Sunday, October 28, 2007

#1 War Profiteer

To say David Brooks puts profits before people is an understatement. To do this when it involves military men & women who are fighting in his name is unconscionable. While we have heard of many cases of shameless war profiteering and the extravagant lifestyles enjoyed as a result, this one is the most egregious (that we are aware of).

David Brooks, spent a scandalous $1o Million of profits from his company was spent on a bat mitvah for daughter, Elizabeth in November 2005. Then CEO of DHB, a defense contractor that provides protective armor to the US military, the bat mitzvah and was just the tip of the iceberg when it came to extravagant living. $120,000 worth of electronic toys, including ipods and digital cameras was in the goody bags for guests; more than a million dollars for entertainment frames this party for a 13 year old. What will she get for her Sweet Sixteen? I was raised Catholic so I don't know, but I can't see how all of this frivolity relates to a religious ceremony.

Don Henley, Stevie Nicks, Kenny G, Aerosmith and, 50 Cent performed at the event. I wonder how they feel knowing it was blood money that paid for this event. Stevie Nicks journal on her official website talks about how Stevie Nicks, Steve Tyler & Joe Perry have supported the troops in the past. They visited Walter Reed Army hospital and passed out ipods to some of the soldier/patients there. Aerosmith's website shows only low key and little support for the troops. Kenny G's website indicates nothing. Don Henley's site, nope, nothing there, either. Hollywood has been far too absent during these wars when it comes to showing support for the troops.

This story gets worse as more details and photos are revealed. One particularly offensive photo from the Mitzvahpalooza is of David Brooks and shows him wearing a bright pink suede suit adorned with a dog tag. I wonder what that meant to him. Was there a name on it, or was it some gold, diamond encrusted obscene, "I'm making boatloads on your backs, while you die" F-you message to the troops who wear the real deal around their necks as they fight in this man's name? Everything I have read about this defense contractor's arrogance suggest that wearing the dog tag would be his way of saying "He supports the troops". The military dog tags I wear everyday belong to my son, Lt Ken Ballard; they were given to me at the same time as I received his flag covered casket from Iraq.

One Down: Obscenely Decadent War Profiteer Hauled Off in Handcuffs reports Paul Rieckhoff, an Iraq war veteran and founder of Operation Truth (and my frequent radio partner), told me, “It is already disturbing that anyone can live the high-life as a result of the booming war business, but it is particularly disheartening to hear about someone having their own private Lollapalooza, in part from the sale of defective equipment that put our troops in harm’s way. America must take a long, hard look at the idea of profit on the battlefield.”

A comment from Capn Solar on the Alternet article seemed appropriate to me. A good quality control system should guarantee a good product.

To ensure this never happens again:
Simply put the CEOs of defense contracting firms in their own body armor....
and shoot them....
if the CEO walks away --use it....
if not -- look elsewhere.

Fortunately, David Brooks and the Sandra Hatfeld, former COO of DHB industries were indicted Thursday on charges of insider trading, fraud and tax evasion as reported by the New York Times. They were charged with manipulating DHB’s financial records to increase earnings and profit margins, in that way inflating the price of DHB’s stock. Beyond the $10 million bat mitzvah, a sampling of the charges authorities say Brooks concealed from shareholders and the IRS:
  • $7,900 for a facelift for Brooks' wife
  • more than $1 million for expenses related to his 100 trotting and breeding horses
  • $101,190 for a belt buckle studded with diamonds, rubies and sapphires
  • $101,500 for an armored vehicle for his family's use
  • more than $1 million for numerous family vacations, including frequent stays at the Bellagio in Las Vegas and various Caribbean and European villas
  • $31,802 to transport one of his daughters and her college friends to Halloween parties in Madison, Wisconsin, using a private jet
  • hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonus checks drawn on a DHB bank account handed out by Brooks at a company Christmas party to non-DHB personnel, including his horse trainer
  • and of course the predictable $10,000 here, $5,000 there for purchases at Luis Vuitton, Gucci, Gianni Versace, and Prada boutiques around the world

The 71-page indictment (PDF) tells the whole ugly story.

War profiteering is ugly and it should be illegal. There is a special place in hell for these people. If we can make their time on earth feel like hell, so much the better. Brooks could spend up to 70 years in prison if convicted of all charges. I've got a few ideas of my own for Brook's punishment. The jury, while certainly not of his peers, should be made up of family members whose loved ones were killed as a result of his shoddy equipment.

Maybe they would decide that Brooks should be sent straight to Iraq, with the same defective, overpriced protective gear his company provided to the military. Or maybe a big red tattoo with the letters WP right on the front of his forehead. He should go to a real jail, with real hardened criminals where his new "friend" is waiting to show him around. If he gets released from jail, he should have to perform community service to a veterans organization for the rest of his life. He should never, ever see be allowed to participate in a for-profit business again. How about all of the above?

An interesting side note to this story. On October 1, 2007, DHB Industries, Inc changed their name to Point Blank Solutions, Inc.

Larry Ellis, President and CEO stated, "In changing the name of the Company to Point Blank Solutions, Inc, we are aligning our corporate name with our vision to become the global leader in safety apparel and protective solutions.... By doing so, we seek to give the Company a name and brand that will afford great opportunities in the future and become an excellent moniker for our planned product line expansion."

I think that is PR speak for "We are taking the DHB out of our name and moving as fast and far away from anything that has to do with our former CEO". Probably a good business strategy, but there is still blood dripping off the hands of this corporation, and we will continue to watch them.

Point Blank Systems is, by far, not the only corporation on this war profiteering bandwagon. CorpWatch who investigates and exposes corporate violations has this to say about Reconstruction as related to war profiteering and disaster planning, they have this to say:

Today the victors of modern wars no longer rape and pillage as their predecessors did, instead they make extraordinary profits by giving contracts to their favorite companies to rebuild what they have destroyed and then hand the bill to local taxpayers to pay.
Read up, folks, and see how your taxpayer dollars are being spent!


LT Nixon said...

Thanks for the expose. I didn't hear about this one. Appalling really. Nice to know us military folks get lousy equipment, while these profiteer types lavish it up. Makes you wonder what congressman helped secure the contract, I bet he/she's sitting pretty too.

GSMSO said...

lt nixon-

Good point about who might have secured funding for this jerk. This is definitely a team sport. I can find nothing good about this company, including the boatloads of money they made manufacturing defective body armor for our soldiers when the Army clearly had other options.

I suspect it was their legislators from FL. My image of any of these jerks doing the perp walk out of their obscene mansions just amuses me.

imsmall said...


I do not mourn the soldiers died--
Civilians of Iraq? Not even!
For I have profited in pride,
My company as not got even

But profited beyond belief--
We skimped on cost, at loss of life:
Today in church, I show my grief
In company with loving wife.