The other day, I wrote about Deloitte and special services others have reported them to be providing in Iraq. An article in the Salem News told a story of their alleged complicity in the court martial of a Marine. Now these types of stories are always complicated and this is not a political blog, my stories about my crush on Patrick Fitzgerald and Deloitte and “Sicko” notwithstanding.
Early Saturday morning I received an email from Deloitte’s National Director of Public Relations, Deborah Harrington. I have only received a note from Ms. Harrington once before, even though ,as you know, I write about Deloitte a lot. In fact, Ms. Harrington is the only Big 4 PR person who has ever written to me. (Way to be on the job, Deborah!) I’ve never heard from any of their lawyers either, so that answers many of your frequent questions about whether I have a bodyguard. I don’t need one…
Ms. Harrington wrote to me once before to tell me that Deloitte had not taken a job subcontracting to the law firm hired by Representative Conyers of the US Congress to investigate the US Justice Department for the US attorney firings. Another political story, but I am, as always, following only the connection to the Big 4.
I could never get any confirmation from either the Congressman’s office nor the law firm that supposedly hired Deloitte, that the story in the media was not true. It was a story that was quickly reprinted by several news services and linked to by thousands of blogs.
I had first seen this most recent story about the Marine, via Google Alerts, in another blog. Although I am not a journalist and do not have the obligations to check sources that they have, I do check to see what the source of such a story might be and make my decisions accordingly. I traced this story back to Salem News and was satisfied that those better trained and with more to lose had made a decision to print it. I also caveatted it in my own blog.
Ms. Harrington’s letter to the Salem News, is reprinted below. She sent me a copy, also. The Salem News has written a followup article.
“To the Editor:
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu is an organization of member firms around the world, which provide professional services in four areas: audit, tax, consulting and financial advisory services. Neither Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu nor any of its member firms do business in Iraq.
Your reporting on Deloitte in the story, “Advocates Call Iraq Marine’s Court Martial and Conviction Into Question,” has no basis whatsoever in fact. Had anyone sought out someone from Deloitte to respond to these outrageous allegations, we would have been happy to help the reporter get the facts.
This type of reporting by your news organization is irresponsible and harmful to the reputation of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu and its member firms.
National Public Relations Director
A couple of things about this note:
1)Ms. Harrington states that, “Neither Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu nor any of its member firms do business in Iraq.” However, one of the main contentions of the article is that firms like Deloitte use contractors and other affiliates to do business in places and to perform services that the firm itself can not or will not be associated with officially. Her statement does not rule out this possibility.
2)Ms. Harrington states that no one from Salem News contacted Deloitte for their comment. This was disappointing to me, as I would have hoped a journalist would do so.
I contacted the Salem News last night. Mr. Tim King, the reporter, seems like an interesting guy. His bio is here.
I asked Mr. King to clarify whether they had contacted Deloitte prior to running the story. “…She also mentions that no one contacted the firm to get their confirmation or denial before the story ran. If that’s true, I will have to mention it…Please contact me and let me know the background so I can write an accurate followup.”
His response was as follows:
I did not contact the organization but I am working closely with people who have. I truly was on the fence over this, and the primary reason I didn’t contact their U.S. office is because I was advised that they are at least somewhat disconnected from the aspects of their operation that takes Iraq into account…So while I generally contact all parties in any story I am working on, this was an exception. Just so you know, I have been in Afghanistan recently and I am a former Marine, so my investigation of certain stories is conducted with those elements in my background.
While waiting for Mr. King’s response, I looked around my statistics tool and saw another site that was sending traffic to mine that seemed related to this story. On it, the Salem News story was repeated verbatim and someone had cited my post in a comment as further info about the story. (This is a Conservative site!) I followed a few more comments and their citations around and the discussions reminded me that I had written about Deloitte and their military connections before.
One of the comments mentions some of the firms that operate in Iraq via contractors and subcontractors. Abraxas is one of them. Tom Ridge is a new Deloitte Senior Advisor and a member of Abraxas’ Advisory Board, one of those government contractors mentioned frequently in articles. I also remembered that I had written about Deloitte’s political contributions and Michael David Thomas wrote about Deloitte and Siemens, inspired by my article about Deloitte’s subcontract with Debevoise, the law firm investigating Siemens, another frequent Defense Department contractor. I took a chance and went to Deloitte’s Federal Services section of their website. There they are proud to flaunt both their connections and activities related to the US military.
“Tactical NetCentric Strategies: Arming the Government’s Work Force of the Future
Deloitte Insights podcast
New York. Madrid. London. Baghdad.
These are the battlefields of the global war on terrorism, and the enemy does not observe military rules of engagement. On the contrary, these highly organized and technically adroit adversaries are committed to total war and the complete structural, economic and psychological destruction of our country.
This enduring threat to our national security is not limited to military campaigns alone. We continue to be vulnerable to attacks on our physical and digital infrastructure, and face the theft of critical research and technology. It is clear that our government cannot maintain its current tactical course and ensure that our communities will remain safe and secure. Revitalized homeland security strategies are essential to the survival of our economy and the government itself.
Twenty-four centuries ago, Sun Tzu, the celebrated Chinese military tactician, made this observation in his book, The Art of War, “Know your enemy and know yourself.” To ignore this advice would be no small mistake. Our enemies have much to teach us, about effective military networking strategies, and about ourselves.
In this Deloitte Insights podcast, Lieutenant General Harry Raduege, director, David Brant, director and Dr. Michael Gelles, senior manager, all with Deloitte & Touche LLP, examine netcentric strategies and discuss emerging solutions to our homeland security challenges.”
So, you can decide for yourself.
But I would have two comments for Ms. Harrington:
1)When something hits the Internet, the genie’s out of the bottle. Even your most earnest efforts on Saturday morning are not going to put it back in. I wish you luck staying ahead of these kinds of stories.
2)”Help me help you…” If you want to deny you have no activities in Baghdad, don’t mention it on your website and don’t flaunt former NCIS and Homeland Security guys. Everybody sees this, not just the people who like these kinds of guys.