Posts Tagged congress

Industry Talk: Congress Takes Important Step To Stop Afghan Taxation Of US Aid Dollars

This is good news and I sincerely hope that Congress has taken care of this. I know Doug Brooks and the ISOA have been working hard to overturn this practice, and it is amazing to me that we have allowed Afghanistan to do this. How much money has been lost to this corrupt practice? And what an insult?

Here is a quote from ISOA’s website on what exactly the Afghan government has been doing all of these years.

The Afghanistan Ministry of Finance (MoF) has adopted the practice of taxing foreign organizations hired by the U.S. government to support reconstruction and development in Afghanistan. Despite tax exemptions negotiated by the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) that are applicable to U.S. government (USG) contracts, “tax exempt” companies and organizations continue to receive tax bills from the Afghan government.  Given that the Afghan government can withhold necessary work permits in the absence of tax payments, companies and organizations have little recourse but to attempt direct negotiations with Afghan officials or to pay the tax bills.

Yeah, so that is one of the methods used to harass companies and it is pathetic. If you don’t pay the tax, you don’t get the permit. And really what is being requested by the ISOA and others, is to have Afghanistan live up to their agreements. I mean it is US taxpayer dollars that are going towards aid to help stabilize this country–and this is how Afghanistan honors that?  Here is the ISOA position on this deal.

This tax situation undermines international efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, creates barriers to effective implementation of much-needed aid programs, creates significant new opportunities for corruption within the host government and among companies, and unnecessarily penalizes American taxpayers – costing them millions of dollars – for offering assistance to a foreign nation.
USG contractors in Afghanistan are caught between USG regulations that require valid business licenses and the demands of the Afghan MoF that disputed taxes be paid in order to receive these permits.  Because DoS discourages companies and organizations from negotiating the tax issue with the Afghan government directly, USG assistance is critical. There is an urgent need for clear direction from the U.S. Congress in opposing this unacceptable tax situation.
So after all of this pressure, finally Congress does the right thing. We will see if it works. A big thanks to the ISOA for bringing attention to this matter and keeping up the pressure over the years. –Matt

Congress Takes Important Step to Stop?? Afghan Taxation of U.S. Aid Dollars
07 May 2012
The International Stability Operations Association is pleased to note that the House Armed Services Committee Chairman’s Mark for the Fiscal Year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act contains a provision that aims to end unlawful  taxation of U.S. foreign assistance by the Afghan Ministry of Finance (MOF).  The provision requires the Secretary of Defense to determine that the MOF is not violating bilateral agreements with the U.S. before the Department may use a contracting preference for Afghan goods and services, as required under the “Afghan First” policy. ISOA has worked the Afghan Tax issue as an advocacy priority and is committed to ending this inappropriate taxation.

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Letter Of Marque: US Congressional Instructions For Privateers, 1780

I wanted to make sure that folks could really get into the document here. If you cannot read it, then go to this link and you might be able to see it better. Very cool and enjoy. –Matt

Edit: 03/10/2012 -Also, check out all the documents that the Library of Congress has scanned or linked to in relation to ‘privateering’ and the ‘letter of marque’. Excellent resource if you are studying the historical use of privateers in war.


US Congressional Instructions For Privateers, 1780

US Congressional Instructions For Privateers, 1780, Page 2

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Industry Talk: Pentagon Business Goes To The Small Fry

Nice little article about the defense industry and where it is at today. It asks a really compelling question–will the larger defense firms eventually try to compete in the services industry as the big program defense contracts decrease? Could we see a Boeing or Lockheed Martin participating in TWISS or some other security contractor related ‘services’ contract? lol You never know?….

The other thing I wanted to mention is that this is a prime example of small companies or small forces attacking the weakness of a large company or force. What works for guerrilla warfare, can have similar application to the business world. These smaller services companies are geared towards their niches, they are able to flex and roll with the contracting tempo, and they know what the client wants. Not only that, but because this is their primary focus, they can provide a better service than the big guys.  The larger defense companies are more concerned with and tooled for the big contracts, just because they have such a massive organization to support.  Smaller companies can certainly be more nimble in these smaller defense markets.

