The U.S. State Department has ordered hundreds of pounds of plastic explosives and thousands of containers of liquid explosives, WND has discovered, shipping them to the location of U.S. centers that typically send sensitive materials to overseas embassies.
According to procurement documents WND obtained through routine database research, State recently put in four separate orders for high explosives – purchases accompanied by tens of thousands of feet of detonating cords with hundreds of blasting caps and fuse igniters.
The ultimate destination of these products and their cost is unknown, but the government contracting office responsible for arranging the purchases has an address in Dun Loring, Virginia, site of a State diplomatic-security field office.
The procurement documents likewise list the explosives’ shipping destination, or “place of performance,” as Sterling, Va., which is home to the Diplomatic Pouch and Mail Unit, or DPM/U, which is tasked with sending secure pouches and crates to U.S. embassies and consulates worldwide.
Deliveries made through that unit are exempt from the same inspections, for example, that the U.S. Postal Service otherwise would perform.
According to the unclassified and publicly available U.S. Department of State Foreign Affairs Manual Volume 14, once USPS delivers an item to this facility, that item technically is not considered mail and no longer falls under postal regulations and restrictions.
Such goods fall under the guidelines and control of State, which at its discretion can “open and inspect all mail sent to it for transmission abroad to determine whether the items meet Department and all other standards.”
The Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, or VCDR, and international law “limit the use of diplomatic pouches to diplomatic documents and articles intended for official use,” the manual says.
The VCDR, however, prohibits private airlines as well as the receiving host governments from x-raying or opening diplomatic pouches and crates, regardless of how they are marked or whether goods are transported into or out of that nation. This enables State to securely transport a variety of confidential, secret and top secret items as well as unclassified and sensitive but unclassified materials.
State’s specific mode of distributing the explosive materials remains unclear, as its Diplomatic Pouch Policy explicitly prohibits the shipment of explosives through DPM/U.
If indeed the department complies with this prohibition, another option is to reroute the explosives by sea via one of several “consolidation points” known as Despatch Agencies, located in Miami, New York and Seattle as well as Brownsville, Texas, and Antwerp, Belgium.
State leverages these units “for freight shipments destined for the Department’s operating locations worldwide. … The Despatch Agencies maintain contracted warehouse space to consolidate the freight and manage the transportation arrangements to move the freight to destination.”
State specifically is purchasing – and sending to Sterling, Virginia – 450 pounds of C4 M112 explosives, nearly 2,600 containers of liquid explosives, 188 feet of “linear-shaped charges” and more than 8,000 blasting caps via Solicitation No. FY14-GC-273.
A separate procurement, Solicitation No. FY14-GC-281, calls for 225 pounds of C4 plastic explosives, five pounds of C2 “sheet explosives” and 144 bottles of high-energy liquid explosives. Thousands of additional feet of detonating cord – plus 18,000 feet of military-grade safety fuses and hundreds of blasting caps and fuse igniters – are likewise part of this order.
A third procurement, Solicitation No. FY14-GC-282, seeks another combination of C4 block, sheet and liquid explosives with accompanying caps, igniters and related blasting equipment.
Finally, an array of “explosive entry systems,” “blasting tubes” and inert C4 and dynamite are sought under Solicitation No. FY14-GC-272.
State separately is buying hundreds of thousands of rounds of live 9mm “ball” ammunition as well as a lesser amount of non-lethal simulated ammo.
Soon after issuing these solicitations late April, State issued a separate call for bids to provide secure logistics pack and crating services out of Northern Virginia. These services include “packing materials and packing of hazardous materials in accordance with the Department of Transportation and IATA [International Air Transport Association] Dangerous Good Regulations.”
The selected contractor will be tasked with “secure, onsite packing and crating services to support the shipment of building materials, communications and surveillance equipment and other sensitive items [emphasis added] to diplomatic posts throughout the world.”
The Statement of Work requires the contractor to have a hazardous materials specialist on hand to perform these duties, which it would carry out at the government’s Lorton, Virginia, warehouse, at a contractor warehouse within 25 miles of that facility and occasionally at other State facilities in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
State says it needs these separate services because it is often impractical to consolidate shipments with other government materials.
“Because of the number of diplomatic missions being supported, the diversity of the projects involved, and the security requirements, and host nation restrictions, consolidation of the shipments is not practical,” it says in the document.
“Most shipments are of a high priority nature, which further complicates efforts to streamline the process of shipping by function or mission.
“This results in a large number of smaller shipments, which must be packed, crated and shipped separately to guarantee that security requirements are not compromised,” it continued. “Shipment must arrive at destinations in time to meet mission requirements.”