July 13, 2006

Culture of Corruption

In November of 2005, I became aware of a non-profit called Beauchamp Tower Corporation. BTC was focused on a project they called Operation Enduring Service.

The premise for the program was really quite simple and broken down into several easily understood parts.

Start with mothballed ships that were no longer of use to the Navy.

Convert those of historical significance to floating museums.

Take others in good shape, and turn them into disaster response ships.

The rest—those that had no historical significance or were too worn or obsolete and destined for a scrapyard—would be salvaged to help pay to restore the museum ships worth restoring. Like most truly good ideas, it was simple and direct.

On many occasions on this blog I wrote of the proposed "Salvation Navy," an idea so good it simply had to occur.

How many lives could we have saved in Hurricane Katrina with these ships bringing in food, water, and emergency workers just hours after the storm's landfall? How many lives would be saved in future hurricanes?

In the event of another 9/11-type terrorist attack, how much support could a ship such as this provide to aid in recovery?

This is what Ward Brewer, CEO of Beauchamp Tower envisioned.

But that was before Enduring Service and the "Salvation Navy" it would create ran into the buzzsaw of incompetence, corruption, and criminality that may eventually implicate officials within the U.S Maritime Administration, the Department of Transportation, and other members of the Executive and Legislative branches.

* * *

The Tip of the Iceberg

Let's start with illegal access of Beauchamp's servers by the U.S. Maritime Administration. Most would simply call it hacking, but password theft and false identity use will do as well.

According to documents obtained from Ward Brewer, CEO of Beauchamp Tower Corporation. BTC has a strict User Agreement for their server and web site. The server was used as a medium to provide partners and vendors of the project with internal corporate information—which was and is copyright protected

Item 5 C-F of the User Agreement explicitly states:

c) User agrees that he or she is not an employee of or contracted by the United States Department of Transportation and or the United States department of justice, or any agency within the structure of these departments, such as, but not limited to, the Maritime Administration. user agrees to, acknowledges, and hereby testifies that he or she is not an employee of the afore mentioned agencies.

(d) User agrees to and permits BTIS access to ISP identities, other internet information, and data deemed necessary by BTIS to confirm user identity and verify user is not an employee of the afore mention federal agencies. User also grants the user's internet service provider permission to identify the user's identity to btis for verification that user is not an employee of the afore mentioned federal agencies. BTIS agrees to maintain the privacy of such information, provided user is not an employee of the afore mentioned federal agencies. BTIS reserves the right to deny or terminate, at BTIS's sole discretion, access to this site by any user that BTIS cannot verify user's identity or where user's identity is not known to BTIS.

(e) Any person employed by or contracted by the United States Department of Transportation and or the United States Department of Justice, or any agency within the structure of these departments, is hereby denied any and all access to this website without the expressed written permission of BTIS. Any person employed by or contracted by the afore mentioned agencies that attempts to enter this site will be in violation of state and federal laws, which may include, but not be limited to, laws pertaining to false identity, internet website use, and software user agreements. BTIS reserves the right, at BTIS's sole discretion, to prosecute any violation of this agreement. written agreements may be obtain, at BTIS's sole discretion, by contacting and requesting written permission. Written permission to enter this site must be dated after January 30, 2004. Written permission dated prior to this date is not valid.

(f) User understands that he or she may not, and agrees that he or she will not knowingly communicate to any employee of the Department of Justice or Department of Transportation the passcodes to enter this site or disclose the contents of this website with out the express written permission of BTIS.

Brewer states that Maritime Administration officials actively sought the password to access the protected portion of the BT Corp site, and were eventually successful, obtaining it from an accidental posting to a veteran's group web site. Brewer states further:

MARAD officials were told a number of times that they were not allowed on the website, yet they continued to search the Internet to try and find the password every time we changed it. Once they obtained the password (which we were forced to continually change, agency officials electronically signed in under false identities—violating the our End License User Agreement.

