Defense contractor DynCorp International Inc. has admitted that
it may have violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act when it
tried to speed up the issuance of visas and licensing related to
work for the U.S. government overseas.
The company has thousands of workers in hot spots around the
world providing services such as security for U.S. diplomats and
building military bases in Afghanistan.
An Army sergeant, shown in October, coaches Afghan police at a
U.S. outpost in Afghanistan. DynCorp has a contract to build such
As much as $300,000 was questionably spent, according to the
company. The disclosure was made in a Nov. 9 filing with the
Securities and Exchange Commission.
In the SEC filing, DynCorp disclosed that the payments “were made
to subcontractors in connection with servicing a single existing
task order that the Company has with a U.S. government agency.”
DynCorp, like other high-risk oriented contractors, have become
cornerstones of the U.S. military and civilian efforts in Iraq
and Afghanistan. The timing of the disclosure comes as DynCorp is
assuming a larger role in both countries and underscores the
legal and financial risks that battlefield contractors court when
operating in overseas.
A DynCorp spokesman wouldn’t disclose any specifics about the
possible violation but said the company makes clear to its
workers that it requires them to follow the law and conduct
“We found this internally and voluntarily brought it to the
Department of Justice and SEC,” said DynCorp spokesman Douglas
Ebner. “We feel it is very important to be proactive.”
DynCorp said it has hired an outside firm to investigate the
situation. It isn’t clear when the review will be completed.
An SEC spokesman declined to comment as did a Justice Department
This summer, DynCorp received a U.S. Army logistics contract to
build bases and other infrastructure that could be worth as much
as $7.5 billion over five years. In September, DynCorp announced
it was picked by the State Department for its latest contract to
provide training and logistics, among other services, in Africa.
Write to August Cole at email@example.com
KBR security personnel expected casualties the night before six civilian drivers were killed and others injured in an Iraqi ambush, but sent the convoy into a combat zone anyway, according to e-mails presented in a Houston federal court Wednesday.
“There is tons of intel stating tomorrow will be another bad day,” wrote George Seagle, director of security for KBR government operations, the night before the April 9, 2004, attacks. In the e-mail presented in court, he suggested KBR halt convoys for the next day, the first anniversary of the day Baghdad fell in the U.S.-led invasion.
In a flurry of e-mails, many held under seal in the court case for the last year, various KBR employees discussed their concern about possible loss of life.
Seagle responded that he understood the pressures of big politics and contract issues might cause the fuel-delivering convoys to be sent out anyway but “we will get people injured or killed tomorrow.”
And before the ambush but on the same day, Keith Richard, chief of the trucking operation in Iraq, e-mailed KBR’s Houston headquarters saying, “we need to expedite the hiring of drivers. We need drivers in theater soon.”
Plaintiff lawyer Scott Allen presented the e-mails in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Gray Miller to determine whether a jury should hear three lawsuits against KBR.
KBR argues that as a contractor it was acting on the basis of military decisions that are not subject to review by civilian courts.
But a group of injured plaintiffs and family members of the dead allege that KBR and its former parent, Halliburton, put profit above life. They say that drivers were promised safety, but their supervisor, who had been in the military, put them in harm’s way to show the civilian company was tough enough to do jobs the military did in former conflicts.
“They were sacrificed for the profit of KBR,” said Tommy Fibich, whose client is still in a coma.
Sent back on appeal
Fibich said most of the drivers were promised that their safety would come first and they took the job to pay off debts or help put a first generation through college.
KBR lawyers argued that the e-mails and contract details are beside the point and that the case should be tossed because the military and the civilian company were intertwined and federal law prohibits courts from second-guessing military decisions.
“While KBR of course knew about the threats, the company ultimately relied on the judgments and representations of the military,” KBR attorney Ray Biagini told the judge.
Miller accepted that argument once before, tossing out all three suits on grounds that the court could not try a case questioning wartime military decisions.
But the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sent the cases back, ruling it may be possible to try the cases without making a “constitutionally impermissible review of wartime decision-making.”
Army not party to case
The cases center on the April 2004 insurgent attack on a KBR convoy of military supply trucks, which killed six civilian truck drivers and wounded 14.
