Saturday, March 18, 2006

Spying and Bribery

From Knight-Ridder:

A Pentagon intelligence agency that kept files on American anti-war activists hired one of the contractors who bribed former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-Calif., to help it collect data on houses of worship, schools, power plants and other locations in the United States.

MZM Inc., headed by Mitchell Wade, also received three contracts totaling more than $250,000 to provide unspecified “intelligence services” to the White House, according to documents obtained by Knight Ridder. The White House didn’t respond to an inquiry about what those intelligence services entailed.

MZM’s Pentagon and White House deals were part of tens of millions of dollars in federal government business that Wade’s company attracted beginning in 2002.

MZM and Wade, who pleaded guilty last month to bribing Cunningham and unnamed Defense Department officials to steer work to his firm, are the focus of ongoing probes by Pentagon and Department of Justice investigators.

In February 2003, MZM won a two-month contract worth $503,144.70 to provide technical support to the Pentagon’s Joint Counter-Intelligence Field Activity, or CIFA. The top-secret agency was created five months earlier primarily to protect U.S. defense personnel and facilities from foreign terrorists.

The job involved advising CIFA on selecting software and technology designed to ferret out commercial and government data that could be used in what’s called a Geospatial Information System. A GIS system inserts information about geographic locations, such as buildings, into digital maps produced from satellite photographs.

According to a “statement of work,” the data that CIFA was interested in obtaining included “maps, street addresses, lines of communication, critical infrastructure elements, demographic and other pertinent sources that would support geocoding and multi-level analysis.”

But hey — nobody got a blowjob out of it, so it’s all right.