Security Moms: Does This Make You Feel Safer?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Security Moms: Does This Make You Feel Safer?

Of all the cabinet-level departments in the federal government, you'd expect the Department of Homeland Security to be conducting perhaps the most vigorous background checks of its employees and contractors. But, apparently, not so.

The latest permutation of the Duke Cunningham sleaze raises serious questions about whether DHS conducts background checks of its contractors and vendors:
In recent weeks, investigators have focused on possible dealings between Christopher D. Baker, president of Shirlington Limousine and Transportation Inc., and Brent R. Wilkes, a San Diego businessman who is under investigation for bribing (ex-Congressman Duke) Cunningham in return for millions of dollars in federal contracts, said one source, who requested anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Baker has a criminal record and has experienced financial difficulties, public records show. Last fall, his company was awarded a $21 million contract with the Department of Homeland Security to provide transportation, including limo service for senior officials.
And we're not talking about jaywalking. As the Post explained:
... Baker compiled a lengthy criminal record. Between 1979 and 1989, he was convicted on several misdemeanor charges, including drug possession and attempted petty larceny, as well as two felony charges for attempted robbery and car theft, according to D.C. Superior Court records.

The Internal Revenue Service filed a tax lien against Baker in 1996. He lost his house in 1998, and he filed for personal bankruptcy protection in 1998 and again in 1999.
The Department that's supposed to be monitoring the threat of domestic terrorism can't seem to monitor its own contractors.

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