Leonie Industries is a private strategic communications company, describing itself as "a leading provider of management consultants, analysts, and performance measurement specialists to U.S. government organizations." Leonie Industries performs analysis and assessment, data analysis, information operations, intelligence support, operations research, process improvement, and communications synchronization.
In September 2008, Leonie was one of four firms that won an up-to-three-year, $300 million contract for "information operations" in Iraq and possibly Afghanistan. The other firms were Lincoln Group, which was outed in 2005 for planting U.S. military-written pieces in Iraqi newspapers; SOS International, which in 2006 won a contract to monitor foreign media for coverage of the so-called Global War on Terrorism; and MPRI, a unit of L-3 Communications that won a contract in 2003 to involve former Iraqi soldiers in public works projects. The new PR push was described by the U.S. military as "a means toward 'reconciliation' of the country and a way to foster support for Iraqi Security Forces from Iraqi civilians."
According to its website, in 2008 Leonie was also awarded a U.S. Army Internet support services contract, a U.S. Army research contract, and "helped sponsor a 3-day leadership training seminar for women in Sulamaniya, Iraq" that "was organized by FUTURE and involved more than 60 Iraqis."
Leonie previously claimed to be a woman-owned strategic communications company that promises "access to seemingly impenetrable markets" around the world, specializing in the Middle East.  Services offered include global advertising and public relations, global media production, event management and web development on their website in September 2008 [website changed].
Company Owners as of March 2012:
- Camille Chidiac
- Rema Dupont
Company Agent as of September 2008:
- Jeffrey Lee Costel
Involvement in Misinformation Campaign
Minor owner, former president, and founder of Leonie Industries Camille Chidiac "admitted . . . that he was behind a series of websites used in an attempt to discredit two USA Today journalists who had reported on the contractor." Tom Vander Brook and Ray Locker had contacted Pentagon contractors while investigating the "military's 'information operations' program, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on marketing campaigns in Iraq and Afganistan. . ." Leonie Industries is the Pentagon's largest such contractor in Afganistan. Camille claimed that the sites had been created with personal funds, though if federally funded, it could "be a violation of federal law prohibiting the Defense Department from spending" on domestically targeted propaganda.
The attack on USA Today's reporters may have been inspired by sections of a piece, "U.S. 'info ops' programs dubious, costly," where Brook and Locker state:
- "The Pentagon's top information operations contractor in Afghanistan, California-based Leonie Industries, was started in 2004 by a brother-and-sister pair with no apparent experience working with the military. Camille Chidiac and Rema Dupont have more than $4 million in liens on their homes and property for failure to pay federal income taxes. Leonie Industries has Army contracts that could surpass $130 million; the Army has already paid them more than $90 million.
- "Contractors like Leonie plant unattributed broadcasts, plaster the countryside in war zones with billboards, stage concerts and drop leaflets with the intent of bending the will of civilians and combatants to U.S. aims. Contracts show that the companies often measure the effects of the propaganda they produce, essentially grading their own work, although the military reviews the metrics."
Failure to Pay Federal Income Taxes
As of March 2012, Leonie Industries owed over $4 million in unpaid federal taxes since 2006. Even after "the federal government placed a federal tax lien on the company's two owners [Camille Chidiac and Rema Dupont] for nearly $4.5 million in delinquent federal taxes," Leonie Industries was awarded a contract valued at $20 million by the Army. Leonie Industries has Army contracts that could surpass $130 million; the Army has already paid them more than $90 million.
Army reports reveal that it had threatened to cut its contract with Leonie Industries if the company did not improve its care of Afghan employees. Leonie "did not pay for heat for its Afghan employees or provide for their medical care in the cold and increasingly dangerous war zone." Since then, Leonie has reportedly complied with Army demands. Barbara Voss, an Army contracting officer, reported satisfaction with Leonie in a July 2011 assessment.
Articles and Resources
Related SourceWatch Articles
- Leonie Industries, Leonie - About Us, company website, accessed May 30th, 2013.
- Leonie Industries,Leonie - About Us, What We Do, company website, accessed May 30th, 2013.
- "Defense Taps PR Firms for Iraq," O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub req'd), September 25, 2008.
- Leonie Industries, "Announcements," company website, accessed September 25, 2008.
- "Services," Leonie Industries website [website changed], accessed September 25, 2008.
- Tom Vander Brook and Ray Locker,Two senators target government contractors with back taxes, USA Today, March 7th, 2012.
- California Secretary of State, "California business search," state governmental website, accessed September 25, 2008.
- Gregory Korte, Propoganda firm owner admits attacks on journalists, USA Today, May 25th, 2012.
- Gregory Korte,Misinformation campaign targets USA Today reporter, editor, USA Today, April 19, 2012.
- Tom Vander Brook and Ray Locker, U.S. "info ops" programs dubious, costly, USA Today, February 29th, 2012.
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