That’s not to say that a Lockheed Martin couldn’t enter the services market and rock and roll. It’s just they would have to compete with these well established niche companies. It will be interesting to see how this goes, and I am sure all defense companies are retooling and looking to the future as to what’s next.  Because on the one hand, you have congress getting pressure to reduce costs and balance the budge, but on the other hand we have all this chaos and war going on around the world. So this is a very difficult market to plan for, and I do not envy these companies in this endeavor. –Matt


Pentagon Business Goes to the Small Fry
Foreign wars create opportunities for small and nimble contractors
By Nick Taborek
September 01, 2011
Real-life army grunts have more important things to do on the modern battlefield, goes the thinking at the Pentagon these days. The scut work—and a good deal more—is outsourced to companies that can swoop in with people, basic resources, and technical know-how.
CACI International (CACI) and ManTech International (MANT) have become two of the most successful providers of technical services to the U.S. armed forces as spending on contractors soared because of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Together they raked in $3.9 billion last year from the military for providing everything from security services to radar data analysis. “When DOD outsources work, it can surge and purge,” says Todd Harrison, a defense analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington. “It can tell a contractor, ‘I want you to bring on hundreds or thousands of people quickly,’ and they’ll do it.” And when the job is done, “they’re gone,” he adds.

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Publications: CWC Final Report To Congress–Transforming Wartime Contracting, August 2011

Here it is. If you want some light reading, this is the report for you. lol Actually, the more folks that can read this thing, the more input I can get about it. If you find anything wrong with the report, or disagree with one of the findings, then definitely let the viewing public know about it in the comments below.

I would also like to commend the members of this commission for taking on such a daunting task and coming up with a product. Now the key is to learn from it, and make the necessary adjustments. We have enough reports and information to build an excellent contingency contracting program. Now it just takes leadership and resolve to act on those lessons learned.

I also wanted to comment on something that I think is pretty telling. At no time did the commission ever make an effort to contact me or this blog. Although I know that a good portion of my readership comes from the beltway and I have to assume that the various researchers tasked with helping the CWC have come across this blog. But no one has come forward to talk, and that is really too bad. What are you scared of?

For that matter, I haven’t seen any CWC folks reach out on the various forums that this industry congregates on, and that is odd to me as well. Although I am sure the CWC has reached out to the various companies and associations, it just seems that they have completely avoided talking to the very group that their report would impact.

Contractors have been killed and wounded in this war in great numbers, and they will continue to make that sacrifice. Contractors also have a huge presence in today’s war zones, and thousands have served over the years. Arguably, this highly flexible civilian army is a strategic asset to this nation. If it isn’t, then implement the draft or spend the money on recruitment to bring everything under military control.

I highly doubt that politicians will ever have the political will to implement a draft, or to convince tax payers to raise a standing army of such size and nature. The point is, is that contractors are here to stay and this nation cannot go to war without us. So to not reach out to this industry and acknowledge this sacrifice and contribution, is just wrong.-Matt


CWC Final Report To Congress–Transforming Wartime Contracting, Controlling Costs, Reducing Risk, August 2011

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Legal News: Welch And Jones Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Stop Afghanistan From Taxing US Aid

     I like it, and I am sure many aid organizations and companies getting harassed by the Afghan government will like this as well.

     If you support a bill like this, by all means communicate that to Reps. Welch or Rep. Jones. I have also provided the FAQ below from a website called that spells out how you can best communicate electronically with Congress.(you can sign up with their service, or just do it on your own)

     Also, if you want to ‘like’ a congressman on Facebook, and voice your opinion on the bill on their wall, that is another quick way of communications and voicing support. –Matt

Welch and Jones introduce bipartisan bill to stop Afghanistan from taxing US aid

Monday, 07 March 2011

Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Walter Jones (R-N.C.) on Monday introduced bipartisan legislation to prevent the Afghan government from taxing American companies delivering US aid to Afghanistan.

