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Tony Blair and BAE Systems


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#61 Guest_Gary Loughran_*

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Posted 07 February 2010 - 10:20 PM

...corruption scandal...corrupt activities...corruption investigations..."stank" of corruption...corrupt activities...
"It sends the message that large enough corporations are able to pay their way out of trouble."


That last line is, unfortunately, the depressing truth of the matter. MIC still running things. One rule for the rich and another for the richer.

Blair, Thatcher, Brown, Bush are all just names; it's not their fault and there is nothing they can do. They could say no but then they would lose their position of power and influence, they could resign and make a public pronouncement warning - beware the MIC...but that wouldn't work either...so what should they do?

#62 John Simkin

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Posted 08 February 2010 - 06:19 PM

...corruption scandal...corrupt activities...corruption investigations..."stank" of corruption...corrupt activities...
"It sends the message that large enough corporations are able to pay their way out of trouble."


That last line is, unfortunately, the depressing truth of the matter. MIC still running things. One rule for the rich and another for the richer.

Blair, Thatcher, Brown, Bush are all just names; it's not their fault and there is nothing they can do. They could say no but then they would lose their position of power and influence, they could resign and make a public pronouncement warning - beware the MIC...but that wouldn't work either...so what should they do?



I have just been phoned by a BBC 4 drama producer. They are currently working on a play about the way MI5/CIA get control of politicians. Apparently, the writer is getting information from my website to write the play. While she was on the phone I gave her some inside information on Blair's relationship with MI5. She was fascinated by the information but was experienced enough not to get involved in plays about current figures so she will concentrate on Profumo.

#63 Evan Burton

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 11:26 AM

The tender that blew up in the army's face
May 6, 2010

A project to source new equipment has been the subject of a Defence investigation, write Linton Besser and Dan Oakes.

Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Heath picked up the telephone and dialled a number in Hallam, 45 minutes south-east of Melbourne. The call was over within minutes, but it would spark a chain reaction, exposing Defence's suspect handling of a multimillion dollar tender, and derailing a decade-long effort to modernise Australia's infantry equipment.

It would be two years before Heath's boss revealed the wreckage to the Senate: ''The probity auditor identified that there were process breaches and recommended its cancellation,'' Brigadier Bill Horrocks said in February.

Now, a Herald investigation can reveal for the first time that the world's wealthiest defence contractor, BAE Systems, was perceived to have been given favourable treatment on the $23 million tender by officials.

The results are being felt by Australia's frontline service personnel. Just days ago, the Herald has established, several army personnel were sent on pre-deployment training for a stint in Afghanistan without the backpacks they need.

Senator David Johnston, the opposition defence spokesman, said the Defence Materiel Organisation demonstrated an ''unacceptable level of accountability''.

''Whilst many areas within Defence require judicial intervention and investigation, I personally believe this area is at the top of the priority list, because there are just too many smoking guns to ignore,'' he said.

The project which Heath was running was meant to provide a giant leap into the future for troops fighting the Taliban - high-tech packs, webbing and pouches that would replace the ageing kit.

For years soldiers had been complaining through official channels of the repeated failures of their boots and packs, their body armour and their ammunition pouches, but these complaints had often fallen on deaf ears.

So in the early 1990s, a new scheme was developed to rid the Australian Defence Force of second-rate personal gear. It was more than a decade later that the DMO finally put out a tender for a suite of modern equipment which was lightweight, comfortable and suited to the fast, asymmetric wars of the future.

In the competition to win that tender, as many as nine companies were swiftly knocked out of the competition.

But in early June 2008, when Heath dialled that telephone number, he was calling one of these very companies that had already been eliminated, Plat-a-tac. Its chief executive, Ben Doyle-Cox, took the call.

Heath, he would later tell investigators, had asked him whether Plat-a-tac was interested in subcontracting to Defence's preferred tenderer for the project, or even to Defence.

But crucially, the contest was still on foot. There were two front-runners on the tender shortlist - the London-based BAE Systems, and a joint venture of two Australian firms, XTEK and CrossFire.

Assuming that it must have been XTEK and CrossFire which needed assistance, Doyle-Cox called a senior employee at XTEK to possibly line up a deal.

But he was wrong - it was BAE that needed help.

Heath has strongly disputed Doyle-Cox's version of the phone call (though not the fact he placed it). But alarm bells were ringing: no decision was meant to have been made yet about which of the bids was preferred.

