IAmA Special Agent With Diplomatic Security AMA: Agent Gets on Reddit 3 Days Ago, Then Poof — It’s Gone!

Posted: 3:26 pm ET
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But not really.

In February 2014, we posted about an anonymous Foreign Service officer who got on Reddit, the “front page of the Internet” and did an AMAA  (Ask Me Almost Anything) see IamA United States Diplomat: Anonymous FSO Gets on Reddit and He’s a Riot! Three days ago, a Diplomatic Security Service Agent got on Reddit and did an AMA (Ask Me Anything). The thread is not quite as popular as Anonymous FSO’s, nor as funny, but informative nonetheless though the discreetness maybe debatable. It includes Q&As about risks, donuts, Hillary Clinton, indirect fire, USSS, James Bond, training, the best/worst part of the job, and um…folks, “badge bunnies.” It does not look like anyone among the Reddit users tried to scare the DSS agent with the FAM but perhaps one doesn’t need scaring anymore given that the FAM is not regulations.

While we discovered that Anonymous FSO’s AMA disappeared from Reddit last year (Whoa! What happened to the Anonymous FSO on Reddit?), the DSS Agent’s AMA only lasted three days before it went poof!  A photo of the DSS badge, with a scrawled 6/30/16 and handle is still up on Imgur.

All answers to the questions posted on Reddit have now been deleted, as well. The permalinks are provided below but the links to the answers will direct to the deleted page. The DSS Agent is using the handle Not_in_Benghazi and his answers in the snippets below are highlighted in blue font. Here’s the deleted introduction from Reddit:

deleted intro from Reddit

deleted intro from Reddit

[–]mrdenver 2 points 4 hours ago

Last week I was supposed to go to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for a business trip. I been to Riyadh a few times. Two days before I flew out the state dept. Issued a warning to all Americans in Jeddah about imminent threat of a terrorist attacks. This was the only trip, I have ever backed out of. Do you think I made the right choice? I got some heat for not going. I am engineer and was suppose to help with the kings tower on building it. I just want to know what a person Like you would advise? Sorry for typos on a phone. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/21/saudi-arabia-us-embassy-security-threat-jeddah

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 4 hours ago

Risk tolerance is a very personal decision. I can tell you that the State Department does not issue those type of notices lightly, as they have obvious repercussions with the Host Nation, and the public.

When in doubt, do what you feel comfortable with.

[–]Tacoboutnachos 2 points 3 hours ago

Do you guys do donuts?

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 3 hours ago

I love doughnuts. Who doesn’t? They are damn delicious!

–]RellenD 2 points 4 hours ago

Do you think attacks on Hillary Clinton over what happened in Benghazi are fair? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 6 points 4 hours ago

I think being at the top is tough. I’m not going to defend or slam Clinton, but to assume she operated in a vacuum is absurd. Decisions are made with input from multiple sources, to include the National Security Council and the White House. Someone always has to bear the brunt of the blame in the public eye, however. permalink

[–]innextremis 1 point 4 hours ago

What was the most dangerous situation you have been in while working for the DSS? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 3 points 4 hours ago

Hmmm. Indirect Fire is arguably the most terrifying thing IMO. Service Members can feel free to agree or disagree, but something about hearing the alarms and not knowing when/where it will hit is a surreal experience. permalink

[–]MacCop 1 point 4 hours ago

Do you find that people confuse you for the USSS a lot, especially on protective details? Also, in terms of protection, besides who the protectee is (SOS or other foreign dignitary vs POTUS, etc), is there any real difference between the work you do and what the USSS does?permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 1 point 4 hours ago

Ha ha ha. Absolutely. Nobody knew who the hell we were before Benghazi, and I’d argue very few do now. Sometimes it can work to our advantage ;).

I’d say we go about protection a bit differently, largely in-part because there are about 2000 of us (half of which are overseas at any given time), and nearly double that in the USSS. permalink

[–]DarthBall 1 point 4 hours ago

How did you come into this job?
What is the best/worst part of the job? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 4 hours ago

I always wanted to be in Federal Law Enforcement and to live/travel abroad. I found out about DS in college and years later was hired.

Best – I’ve been paid to hang out with olympic athletes and visited approximately 30 countries, some of which most people have never even heard of.

Worst – The job is hard on a family. The joke amongst agents is that DSS really stands for “Divorced Separated or Single.” permalink

[–]littlenative 1 point 3 hours ago

Is it easy to pick up women/men when you tell them what you so for a living or harder?

I imagine office dating must be pretty popular for you guys right? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 3 hours ago

There are “badge bunnies” all over, so yes.

Eh, surprisingly I don’t think it as common as people think. I mean it definitely happens, but in general I think agents kind of stay away from other agents. It could be far too disastrous when things go south. permalink

[–]lichorat 1 point 2 hours ago

Is there a better way of assessing authenticity? Also what makes you special as in special agent? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 1 point 2 hours ago

As every federal, state, and local organization has different credentials, I can’t think of a better way other than calling “911” and inquiring.

The “special” is a legal term and indicates that our authority is limited in some way, shape, or form. We don’t have unlimited authority as agents of the government, instead, we have special authority to investigate specific statutes. That said, many states grant federal agents peace officer status within their jurisdiction.  permalink

[–]Yoyoma_2 1 point 2 hours ago

The event I was discussing was a long time ago. To be honnest, from what i’ve seen, no one is doing this “Crowd Diving” anymore.

