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There's an epidemic of waste, fraud, and abuse among government contractors charged with supporting America's military and helping to keep our country safe.  We've all heard the stories - Halliburton overcharging U.S. taxpayers by billions in Iraq, $34 billion in mismanaged Homeland Security contracts, and brave American soldiers fighting with equipment in a state of disrepair.

Beyond out of control deficits, wasting our tax dollars, there's a human cost to poor oversight of government contracts.  It's a lesson I learned 30 years ago at the end of the Vietnam War.  

When I arrived in Thailand in early January 1975, I felt lucky to have friends who were already there - including several friends from the Air Force Academy and pilot training.

One of them was Brian Rye, a 1971 Academy graduate.  Brian was one of those people everyone knew.  He was a year ahead of me at the Academy, known for (among other things) shaving his head and painting "Beat Army" across the top of his scalp during football season.

Brian was killed in a helicopter crash on January 28th, 1975, along with four other crew members.  Brian died because a government contractor supplied substandard bolts that were supposed to hold the flight controls together on his helicopter.

People used to laugh at how much the Pentagon paid for hammers and toilet seats.  But there was a reason to pay for special treated bolts for helicopter flight control systems.   Brian and his crew died because of it.

On May 13, 1975, Larry Froelich and his crew were also killed in a helicopter crash.  They died because a part was left out of a rotor blade on their helicopter.  The rotor blade was inspected, which means someone had signed off that it was properly built--even though it was missing a crucial part.  The rotor blade failed, Larry and 22 others on the helicopter died.

You can find the names of Brian Rye, Larry Froelich and the others who died with them on the Vietnam Wall in Washington, D.C.  Go down to the `V' where the two sides come together, then go up a few names on the left side.  These men weren't killed by hostile fire--they were killed by poor management of government contractors, and those who put profit ahead of "supporting the troops."

Thirty years later, Pentagon auditors continue to uncover fraud, substandard equipment, or no equipment being provided to the troops in Iraq.  Contractors continue to make profits from our tax dollars, and the men and women of our armed forces continue to die when the right equipment could be saving lives.

It's well past time for change.  Our troops, our citizens and our taxpayers deserve much better.

- Charlie

You can learn more about our campaign at www.charliebrownforcongress.org

You can donate to our cause Here.

Next week, faulty intelligence and the last name on the Vietnam Wall.

Originally posted to Charlie Brown for Congress on Thu Aug 31, 2006 at 10:17 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

    •  For you, it's personal -- and I'm glad. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      OrangeClouds115, exmearden, Alec Bash

      One thing we can count on when Charlie Brown is in congress and John Doolittle is out:  It will be harder for defense contractors to kill our troops through avarice and neglect.

      These are dangerous times.  I want my congressman to care about our troops -- their safety in country and their well-being when they come home!

      Charlie Brown looks at the situation and thinks:  How can I help make things better for our service folks?

      John Doolittle looks at the situation and things:  How can I make it easier for my friends to profit?

      We need Charlie Brown in congress!  (Today is the last day of the month to contribute!)

  •  God I hope you win (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LindaR, exmearden, Alec Bash

    California and America need leaders like you.

    BTW - Ran into some Republican friends of mine from up your way. They like you !!!

  •  I've always thought... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exmearden, Alec Bash

    They didn't really pay that much for hammers and toilet seats, but that was how they hid the money going into the "black budget" -- NSA, CIA "Enterprise" funds, etc.

    Nonetheless, it's criminal the way the contractors act, and so long as their cronies in the Administration have their backs, it'll just get worse.

    One helpful thing would be to repeal that law that says you can't sue over something that happens to you or yours while in the military, no matter what.
    (Like lack of a rotor part, for instance).  

    Under the Federal Tort Claims Act and a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from 1950, active-duty military personnel are barred from suing the U.S. government for injuries "incident to service," even if gross negligence was the cause.

    The courts have broadly interpreted that prohibition, called the Feres Doctrine, to apply to virtually any kind of injury related to military service, even if the injury occurred off the job or wasn't caused by military personnel.

    A court, for instance, tossed out a lawsuit by the widow of a military policeman who was off-duty and off-base when he was killed by a driver who had been drinking at a military club. The court cited the Feres Doctrine.

    The doctrine was named for the 1950 high court decision in Feres v. United States in which a widow of a military man alleged that her husband's death in a barracks fire was due to government negligence. The court unanimously ruled that the woman had no right to sue under the federal tort law.

    Link here

    Overturning this will lead to suits, and suits will help prevent egregious waste of life.

  •  Profit and war (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LindaR, exmearden, Alec Bash

    We are rightly proud of the accomplishments of our free and open economic system in America. And we are even more proud of and grateful to our brave soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines who risk all for the benefit of the nation, and too often pay the ultimate price.

    But we cannot allow the pursuit of profit and personal gain to put our service men and women at greater risk. This is unconscionable.

