In previous posts, we have discussed Arizona's Rick Renzi, the indicted congressman widely thought to have a "spooky" history. Renzi voted in favor of bills that could benefit a defense contractor named ManTech, which employed his recently-deceased father as a Vice President.
A reader sent me some interesting info about ManTech. It was founded by a fellow named George Pederson
, who "always wanted to run a $1 billion company." They do work for a variety of government entities, including the DOD, Homeland Security, and even the U.S. Marshall's service.
One problem facing many up-and-comers in the defense world is the acquisition of clearances. Pederson:
“A key example is in 1980, when we were primarily a Navy contractor and really tried to penetrate the intelligence community. When you don’t have a contract, you can’t get the clearance. When you can’t get the clearance, you can’t have a contract.
One solution to that conundrum: Acquire a company which already possesses those clearances. Gray Hawk was one such firm.
With its work force of 500, many of whom have top security clearances, Grayhawk gave ManTech a foray into highly classified areas
The purchase occurred in 2004.
According to a 2006 U.S. News and World Report story
, Gray Hawk played a major role in the Cunnigham/Wilkes/MZM scandal. Before proceeding, please recall that, in his letter from prison, the disgraced former congressman "Duke" Cunningham said that Mitchell Wade of MZM was a far more egregious briber than was Brent Wilkes:
Wade's close ties to former senior officials of a Pentagon agency, the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA, which helps identify and thwart terrorists and spies, are also being examined. So is his relationship with a defense contractor called Gray Hawk Systems Inc. Gray Hawk obtained several lucrative and questionable contracts from CIFA, which it then shared with MZM. Three senior CIFA officials with influence over the contracting process left the agency and joined Gray Hawk. The company's owner, Harry "Pete" Howton, sold it last year for $100 million cash and has since created a new company, Kingfisher Systems Inc.
Through Gray Hawk, Wade won tens of millions of dollars in subcontracts on CIFA work. Investigators believe Wade sought out insiders at CIFA for tips on upcoming agency projects, which he then used to craft earmarks for Cunningham, who allegedly inserted them into appropriations bills and then pressured Pentagon officials to award the contracts to Gray Hawk and MZM. Howton, the former CEO of Gray Hawk and current CEO of Kingfisher, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Wade's security violations are extraordinarily serious, given CIFA's sensitive mission and the fact that officials from foreign countries came to MZM to do business. "You are throwing chum out there to attract the sharks, who are going to prey on what you are doing," says the former head of the Justice Department's counterespionage section, John Martin. "And you are inviting penetrations of your company."
The director of CIFA was a man named Dave Burtt. He didn't like Mitchell Wade, but felt that he had to do business with him. After all, Wade had a congressman in his pocket.
Gray Hawk installed computer networks for CIFA. And it seems that they did a very "iffy" job of it.
Defense Department rules require that even its unclassified day-to-day business must be handled within the Pentagon's secure .mil domain. But the evaluation team learned that Gray Hawk had built a .net commercial-type intranet instead. Separately, the team also discovered that most CIFA intelligence analysts lacked access to classified intelligence data, including situation reports of potential terrorist threats, stored in secured classified networks.That's all very well
, you may be saying, but it's history
After all, Gray Hawk was sold.
Which employed a Major General named Renzi. Whose son was a congressman, who voted on bills that gave work to Man-Tech/Gray Hawk.
And so the merry-go-round goes round and round...