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Oversight Must Go On, Minus Star Attraction.

As you read this, the House oversight committee is holding a hearing on how in the world arms contractor AEY and its 22 year-old president Efraim Diveroli were rewarded a $300 million Pentagon contract to be the top weapons supplier for Afghanistan security forces. Unfortunately, neither Diveroli nor former AEY vice-president and licensed masseuse David Packouz, 25, have appeared at the hearing. Both were arrested Friday in AEY’s Miami Beach headquarters for illegally buying Chinese-made weapons and then concealing it from the Army. They’re out on bail but can’t leave the Miami Beach area. And, through their lawyers, Diveroli and Packouz informed the committee they’d just take the 5th if they could appear.

Absent Diveroli and Packouz, it looks like the hearing is open season on Pentagon officers in charge of rewarding federal contracts. These officers didn’t check a State Dept. watchlist before awarding the $300 million contract that showed AEY’s history of terrible contracting. This history includes selling helmets with peeling paint that fell apart and "junk" AK47’s that have been stored, unused, in a warehouse since arriving in Iraq. From these and other incidents military officers told the Pentagon they "don’t trust Diveroli" and that he was endangering the national security mission.

But in awarding AEY it’s big Afghanistan contract in 2007, Mitchell A. Howell, the executive director of the Pentagon agency in charge of weapons contracts, said AEY had a "history of satisfactory performance" and was "considered a low risk." Expect the oversight committee to point out a few flaws in this analysis.

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