TRACKING THE TITAN
Sightings from The Catbird Seat
May 27, 2004
Titan’s Army Contract Under Review
By Bruce V. Bigelow, The San Diego Union Tribune
The Army command that hired San Diego’s Titan Corp. to provide Arabic linguists to units in Iraq is evaluating whether the lucrative contract should be awarded to another company.
The evaluation under way at INSCOM, the Army’s Intelligence & Security Command at Fort Belvoir, Va., is part of a five-year renewal process for the Army’s worldwide linguist support services contract. INSCOM awarded the five-year contract in 1999.
The contract has come under increased scrutiny after revelations that civilian translators working for Titan were involved in the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.
Titan has sought to renew the contract, which has become the company’s single biggest revenue source. But competing bids for the linguist contract, valued at $657 million, have been submitted by Northrop Grumman, L3 Communications and Computer Sciences Corp.
The Pentagon also began withholding 10 percent of its payments to Titan under the contract because of accounting deficiencies, according to congressional testimony March 11 by Dr. Dov S. Zakheim, then an Undersecretary of Defense and the Pentagon’s chief financial officer….
But Titan spokesman Wil Williams said the procedures identified by Zakheim have been corrected and “our customer is happy with our performance.”…
Williams declined to discuss how many Titan interpreters are working in Iraq, saying threats to civilian contract workers are still pervasive.
Titan disclosed in November that 13 of its employees had been killed in Iraq, including two Americans, but the company has refused to discuss any casualties since then.
Some U.S. soldiers who worked with the translators in Iraq also have said that some of the Titan employees lacked sufficient experience and skill to serve as useful interpreters….
Nevertheless, the contract renewal comes at an especially sensitive time for the company, which said last week it fired an employee who had worked as a translator for American interrogators at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison.
An internal Army investigation had identified the employee, Adel L. Nakhla, as a “suspect” in the abuse of Iraqis held at the prison. No charges have been filed against any U.S. civilians implicated in the scandal, but soldiers who also were named as suspects in the Army report now face courts martial
John Israel, another civilian who has since been identified as a Titan subcontractor, was named in the Army report as either directly or indirectly responsible for the prisoner abuses.
Titan has another major reason to be sensitive about the timing of the contract renewal.
The San Diego defense contractor has twice postponed its sale to Lockheed Martin because of federal investigations into allegations that Titan paid bribes overseas to win business.
Titan agreed to accept a reduced offer to keep the deal alive, but the company also must resolve the Justice Department probe to complete the $1.7 billion deal….
Revisions after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks expanded the requirements, so the Army contract now provides up to $657 million for as many as 4,800 linguists to the Army….
The Web site Washington Technology recently ranked Titan as the ninth largest federal prime contractor to the government market for information technology.
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March 10, 2000
SENATOR INOUYE ANNOUNCES $6.75 MILLION
AGRICULTURE LOAN AWARDED TO
HAWAII FRUIT PROCESSOR
SAFE, HIGH-TECH PROCESSING FACILITY WILL
OPEN GROWERS TO NEW EXPORT MARKETS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, D.C. — United States Senator Daniel K. Inouye is pleased to announce a $6.75 million federal loan was awarded to Hawaii Pride, LLC, which will use the financing to construct a tropical fruit processing facility on the Big Island.
At the new facility, Hawaii Pride will provide post-harvest quarantine disinfestation treatments, ridding Hawaii-grown fresh fruit of fruit flies and other plant pests. Technology at the processing facility represents a safe alternative to previous proposals to treat fruits with nuclear irradiation.
The facility is expected to create 28 full-time jobs and increase employment opportunities on local farms. Growers anticipate the facility will significantly help them to pursue national and international markets for high-quality, premium-priced Hawaii-grown fruits.
“Fruit flies have long been an obstacle to local farmers who want to expand to markets outside the State of Hawaii,” said Senator Inouye, who is a strong supporter of diversified agriculture efforts. “Now, with this safe treatment alternative, Hawaii’s diversified agriculture growers will have the opportunity to export to new markets and reach new levels of commercialization.”
Hawaii Pride was founded by Big Island residents Eric Weinert and John Clark. The company will build and operate the fruit processing facility on a 20-acre site in Keaau located about eight miles from Hilo International Airport and major harbor facilities.
The business – through a strategic alliance with Titan Corporation, a leader in food pasteurization technology and marketing – will utilize the state-of-the-art Titan Scan SureBeam. This technology consists of an electron beam accelerator that has x-ray conversion capabilities.