Two things became obvious to XTEK and CrossFire. The first was that BAE Systems had already found favour in Heath's eyes because the Australian firms had not needed any help, nor asked Defence for any.

The second was puzzling. BAE Systems, which that year turned over 18.5 billion, must have had trouble meeting the tender requirements. How then could the firm possibly have been the preferred tenderer?

Heath's phone call was made less than two weeks after an extensive trial of the samples provided by both bidders, and three months before he recommended BAE win the contract in his formal report.

XTEK's executives waited for formal confirmation in early September that its bid had been ''set-aside''. Soon after, XTEK's chief executive, David Jarvis, and one of his senior employees revealed to Brigadier Bill Horrocks, who had ultimate oversight of the project, what they knew of the phone call. Horrocks called in Defence's internal investigators, the Inspector General.

BAE has gained a reputation for its ruthlessness. In February this year, it pleaded guilty to charges it had paid 29 million and $US9 million in bribes to the governments of the Czech Republic, Hungary and Saudi Arabia during the 1990s - and that the 135 million it had paid agents through offshore accounts since 2001 had not been subject to proper scrutiny.

The Herald is not suggesting Heath was party to any corrupt arrangement with BAE, but the company's guilty plea to the FBI indictment is an illustration of the tough, competitive environment in which such multimillion-dollar defence contracts are let.

Just two days after the meeting with Horrocks, Jarvis discovered a bundle of documents at his front door - it was the secret report on how the trial of gear provided by the tenderers was conducted.

Horrified, Jarvis delivered the documents to Horrocks the following day and the Defence Security Agency would later attempt, unsuccessfully, to locate the source of the leak.

Jarvis later told the Inspector General's investigators that when he delivered the documents to Horrocks, the DMO official had made an extraordinary comment: ''You want to be careful about the people you associate with,'' Horrocks was alleged to have said, ''like Peter Marshall''. Marshall, the chief executive of CrossFire, was Jarvis's joint venture partner on the $20 million tender at hand.

Marshall was already despised by top brass within the Defence Materiel Organisation. Four years earlier, he had helped expose a major contracting scandal in the same area of the DMO, involving an $8 million open tender for fleece jackets. An Inspector General's report revealed not only that the process had been predetermined by officials, but that one of the officials involved, Laurence Pain, had accepted a job with the winning contractor, Walkabout Leisure Wear, either during the tender evaluation or immediately after the contract was awarded.

Jarvis demanded Horrocks' alleged comment be investigated. Horrocks later denied the allegation to the Inspector General and was exonerated by his findings.

But something very wrong did occur during the tender. In January last year, the Inspector General of Defence recommended a probity auditor be appointed after discovering another, separate breach of protocol which Defence has refused to detail.

The lawyers DLA Phillips Fox, when they handed up their independent audit in May last year, came to the same conclusion - and found damage to the $23 million tender was irreversible. Two weeks ago Horrocks wrote to a Senate committee that ''there had been significant administrative breaches that included not following the planned sequence of events such as assessing value for money before completion of the detailed evaluation and tender documentation shortfalls''.

Heath's telephone call was also highly problematic. He gave an interview to the investigators denying Plat-a-tac's account of what had been said. But the DMO confirmed he had received formal counselling. He is now in a senior role working on the development of a new armoured vehicle.

Without a tape of the phone call, and with conflicting recollections of what was said, the Inspector General and Phillips Fox could not make a finding of actual bias. But officials say their reports did find the call alone demonstrated ''perceived bias'' and urged the government to cancel the entire project.

There are also questions about whether the Senate was kept fully informed. Eight days after DMO got the damning Phillips Fox report, its top brass sat before a routine Senate Estimates hearing and avoided the topic of the botched tender entirely. Asked about the progress of the soldier modernisation project, a senior official, Colin Sharp, said only: ''We have rolled out a number of things.''

Neither he, nor Horrocks, volunteered to the committee that a lynchpin tender was to be cancelled because of the failure of its management and at least two separate breaches of Commonwealth probity rules.

Six weeks later, in July last year, Horrocks wrote to Jarvis to admit, following XTEK's allegations of almost 12 months earlier, the tender had been suspect. ''To protect the integrity of the Commonwealth the process has been cancelled,'' he wrote.

