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UPDATE: Crist calls Florida "bundler" he shares with McCain a "patriot"

The Washington Post in a front-page story today details the largess of Delray Beach's Harry Sargeant III, who pulled together checks for John McCain's presidential campaign "from an unlikely group of California donors: a mechanic from D&D Auto Repair in Whittier, the manager of Rite Aid Pharmacy No. 5727, the 30-something owners of the Twilight Hookah Lounge in Fullerton."

Ooops. Not so fast. The Post has corrected its story to note that it "incorrectly identified a Rite Aide manager and two Twilight Hookah Lounge owners as being among the donors Sargeant solicited on behalf of McCain. Those donors - Rite Aid manager Ibrahim Marabeh, and the lounge owners, Nadia and Shawn Abdalla - wrote checks to (former McCain rival Rudy) Giuliani and (Democratic presidential candidate Hillary) Clinton, not McCain."

The Post says that Sargeant, who has emerged as a "major player in Florida fundraising for McCain," is a college fraternity brother of Gov. Charlie Crist and remains close to Crist. The story calls him the "archetype of a modern presidential money man," noting that although "the law forbids high-level supporters from writing huge checks ... with help from friends in the Middle East and the former chief of the CIA's bin Laden unit -- who now serves as a consultant to his company -- Sargeant has raised more than $100,000 for three presidential candidates from a collection of ordinary people, several of whom professed little interest in the outcome of the election."

Michael Gehrke, research director at the Democratic National Committee, told reporters on a conference call that Dems plan to watch the story. "It looks like some of those contributions were not on the up and up," he said. "The bigger point the story makes is that there's going to a lot of times when McCain is kind of hauled down by a lot of these donors and a lot of the people who are around him."

Crist, though, told reporters in Tallahassee that he's a major Sargeant fan.

"He's a great patriot. I love him," Crist said. "He's a great patriot and I love him for it." Reminded that Sargeant bundled checks for Crist during his guv race in '06, Crist noted, "He and many other people, thank goodness."

Brian Rogers, a McCain campaign spokesman, told the Post: "We strictly follow campaign finance law, and where flags are raised, we'll certainly look into it."

UPDATE: Sargeant has also contributed locally: he gave the maximum $4,6000 in March to Miami Republican Reps. Lincoln and Mario Diaz-Balart. He contributed $2,300 last year to Rep. Robert Wexler, a Boca Democrat who co-chairs Barack Obama's Florida campaign.

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Stephen Prosper Justice

It would certainly appear that Governor Crist is very accurate in calling Harry Sargeant a patriot. Not only did he serve his country as a Marine fighter pilot, but also continues to serve his country by devoting his time (campaign finance chair for the Florida Republican Party doesn't pay anything) to causes in which he believes. But the real crux is raising money which if its a Republican doing it, it must be wrong. What's that all about?

Stephen Prosper Justice

A Clear Indication of a Left Wing Smear Campaign - Trashing Military Contractors

I was recently at a dinner party in Palm Beach and an interesting question was posed to a recently retired Army General who had spent a fair share of his last remaining years at Central Command, or CENTCOM as it’s commonly referred to. The question was “Are civilian contractors a good idea in Iraq?”
“Without question,” was the reply from the retired two-star. And he went on to explain the essential role that civilian contractors have played in this war and in many past wars going back to World War Two.

CENTCOM, currently commander-less with the recent retirement of Admiral Fallon, is comprised of the U.S. Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT), U.S. Air Forces Central (CENTAF), U.S. Marine Forces Central Command (USMARCENT), U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT), and the United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT). In addition to the above there are some major subordinate multi-service commands that also report to CENTCOM that are participating on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan and include Multi-National Force – Iraq and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.