Big Island papaya producers are expected to be the major users of the new facility’s services. Other users will include growers of other tropical fruits such as rambutan and lychee.
Assisting Hawaii Pride in obtaining the loan was Francis J. Blanco, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development’s state director in Hawaii. Blanco said, “The purpose of the loan program is to promote economic development in rural areas by providing opportunities for job creation and retention. The Hawaii Pride venture is expected to make a significant contribution to the economic climate of the Big Island.”
The loan was issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program. Web Financial Government Lending, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Utah-based WebBank, is the participating lender.
Hawaii Pride was selected on a competitive basis against other projects nationwide.
For additional information about the project, call Francis J. Blanco in Hilo at 808-933-8302 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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August 21, 2001
FTC Should Investigate Companies that Advertise Food Irradiation as ‘Pasteurization’
Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety today called on the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to initiate a thorough investigation into companies that advertise food irradiation as “pasteurization” and irradiated food products as “pasteurized.”
The groups are asking the FTC to order the companies to stop the practice and penalize those guilty of disseminating false advertising to American consumers.
Most Irradiation Companies with Web Sites
Use Misleading Euphemisms
Five of the eight U.S.-based food irradiation companies that maintain Internet Web sites predominantly use the euphemisms “cold pasteurization” or “electronic pasteurization” to describe the process by which food is exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation. These euphemisms conceal the truth about irradiation from consumers, who, according to numerous public opinion polls, are overwhelmingly opposed to buying or eating irradiated food.
“These abuses have set a new standard for false advertising,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program.
“Consumers have been deceived long enough. Food irradiation companies must stop playing mind games with the American people.”
Even the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said that calling irradiated food products “pasteurized” is “misleading,” according to a Q&A for the food industry posted on the agency’s Web site.
Deceptive advertising is illegal under the US Federal Trade Commission Act and is punishable through criminal and civil penalties, including fines, court injunctions and corrective advertising. It is important to note that on packages, irradiated food must be labeled as “treated by irradiation” or “treated with radiation,” according to FDA and USDA regulations.
The five food irradiation companies named in the groups’ letter to the FTC are:
Agbeta Inc. of Carpinteria, Calif.
BioSterile Technology Inc. of Fort Wayne, Ind.
Oasis-Santa Barbara Inc. of Santa Barbara, Calif.
Scanmex LLC of Laredo, Texas
Titan Corp./SureBeam Corp. of San Diego, Calif.
The most prominent of these companies are defense contractor Titan and its affiliate, SureBeam, which uses linear accelerators originally designed for the “Star Wars” program to irradiate food.
Since March, Public Citizen has filed false advertising complaints with the FTC against SureBeam and two of its clients, Omaha Steaks of Nebraska and Huisken Meats of Minnesota.
Omaha Steaks and Huisken have since changed their Web sites to say that their ground beef products have been “irradiated.”
SureBeam, however, has significantly expanded the use of the word “pasteurized” in promotional material, using it repeatedly in advertisements appearing in major newspapers and on television, radio stations and the Internet.
In half-page ads that ran last month in daily newspapers in the Twin Cities, for example, SureBeam said that its technique — which kills microorganisms with electrons fired nearly to the speed of light — “is much like milk pasteurization.”
Milk pasteurization, however, uses heat to kill food-borne pathogens.
The groups also named Hawaii Pride LLC of Keaau, Hawaii, which “treats” papayas and other tropical fruit destined for the mainland with a Titan/SureBeam X-ray machine. Like the SureBeam ad, Hawaii Pride’s Web site compares irradiation with “heat pasteurized milk.”
“Comparing food that’s been blasted with the equivalent of millions of chest X-rays to pasteurized milk — it would be funny if it weren’t so deceitful,” said Peter Jenkins, an attorney and policy analyst with the Center for Food Safety.
“The time has come for these companies to be shamed into telling the truth,” he states.
Public Citizen and the Center for Food Safety are working to stop the proliferation of food irradiation through coordinated campaigns, including dialogues with elected officials, grassroots organizing, citizen petitions, legal action and efforts to ensure that companies are honest with consumers about the benefits and harms associated with irradiated food.
The groups have compiled an extensive body of research suggesting that irradiated food may not be not safe for human consumption. Irradiation results in the formation of chemicals that are known or suspected to cause cancer and birth defects.