The drivers caught in the ambush were delivering fuel under a multibillion-dollar contract for KBR to transport supplies, build bases, serve meals and provide other logistical support services for American troops in the Middle East.
Plaintiffs in the Houston suits are two injured workers and the family of one who was killed in the attack.
Biagini argued that nothing has changed since the appellate court asked the judge to take another look at the case. He said KBR and the military were indivisible and KBR acted in good faith on the military’s assurances of protection.
KBR lawyers argued that there are half a dozen legal theories under which the lawsuits should be thrown out of court again.
KBR lawyer David Kasanow noted that the U.S. Justice Department sent a letter agreeing the suit should not go to trial. The government letter said the Defense Base Act protects civilian employers like KBR from being sued in a case like this unless they specifically intended employees be injured or killed.
The plaintiffs argued a jury should hear the case because the e-mails show that KBR bosses did know drivers would be injured or killed.
Miller ruled earlier this year that the U.S. Army itself will not be a party to the case. The judge is now expected to take the many legal issues under advisement.
He could toss out the case, or could remove Halliburton as a defendant. Halliburton argues it is improperly named in the suit and it had no control over the events at issue.
If Miller lets the case stand, it is scheduled for jury trial next May.
WASHINGTON (CN) – Senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would bring foreign military contractors under the jurisdiction of American laws following an appeal from the parents of a soldier allegedly killed by a contractor in Iraq.
In introducing the legislation, Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight Chair Claire McCaskill from Missouri told the story of Lt. Col. Dominic Baragona who was allegedly killed when a contractor’s truck slammed into him in 2003. The man’s parents spent years appealing to the Defense Department, the Bush administration and the Army to seek accountability and information regarding their son’s death.
The family sued Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport Company (KGL), the contracting company, in 2006. McCaskill said the contracting firm did not show up before the court until after the family won a $4.9 million judgment. The contractor then argued that the government does not have jurisdiction over it and the court vacated the judgment.
“The need for Congress to act with this legislation has raised serious questions for me about the systematic failures that have allowed companies like KGL to escape accountability for their actions,” McCaskill said.
The subcommittee also released a report showing that federal agencies rarely dismiss abusive contractors.
The investigation revealed that over the last five years, the Defense Department Office of Inspector General reported 2,700 convictions, but the Defense Department only debarred 708 contractors.
The Department of Homeland Security did not debar any contractors in 2006, despite widespread reports of waste, fraud and abuse following Hurricane Katrina.
The “Lieutenant General Dominic ‘Rocky’ Baragona Justice for American Heroes Harmed by Contractors Act” would require foreign companies that enter into contracts with the United States to consent to personal jurisdiction in cases involving serious injury, death or rape.
Today we honor the veterans who have served in the country’s armed forces. Nobody seriously questions whether they deserve such recognition. The men and women who defended this country and fought its wars made immeasurable sacrifices.
I have spent much of the last year writing  about another group of people who suffered losses on behalf of U.S. interests abroad: the civilian contractors injured or killed  while doing their jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They are not, of course, soldiers. They could quit their jobs and go home any time they wanted. Many were paid far higher wages than their military counterparts. They knew they were signing up to take a specific job in a dangerous part of the world.
And yet, neither are the contractors working in Afghanistan and Iraq ordinary laborers. Civilians compose half the manpower  in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have seen and experienced the full horror of war. More than a thousand have been killed. Thousands more have suffered debilitating physical and mental injuries . And yet, the Pentagon does not even know how many have died, nor how many are actually working  (PDF).
I have come to see the civilian contractors as a new kind of class in the demography of war. They are quasi-veterans: civilians who have experienced war much as soldiers do. There are tens of thousands of them. And while it’s hard to argue that they deserve ticker tape parades and Medals of Honor, it’s also hard to believe that they should be sent home with little more than a pay stub and a patchy health care system that doesn’t even address basic medical needs .
I received a letter from a former KBR contractor which crystallized the strange position of those who work in a war zone. D.A. Corson, who worked at a variety of companies in Iraq until 2008, wrote the following, which I thought worth sharing:
Civilian contactors in combat zones will likely continue to be a staple of military engagements. They cook, clean, make ice, purify water, install housing, do laundry, install and maintain generators for lighting, air conditioning, truck the beans, bullets and bandages, install latrines, wastewater treatment facilities, and as many of the other logistical functions as the military can give them to do so the troops can do their job, i.e., go out and, God willing, win the peace.
