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Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Back in the 1970s, Shirlington was known as a shopping area in the south part of Arlington, Virginia between Green Valley and Fairlington. There was a Best store there (not to be confused with Best Buy), and a place where we used to play darts (I was not good).

But the word "Shirlington" was not generally known to the world in those days. Oh, perhaps you might see the word in a 2005 article:

While boycotts dominated discrimination resistance tactics, civil rights activist and Republican Arthur Fletcher manipulated public policy to attain economic parity....

"Fletcher was a Renaissance man in that he was always forward-thinking. He never was deterred in his goals," says Harvey Jones, an international marketer who worked under Fletcher until July, when Fletcher died of a heart attack at 80....

Christopher Baker, CEO of Shirlington Limousine and Transportation Inc., the first black company to have an exclusive Department Of Homeland Security contract, credits his success to Fletcher.

"He gave minority businesses not only the confidence to get the capital but the morals to believe in their ability to run an effective business," says Baker.

Capital and morals. The referenced contract made a blurb in the Washington Post:

Shirlington Limousine and Transportation Inc. of Arlington won a $21.2 million contract from the Department of Homeland Security for shuttle services and executive transportation support.

They have a bit of a web presence. www.shirlimo.com hosts one of their associated companies, Ambassador Luxury Tours.


Well, if you haven't heard, Shirlington Limousine has made the news a time or two lately. From April 27:

The Wall Street Journal reported today that indicted former California Congressman Randall "Duke" Cunningham may not have limited his good times to partying on a rented yacht. It turns out the FBI is currently investigating two defense contractors who allegedly provided Cunningham with free limousine service, free stays at hotel suites at the Watergate and the Westin Grand, and free prostitutes....

I've learned from a well-connected source that those under intense scrutiny by the FBI are current and former lawmakers on Defense and Intelligence comittees—including one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post. I've also been able to learn the name of the limousine service that was used to ferry the guests and other attendees to the parties: Shirlington Limousine and Transportation of Arlington, Virginia. Wilkes, I've learned, even hired Shirlington as his personal limousine service.

It gets even more interesting: the man who has been identified as the CEO of Shirlington has a 62-page rap sheet (I recently obtained a copy) that runs from at least 1979 through 1989 and lists charges of petit larceny, robbery, receiving stolen goods, assault, and more. Curiously—or perhaps not so curiously given the company's connections—Shirlington Limousine is also a Department of Homeland Security contractor; according to the Washington Post, last fall it won a $21.2 million contract for shuttle services and transportation support. (I tried to contact Shirlington but was unable to get past their answering service.)

Then, May 3:

A few days ago I wondered aloud exactly how Shirlington Limousine of Arlington, Virginia, owned by Christopher Baker—a man with a lengthy history of illegal activity—got millions of dollars in federal contracts with the Department of Homeland Security and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and if those contracts had anything to do with Shirlington’s relationship with defense contractor and accused Duke Cunningham-briber Brent Wilkes. The latter, readers might recall, allegedly used Baker's limo service to transport congressmen, CIA officials, and perhaps prostitutes to his Washington parties.

Most companies owned by a man with a 62-page rap sheet aren't nearly so lucky in winning taxpayer dollars.

Yesterday, a source close to the Cunningham investigation told me that Wilkes and other San Diego defense contractors were behind-the-scenes players at Shirlington. Talking Points Memo looks to have confirmed that, finding that a man named Jerome Foster was a company director for Shirlington from 1995—the year after the company incorporated in Virginia—until 1999. Foster owns a company called Pentech, which is represented in Washington by former Rep. Bill Lowery, whose lobbying firm also represented a company owned by Brent Wilkes.

And, of course, the latest twist on May 8:

Why did CIA chief Porter Goss resign on Friday? There are several theories, and one of the most widely circulated holds that Goss quit after losing a simple turf war with John Negroponte, the Director of National Intelligence. And yes, Negroponte and Goss have been feuding over turf, but it seems unlikely that this is the sole explanation for Goss’s exit....

[P]eople I've talked to say that the resignation is not only the result of a feud with Negroponte but is also at least indirectly connected to potential fallout from the Duke Cunningham scandal.

That scandal continues to unfold. Dusty Foggo, Goss's once-surprise pick for the CIA's number-three post (who reportedly quit today), has acknowledged attending parties thrown by Brent Wilkes, the defense contractor who allegedly bribed Cunningham, at the Watergate Hotel. Foggo is now under investigation, and his ties to Wilkes are being scrutinized by Cunningham-case investigators and internally at the CIA. Foggo has denied having any knowledge regarding the prostitutes who allegedly attended the parties. Goss, through the CIA press office, claims never to have attended the parties at all....

In related news, members of Congress have announced they will investigate the $21.2 million contract between the Department of Homeland Security and Shirlington Limousine of Alexandria, Virginia. As I first reported here on April 27, Shirlington is the firm that is deeply implicated in the Cunningham scandal and got the DHS contract despite being headed by a man with a lengthy criminal record. “The information we've obtained,” GOP Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, who chairs the House subcommittee that oversees DHS, told the New York Times in a story that ran yesterday, “raises a number of serious questions, from the contracting process to possible security concerns.” Today, two members of Congress sent a letter to Homeland Security Inspector General Richard Skinner, requesting further investigation into the DHS contracts with Shirlington Limousine.

The funny thing is, I don't know if Shirlington Limousine has any ties with Shirlington any more, other than the Shirlington post office.

But I'm too young to remember when Watergate was just a hotel.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

Wow. That hotel just can't stay out of the news, can it?
Wonder if G. Gordon Liddy is reporting on this story.
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