LTC Gutierrez found rampant overcharging by the main food supplier for the Iraq War. The Central company in the criminal probe that followed was Kuwait based Public Warehousing Co. Some of the things that LTC Gutierrez found include, but are not limited too the following:
Bags of Coca-Cola syrup available in the U.S. for about $10, for example, were going for $90.
The Coke Syrup later was concluded to be available in Kuwait City for a still substantially lower price. The Journal reports thus:
Within months of arriving in Kuwait, Col. Gutierrez clashed with Public Warehousing over its prices for various items, according to emails he sent that are now part of the Army record of the case. He questioned why Public Warehousing was charging the Army about $90 for five-gallon bags of Coca-Cola syrup when they could be found for around $40 from Kuwait City merchants, the emails indicate.
He also found that the Army was paying Eight bucks for a pound of peas...
He found some troubling numbers, including that the Army was paying $8 a pound for green beans, his emails indicate. Public Warehousing says the military required a hard-to-find style of green beans. Prices were high on some other items that were perishable or hard to find from qualified suppliers, it says.
That seems like a likely story that we have all heard before about the "hard labors" of industry to find "just the right pea" for the customer.
The Journal also reveals that Camp Arifjan Kuwait is now the center of a corruption scandal. That in and of itself is not nearly as unbelievable as the details of the death of LTC Gutierrez. How someone can move from Whistle blower to dead is quite astonishing.
The Kuwaiti contractor accused Col. Gutierrez of seeking bribes, setting in motion a bizarre chain of events that left his military career and his 22-year marriage in ruins. On Sept. 4, 2006, he was found dead in his quarters at the age of 41. Next to his body were an empty container of prescription sleeping pills and a plastic bottle of antifreeze.
Here is an interesting tactic that is being employed. If you are accused of corruption, it seems a counter accusation and a little temptation will soon bring down your accuser. I don't know if the extent of the story alleged against the LTC is true, but it sound highly improbable, and if someone conspired to murder him, they could have invented a better ruse. I am not going to go into all the details here, but you should read the story for yourself. It isn't often that someone accuses a company of corruption, the government responds, and a PR agency tells the contractor to "Fire someone." The Whistle Blower ends up dead, and accused of taking a pittance of bribes in the neighborhood of 1000 KD. It seems unlikely to me though, that if I was going to accuse someone of corruption, I would not toss the accusation myself if I too was planning on getting a little extra cash under the table. Assuming that a LTC in the Army would be so foolish as to throw rocks, when he himself lived in a glass house is not an impossible stretch, but definitely very UNLIKELY. The Irony, of the LTC converting to Islam and taking a younger 18 year old wife also blurs the cultural lines of reality. Something smells in Camp Arifjan.
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