The Washington Post has been following an unusual Government procurement during the investigation and now prosecution phases. In short, a little-known program office attempted to procure suppressors from a mechanic, at quite a premium. For what would seem to be an open-and-shut case, this one is unusual:
The mysterious workings of a Pentagon office that oversees clandestine operations are unraveling in federal court, where a criminal investigation has exposed a secret weapons program entwined with allegations of a sweetheart contract, fake badges and trails of destroyed evidence.
Capping an investigation that began almost two years ago, separate trials are scheduled this month in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., for a civilian Navy intelligence official and a hot-rod auto mechanic from California who prosecutors allege conspired to manufacture an untraceable batch of automatic-rifle silencers.
The exact purpose of the silencers remains hazy, but court filings and pretrial testimony suggest they were part of a top-secret operation that would help arm guerrillas or commandos overseas.
The silencers — 349 of them — were ordered by a little-known Navy intelligence office at the Pentagon known as the Directorate for Plans, Policy, Oversight and Integration, according to charging documents. The directorate is composed of fewer than 10 civilian employees, most of them retired military personnel.
Court records filed by prosecutors allege that the Navy paid the auto mechanic — the brother of the directorate’s boss — $1.6 million for the silencers, even though they cost only $10,000 in parts and labor to manufacture.
However, it seems the Government may be obfuscating the procurement.
Sorting out the truth has been made more difficult by the elimination of potential evidence.
At one pretrial hearing, a defense attorney for the auto mechanic, Mark S. Landersman of Temecula, Calif., accused the Navy of impeding the investigation by destroying a secret stash of automatic rifles that the silencers were designed to fit. Prosecutors immediately objected to further discussion in open court, calling it a classified matter.
The destroyed weapons were part of a stockpile of about 1,600 AK-47-style rifles that the U.S. military had collected overseas and stored in a warehouse in Pennsylvania, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
It gets even crazier. Hit the link to see a government procurement gone awry.