The co-owner of the Pentagon’s top propaganda contractor in Afghanistan continues to receive payments from the company despite the Army’s effort to exclude him from receiving government contracts.

Camille Chidiac, who owns 49 percent of Leonie Industries, was placed on the government’s “excluded parties list” after admitting his role in an online smear campaign against two journalists from USA TODAY.

U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who chairs the House oversight committee’s panel on national security, called Chidiac’s continued relationship with the company and the Pentagon unacceptable.

“The excluded parties list has shown no teeth,” Chaffetz said. “There should be a penalty for violating the very trust that’s needed to execute on these contracts.”

The military recently agreed to retain Leonie’s services for $60 million over the next year.

Chaffetz said he would demand to know why the Pentagon continues to allow Chidiac to continue to profit from the contract.

“There should be real consequences,” Chaffetz said. “Sometimes I worry that the Pentagon is letting them do it with a wink and a nod.”

In May, after admitting to his role in the online smear campaign that included bogus websites, Chidiac announced that he would sell his share of the company. He had not done so as of Tuesday and continues to receive payments from it, said Gar Smith, a spokesman for the company.

Lt. Col. James Gregory, a Pentagon spokesman, acknowledged that Chidiac remains under investigation by the Pentagon and is prohibited from receiving government contracts. However, Gregory added that Chidiac does not direct Leonie’s daily operations, allowing the company to remain eligible for contracts.

“There have not been any indications that Leonie Industries directed, condoned or was aware of the actions of Mr. Chidiac with respect to the social network activities at issue,” Gregory said in a statement. “Accordingly, at this time there is no basis to attribute Mr. Chidiac’s conduct to the company or to initiate suspension or debarment proceedings against the company.”

The Pentagon’s inspector general has an ongoing criminal investigation of Leonie’s ownership prompted by a USA TODAY story about military propaganda programs, known as information operations. The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, has initiated its own probe of those programs. They include radio and television broadcasts and leafleting aimed at getting Afghans to support their government.

In February, USA TODAY reported the military had spent hundreds of millions on such programs in Iraq and Afghanistan over the last decade and had trouble tracking their effectiveness.

Chidiac and Rema Dupont, his sister, had owed more than $4 million in back taxes despite receiving federal contracts of more than $120 million. A month later, they paid their taxes, according to documents.

Chaffetz has introduced legislation that would bar contractors from receiving federal money if they fail to pay their taxes.

Back to Top



Other Stories:


Has Afghan election fraud controversy been defused?
The Christian Science Monitor (06/25/2014)

Moscow’s Afghan Endgame
The Diplomat (06/25/2014)

Apologize to people, MPs asks Abdullah
Pajhwok (06/25/2014)

The Men Who Run Afghanistan
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

After Karzai
The Atlantic (06/23/2014)

IEC secretary announces resignation
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

IECC spurns Abdullah’s claim; hails UN intervention
Pajhwok (06/23/2014)

Afghan election crisis: 'stuffed sheep' recordings suggest large-scale fraud
The Guardian (06/23/2014)

Foreign spies trading on poll crisis: People
Pajhwok (06/22/2014)

Election commission office closed in Kunduz due to security threats
Khaama Press (06/22/2014)

Afghan Leader Backs U.N. Election Role
The New York Times (06/21/2014)

Tensions mount over Afghan vote, protest held in Kabul
Reuters (06/21/2014)

Hundreds protest alleged Afghan election fraud
The Associated Press (06/21/2014)

Afghan Presidential Election Takes Dangerous Turn
The Huffington Post (06/21/2014)

20,000 Heratis being sent to Iran for work
Pajhwok (12/27/2013)

At Kabul airport, exodus of U.S. aid goes on
The Washington Post (12/27/2013)

Haqqani Network leaders sexually abuse teenager boys
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Unemployment, Crime Rising Ahead Of Troop Pullout
Tolo (12/27/2013)

British army head warns Taliban could retake key territory in south
Khama Press (12/27/2013)

Election Officials Emphasize Impartial Surveys
Tolo (12/27/2013)

A Complete US Withdrawal From Afghanistan Would Be 'A Complete Catastrophe' For Civilian Aid
Reuters (12/27/2013)

Facing Big Changes, Anxious Afghans Hope For The Best In 2014
NPR (12/27/2013)

Afghanistan, North Korea, and Somalia Are the World's Most Corrupt Countries, With China in the Middle
businessweek.com (12/04/2013)

Poetry of Betrayal: Afghan Elections and Transitional Justice
Beacon Reader (10/25/2013)

Couple beheaded in Helmand province for having love affair
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

US senator says no aid for Afghanistan unless security deal finalized
Khaama Press (10/25/2013)

Would-be child bombers detained: NDS
Pajhwok (10/25/2013)

Afghanistan
PJ (10/24/2013)

The Afghan dead find a list
Inter Press Service (10/24/2013)

10 runners shortlisted in 2014 presidential race
Pajhwok (10/24/2013)


Back to Top