  •  thank you Charlie (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LindaR, exmearden, Alec Bash

    Its scary to think that the men and women of the armed forces aren't getting the equipment OR pay that they deserve. Republicans always boast that they support the military better than Democrats. We see it time after time that it isn't true. Charlie, please keep the troops in mind WHEN you become a Congressman, and find a way to increase military pay and streamline the equipment so that its of a higher caliber than what they've got.
    You've got Doolittle running scared, I heard he's put out TWO polls since the primary!!!

  •  Action Not Words (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LindaR, exmearden, hiddengnostic

    A wonderful posting, Charlie is so clearly someone who believes in action not words. He's someone who will always back up his talk, something so critically needed this in Congress.

    We've all had more than enough neo-conservative right-wing rhetoric aimed at dividing the country. Way too much military posturing by chicken hawks who never served in battle and managed a variety of dodges to avoid service while their countrymen and women answered the call to duty.

    Thank you Charlie. And as Abraham Lincoln said, pray that God is on our side!

  •  This man needs to be in Congress. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    exmearden, hiddengnostic, Shasta Dad

    Now!

    A poignant and important diary from a wonderful candidate.  

    Looking forward to your next diary and seeing you at one of those combined Charlie Brown/Jerry McNerney events coming up in the Bay Area.

    Eden w/ McNerney for Congress

  •  Be Stronger Against the War (0+ / 0-)

    This is a good diary but I have to say I wish Charlie Brown would speak out more strongly against the war in Iraq like he used to at the beginning of his campaign.

    The Brown campaign should host a rally or forum in his district about the "human costs of war." Get out front of this issue and show some leadership.

    For the latest about John Doolittle go to Dump Doolittle.

    •  Dump Doolittle (0+ / 0-)

      is a really good website.  They've done a great job collecting the facts about Doolittle's "work" in congress.

    •  Be stronger for the candidate... (0+ / 0-)

      ...Rule #1. Never diss the candidate you are supporting.

      Rule #2.  If you have a viewpoint on an issue, write about it yourself in an interesting way so others may learn from your brain effort and experiences.

      I checked the websight of another candidate you have linked to elsewhere on another diary who is running for office in the same district at the state level,  and checked out the "view on the issues" page of this candidate.  He does not mention the Iraq war at all.
      It's not an issue that anyone, anywhere wants to run on. Charlie Brown IS being a leader on this topic by commiting these words in this diary to print.

      Charlie Brown is once again performing public service just by being willing to risk being publically smeared and swiftboated by the chickenhawks.  

      •  This is an important issue (0+ / 0-)

        Strange reply - appears I touched a nerve. This is a federal issue that every congressional candidate should take on without equivocation regardless if they are a veteran or not. You should take a look at Francine Busby's website. Or Bill Durston's, if you need examples of congressional candidates who are showing some leadership on the war in Iraq.

        As you well know, candidates running for state legislatures have different areas of focus. I am also supportive of Angelides and Debra Bowen but don't think the Iraq war is a top statewide candidates' issue either. I appreciate that one of their top issues is supporting Prop. 89.

        I want Doolittle to be defeated and I feel it's my duty to offer suggestions that will help. Dems aren't going to win by playing it safe straight from the DCCC playbook.

        BTW - I do agree that stepping up and running for office is indeed, patriotic in the finest sense.

  •  Contractor Corruption in Iraq is off the charts! (0+ / 0-)

    Colonel, this is an excellent post.  Why we continue to make the same mistakes and put all of the wrong priorities first where it comes to genuine support of the troop and of the greatest resource our military has; it's brave personnel.  Why is it so hard for America as a populace to grasp this?  

    There is a great documentary everyone should see called Iraq's Missing Billions.  It's very powerful and it documents the rampant and blatant corruption and war profiteering carried out by the Coalition Provisional Authority and "war contractors".  And fully enabled and encouraged by political crooks like John Doolittle.

    I'm looking forward to volunteering my time to help put a genuine voice of the people who honors our military and our Country instead of a man like Doolittle who only seems to "honor" his own bank account.

  •  Who Is Charlie Brown? (0+ / 0-)

    Lots is being said of this man Charlie Brown, but who is he really? He came on the scene about a year and a half ago promoting himself as an ex Republican, now a Democrat who wants to change the way things are done in Washington. His target: John Doolittle. Sounds admirable, and very appealing to most Democrats and some Republicans. Obviously John Doolittle is a crooked man. His ties to Jack Abramoff and "Duke" Cunningham are indisputable. According to Charlie Brown, the actions of these men are part of the reason he left the Republican Party 2 or 3 years ago.

    Now let’s look at where Charlie Brown stands today, a year after he has courted the local Democratic activists and the State Democratic Party. In that first year, Charlie Brown was able to garner the endorsement of many local Democratic Party officials in his district and through their hard work, the endorsement of the State Democratic Party. He won his primary contest over two other unknown Democrats, but only by a slim margin. In fact, he only obtained 14% of all the votes cast in the primary election on June 6th. This statistic did not go unnoticed. It in fact almost assured the campaign that no support would come from Washington in the way of endorsements or money.  What message did this send to his campaign and where is he headed now?

