Congress starts to look into manipulated anti-IED report
August 2nd, 2012
10:56 PM ET

Congress starts to look into manipulated anti-IED report

By Mike Mount

A congressional oversight committee is looking into accusations that the Army manipulated information to favor an inferior roadside bomb detection system over one considered superior by U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

In a letter sent Wednesday to U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California, asked for documents showing that an Army report that favored a system that increases detection of roadside bombs in Afghanistan was altered to seem less effective,

The inquiry surrounds a new privately developed software system called Palantir, which according to U.S troops and commanders who have used it, is more effective in helping troops in Afghanistan track and predict the location of deadly roadside bombs than the existing Army system known as the Distributed Common Ground System (DCGS).

"The Army has spent over $2.3 billion in procurement and research and development to fund the DCGS. Reports indicate, however, that DCGS is 'unable to perform simple analytical tasks,'" Issa said in the letter to Panetta.

Earlier this year, after ordering the system pushed out to units in Afghanistan that had been urgently asking for it, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno requested the Army's operational test command to report on Palantir by surveying troops who have used it.

Documents obtained by Security Clearance show that the initial report came back with overwhelmingly positive feedback on Palantir and recommended that more computer servers be put into Afghanistan so more units could use the system.

But despite the findings, the commander of the test command, Col. Joseph M. Martin, reportedly ordered the report destroyed and another report generated that removed favorable references to Palantir as well as the recommendation to add additional servers.

U.S. Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-California, who first brought the issue to light, asked that the House committee investigate the findings his office had uncovered.

"There's a serious problem with the acquisition process if the Army is manipulating information needed to make sound judgments on counter IED resources and then denying urgent requests from combat units despite the availability of better technology," Hunter said in an e-mailed statement to Security Clearance.

The letter to Panetta said that a senior Army official, Lynn Schnurr claimed the report was changed to correct inaccuracies and to clarify language in the report, not to change the viewpoint on Palantir.

But the Issa letter questions the benefit the changes would have for those looking for an unbiased report.

"These actions could be construed as limiting positive feedback on Palantir system, in an effort to justify the continued use of a more expensive and less effective program," Rep. Issa said in the letter.

The oversight committee also is asking for information that shows multiple requests by Army units in Afghanistan that requested the system but were denied by Army civilians in the Pentagon who claimed the system did not work well with the DCGS system when integrating the information from Palantir.

"There is an ongoing investigation being conducted to determine the facts in the matter and providing any sort of commentary on an ongoing investigation - or letters between members of Congress and this department - is both improper and not in keeping with longstanding DoD and service-specific policies," said Pentagon spokesman, Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.

The Pentagon has until August 15 to provide requested documents and brief the committee, according to the Issa letter.

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Filed under: Congress • Military • Panetta
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Rick

    The Defense aquisition program is broken and Congress needs to do a thourough top down review and independant investigation of this process. This is not an isolated incident as waste fraud and abuse runs rampant throughout the DOD aqusition program. Its a jobs program with disregard for what is right for the warfighter and taxpayer. There are projects for the warfighter that have dragged on for 10-15 years without producing anything....zilch..zero...but the programs continue to be funded regardless of operational commander input....its sad and its criminal! All Congress has to do is look!

    August 5, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Reply
  2. sam

    Hi. My name is sam. I'm looking for a good time. Must love war and have a small tool.

    August 4, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Reply
  3. StanCalif

    Yet another "ongoing investigation"! Our Congressional "investigators" never solve anything!
    How about we "investigate" the tax deductions taken by Romney for entering a horse in the Olympics? Horse ownership is rife with tax deductions, and Romney uses every angle possible to avoid paying taxes!

    August 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
  4. 2012marandalaw

    Here in Downtown Cleveland Ohio..They had A Pole Dancer Display..And Now,"Bomb Treats"..Everywhere.I am not a Stupid Human Being.Someone better..start Paying Attention.

    Now they have Thrown 4 "Bad Mitin"..Teams,Out of the Olympics..For Manipulating their way to the Olympics..So Again..I say this Serial Killer..Had Help,At Some Point.

    What makes me really,really angry..Is,Everyone was more Concerned about..'Princess Diana",and Royalty..Instead of our Troops.Sorry..But,Thats exactly..What happened.Lots Of Innocent Women..Were Brutally Murdered,at the Hands Of aRoyal Canadian Air Force..Officer.Did they find the Person that left a "Young Woman"..On The Queens Property?Is she Important?

    Will This Involve Co-Operation across the Board?I really hope so.When you have a High Ranking "Serial Killer" Officer,That Was Making Dangerous Female Insurgents,Killing Females,Sending Pole Dancers Overseas,to our Troops..And Exploding Anything and Everything,He wanted.(I Believe that is exactly was he did..Right Under everyones Nose)Did he have help?I believe,at some point ..Yes he did.So,Co-Operation..Is very,very important.

    August 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  5. Tony Montague

    When you track the systems mentioned, it turns out that DCGS is made by Raytheon Corp ( a multi billion dollar company with lots of lobbyists and deep into various pentagon pockets) while Palantir is a relatively new startup that hasn't the influence or large checkbook...gee, wonder how Raytheon got preferred? CORRUPTION RUNS DEEP AND IS ENDEMIC THROUGHOUT OUR GOVERNMENT!

    August 3, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Reply
    • NN

      It's not the whole government, just the DoD is a particularly corrupt department and this has been common knowledge in Congress for at least 30 years. They are insubordinate to the President and Congress as necessary to perpetuate their corruption and corrupt alliances. Their acquisition, science and technology, and so-called laboratory personnel are well known to be absolutely worthless dregs. And this is the kind of horrid nightmare they're trying to keep funded with excessive taxation, just unbelievable.

      August 3, 2012 at 9:21 pm | Reply
  6. But

    But what did congress find out about those pallets of money that Bush lost in Iraq?

    August 3, 2012 at 9:17 am | Reply
    • StanCalif

      Ha, ha, ha! Bush allowed all our "aid" money to be squandered! Who cares? These pallets of "missing dollars" went un noticed for very good reasons! Now we are supposed to replace all this missing money? It's all in Swiss bank accounts for the wrong people! Who cares?

      August 4, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
  7. highspeed

    So tbe US can give Israel more money, we endanger our own troops....

    This has to stop.

    Soon.....

    August 3, 2012 at 3:02 am | Reply

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