The Complex

Navy 'Family' Man Latest Casualty of Vast Prostitution and Bribery Scandal

When Navy Capt. David Haas received national media attention for competing in Ironman competitions in 2009, he deflected it in aw-shucks fashion. "I race for my family," Haas said at the time. "I want them to know that they can dream, work hard, and make their dreams come true. I want my kids to look up to their dad. It is important to me that they think positively of their father."

On Thursday, Haas, 45, became the latest Navy officer implicated in the broad-reaching Glenn Defense Marine scandal, in which prostitutes, cash bribes and other perks were allegedly traded for sensitive military information. Haas was suspended as the deputy commander of Coastal Riverine Group One in San Diego, and temporarily reassigned to the staff of the Expeditionary Training Group, Navy officials announced.

Haas, pictured above, has not been charged with any crime, and Navy officials declined to specify what allegations he faces. In a statement, however, the service said Haas was suspended "based upon allegations in connection with an ongoing Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) investigation into Glenn Defense Marine," the Singapore-based contractor accused of furnishing the bribes in exchange for secrets.

The scandal already has reached the highest ranks of the Navy. On Nov. 8, the service announced it had suspended access to classified information for two senior intelligence officers, effectively relieving them from duty. Like Haas, Vice Adm. Ted Branch and Rear Adm. Bruce Loveless -- the service's director of naval intelligence and director of intelligence operations, respectively -- have not been charged with any crimes, but were suspended due to links to the investigation. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Navy's top spokesman, said the allegations against the senior officers "involve inappropriate conduct prior to their current assignments and flag officer rank.

Five men now face charges, including the CEO of Glenn Defense, Leonard Glenn Francis. An examination of more than 100 pages in criminal complaints filed by U.S. authorities in the cases outlines a conspiracy in which he used bribery as a matter of course to get ahead in the business world. The colorful character has a number of nicknames, according to court documents, including "Fat Leonard," "the Godfather" and "Lion King." He allegedly arranged for prostitutes to meet with Navy officials in several cities across the Pacific. In exchange, they provided information that Glenn Defense used to its advantage while "husbanding" ships, providing food, water, waste removal, and other tasks, prosecutors say.

Also facing charges are Cmdr. Michael Vannak Khem Nisiewicz and Cmdr. Jose Luis Sanchez and John Bertrand Beliveau, a supervisory agent with the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Another Glenn Defense official -- Alex Wisidagama, of Singapore -- has been charged in connection with the scheme for allegedly pulling some of the strings to keep the scheme going.

The Navy also relieved of command Capt. Daniel Dusek, the captain of the amphibious ship Bonhomme Richard, in connection with the investigation. He has not been charged with any crimes, but officials said that commanders lost confidence in him.

The officers implicated in the scandal nearly all share a common thread: service on the Blue Ridge, the command ship for the Navy's 7th Fleet, or service at Fleet Logistics Center Yokosuka in Japan. The facility provides repairs and maintenance to a variety of U.S. and allied ships and equipment.

Haas, the latest officer implicated, has an impressive service record that included service in 2011 with Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan. From June 2003 to November 2009, he served on the Blue Ridge, Navy officials said Thursday. He is best known for competing in the Ironman World Championship, a grueling event that includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bicycle ride and a 26.2-mile marathon run without any breaks in between.

Sanchez, accused of accepting prostitutes and at least $100,000 in bribes, served as the executive officer for the Navy's Fleet Logistics Center in Yokosuka from May 2012 until April 2013, according to court papers. Previously, he was the director of operations for the Navy's logistics center in Singapore from July 2010 to May 2012. From April 2008 to April 2010, he was the deputy logistics officer for the 7th Fleet, working primarily from Yokosuka.

Misiewicz, accused of accepting prostitutes, cash, concert tickets and other perks, was the commanding officer of the destroyer Mustin, home-ported in Yokosuka, from about June 2010 to January 2011, prosecutors say. From January 2011 to April 2012, he was the deputy operations officer aboard the Blue Ridge.

Dusek, the relieved commander of the Bonhomme Richard, served as the 7th Fleet deputy operations officer aboard the Blue Ridge from January 2009 through February 2011, according to his official biography. The Navy says that in that role, he was responsible for all aspect of fleet operations for 7th Fleet.

Branch, the three-star admiral, did not serve full-time at Yokosuka in any capacity, but was previously the executive assistant to the commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet, according to his official biography.  He would have traveled the region extensively in that position.

Loveless, the other flag officer implicated, also was aboard the Blue Ridge while serving as the assistant chief of staff for intelligence for 7th Fleet, according to his official biography.

As an NCIS agent, Beliveau did not serve on the Blue Ridge. But court documents say he served as an agent assigned to the 7th Fleet in Yokosuka from 2005 through 2008. From 2008 to April 2012, he was stationed in Singapore for NCIS, working with Navy officials and local authorities to safeguard security for ships. It is in this context that Beliveau had regular contact with Francis and other Glenn Defense officials, authorities allege.

