The Project On Government Oversight has learned new information involving its July 6, 2016, article about improper leaks of restricted government documents by the Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to a major US military contractor, Kuwait and Gulf Link, also known as KGL. The giant Kuwait-based company has long provided logistical support for US forces in and around the strategic Persian Gulf as part of contracts from DLA worth over one hundred million dollars.
The new information confirms and expands on POGO’s earlier findings, that much of the agency’s leaking to KGL was not conducted by DLA Associate General Counsel for Contract Integrity Normand Lussier in isolation, but as part of a larger plan conceived in DLA’s Office of General Counsel with knowledge and support from OGC’s past and present senior leadership.
The new information presented here, which was first brought to POGO’s attention in a detailed four-and-a-half page, single-spaced typed anonymous letter, has been confirmed in court documents and has otherwise been independently confirmed by POGO.
The DLA’s Office of General Counsel was the focus of POGO’s original article, which presented court documents demonstrating the role of Lussier and some of his colleagues and superiors in leaking large numbers of restricted government documents to a Washington law firm hired by KGL. Those documents included sealed federal court records and confidential details of negotiations between the Department of Justice and another big DLA contractor, Agility, which is KGL’s principal competitor. According to court documents, DLA’s leaks to KGL also comprised “law enforcement sensitive” information related to an FBI probe of KGL’s alleged ties to a US-sanctioned Iranian company, as well as sensitive Privacy Act-protected and Attorney-Client Privileged information.
The mounting evidence seems to show that DLA and KGL were teaming up against the contractor’s competitors, and that OGC’s senior leadership and key subordinates have abused the agency’s suspension and debarment procedures to hurt companies they did not like. In fact, two of KGL’s largest competitors, Agility and Supreme Group, were placed into contractor timeout by DLA after allegedly overcharging the Department of Defense on contracts to supply US troops in the Middle East. Agility’s suspension, ongoing since 2009, has been riddled with court involvement and waivers. Although it is entirely appropriate to suspend or debar companies and individuals who overcharged the government, the length of Agility’s suspension raises questions. Considering DLA’s coziness with KGL and Lussier’s previous court statement that he wished ill on Agility, a review of DLA’s actions is needed.
POGO has learned that DLA planned some of its leaks to KGL with the apparent knowledge and direction of the agency’s general counsel at the time, Fred Pribble, who held regular meetings with the principal leaker, Lussier. Lussier has given detailed testimony about his transfers of government documents to KGL when he was called to give evidence as part of federal and state litigation related to the matter.
Pribble rewarded Lussier by creating a DLA job for him as a “reemployed annuitant” following Lussier’s initial retirement from the agency several years ago. As such, Lussier was receiving a government salary and bonus, while his duties focused largely on supporting Pribble, and DLA’s Chief Trial Attorney, Daniel Poling, by keeping track of matters related to KGL and Agility, part of which involved the extensive leaking to KGL.
Pribble retired as DLA’s general counsel in May 2016; Lussier resigned from his “reemployed annuitant” post last fall.
Following publication of POGO’s recent article, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) formally requested a briefing on the matter from DLA director Lt. Gen. Andrew Busch.
Lussier declined to comment.
POGO posed specific questions to DLA about the above-noted issues. In a statement approved by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, a DLA spokesperson told POGO: “It is inappropriate for DLA to comment on matters currently in litigation. We take all whistleblower allegations seriously and investigate them appropriately.”
POGO will continue to urge Congress, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General to investigate this case.