    First and most notable is the fact that he let go most of his Democratic activist volunteers for one reason or another. His campaign is now fully managed by a professional consulting company located in the San Francisco Bay area. His once major grassroots campaign has been sold out to corporate America, and the big money is flowing in. Sure, you need money to beat John Doolittle, BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

    Charlie Brown's website is a good place to look to see where he stands, or at least where he and his handlers want you to think he stands and what they want to project to the voters. Democrats should read his site and issues thoroughly. One thing of particular note is that the word Democrat does not appear anywhere on the major pages of his site. No "Democrat for Congress", no reference to supporting the "Democratic Platform" and no links or references to any Democratic causes. In fact, inside information cites the campaign as saying “the word Democrat needs to be avoided in this campaign”. Sure, you need more than the Democratic vote in this race to win, BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

    Charlie Brown declares the war in Iraq mismanaged and unwise. He uses the fact that his son served three tours there to infer he is against the war. In fact, one should ask, did his son get sent to Iraq against his will, or did he volunteer to collect his combat pay? Charlie Brown says we need to withdraw from Iraq, but offers no plan. How is he different from John Doolittle there? Will he stand with Democrats and demand immediate withdrawal or will he join the Republicans and continue on with the massacring of the innocent and our troops? AT WHAT PRICE VICTORY?

    One should wonder why Charlie Brown has decided to not promote the fact that he is the Democratic candidate for congress. Is it to try to gather support in the Republican circles by pandering to their ideals at the expense of his supporters who would do anything to get rid of John Doolittle? Has he moved back toward Republican values now that he has convinced the Democratic base that he is the only alternative to John Doolittle? Sure we all want John Doolittle to go, BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

    DemOpinion says this: Charlie Brown has betrayed his grassroots supporters. He used them to gain a footing in the beginning and now he is doing whatever it takes to get elected, knowing, hoping, and thinking that no one in our Party would vote for anyone else. Charlie Brown has done a snow-job on the Democratic Party. Do we really have to abandon our Democratic values to get elected? Again, AT WHAT PRICE DOES VICTORY COME?

    Charlie Brown says he is a Democrat, why doesn't he run as one?  He has not shown us his Democratic values. He uses OUR democratic values to run on the Democratic ticket, but he refuses to define his values in terms of the Democratic Platform. Here is an example from Project Vote Smart at http://www.vote-smart.org/... :

    CHARLES DUANE BROWN HAS REFUSED TO PROVIDE ANY RESPONSES TO CITIZENS ON ISSUES THROUGH THE 2006 NATIONAL POLITICAL AWARENESS TEST.

    CHARLES DUANE BROWN REFUSED TO PROVIDE THIS INFORMATION WHEN ASKED TO DO SO ON 2 SEPARATE OCCASIONS BY:

    John McCain, Republican Senator
    Geraldine Ferraro, Former Democratic Congresswoman
    Michael Dukakis, Former Democratic Governor
    Bill Frenzel, Former Republican Congressman
    Richard Kimball, Project Vote Smart President

    THIS CANDIDATE WILL BE ASKED AGAIN TO PROVIDE RESPONSES DURING THE GENERAL ELECTION.

    The National Political Awareness Test asks specific questions on where a candidate stands; abortion, health care, the war in Iraq, guns, immigration, taxes, social security and legislative priorities are all covered in simple yes or no questions. These are issues the voter needs to know. Does Charlie Brown really share your Democratic values?

    The last thing that comes to mind is this, and one should really ponder this question then ask Mr. Brown for an answer. In the 4th Congressional District, Republicans outnumber Democrats almost 2 to one. Should Charlie Brown manage to eek out a win over the limping John Doolittle, how does he intend to keep his office when it comes up for reelection in two years? Surely the Republicans will offer a candidate, but who will it be? Maybe Charlie Brown? AT WHAT PRICE VICTORY?

    •  What will CB do in 2008? (0+ / 0-)

      Today it's 8 weeks until the November 2006 mid-term elections and you seem to think what Charlie Brown will do to win in 2008 is important?

      Write your questions down. Attend the Debates (provided Doolittle doesn't chicken out) and ask.

      Sure we all want John Doolittle to go, BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

      So you think Doolittle is worth sending back to washington? In this DEEP RED district we may have to take baby steps to get where we wish to be and this year the correct step is Charles Brown.

      Although, John Doolittle is the best congressman money can BUY.

      (I have to admit your post appears like little more than a hit piece from a Doolittle Supporter)

      DumpDoolittle is a statement. I am not affiliated with the blog of the same name

      by DumpDoolittle on Wed Sep 06, 2006 at 11:05:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  User number #103647, only ONE comment, trollish (0+ / 0-)

      ...and repeats the same R. talking points used in other "concern troll" diaries and on Doolittle's own campaign site. Whoopsie. You thought people wouldn't check that, didn't you?

      I saw Mr. Brown last night speaking to potential voters and reporters, very willing to state his stances on the issues, and to say he is hiding his views or that his views are not Democratic is ludicrous.

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