Lab animals fed irradiated food have developed serious health problems, such as premature death, stillbirths, genetic damage, a rare form of cancer, fatal internal bleeding, organ malfunctions and vitamin deficiencies.
Further, irradiation does nothing to remove the feces, urine, vomit and pus that often contaminate meat in today’s high-volume, factory-style slaughterhouses and processing plants.
Research indicates that irradiation also can destroy vitamins and nutrients, disrupt proteins and essential fatty acids, and corrupt flavor, texture and odor.
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June 3, 2005
L-3 Communications Agrees to Buy Titan;
Lehman Role Questioned
By Andrew Ross Sorkin, New York Times
Another deal on Wall Street raised questions about conflicts – even before it was signed.
L-3 Communications, the military technology company, announced today that it had agreed to acquire a rival, the Titan Corporation, for about $2.65 billion, with deal expected to close later this year. But the involvement by Lehman Brothers on both sides of the deal has Wall Street questioning such arrangements.
Lehman’s unusual role comes amid increased scrutiny of conflict of interest issues after Goldman Sachs was criticized for its dual role in the takeover of Archipelago by the New York Stock Exchange.
In that merger, Goldman advised both companies while having an ownership stake in each. Several shareholders of the two companies have filed lawsuits, contending the executives breached their fiduciary duty by using the same adviser.
Lehman’s bankers acted as advisers to Titan, a San Diego-based military contractor, executives close to the company said, while also providing financing for the deal to L-3, which makes intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems.
While such an arrangement is not unprecedented, it is unusual because the board of L-3 did not hire an adviser or an independent firm to examine the deal and provide a so-called fairness opinion.
The arrangement may raise even more questions because of L-3’s ties to Lehman: two Lehman executives are directors of L-3 and sit on the compensation committee; one is chairman of the corporate governance committee. L-3 was once owned in large part by Lehman’s private equity arm.
Some corporate governance specialists suggested that Lehman’s role may be as problematic as Goldman’s role in the Archipelago deal though both companies in that deal sought fairness opinions from two independent banks.
“The directors of L-3 are living dangerously,” said John C. Coffee Jr., a professor of securities law at Columbia. “Given Lehman’s position, it would be wise to insist L-3 get an outside adviser.”
Executives involved in the transaction said that L-3’s board and management were aware of the perception of a conflict but decided that one did not exist after consulting its lawyer, Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.
The board concluded that it did not need a fairness opinion because it had done a thorough analysis of the transaction, the executives said. Historically, L-3 has not used an adviser for its acquisitions.
The price of the deal, $23.10 in cash a share, is within the estimates of independent analysts who have written reports on Titan, the executives said. Directors unanimously concluded that the two Lehman executives on the board should be allowed to vote on the deal because they work for the bank’s private equity arm, not its investment banking operation.
To be sure, Lehman’s role in the transaction differs from Goldman’s role in the Archipelago deal because it is not acting as an adviser to both sides, and Lehman has no ownership in either Titan or L-3. Lehman was helped in its role as an adviser to Titan by another firm, Relational Advisers. And in addition to Lehman, three other banks are expected to help L-3 finance the deal.
Executives involved also pointed out that negotiations between L-3 and Titan had taken significantly longer than they had anticipated – a deal had been expected last week – an indication they say that both sides were trying to do what is best for their shareholders….
A spokesman for L-3 declined to comment on Thursday, as did a spokeswoman for Lehman. A spokesman for Titan could not be reached.
The deal between L-3 and Titan is delicate because it comes less than a year after Lockheed Martin broke off a similar pact in the face of charges that Titan was involved in a foreign bribery case.
Titan shareholders have sued over the collapse of the Lockheed deal. L-3’s discussions with Titan included questions of potential liability in the class-action suit, which accuses Titan of failing to report in announcements about revenue growth that the company faced corruption charges.
Frank C. Lanza formed L-3 in 1997. The deal for Titan is L-3’s largest since it bought a military equipment unit of Raytheon for $1.13 billion in 2002.
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A Catbird Note: According to a look at Yahoo Finance on Jan 14, 2006, the TOP INSTITUTIONAL HOLDER for L-3 Communications Holdings Inc. (LLL) is PUTNAM INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, LLC, followed by Britian’s BARKLAY’S BANK. The top MUTUAL FUND HOLDERS are SMITH BARNEY AGGRESSIVE GROWTH FUND INC. and PUTNAM VOYAGER FUND.
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Last update August 28, 2006, by The Catbird