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Father waiting for answers

Government: Military leaders have yet to give response to Dante Acosta’s questions about his son’s d

Posted: December 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 15, 2011 1:55 a.m.

The father of Army Spc. Rudy A. Acosta, killed earlier this year by a rogue Afghan national recruited by military contractors, is still awaiting a promised response to his questions about federal government contracting practices, he said Wednesday.

Dante Acosta also called on Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, to step up his efforts to get answers to questions Acosta prepared for military brass attending a congressional hearing in September.

“I’m hoping Congressman McKeon’s office will re-double its efforts to get these answers because I haven’t received any response,” Acosta said.

On Sept. 22, Acosta attended a congressional hearing of the House Armed Services Committee that was called to provide politicians with an update on security forces in Afghanistan.

He went at the invitation of McKeon, who chairs the committee, looking for answers to questions posed by the death of his son, principally questions about the hiring practices of privately contracted security firms.

Pentagon senior official Michele Flournoy, who attended the hearing, said her department would respond to Acosta’s concerns within 60 days.

On Monday, she told The Associated Press she is stepping down as the chief policy adviser to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, citing personal reasons.

“We just heard that she’s resigning her position,” Acosta said Wednesday. “So I’m hoping she clears her desk out before that happens.”

By Christmas, the promise of an official response will be a month overdue.

Those pursuing the matter in McKeon’s Washington office say Acosta’s concern remains a priority.

“We have been diligent in our communications with the (Department of Defense) in an effort to get the questions answered,” said Alissa McCurley, spokeswoman for the congressman.

“We have recently followed up with (the department) explaining that it has been almost 90 days and we still haven’t had our questions answered and requested that this issue be given priority.”

A gunman identified as Shir Ahmad opened fire on American troops March 19 as they began cleaning their weapons inside the Forward Operating Base Frontenac in Afghanistan.

Two American servicemen were dead and four others wounded by the time the gunman was shot.

One of the two killed was Army Spc. Rudy A. Acosta.

When Danta Acosta learned his son’s killer had been hired by a privately contracted security firm just 10 days earlier, he wanted to know more about the screening practices of private security firms contracted by the U.S. military.

Ahmad had been hired March 9 in Shah Wali Kot District, where Forward Operating Base Frontenac is located, in a district of Afghanistan that’s historically been a stronghold of Taliban forces.

“We have no business hiring guys who have a dog in that fight,” Dante Acosta said last month about foreign nationals hired to protect U.S. troops.

In the two months leading up to the March 19 shooting, nine U.S. soldiers were killed by rogue Afghan security force members, whether uniformed or private security contractors, according the U.S. Department of Defense.


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