A criminal investigation of an L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. unit that supplied defective parts for military radios has expanded to include at least several other programs involving the unit, government officials familiar with the case said.
It is too early to tell how widespread the problems stemming from the unit's alleged quality-control lapses may be. Several federal agencies recently warned managers of weapons programs throughout the Pentagon about the parts problem and the broader investigation, which includes the Pentagon's most advanced artillery shells.
Government officials say expansion of the investigation, which is led by the Los Angeles U.S. attorney's office, means L-3, a New York defense contractor, could be subject to greater penalties if found guilty of wrongdoing.
L-3 has blocked public release of a list of programs for which the unit, Interstate Electronics Corp., supplied parts, saying it is proprietary information, according to the Defense Contract Management Agency, the Pentagon office responsible for overseeing contracts and sometimes for tracking suspect parts. A spokesman for Interstate Electronics said, "We have provided all information that we have to government representatives."
The widening probe comes months after government agents raided the offices of Interstate Electronics in Anaheim, Calif., which provided defective electronic parts for hand-held radios designed to communicate with downed pilots and search-and-rescue teams. Boeing Co., the prime contractor for the Air Force radio contract, has recalled some of the emergency-locator units and is under pressure to recall others. The raid and the subsequent investigation were reported previously.
The L-3 unit didn't make the defective parts but purchased them from two Southern California companies, which makes it more difficult for Pentagon officials to track their use. Boeing said it has taken corrective action with regard to the radios and is cooperating with investigators. A Raytheon spokesman said the company is aware of the investigation.
The Defense Contract Management Agency, however, on Friday issued a notice stating that certain "printed wiring boards" installed by the L-3 unit failed to meet manufacturing standards, and such parts "are used in many different military program applications such as" the emergency radio locator and Excalibur programs. The alert urged program managers to "evaluate the risk presented by potentially nonconforming" circuit boards. The notice indicated that substandard parts may have been used from 2002 to 2004.
The notice also said the circuit-board makers, TTM Technologies Inc. of Santa Ana, Calif., and Sanmina-SCI Corp. of Costa Mesa, Calif., used insufficient copper plating, and that 80% of the parts made by TTM failed subsequent analyses.
Four out of five of the parts made by TTM failed — so the Bush administration sends them to Iraq to "communicate with downed pilots and search-and-rescue teams." This isn't supporting the troops: it's killing more of them.
What's the Bush connection? One of them is the Chairman of TTM Technologies, a Mr. Jeffrey W. Goettman, who contributed $2,000 to the Bush campaign from his home in McLean, Virginia, a 15-minute drive from the White House. And Bush contributors, as we know, rule the administration.
How would you feel if when you called 911, you were hung up on? That's what the Bushies have done to our pilots. How can volunteer soldiers be asked to fight a war with defective radios and bad artillery shells?
What's next? Will we learn that those yellow-ribbon "Support the Troops" SUV magnets are carcinogenic? At least we know that, from the point of view of Bush cronies, they are a total lie.