Bongs and Bullets

This may be a few days old, but I just saw it today. Guy Lawson’s story in Rolling Stone about the two marijuana enthusiasts who managed to win a $300 million DoD contract – then got busted for trying to re-package illegal Chinese ammo in Albania – is well worth the read.


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    Above all, Diveroli cared about the bottom line. “Efraim was a Republican because they started more wars,” Packouz says. “When the United States invaded Iraq, he was thrilled. He said to me, ‘Do I think George Bush did the right thing for the country by invading Iraq? No. But am I happy about it? Absofuckinglutely.’ He hoped we would invade more countries because it was good for business.”

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    rhp6033 spews:

    I first heard about this around 2008, but contrary to the Rolling Stone article, back then there were lots of complaints about the ammo being sold to the Afgan Army. There were lots of pictures of the ammo arriving with rust all over the bullets, and the Afgan soldiers were complaining that the bullets would misfire as often as they would fire. From the pictures I saw, the bullets weren’t even packaged into boxes within the cases, they were just thrown into the cases loose.

    I think the author of this article got a little too friendly with his sources, and accepted their explanations without checking against other sources. One of the reasons they underbid the established suppliers, like General Dynamics, wasn’t just that they had lower overhead and were willing to accept lower profits. They were using back-channels, shady operaters, and shell companies to lauder their shipments in a way to conceal their primary sources, which were subject to embargoes under the state deparment rules.

    It’s not necessarily true that everyone does this – the established companies simply pay more money to get their supplies from legal sources, and send representatives to inspect the shipments at every stage of the process. The cost of that is included their bids. These guys tried to do without such quality control and make their money by buying from illegal sources, which doesn’t earn them much sympathy from me. The fact that they were paying to re-package the items in order to discard the chinese-printed cartons, yet didn’t think to check the printing stamped on the rounds themselves, is rather incredulous to me.

    In my business we are very careful to know our suppliers well, be able to trace individual parts from birth to death, and we carefully inspect the documentation and the parts themselves to make sure we are not receiving cheaply made counterfeit parts. It’s an expensive process and the people involved have to be well-trained and experienced, but since public safety is involved it’s a necessary duty.

    I don’t have much patience for those who try to cut corners in that process, whether they are a inexperienced supplier trying to break into the field, or a corporate vice-president who considers such requirements to be an obsticle to be avoided if it saves time or money. The law is the law, and you have to comply with it in both the letter and the spirit.

    I do agree with the author that the lax enforcment surrounding the contracting process during the Bush administration is at fault here. These guys should never have been qualified as bidders, they should have had their bidding rights revoked the first time they defaulted on a federal contract, and as soon as the bullets arrived with chinese markings it should have sent up a big red flag up the military chain of command, resulting in immediate action. The problem is, when the head of an operation lets it be known that he doesn’t care about laws or regulations, and just wants his will to be achieved, it tends to permeate the entire organization. The military, justice department, securities and exchange commission, etc. during the most recent Bush administration were all infected with such a malaise. And we are still paying for the cure.