They too left their families, homes, and friends. They too labor 84-hour weeks, endure shellings, mortars, and RPG attacks, IEDS, and heat strokes. They too live on three meals a day of four different flavors of noodles or MREs when the convoys cannot get through and rations are running low. Some of them see to it that the bodies of your fallen sons, daughters, husbands, and wives are seen off from combat airfields with proper honors when no military personnel are available to do the honors themselves. They watch helplessly on Armed Forces media as our homes thousands of miles away are blown and washed away in hurricanes, floods and other disasters and wonder if their families are safe. Many die, are injured, captured and held as POWs; some have been beheaded. They too suffer high divorce rates and come home with their own cases of Combat Stress. Many serve for over a year and then came back 2 and 3 times for another year. Many are still there going on 5 and 6 years now. When they come home they have no Veteran’s benefits, indeed, no benefits at all in many instances, save perhaps a very pricey COBRA.
Yes, all go for the money. They too are doing what they think necessary for their families to get a little piece of the American Dream, but they are not all a bunch of money-grubbing, carpetbagging, war profiteers. We are your neighbors, friends, relatives, and fellow Americans. So many are there because they have to be. One young lady had just had a baby. Her husband had cancer, and she had to leave her newborn infant and other children, as well as her terribly ill husband to pay the bills and keep a roof over their head. But more than that, each wanted to serve our troops. They wanted to do their part. So many are Viet Nam veterans. They do their jobs; they serve our troops, proudly. They do it for them. They do it for freedom; they do it for our country. The American contractors all still take off their hats and get tears in their eyes when hearing the national anthem. When they go home their benefits end. Many are having to fight to get their medical insurance benefits for the injuries received and many families are fighting to get their life insurance benefits for their fallen loved ones.
They knew going in that returning to bands playing, flags waving, and such were not part of their bargain. That’s not why they went. However, in your churches and other ceremonies, when you ask your veterans to stand, after you have given them their well-deserved honors, you might want to give a thought to then asking any civilian contractors who served the troops in combat zones to stand up beside the vets too. I’ll bet they’d be proud to do so, again. Maybe there won’t be many in your particular gathering, but they are there: one for every soldier according to the Congressional Budget Reports and one dying for each 3 soldiers killed.
And by the way, you’re welcome. Maligned, appreciated, even counted or not, I am sure most would do it all again. It was an honor.
D. A. Corson
Camp Anaconda, Balad, Iraq –June 2004 through October 2006 B.I.A., Basrah, Iraq –July 2006 through May 2007 Ali Al-Saleem Air Base, Kuwait — September-October 2007
God Bless America !
The family of a Cape Town contractor employed by an American firm in Afghanistan, claim he is being detained unlawfully.
Phillip Frank Young was arrested a month ago for murder and is currently being held in Kabul, without charge.
On the first of October, Young, who works as a logistics officer, got into an argument with a group of Afghani security guards.
The men were heavily armed but apparently dressed in plain clothes, which caused Young to become suspicious.
One of the men fired at Young after he called on them to lower their weapons.
Young returned fire killing one of the guards.
His brother Patrick says it was self defence.
“There were six witnesses to the event and they all agreed he had fired in self defence,” says Patrick.
Young’s family say under the law, he has to be released because he was not charged in the prescribed two week period.
They have started a campaign sending letters to the president of Afghanistan and the American government to secure his release.
The brother of a Tableview contractor being held in Afghanistan says the man’s employer has been silent since his sibling’s detention.
Phillip Frank Young works for an American Company.
Young apparently shot dead an Afghan security guard after the man allegedly shot him first.
He has been in detention for over a month without charge.
Young’s brother Patrick said his sibling’s employer told them not to speak to the media because it could make matters worse.
However, he said he did not think it could get much worse because his brother was stuck in a foreign jail.
Young said in the first two weeks of his brother’s detention he was unable to shower and was not fed properly.
The family is anxious to receive a report from a British Consulate official in Kabul who has undertaken to visit Young on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the International Relations and Cooperation Department said it was making inquiries about Young’s case.