CENTCOM’s geographic scope of responsibility is vast and covers east Africa from Kenya to Egypt, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Djibouti, all of the Arabian Peninsula, across the Persian Gulf covering Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and north covering all of the “stans,” Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. That’s quite a bit of territory and a weighted responsibility. Getting the most attention is the Iraq effort, both in terms of boots on the ground and expenditure. The Iraq War order of battle is under the command of General David Petraeus, who will report to CENTCOM once that post is again filled. Now for General Petraeus.

As the Commander of Multi-National Force Iraq, General Petraeus commands essentially everything in Iraq, which amounts to 15 combat brigades and in excess of 140,000 troops. Fueling this extraordinary effort is the fuel itself, which in Iraq amounts to 50 million gallons of fuel each month. That works out to be about 12 gallons per soldier each and every day. That more than six times the amount of fuel per soldier that was used per day in World War Two, but we are a much more mechanized military today. Where does the military get all this fuel? The answer is multiple sources.
The military purchases the majority of its fuel from its oil-producing friends such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, and then ships the fuel to where it’s needed in Iraq. Under a current agreement with Kuwait, the troops operating in Iraq receives approximately 860,000 gallons of jet fuel from Kuwait each day at less than half the market price. The Defense Energy Support Center – Middle East (DESC-ME) is responsible for the procurement of the fuel being used in Iraq, as well as the contracting of the suppliers. One such supplier is International Oil Trading Company USA (IOTC USA).

Under the current DESC contract IOTC USA supplies aviation turbine fuel, diesel fuel, and motor gasoline to locations in Iraq that include Al Asad, Al Taqqadem, Trebil, and Korean Village. The Defense Energy Support had specified that the fuel needed to transit Jordan prior to entering Iraq, which required cooperation of that Kingdom. IOTC was successful in securing the necessary authorizations, the only company bidding to do so, and was awarded the contract and has successfully performed for the DESC since 2004. Now why use contractor to perform this mission? Because it’s cheaper in the long run and for the very same reason that the Department of Defense contracts out for most everything that supports the Warfighter other than the actual conduct of the war. Imagine for a minute a military that drilled for its own oil, refined it themselves, and then shipped it in tankers and fuel trucks that would have been built by the military. That’s just preposterous and doesn’t warrant further discussion. The military is elated with the performance of IOTC and so was the General that I spoke with. So why are there those who are critical of IOTC’s performance, such as Aram Roston of NBC?
That’s a real good question and I wondered myself and asked the General that very same question. He was equally perplexed and surmised that politics and special interests may have had something to do with it. Again though, why would a reporter, Emmy winning no less, allow him self to be swayed by politics and special interests? Using a double-barreled Latin phrase, I began an earnest search for a bona fide answer to that question. Making his report all the more least interesting is Mr. Roston’s concerted effort to turn a non-story into a story by use of innuendo and misstatements.

In the report Mr. Roston referred to a legal dispute between a former business associate of IOTC and wrote the following: “According to minutes of a company meeting in Amman attached to the lawsuit, (Mr.) Sargeant …pushed for "maximizing profits by getting all the contracts and not leaving hope for the competitors." Am I missing something here? I would hope that Mr. Sargeant, who heads up IOTC, would not push for the just the opposite and insist on maximizing losses and leaving the door open for all competitors. Maybe Mr. Roston would hope for the most inefficient and least competitive bidders get all the government contracts – that would really save the taxpayer – not. Moving fuel across a desert requires the utmost in efficiency and I would pray that be the primary directive of any contractor the United States Military gives a job to.

The classic twist from Mr. Roston came in the form of the following “The 2007 contract is potentially extremely profitable. For each gallon of jet fuel that is delivered to the U.S. military in Iraq, IOTC charges the Pentagon $1.08 over the market price.” The Department of Defense pays market price for its fuel for the most part, and IOTC is being contracted to get that fuel to the military based upon the contract. IOTC must take that fuel across Jordan from Al ‘Aqaba to Trebil, and then through the Anbar province of Iraq to the various bases. That is a job that can’t be accomplished at market price of fuel. It actually costs money to drive fuel, believe it or not, and sometimes those trucks breakdown, or get attacked, or even blown up. I’m certain that upon more careful examination of the mission, Mr. Roston would discover that. I would hope that the sharp elected officials on Mr. Waxman’s committee investigating the $1.08 should figure that one out. “The $1.08 ‘differential" includes costs, such as transportation and security and profit.’”