What was the funnyest/oddest unscheduled stop or plan deviation that you have had to deal with? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 1 point 2 hours ago

I’ve gone to a strip club with a group of foreign dignitaries and I’ve been “clubbing” on numerous occasions.  permalink

[–]Yoyoma_2 1 point 3 hours ago

How long was your training and hiring process? From the time you got your letter of offer to when you were deployed in the field?

Are you initially deployed with “less important, important protectees?” How do they work you in for you to get experience? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 3 hours ago 

Our hiring process is significantly faster than many other Federal agencies IMO. I applied and was made an offer approximately six months later. Our training consists of:

1) 3 weeks of foreign service specialist orientation; 2) 56 days of the Criminal Investigator Training Program at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center; followed by 3) Approximately 3 months of DS specific training.

Then we get our creds, firearm, and badge.

Then later we go on to complete a 10 week high threat course (most agents do anyway), 3 month Basic Regional Security Officer Course, Basic Firearms Officer Course, and other firearms, language training.

There is a LOT of training out there and much of it is front loaded.

Almost every agent will start their tour in a field office and you protect whoever comes through town. You may be in a support role such as driving, early on, however, it doesn’t take long before you are thrown to the wolves. We are small and therefore are asked to take on higher levels of responsibility early on. It’s one of the things I love about the job. permalink

[–]KeysAnimations 1 point 4 hours ago

Do you find there is a lot of misinformation out there about ‘big brothers’ capabilities, in terms of gathering information and preparing for tragic events? I feel like everyone thinks it is all knowing and all powerful, but it can only be as human as the humans that run it right? permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 2 points 4 hours ago

While I cannot get into the specifics of the Whiz Bang behind what keeps us safe as anything worth discussing is sensitive and/or classified, I will say that this isn’t 24, Fast and Furious, or CSI. The dedicated work of thousands of government employees working together (sometimes) is what keeps the world (and the United States) safe IMO.permalink

[–]derick_ferelli -1 points 4 hours ago

Do you know James Bond? And by any chance do you have a shoe with a cellphone on it? Thanks permalink

[–]Not_in_Benghazi[S] 1 point 4 hours ago

No and No. permalink


USAID Reconstruction Contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq Bites Former Louis Berger Executives

Posted: 4:05 am ET
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In May 2015,  the former president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of USAID contractor Louis Berger Group Inc. (LBG) was  sentenced to 12 months of home confinement and fined $4.5 million for conspiring to defraud the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) with respect to billions of dollars in contracts over a nearly 20-year period.  See Conspired to Defraud Uncle Sam? Be Very Afraid. We’re Gonna Put You in Home Confinement! Last week, USDOJ announced that it has filed a lawsuit under the False Claims Act against the former LBG CEO Derish M. Wolff  and former CFO Salvatore J. Pepe “for conspiring to overbill the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies for costs incurred performing reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries.”

Via USDOJ: United States Sues Former Executives of Government Contractor for Making False Claims in Connection with Reconstruction Contracts in Afghanistan and Iraq

The Justice Department announced today that the government has filed suit under the False Claims Act against Derish M. Wolff and Salvatore J. Pepe, respectively the former CEO and CFO of Louis Berger Group Inc. (LBG), for conspiring to overbill the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other government agencies for costs incurred performing reconstruction contracts in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries, the Justice Department announced today.  LBG is based in East Orange, New Jersey.

“Those who do business with the U.S. government should expect appropriate consequences if they do not deal fairly,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “As this case demonstrates, the government will hold both corporate entities and individuals accountable if they misuse taxpayer funds.”

The government’s complaint alleges that Wolff and Pepe designed and directed various accounting schemes that resulted in LBG billing the government for indirect overhead costs at inflated rates.  According to the complaint, for example, Wolff and Pepe shifted portions of salaries of LBG executives and accounting personnel from contracts paid for by foreign and state governments and private entities to contracts paid for by the United States.  Wolff and Pepe allegedly certified the false rates and submitted them to the government in annual financial reports.

The United States resolved criminal and civil claims against LBG arising from this conduct on Nov. 5, 2010.  At that time, LBG entered into a Deferred Prosecution Agreement and paid $50.6 million to resolve False Claims Act allegations.  Pepe pleaded guilty on that date to a charge of conspiracy to defraud the government and was later sentenced to one year probation.  Wolff pleaded guilty to the same charge on Dec. 12, 2014, and was later sentencedto 12 months of home confinement and required to pay a $4.5 million fine for his role in the scheme.  The complaint filed today asserts civil claims against Wolff and Pepe.

The United States filed its complaint in a lawsuit originally brought under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, by Harold Salomon, an LBG accountant from March 2002 to October 2005.  Under the Act, a private citizen can sue on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery.  The United States is also entitled to intervene in the lawsuit, as it has done in this case.

This matter is being handled by the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, with investigative support from the FBI, USAID’s Office of Inspector General, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

“I applaud the dedication of USAID-OIG special agents, along with special agents of the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service,” said USAID Inspector General Ann Calvaresi Barr.  “Their joint investigative work has helped the Justice Department take action against those responsible and signals our continuing commitment to protecting public funds from fraud, waste, and abuse.”

The case is United States ex rel. Harold Salomon v. Derish M. Wolff & Salvatore J. Pepe, Civ. No. RWT-06-1970 (D. Md.).  The claims asserted against Wolff and Pepe are allegations only to the extent not admitted in their criminal pleas, and there has been no determination of civil liability.