Railhead Probe May Get Nasty

I know this may come as a shock to you, but the nation's second largest defense contractor has been accused of misusing taxpayer dollars while working on one of the government's top counterterrorism programs. With a price tag of $500 million, the program -- known as Railhead -- was intended to upgrade the U.S. terrorist watch list and improve the integration of U.S. terrorist intelligence from the nation's 16 separate intelligence agencies.

It hasn't.

According to Rep. Brad Miller, chairman of the House Science and Technology Committee's Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee, the program is on the "brink of collapse," beset by technical failure and mismanagement. We wrote about Miller's accusations last week. A subcommittee technical memo on Railhead's failures further outlines the charges.

However, what got little note was buried in a separate letter from Miller to Edward Maquire, Inspector General for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Miller requested Maquire to conduct a complete audit of the Railhead program and in outlining what he saw as problems with program, Miller dropped this little tidbit:

"Some Railhead insiders allege that a significant portion of the estimated $500 million dollars spent on Railhead has been inappropriately used to renovate a building of the prime contractors, The Boeing Company, into a Sensitive Compartmentalized Information Facility (SCIF) in Herndon, Virginia."

As Tom Burghardt at Dissident Voice explains:

"[The Railhead insiders] allege that the government paid Boeing some $200 million to retrofit [the Boeing] office with security upgrades so that top secret software work could be performed there. The government then leased the same office space from Boeing. How's that for hitting the old corporate 'sweet spot.'"

And what does Boeing, with $9.7 billion in defense contracts in 2008, have to say? Officially nothing, referring all inquiries to Carl Kropf of the National Counterterrorism Center. Privately, though, a Boeing spokesman said, "You wouldn't want you to print anything that wasn't true."

So, it's not true that Boeing bilked taxpayers?

"Unfortunately, we can't talk about it," the spokesman said. "We can not discuss anything at all about it."

When informed I planned to use Miller's quote because, after all, it was a letter from a U.S. congressman armed with a detailed, technical report, the spokesman harshly replied, "Hey, I've seen lots of letters that claimed to be true."

The NCTC's Kropf had not returned a call at blog time.