My next question is who would gain by Mr. Roston’s slanted reporting? He did imply that the contracts IOTC had might have something to do with the fact that the owner is politically active and supports McCain. Who does Mr. Roston support? Who does NBC or MSNBC support? Now this is the same network that employs Keith Olberman. Does Mr. Roston have something against oil transport companies, or people of Islam, perhaps he dislikes Republicans, or perhaps it may be all the above?

The general and I continued on with our conversation and I asked him just how difficult it was to get the fuel to the troops. He responded that unequivocally it was a difficult task. There is significant advance planning that goes into the bulk transport of fuel anywhere, let alone through a war zone. Convoys are subject to sneak attacks by insurgents; therefore if a truck breaks down and a delay is expected, the Army escorts have no other choice but to destroy the vehicle. IOTC earns every bit of their $1.08. The general could not have stressed the hazards of the job more. Mr. Roston and Congressman Waxman should be applauding rather than assailing IOTC.

Stephen Prosper Justice

A Clear Indication of a Left Wing Smear Campaign - Trashing Military Contractors

I was recently at a dinner party in Palm Beach and an interesting question was posed to a recently retired Army General who had spent a fair share of his last remaining years at Central Command, or CENTCOM as it’s commonly referred to. The question was “Are civilian contractors a good idea in Iraq?”
“Without question,” was the reply from the retired two-star. And he went on to explain the essential role that civilian contractors have played in this war and in many past wars going back to World War Two.

CENTCOM, currently commander-less with the recent retirement of Admiral Fallon, is comprised of the U.S. Army Forces Central Command (ARCENT), U.S. Air Forces Central (CENTAF), U.S. Marine Forces Central Command (USMARCENT), U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (USNAVCENT), and the United States Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT). In addition to the above there are some major subordinate multi-service commands that also report to CENTCOM that are participating on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan and include Multi-National Force – Iraq and Combined Forces Command Afghanistan.

CENTCOM’s geographic scope of responsibility is vast and covers east Africa from Kenya to Egypt, including Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and Djibouti, all of the Arabian Peninsula, across the Persian Gulf covering Iraq, Iran, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and north covering all of the “stans,” Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. That’s quite a bit of territory and a weighted responsibility. Getting the most attention is the Iraq effort, both in terms of boots on the ground and expenditure. The Iraq War order of battle is under the command of General David Petraeus, who will report to CENTCOM once that post is again filled. Now for General Petraeus.

As the Commander of Multi-National Force Iraq, General Petraeus commands essentially everything in Iraq, which amounts to 15 combat brigades and in excess of 140,000 troops. Fueling this extraordinary effort is the fuel itself, which in Iraq amounts to 50 million gallons of fuel each month. That works out to be about 12 gallons per soldier each and every day. That more than six times the amount of fuel per soldier that was used per day in World War Two, but we are a much more mechanized military today. Where does the military get all this fuel? The answer is multiple sources.
The military purchases the majority of its fuel from its oil-producing friends such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Kuwait, and then ships the fuel to where it’s needed in Iraq. Under a current agreement with Kuwait, the troops operating in Iraq receives approximately 860,000 gallons of jet fuel from Kuwait each day at less than half the market price. The Defense Energy Support Center – Middle East (DESC-ME) is responsible for the procurement of the fuel being used in Iraq, as well as the contracting of the suppliers. One such supplier is International Oil Trading Company USA (IOTC USA).