The Stop Taxing American Assistance to Afghanistan Act (H.R. 936) would bar future assistance to Afghanistan unless US contractors and subcontractors delivering aid are exempt from taxation by the government of Afghanistan. According to the Washington Post, the Afghan government recently sent overdue tax bills to US contractors working in the country.

“It is absurd for the Aghan government to suggest taxing America’s effort to rebuild their country,” Welch said. “While that may make sense in Hamid Karzai’s world, it makes no sense to the American taxpayer. This legislation will make sure America is not taxed on the assistance it provides to Afghanistan.”

“It is outrageous for the Karzai government to tax U.S infrastructure spending for the reconstruction of their country,” Jones said.

The calls to tax US contractors come despite bilateral agreements that exempt US-based companies from such taxation. In recent months, the Afghan government has warned contractors in the country that failure to pay what it deems overdue tax bills could result in arrest or confiscation of goods.

H.R. 936 was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Story here.


Communicating with Congress

E-mailing Your Elected Officials

Veteran Washington reporter Craig Crawford offers some tips on how to write an effective letter to Congress. (Transcription available here. )

Members of Congress prefer to hear from their constituents by e-mail. It’s faster, easier to sort and doesn’t present any security risks. (Read more here.) In order to avoid having their in boxes flooded with spam and letters from people in other states, Senators and Representatives require people e-mailing them to supply an address and other information before sending an e-mail. Because of these requirements, however, you cannot e-mail more than one of your elected officials at the same time through their Web sites.

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Executive Protection: Some Thoughts On How To Protect Members Of Congress

     I thought this first article was a good little run down of some commonsense moves for protecting members of congress.  Of course all of this is coming out after the recent shooting that killed six and critically wounded Representative Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona. The other two articles detail the potential for copycat killers, and what members of congress think about their own personal security or lack of it.

     Although I would have liked to have heard more of a discussion about private security and specifically privatized executive protection services for members of congress.  We use highly trained private security specialists to protect members of congress in war zones through programs like WPS, but what about for members of congress in the US?  Perhaps a similar program could be started just to meet the needs of congress throughout the nation?

    Or a stipend could be given to members of congress with the idea that they could contract the services of competent executive protection specialists wherever they go in the nation.  To depend upon police departments purely for this type of security could be a strain on them in terms of man power and financially, or these officers could be the wrong tool for the job.  In some parts of the country, I don’t know if a member of congress would want a police officer watching their back. Meaning there are some cops out there that are very low paid and minimally trained for high end executive protection duties.  Private industry is very good at this task, and this is their bread and butter.

     Finally, the government could just ramp up the Secret Service and task them to get this going.  They could literally assign a detail to every member of congress, and give everyone custom tailored protection.  Of course the cost of this could be pretty high, but they are leaders of this country and they are public figures.  Or we could tell members of congress to wear a vest, a gun, and tell them to hope for the best. It is a dangerous world out there and executive protection services, either private or public, should be a priority. –Matt

How to Protect Members of Congress

Officials warn of Arizona copycat attacks

Lawmakers rethink security after Arizona shooting

How to Protect Members of Congress

It doesn’t have to break the budget to provide the security they need.

By Marc Ambinder

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

On Wednesday, the FBI and the U.S. Capitol Police will brief members of Congress on basic security precautions they can take when they’re interacting with constituents. Also on the agenda: an explanation of how Capitol Police officers conduct threat assessments. What the members are likely to hear may be as simple as surrounding themselves with aides wearing suits or setting up a thin rope line to create a slight barrier between them and possible danger.

They will also hear about threats beyond the shooting in Tucson, Ariz. Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrence Gainer told WTOP Radio on Monday that he had referred 49 threats against senators alone to the FBI within the past year. But the rarity of actual assassination attempts against members of Congress underscores the challenge for investigators.

“A lot of people will talk, but a tiny few will act; and most who act tend not to talk beforehand,” is how one current federal agent describes people who threaten public officials.

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