(Edited by Danya Philander)
KABUL — An Afghan police official says at least two private security guards have been wounded and two fuel tankers set on fire in eastern Afghanistan when militants attacked a supply convoy for NATO forces.
Provincial police spokesman Ghafor Khan says the two were injured in a battle Sunday near Jalalabad between the enemy combatants and private guards providing security for the convoy. He says other tankers were damaged along the highway, a main supply route between Pakistan and the Afghan capital of Kabul.
SENATE DPC HEARING WILL EXAMINE FAILURE TO PROTECT U.S. TROOPS FROM HEALTH IMPACT OF BURN PITS IN IRAQ
For Immediate Release: FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Wednesday CONTACT: Barry E. Piatt
November 4, 2009 PHONE: 202-224-0577
Tens of Thousands of Soldiers May Have Been Exposed:
SENATE DPC HEARING WILL EXAMINE FAILURE TO PROTECT U.S. TROOPS FROM HEALTH IMPACT OF BURN PITS IN IRAQ
( WASHINGTON , D.C. ) — Chairman Byron Dorgan (D-ND) announced Wednesday the Senate Democratic Policy Committee (DPC) will conduct a congressional oversight hearing on Friday, November 6, to examine the health risks associated with the continued use of open-air burn pits by the U.S. military and contractor KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan .
The hearing is set for 10:00 AM and will be held in Room 628 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building in Washington , DC .
Although military guidelines allow the use of burn pits to dispose of waste only in emergency situations, most large U.S. military installations have continued to use burn pits for years, despite growing evidence that exposure to burn pit smoke may be causing an increased incidence of chronic lung diseases, respiratory ailments, neurological disorders and cancer.
Hearing witnesses are expected to testify that plastics, paint, solvents, petroleum products, rubber, and medical waste have been burned in the pits.
The hearing will also examine whether military contractor KBR operated the burn pits in a safe and cost-effective manner.
Witnesses will include the Air Force’s former Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad, who warned three years ago about health hazards associated with burn pit smoke at the base, two KBR whistleblowers, and a medical expert who will describe the adverse health consequences associated with burn pit smoke inhalation.
WHO: Senators: Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Chairman, and others.
Witnesses: Lt. Colonel Darrin Curtis, former Air Force Bioenvironmental Flight Commander at Joint Base Balad; Rick Lamberth, former KBR employee; Russell Keith, former KBR medic; Dr. Anthony Szema, MD, expert on health impact of burn pit smoke.
WHAT: Congressional oversight hearing
WHERE: Room 628 Dirksen Senate Office Building
WHEN: 10:00 AM, Friday, November 6, 2009
WHY: To examine the health impact of burn pit smoke on U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan , whether the Army is providing exposed soldiers and veterans with accurate information about the risks, and whether contractor KBR is safely operating the burn pits.
Updated at 4:39pm on 30 October 2009
The employer of a New Zealander involved in a bomb explosion in Afghanistan says despite suffering multiple injuries, he’s now in a stable condition in a hospital in Germany.
Peter Gerrard, a road construction manager, was injured and an Afghan workmate killed when a landmine went off in the province of Helmand this week.
The company, Professional Service Solutions, says the explosion happened when an excavator digging in a dry creek hit a deeply buried landmine.
Chief executive Craig Coleman plans to head to Germany on Saturday to talk with Mr Gerrard’s doctors in Frankfurt and to offer support to his wife Barbara, who’s on her way there from Auckland.
The company says this is the first major incident affecting an employee in Afghanistan in the six years it’s been working there.
KABUL — NATO-led forces have recovered the remains of three American military contractors from the wreckage of a U.S. Army reconnaissance plane that crashed two weeks ago in the rugged mountains of northeastern Afghanistan, the military said Tuesday.
The Army C-12 Huron twin-engine turboprop had been missing since it crashed Oct. 13 while on a routine mission in Nuristan province, a Taliban insurgent stronghold. The plane went down less than two weeks after insurgents overran a coalition outpost the same province, killing eight American troops in one of the war’s deadliest battles for the U.S.
NATO said in a statement that the crash is “under investigation, though hostile action is not believed to be the cause of the crash.”
