The "Duke Stir"
Americans never pay attention to what matters. Corruption during wartime? Hey, that matters. People end up dead or maimed for life because of contracting fraud. It ain't sexy, but it's real. And it matters. It matters what gear the troops get and it matters how that money is spent.
Today, something that matters happened and I doubt you could find more than a handful of people who get the significance of it.
SAN DIEGO - A defense contractor was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison Tuesday for bribing former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham with cash, trips, the services of prostitutes and other gifts in exchange for nearly $90 million in Pentagon work.
Brent Wilkes was labeled "a predatory wolf (in) self-styled patriot's clothing" and a "poster boy for war profiteering" by prosecutor Phillip Halpern. U.S. District Judge Larry Burns said he was troubled that Wilkes continued to maintain his innocence.
"If you were to do the right thing about this, today is the day to own up," Burns told Wilkes at the sentencing hearing.
Well, of course, there's no way in hell Wilkes is ever going to own up to being a world class sleaze. Isn't there a war on? Wouldn't Wilkes qualify for the Death Penalty if somehow, somewhere, there was just an ounce of shame left in the US Justice system? Twelve years for a slam dunk case like this? What do you want to bet that a whole lot of prominent people wrote the judge nice letters about Wilkes?
This is what it was all about:
Prosecutors argued during a three-week trial that Wilkes lavished Cunningham with more than $700,000 in perks, including cash, submachine gun shooting lessons and the services of prostitutes. In return, they said, Cunningham helped Wilkes secure $87 million in Pentagon contracts, mainly for scanning paper documents.
Wilkes' attorney asked for a sentence less than the eight years and four months Cunningham received. Prosecutors asked for a "significantly higher punishment," and federal probation officials had recommended 60 years.
Wilkes acknowledged no wrongdoing in a brief statement in which he asked the judge to look beyond his dealings with Cunningham.
"I am a man who cares deeply for this community, for my family, for my country," Wilkes said.
Bullshit. Wilkes cared about that contract, and nothing else. This country was at war and he profited from it by bribing a Congressman. AND THAT DOESN'T GET YOU THE DEATH PENALTY IN THIS COUNTRY? I mean, what the hell?
This war has been a massive transfer of spending from social programs and entitlements to a defense contracting world that is stuffed full of contracts like the one Wilkes got Cunningham to send his way. Was he the lowest bidder? Probably not. Was it rigged? Obviously. So scanning paper documents probably isn't a sexy, glamorous contract. Not like, say, providing Marines with Mine Resistant Vehicles. Except that instead of money going to something that would save lives, here's a classic case of a bullshit contract eating up tens of millions of dollars that should have gone somewhere else. Isn't it weird to see Kit Bond actually doing something decent for once? Gotta take note of that.
Anyway, this contract also went into the Homeland Security realm, including a link to a limosine company. Nice to see how that money was pissed away, too.
This is what set me off tonight, though:
Authorities said Wilkes bribed Cunningham to win work for ADCS Inc., a data and document storage company he owned.
"Wilkes coldly and successfully exploited the simplemindedness of one of this country's war heroes, now a tortured shadow of his former self," prosecutors wrote in a pre-sentencing court filing last week. "Wilkes stands now revealed as a war profiteer, a thug, a bully, a lecherous old man who preyed on his young female staffers and hired prostitutes."
BULLSHIT! How loud can I scream it. Bull fucking shit.
Cunningham was not duped--Cunningham made a fucking list of what he wanted! He wrote it out on his office stationery! He knew exactly what he wanted, including spending time doing weird shit with women on the Duke Stir.
This went back years, for crying out loud. And Cunningham was always the bully in the room, NOT the one being bullied:
In the case of Cunningham, Stern remembers an incident he witnessed in 1996 between Duke and Congressman Barney Frank, the gay congressman from Massachusetts, embroiled at the time in his own scandal involving a former male companion who had been caught running a prostitution ring from the congressman's basement. The exchange happened at a meeting on immigration during which Republicans were maneuvering to prevent Democrats from commenting on a related bill. Frank objected to being steamrolled.
“When Barney started to make his plea, Cunningham cut him off and said, ‘Well, would you like to talk about prostitutes and basements,'” Stern remembered. “The room just fell silent.”
Yeah, so good riddance to you, Mr. Wilkes. May you rot in prison and then find a way to rot in hell as well.
Cunningham gets to rot with you...