The following day, Defence gazetted a new contract. It was a single-source purchase worth more than $2.7 million from Eagle Industries Inc in the US.

The company had not been a bidder during the tender competition for the new packs and webbing. Now the DMO had picked it directly for 1000 sets of gear - including packs for medical kits, grenades and ammunition - which were eerily similar to the items XTEK and CrossFire, and BAE, had spent millions on developing for the ADF.



http://www.smh.com.a...00505-uasf.html

#64 John Dolva

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Posted 06 May 2010 - 07:27 PM

Evan you gotta admit that kickbacks and politics has shaped a number pf purchase reasons for many years. I know you disagree with me, but the F111 is a bit suss. Australia is really the only nation who bought it and the costs just kept escalating and the delays necessitating upgrades soon after delivery. ie obsolete pretty quickly, but the committment was locked in. Personally, I think something like what Beazly tried to push through was the way to go.

#65 Evan Burton

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 08:32 AM

On the contrary John, I agree to a large extent. Politics - and dirty politics - do sometimes intrude on what should be a purely military decision.

Regarding the F-111: yes, something definitely stunk with that purchase. Surprisingly though, both the US and the UK had a hand in it. For those who aren't aware of the background...

Back in the 1960s, Australia was considering a replacement for its English Electric Canberra bomber fleet. There were a few contenders but the two front runners were the General Dynamics F-111 swing wing strike aircraft, and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC, the forerunner of BAe) TSR-2.

Posted Image

The TSR-2 looked like getting the order, but after politicking from the US and a visit to Australia by Lord Mountbatten - who lobbied strongly against the TSR-2 - in 1963 the Australian government decided on 24 x F-111C aircraft. Problems with the wing box (a critical portion of the swing wing assembly) meant that we didn't actually take delivery of the aircraft until 1973 (although we did get 24 x F-4 Phantoms as an interim measure).

The TSR-2 was canceled in 1965 in favour of the UK buying the F-111K... which order was subsequently canceled in favour of the F-4M and F-4K. The debacle cost the UK taxpayer more than it would have cost to develop the TSR-2 (which seemed to have a bright future as a capable strike aircraft). The government went so far as to order the TSR-2 construction jigs destroyed so that the aircraft could not be easily restarted.

The point where I disagree with you John, is that the F-111 did become a very potent weapons platform. Ask the pilots who fly it today (Australia is now the sole operator) and they would prefer it soldier on for many more years. It was so good we expanded our fleet, buying surplus F-111 aircraft and modding them to C standard, and buying the F-111G. Yes, there were upgrades - but the F-111 was considered to be worth the money and I agree.

A telling point is when we bought our B707 (not KC-135) tanker aircraft in the late 1980s. They were equipped for air-to-air refueling, and there were two systems which we utilised: the USN "drogue and probe" system and the USAF "flying boom" method. The USN method had a drogue trailed behind the tanker aircraft, with the receiving aircraft deploying a refueling probe. The receiver flew the probe into the drogue (the basket). Our F/A-18s used this method.

Posted Image

The F-111, on the other hand, used the "flying boom" method. This involved the receiving aircraft flying into a specific position behind the tanker, and the tanker boom operator would "fly" the boom into the refueling receptacle on the receiving aircraft.

Posted Image

When the RAAF got its tankers, the flying boom was specifically not included. Why do you think that happened? Could certain regional nations have felt threatened if the F-111's range could be extended?

Evan you gotta admit that kickbacks and politics has shaped a number pf purchase reasons for many years. I know you disagree with me, but the F111 is a bit suss. Australia is really the only nation who bought it and the costs just kept escalating and the delays necessitating upgrades soon after delivery. ie obsolete pretty quickly, but the committment was locked in. Personally, I think something like what Beazly tried to push through was the way to go.



#66 John Simkin

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 10:52 AM

Regarding the F-111: yes, something definitely stunk with that purchase. Surprisingly though, both the US and the UK had a hand in it. For those who aren't aware of the background...

Back in the 1960s, Australia was considering a replacement for its English Electric Canberra bomber fleet. There were a few contenders but the two front runners were the General Dynamics F-111 swing wing strike aircraft, and the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC, the forerunner of BAe) TSR-2.


This subject is discussed in great depth here:

http://educationforu...?showtopic=6250

#67 Evan Burton

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Posted 07 May 2010 - 11:07 AM

Thanks John!



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