|NBC did a report tonight of the U.S. Army's refusal to switch from Interceptor body armor, which has been in use for decades, to state-of-the art "dragon skin" armor, made by a company called Pinnacle, which in March of 2006 was banned by the Army for use by its soldiers, two months before it was tested, and even though top generals and other dignitaries were knowingly protected by troops who were issued dragon skin, and the CIA also issued the superior dragon skin to its operatives in Iraq. Even the inventor of the Interceptor armor told NBC that dragon skin is far superior to his design, because it's flexible and covers more of the body's vital parts, and that if he were deployed to combat, he'd choose dragon skin.
After listening to the report on Countdown, I decided to do a little bit of digging. What I found is nothing new, just as the reports of our troops being issued defective body armor isn't new (not least to the troops themselves). But new or not, here it is:
Interceptor body armor is manufactured by a company called Point Blank Body Armor, which is a division of DHB Industries out of right down here in Pompano Beach, Florida (they also have offices in Deerfield Beach, Oakland Park, Jacksboro, TN and Washington D.C).
DHB has a retired 4 star general as its president, a retired California State Senator (William Campbell) as its chairman of the board, and as of March of this year, and a retired Marine general (Lt. Gen. Martin Berndt) as one of its directors. The company announced that it had received some $248 million in contracts to supply the U.S. Army with body armor. According to a January press release:
January 16, 2007
DHB INDUSTRIES ANNOUNCES $82 MILLION IN CONTRACT ORDERS WITH THE U.S. ARMY AND UPDATES 2006 CASH RECEIPTS
Pompano Beach, Florida – DHB Industries Inc. (OTC Pink Sheets: DHBT.PK), a leader in the field of protective body armor, announced today that it had received orders for approximately $82 million to supply the U.S. Army with the Deltoid Axillary Protection System (DAPS) and the Enhanced Side Ballistic Insert (ESBI). These orders came under contracts awarded to Point Blank Body Armor, one of the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiaries.
The Company received an order of approximately $51 million to supply the United States Army with DAPS. The Company anticipates it will begin shipping product against this new order in May 2007 and complete shipments in October 2007. This order is part of the approximately $239 million contract awarded in June 2004, which was subsequently modified to approximately $248 million. Potential orders now remaining on the DAPS three-year contract are about $67 million.
Oh, and the DHB in DHB Industries? It stands for David H. Brooks. A bit about him:
From an article by Katrina Vanden Heuvel published in The Nation
on my birthday in 2005:
Bat Mitzvah Corruption: In terms of sheer outrage, millionaire defense contractor David H. Brooks is hard to top. The New York Daily News recently reported that Brooks spent an estimated $10 million on his daughter's bat mitzvah reception. Aerosmith performed at the reception (reportedly earning a cool two million dollars), and Kenny G, 50 Cent, Tom Petty and The Eagles' Don Henley and Joe Walsh also played. Here's the kicker: Brooks has reportedly made more than $250 million in wartime profits as the CEO of DHB Industries-- which has had thousands of defective bulletproof vests recalled by the government!
According to a government investigation into the faulty vests that was uncovered by the Marine Corps Times, DHB's equipment saw "multiple complete penetrations" when 9mm pistol rounds were fired into the vests. One government ballistics expert quoted in the government's findings said he had "little confidence" in DHB's equipment. Meanwhile, the SEC is looking into Brooks' 2004 sale of $186 million worth of company stock. Institute for Policy Studies' Sarah Anderson, who co-authored a report called "Executive Excess 2005," called Brooks a "world champion war profiteer," concluding, he has "no shame."
Sounds like just the Bushies' kind of guy.
Of course, Bushie kind of guys almost always come to a fretful end. Here's Brooks'
In November 2005, bulletproof vest maker David H. Brooks made national headlines when he blew a pile of his war windfalls on a celebrity-studded bash in New York City’s Rainbow Room. For Brooks, the highlight of the $10 million gala was a performance by rockers from Aerosmith. So pumped was the middle-aged Long Island businessman that he reportedly donned a hot pink, metal-studded suede pantsuit to cavort onstage with Steven Tyler.
While Brooks was enjoying his rock star fantasy, dark clouds were forming over him and his company, DHB Industries. The stock was in the toilet, the Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating him, and then there was the mood-killing matter of the military recalling his company’s bulletproof vests over concerns about their bulletproofness. In hindsight, the pink-suited Brooks showed all the symptoms of a man who feared his partying days were numbered.
And indeed, as of this week, his reign as America’s most ostentatious war profiteer does appear to be over. On July 10, the DHB Board of Directors issued a terse statement to the effect that Brooks had been put on indefinite “administrative leave” pending the outcome of unspecified investigations.
The Justice and Defense Departments are jointly investigating Brooks for possible criminal fraud and insider trading. The SEC had already been looking into the company in response to shareholder lawsuits charging that DHB execs carried out a “pump-and-dump” scheme to artificially inflate profits before selling off a boatload of their stock in 2004. Brooks personally sold about $186 million worth, shortly before the share price plummeted from about $22 to around $10. Today it’s selling over the counter for less than $1. The company was booted from the American Stock Exchange last month for blowing off reporting deadlines.
Getting shoved out of a company you named after yourself has gotta sting. But Mr. DHB’s forced vacation hardly makes up for the troubles he’s caused shareholders, taxpayers and soldiers as he capitalized on the “War on Terror.” ...
And yet, his company's substandard body armor lives on. Why?
Labels: Bush administration, corruption, U.S. military, war profiteering