Monitor reveals reason for EOD Technology raid

EODT took advantage of situation in Iraq, inspector general says

By Josh Flory
A federal watchdog indicated Thursday that this week's raid on a local defense contractor is aimed at bringing accountability to those who have tried to take advantage of the situation in Iraq.

Stuart Bowen is the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, a position created by Congress in 2004 to provide accountability for the use of funds for Iraq relief and reconstruction. In an interview Thursday, Bowen said his office has more than 100 ongoing cases, including a case related to Wednesday's raid on Lenoir City contractor EOD Technology.

The IG said most of the cases are executed through task forces, such as the one that participated in the Wednesday raid. He added that the U.S. Army's criminal investigation division 'played a major role' in getting that case put together. Bowen, a graduate of the University of the South, said his agency also works closely with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, which is an arm of the Defense Department's Office of Inspector General.

'This is not the first, and it won't be the last, time that we work with those agencies as well as (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to hold accountable those who have taken advantage of the chaotic situation in Iraq for their criminal, personal benefit,' said Bowen.

Asked if that's what he believes happened in the case of EODT, Bowen replied, 'Yes, that is why the search was carried out.'

In a statement issued Wednesday, EODT officials said they didn't know of anything that could have triggered the raid. 'We obviously would not have been selected for some of the sensitive and important projects we handle for our country around the world had we not been thoroughly investigated before and found to be trustworthy,' the statement said.

Federal agents, assisted by the Lenoir City Police Department, raided EODT's three-building campus on Old Highway 95, in Lenoir City, and an EODT facility in Roane County on Wednesday, and were seen carrying paperwork between buildings and escorting occupants of the buildings to their vehicles. By Thursday morning, activity at both sites appeared to be at an end.

In recent years, EODT has faced scrutiny in court, in Congress and by military officials. In September, a report from the Senate Armed Services Committee alleged that EODT 'partnered with local strongmen' to support its operations in Adraskan, a village in Afghanistan's Herat Province. The report said EODT had garnered a contract worth nearly $7 million to provide security at a facility in the village, and that the company assigned quotas to local strongmen or 'notables' to staff its guard force. Among those who recommended men for hire, the report said, was 'General' Said Abdul Wahab Qattili, who allegedly recommended some men who had previously been fired by another contractor for reportedly providing sensitive security information to a Taliban-affiliated warlord.

In a press release, EODT said its contract required the company to use Afghan personnel from the area surrounding the contract location. 'The local leaders which EODT sought out to assist in hiring personnel were persons made known to EODT by the U.S. military or were commonly known leaders within that area,' the release said. 'In any event all leaders which EODT utilized were made known to the U.S. military at every stage of mobilization.'

The company also said the name of any Afghan hired by EODT was provided to the appropriate person, as designated by the contract, for approval of the hire.

In October, a Kuwaiti manufacturer of temporary housing was among the plaintiffs that sued EODT in U.S. District Court, alleging that the company stole more than $1 million worth of prefabricated shelters. Neither EODT nor its officials named in the lawsuit could be reached for comment at the time.

EODT has also clashed with some of its former employees. In 2009, the company sued five former employees for $80 million, and accused them of stealing company secrets to form a competing company. That suit was later dismissed.

One of those former senior managers had been accused in a 2007 Army investigation of helping secure $2.5 million in contracts for EODT through inside information he received from an Air Force captain with whom he was having an extramarital affair. The Army threatened to ban EODT from government work because of allegations against the employee, but eventually decided against a suspension or debarment.

In March, one of the former employees sued by EODT filed his own suit against the company in Loudon County Chancery Court, alleging a wide variety of misconduct by the company, including the violation of federal arms export laws and overcharging on government contracts. The company responded by calling the claims 'sensational, unsubstantiated, and untrue allegations (used) as a tactic to obscure the real issues of the case.'