The Navy began investigating the case in 2010 after discovering irregularities in Glenn Defense's business practices, officials say. That is one year after Glenn Defense allegedly arrange for prostitutes to meet with Sanchez and other Navy officers, court documents say.

It isn't clear how many more officers could be charged, but an unidentified U.S. citizen and former Navy officer is accused of working on Glenn Defense's behalf to recruit some of the officers currently charged in the case. The unnamed recruiter is identified as "EA" in court documents, and purportedly left the service in 2007.

The criminal complaint for Misiewicz includes an alleged exchange in which the commander forwards sensitive information about ship schedules to Glenn Defense. "EA" then allegedly wrote "him!! :)", using an emoticon in the process. Francis's alleged response appears cocky.

"You bet the Godfather," he wrote, according to court documents.

EA's response: "All hail!!!"

MC3 3rd Class Torrey Lee/ Navy

The Complex

Karzai Pulls The Rug On The U.S. -- Again

The U.S. installed Hamid Karzai as the president of Afghanistan more than a decade ago, and has consulted with him regularly since in their up-and-down relationship during 12 years of war. The latest reward: Karzai told tribal leaders Thursday he doesn't trust the U.S., and suggested the signing of a long-sought security agreement he reached with senior U.S. officials should be punted to the next Afghan head of state.

The comments came at the start of a loya jirga, an assembly of some 2,500 Afghan tribal leaders that could scuttle the bilateral security agreement Karzai has reached with the U.S. As part of it, President Obama sent a letter to Karzai on Wednesday, offering regret that Afghan civilians were killed in the war and assurances that in the future, U.S. troops will not enter Afghan homes for military operations "except under extraordinary circumstances involving urgent risk to life and limb of U.S. nationals."

Karzai seeking those assurances had raised questions whether a deal could be reached. Still, even with them covered in Obama's letter, Karzai pulled his best impression of Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown, telling tribal leaders the security deal should not be signed until 2014, after an election to replace him is held. He did advocate the tribal elders approving the deal, but fired a shot across the bow at Americans in the process.

"My trust with America is not good. I don't trust them and they don't trust me," Karzai said, according to reports from Kabul. "During the past 10 years I have fought with them and they have made propaganda against me."

The decision immediately complicates the U.S.'s already uncertain future in Afghanistan. One U.S. official in Afghanistan told Foreign Policy he finds it hard to believe that Karzai's replacement will be able to sign the security agreement as one of his first acts in office, considering the mixed feelings in Afghanistan about the U.S. presence there. That would be a major problem, considering the U.S.'s 2014 deadline to withdraw thousands more combat forces from the war zone.

"It just doesn't make sense from the Afghan perspective," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "The next president will... want to do all he can to show Afghan sovereignty. Being so closely tied to the U.S. via the [agreement] would seriously undermine that, particularly as a first major initiative."

The draft agreement, posted online by the Afghan government, calls for a residual force - likely to be about 10,000 troops -- to remain after 2014. Bases would be in nine locations: Kabul, Bagram, Mazar-i-Sharif, Herat, Kandahar, Gardez, Jalabad, Shindand and Helmand province. It also requires the U.S. to continue funding the Afghan National Security Forces, and a key provision in which U.S. troops will be granted immunity from prosecution by the Afghan government. Iraq's unwillingness to grant similar protections led the U.S. to pull nearly all of its troops in 2011, setting the stage for an explosion in sectarian violence there this year.

Given all that, why would Karzai pass the buck? Analysts suggest the Afghan president wants a secure place in Afghan history, and may see more negatives than positives for his legacy among the Afghan people in signing on the dotted line.

Michael O'Hanlon, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, said it appears that Karzai wants to share the political burden for the decisions he is faced with, rather than executing them himself. Not signing the security agreement now also gives him leverage over the U.S. in how the election to replace him plays out, O'Hanlon said. It also creates the possibility that the Afghan government could demand more concessions later.

"I always thought he would be inclined to draw it out, and this may be one more effort to do just that," O'Hanlon said. "He's always willing to put in caveats and exceptions and note his skepticism of the United States."

The best thing the U.S. can do at this point is act as though the agreement has been reached in principle, and adjust course later as necessary, O'Hanlon said. Karzai's comments complicate the future, but it also serves as affirmation that he truly is stepping down as president, he added.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. David Barno, a senior adviser at the Center for a New American Security in Washington, said Karzai may hope to continue in Kabul in an unofficial "president-emeritus" role, and doesn't want to be seen as being too close to U.S. leaders. U.S. officials were likely hoping he'd sign the security agreement sooner rather than later, he said, but it's unlikely they'll be shocked by his change in tune.

"We've seen a lot of zig-zags in the pattern going foward," said Barno, who interacted with Karzai from 2003 to 2005 while leading coalition operations across the country. "I'm sure they were disappointed to see this, but I'm not sure they were entirely surprised."

AFP/ Getty Images