Thomas Casey, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Corp., confirmed that the three dead men — a pilot, co-pilot and technician — were American citizens working for Lockheed Martin subcontractors.
They were employed under a Lockheed Martin contract for “counter-narcoterrorism” operations, Casey said.
U.S. forces spokesman Col. Wayne Shanks said the crew were the only ones aboard when the craft went down without giving off any distress signals.
“We just lost contact,” Shanks told The Associated Press.
Nuristan has been the site of the two deadliest battles of the war for U.S. forces, including the Oct. 2 attack in the province’s Kamdesh outpost and a July 2008 raid that killed nine American soldiers at an outpost in Wanat area.
The NATO-led mission is planning to withdraw troops such isolated strongholds to focus on more heavily populated areas as part of a new strategy to protect Afghan civilians.
Shanks said the plane was on a mission for NATO-led forces at the time, but he gave no other details. Casey said only that it was a surveillance mission.
The pilot and co-pilot worked for a company called Avenge Inc., while the technician was employed by a contractor called Sierra Nevada Corp., Casey said.
The military said a UH-60 helicopter traveling to the crash site four days later “experienced a strong downdraft and performed a hard landing” nearby. The helicopter’s crew members were rescued, and the chopper was stripped of sensitive and useable parts and destroyed to keep insurgents from salvaging anything in the wreckage.
Lawyers for Daniel Fitzsimons, the British security contractor accused of shooting dead two colleagues in Baghdad, have asked for him to be moved to a psychiatric unit in an attempt to head off a murder trial that could lead to a death sentence.
Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper, was taken to Baghdad’s central criminal court today for a pre-trial hearing in which several witnesses were due to testify that he had been involved in the late night shooting in the city’s international zone in August. But the case was unexpectedly adjourned until 15 November after a lawyer for one of the victims asked for more time to prepare his case.
Several minutes before the trial was due to begin, Fitzsimons met his lawyer, the high-profile Iraqi legal figure Tareq Harb, for the first time. His pre-trial briefing amounted to a five-minute conversation outside the court room and a phone call to his UK-based solicitor, John Tipple.Harb said the court was obliged to agree to his request to move Fitzsimons to a psychiatric unit in Baghdad’s Rashad Hospital, where he will be evaluated by three psychiatrists. He is understood to have been treated in the UK for a psychological condition.
The trial was adjourned until November 15. Before the hearing,Earlier, Judge Saad Dawoud Suleiman, who will preside over the case – the first of its kind since full judicial rights were handed back to Iraqi authorities on 30 June – said Fitzsimons would face a death penalty if convicted.
“This is a very serious case,” he said in his chambers inside the fortified court house on the edge of the international zone. “The death penalty is on the statutes for such a crime.”
An official from the British embassy in Baghdad was at the court, as was a representative from ArmorGroup, which had contracted Fitzsimons to return to Iraq for a third tour as a security contractor several weeks before the alleged incident. An Iraqi guard who was wounded in the alleged attack, in which Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare were killed, was also present, along with members of his family.
In the hours after the shooting, Fitzsimons signed a statement allegedly confessing to the shootings. But today he told the Guardian he could not remember the night of the shooting and planned to withdraw the confession. “I was under the influence of the drugs they gave me at the time,” he said. “I don’t remember a thing.”
Iraqi investigators say in the hours before the shooting, McGuigan and Hoare had gone to Fitzsimons’s room in the ArmorGroup compound and provoked him. They claim the pair had then sat with Fitzsimons, who had been drinking. Shortly afterwards a violent row allegedly erupted.
The prisoner advocacy group Reprieve is now also lobbying for Fitzsimons, whom and his UK legal team want him extradited to the UKhome to stand trial.
“Reprieve are now formally part of the UK legal team,” said Tipple. “They are playing a proactive role and taking it very seriously.”
Iraq has indicated it will take a tough stance with Fitzsimons, who is the first foreign national to be tried under Iraqi law since the American military withdrew to its bases in June. Senior officials have so far indicated they will not agree to any extradition request.However, Mr Harb said yesterday that the Central Criminal Court is obligated to agree to his request to move Mr Fitzsimons to a psychiatric unit in Baghdad’s Rashad Hospital, where he will be evaluated by three psychiatrists. He is understood to have been treated in the UK for a psychological condition