And there is indeed proof that Maritime did indeed successfully "hack" into Beauchamp's site no less than 15 times.

What evidence is there? There are server logs, as shown in this screen capture (click to enlarge):

There are the logs of the Maritime Administration's illegal access time and IP addresses, including:


And there is much, much more, which has been turned over to the FBI for investigation, evidence of such obvious weight that agents declared felony charges were “quite possible” when discussing it with Brewer. Of course, once the case went to the US Attorney General's office in Washington for permission to investigate, it has since stalled...

While we've been debating and defending legitimate programs by the NSA and CIA, other elements of the government haven't even attempted to find a legal excuse for their accessing of private information. They've simply broken in.

Of course, the million dollar question is: "Why?"

Why would a federal agency illegally hack into the web server of a not-for-profit organization working in emergency response?? What were they hoping to find, and why were they willing to risk it?

The answer appears to be a simple combination of political corruption and revenge, but that is a story for another post...

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 13, 2006 02:05 PM | TrackBack

Have you ever been aboard the ships in the NDRF? I have. They were all built before intermodal. The idea of converting them into "disaster response ships" is ludicrous. More likely, the real plan was to sell off the NDRF for scrap, spend a little on a museum for the Glomar Explorer and a little more on a fat shipyard contract to keep some old bulk carriers afloat and available to the MSC, and POCKET THE REST AS PURE PORK FAT.

I have no idea why MARAD might be attacking the information systems of a "non-profit" trying to do that.

Don't get me wrong. Selling off the NDRF for scrap would probably be a good idea. It'd be nice, though, if that dough went back into the Federal treasury, rather than into some boondoggle.

Posted by: s9 at July 13, 2006 10:29 PM

Could be that someone in the 'non-profit' agencies made a few million in 'profit'. The red cross did it or tried it after 9-11, so why wouldn't someone else.

Posted by: Scrapiron at July 13, 2006 10:54 PM

I have no idea why MARAD might be attacking the information systems of a "non-profit" trying to do that.

Q: What is the primary (though unstated) mission of any bureaucracy (public or private)?

A: To maintain its existence and expand its budget.

BTC threatens their existence and budget. Therefore, BTC is "the enemy".

Posted by: Purple Avenger at July 14, 2006 04:37 AM

s9, you'd be real dangerous... if you knew what you were talking about.

The ships to be saved would be for WWII era museums, such as the DD-574 John Rogers that BTC is picking up from Mexico.

Most of the ships would be scrapped, no doubt, but the ships wanted for hurricane duty such as the MARS-class USNS San Diego (T-AFS 6), is in possession of NAVSEA Inactive, and was commissioned in 1969. It only was decommissioned in 1997. Not exactly ancient.

Every dime of the scrapping program would go into maintaining and upgrading ships. There would be no pork, and this would save taxpayers approximately $100 million. The bulk of the hurricane response program would actually be sponsored by corporate donations from the largest of the Fortune 500 companies. This is a largely volunteer effort; BTC si just trying to get the government to donate ships they were overpaying others to take.

The ships would be manned by the U.S. Goast Guard Auxilliary and the Salvation Army, who have committed to the program, and neither organization considers preventing another Katrina-like response nightmare a "boondoggle."

They call it saving lives.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 14, 2006 06:28 AM

Purple Avenger, BTW, nails it.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 14, 2006 06:29 AM


You're an idiot and you're comments only show just how ignorant you are on this subject. And as for making money on selling those ships for scrap--the HAZMAT onboard prevents the scrap from being profitable on most of the ships remaining. That's why the government has to PAY scrapyards to take most of the older ships. Things like PCB's and asbestos are very expensive to remove and dispose of.

So, before you open your mouth again and show everyone once more just how uninformed you really are on this subject...take the time to learn the facts and then try to formulate something that could resemble an intelligent statement. You don't know the first thing about what you're talking about.

Geez, CY, where do these fools come from?

Posted by: WB at July 15, 2006 10:44 PM