The Times’ Blackwater-Air Force Conspiracy
In what may be the most bizarre article I’ve read all year, a New York Times op-ed draws a connection between Charles Riechers, the Air Force official who committed suicide last week, andBlackwater USA, the controversial military contractor:
As it happens, [Riechers] was only about three degrees of separation from Blackwater. His Pentagon job, managing a $30 billion Air Force procurement budget, had been previously held by an officer named Darleen Druyun, who in 2004 was sentenced to nine months in prison for securing jobs for herself, her daughter and her son-in-law at Boeing while favoring the company with billions of dollars of contracts. Ms. Druyun’s Pentagon post remained vacant until Mr. Riechers was appointed. He was brought in to clean up the corruption.
The connection to Blackwater? Bear with me here. The writer, Frank Rich, connects disparate dots worthy of the best tin-foil hat conspiracies. First he draws a line from former Pentagon Inspector General, Joseph Schmitz, who, by some accounts, did a crappy job investigating the Air Force/Boeing lease deal (um, he couldn’t locate the former Pentagon acquisition czar; I think someones asked him if he tried the phone book). Anyhow, I digress. Schmitz then exited the Pentagon, joining up with Prince Holdings, parent company of Blackwater. We assume that makes Schmitz bad, because Blackwater is accused of killing civilians. No Riechers, but wait, I’m getting there….
Well, the only connection is that Pentagon IG investigated the Air Force (yeah, that’s the IG’s job!), and then he went to work for Blackwater. And Riechers worked for the Air Force (a couple years after Schmitz left). Get it? They were practically brothers!
Why didn’t someone just make that final "seven-degrees of separation" connection: Schmitz, for those who don’t read US Weekly, is the brother of Mary Kay Letourneau, the ultra-hot high school teacher who was jailed for sleeping with her under-age student. Betcha didn’t know that! Actually, that’s only four degrees, so that would mean Riechers is linked to Letourneau as well.
Let me be clear. Darleen Druyun is a convicted criminal. Blackwater stands accused of killing civilians in Iraq. Schmitz, according to critics, may (or may not) be guilty of being a lousy IG (and the sister thing definitely isn’t his fault, though it must make for some awkward family reunions). The "epic corruption" in Iraq is well documented. What Charles Riechers — an Air Force official with no known affiliation to any of these characters — has to do with any of this is unclear.
In the meantime, no newspaper, from what I can see, has pointed out the original page one article in theWashington Post on Riechers, under the title "Air Force Arranged No Work Contract," was misleading, perhaps because the writer didn’t understand science and technology assistance contracts. It wasn’t a "no work contract" because the contractor provides technical assistance to the Defense Department).
If Riechers weren’t dead, the whole thing would be laughable