Under the current DESC contract IOTC USA supplies aviation turbine fuel, diesel fuel, and motor gasoline to locations in Iraq that include Al Asad, Al Taqqadem, Trebil, and Korean Village. The Defense Energy Support had specified that the fuel needed to transit Jordan prior to entering Iraq, which required cooperation of that Kingdom. IOTC was successful in securing the necessary authorizations, the only company bidding to do so, and was awarded the contract and has successfully performed for the DESC since 2004. Now why use contractor to perform this mission? Because it’s cheaper in the long run and for the very same reason that the Department of Defense contracts out for most everything that supports the Warfighter other than the actual conduct of the war. Imagine for a minute a military that drilled for its own oil, refined it themselves, and then shipped it in tankers and fuel trucks that would have been built by the military. That’s just preposterous and doesn’t warrant further discussion. The military is elated with the performance of IOTC and so was the General that I spoke with. So why are there those who are critical of IOTC’s performance, such as Aram Roston of NBC?
That’s a real good question and I wondered myself and asked the General that very same question. He was equally perplexed and surmised that politics and special interests may have had something to do with it. Again though, why would a reporter, Emmy winning no less, allow him self to be swayed by politics and special interests? Using a double-barreled Latin phrase, I began an earnest search for a bona fide answer to that question. Making his report all the more least interesting is Mr. Roston’s concerted effort to turn a non-story into a story by use of innuendo and misstatements.

In the report Mr. Roston referred to a legal dispute between a former business associate of IOTC and wrote the following: “According to minutes of a company meeting in Amman attached to the lawsuit, (Mr.) Sargeant …pushed for "maximizing profits by getting all the contracts and not leaving hope for the competitors." Am I missing something here? I would hope that Mr. Sargeant, who heads up IOTC, would not push for the just the opposite and insist on maximizing losses and leaving the door open for all competitors. Maybe Mr. Roston would hope for the most inefficient and least competitive bidders get all the government contracts – that would really save the taxpayer – not. Moving fuel across a desert requires the utmost in efficiency and I would pray that be the primary directive of any contractor the United States Military gives a job to.

The classic twist from Mr. Roston came in the form of the following “The 2007 contract is potentially extremely profitable. For each gallon of jet fuel that is delivered to the U.S. military in Iraq, IOTC charges the Pentagon $1.08 over the market price.” The Department of Defense pays market price for its fuel for the most part, and IOTC is being contracted to get that fuel to the military based upon the contract. IOTC must take that fuel across Jordan from Al ‘Aqaba to Trebil, and then through the Anbar province of Iraq to the various bases. That is a job that can’t be accomplished at market price of fuel. It actually costs money to drive fuel, believe it or not, and sometimes those trucks breakdown, or get attacked, or even blown up. I’m certain that upon more careful examination of the mission, Mr. Roston would discover that. I would hope that the sharp elected officials on Mr. Waxman’s committee investigating the $1.08 should figure that one out. “The $1.08 ‘differential" includes costs, such as transportation and security and profit.’”

My next question is who would gain by Mr. Roston’s slanted reporting? He did imply that the contracts IOTC had might have something to do with the fact that the owner is politically active and supports McCain. Who does Mr. Roston support? Who does NBC or MSNBC support? Now this is the same network that employs Keith Olberman. Does Mr. Roston have something against oil transport companies, or people of Islam, perhaps he dislikes Republicans, or perhaps it may be all the above?

The general and I continued on with our conversation and I asked him just how difficult it was to get the fuel to the troops. He responded that unequivocally it was a difficult task. There is significant advance planning that goes into the bulk transport of fuel anywhere, let alone through a war zone. Convoys are subject to sneak attacks by insurgents; therefore if a truck breaks down and a delay is expected, the Army escorts have no other choice but to destroy the vehicle. IOTC earns every bit of their $1.08. The general could not have stressed the hazards of the job more. Mr. Roston and Congressman Waxman should be applauding rather than assailing IOTC.

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