Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Foreign contractors could face prosecution in U.S. courts

By Robert Brodsky Gov Exec

Foreign contractors could soon face civil or criminal prosecution in U.S. courts for acts committed overseas.

On Wednesday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill (S. 526) that would require foreign companies working on government contracts to consent to “personal jurisdiction” in U.S. federal courts for civil action or criminal prosecution related to alleged wrongdoing in connection with the contracts.

The legislation, introduced in March 2009 by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., would provide legal protection to any U.S. service member, government employee or American contract employee who alleges an overseas company caused serious bodily injury, including death, rape or sexual assault. Companies failing to appear in court to answer charges could be suspended or debarred from contracting.

The bill is named for Lt. Col. Dominic Baragona, who was commander of the 19th Maintenance Battalion in Iraq when he was killed by a supply truck driven by an employee of Kuwait Gulf and Link Transport Co., a Defense contractor. The Baragona family attempted to sue the company for wrongful death, but the firm successfully argued that American courts lacked jurisdiction.

“It’s not right that soldiers can get killed and the contractor can just thumb their nose,” McCaskill said at a committee meeting Wednesday.

McCaskill, who held a hearing on the Baragona case last November, said she amended the legislation to address concerns the Pentagon raised about the bill’s application and retroactivity.  Original Here

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Wartime Contracting | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blackwater Will Be Allowed to Bid on Big State Department Contract

By Spencer Ackerman 4/28/10

GUANTANAMO BAY — A brief detour from my Guantanamo coverage, as a State Department official, speaking only on background, confirmed something else I’ve been working on. The private security company formerly known as Blackwater and now known as Xe Services, will be allowed to bid on the next generation of the State Department’s lucrative Worldwide Protective Services Contract. The company’s track record of killing Iraqi civilians, shooting at Afghan civilians, taking for personal use U.S. military-issued rifles from the Afghan police and setting up shell companies to win government contracts will not be an obstacle.

Once again, the fact that no federal acquisition official has recommended Blackwater be barred from bidding on federal contracts means, the official said, that “any company, including Xe Services and its subsidiary companies, [may] submit a proposal in response to an acquisition process established on the basis of full and open competition.” While a Blackwater/Xe Services spokeswoman did not reply to repeated phone calls seeking comment before I left for Guantanamo, she told me last year that the company intends to bid on the contract — which is the successor contract to the one that allowed it to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq and Afghanistan in the first place.

Nor is the fact that the Iraqi government took away Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq a dealbreaker. “The solicitation is for undefined worldwide requirements,” the State Department official said, meaning any specific country “license is not required for the award of the base contract.”

The last Worldwide Protective Services contract, as it’s formally known, was awarded to a consortium of three firms: Blackwater/Xe, Triple Canopy and DynCorp. This time around, State intends to award it to six firms, who will then bid on the right to protect diplomats in specific dangerous countries. The year-long contract has an annual option for renewal for four years, making it essentially a four-year contract. Its cost has yet to be determined, but it’ll be announced — along with the winners — by September 30. A back-of-the-envelope calculation places the value of the previous WPS contract at $2.2 billion.

Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), whose Armed Services Committee uncovered the shell-company establishment and the Afghanistan weapons diversions, wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder in February to request the Justice Department investigate the company for fraud.

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, State Department, Wartime Contracting | , , | Leave a comment

Eric W. Hooker, Civilian Contractor, Died April 21, Iraq

Drums man working as contractor killed in Iraq

A Drums man who died in Iraq while serving as a contractor is the first civilian to have government video coverage granted for the dignified transfer of his body.

Eric W. Hooker, 41, of Clear Springs Circle, died April 21, and his body was returned from Iraq to Dover Air Force Base.

Capt. Newman Robertson of Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations at Dover could not give any details about Hooker, but did confirm that Hooker was the first civilian to have such coverage granted by the Department of Defense.

Under a policy approved by the defense department last year, the deceased’s next of kin decides whether to allow media outlets to be on hand for dignified transfers.

The next of kin also decides whether to allow internal coverage, in which media outlets are barred from attending but the deceased’s family receives a recording of the transfer produced by Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations, Robertson explained.

The other option, he said, is to disallow any type of coverage by the media or the government.

Hooker, according to his obituary, was a U.S. Army veteran. In Iraq, he was employed as a loss prevention manager for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service of Dallas, Texas.

It was unclear Tuesday how Hooker died. Messages left with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service public affairs office were not returned, and calls to Hooker’s Drums home went unanswered.

Eric W Hooker

April 21, 2010

Eric W. Hooker, 41, of Clear Springs Circle, Drums, passed away April 21 in Iraq while serving as a civilian contractor with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

Eric returned to the United States from Iraq at Dover Air Force Base. He became the first civilian to be granted a dignified transfer ceremony under a new policy from the Department of Defense.

Born in Los Angeles, Calif., on May 27, 1968, he was the son of the late William E. and Doreen (Maude) Hooker and resided in Drums for the past six years after moving from Hanover.

While serving in Iraq, he was employed as a loss prevention manager for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, headquartered in Dallas, Texas. Although not currently on active duty, Eric was an Army veteran, and was also a member of the American Legion.

Eric was a member of Hazle Azalea Fellowship Lodge No. 327 of the Masons. He was a member of the Shriners and was also a member of the Civil Air Patrol.

Eric was a loving husband and father, who enjoyed riding his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Surviving are his loving wife of the past 18 years, the former Stacey Lynn Easten; and a daughter, Paige Leigh Hooker, at home.

A celebration of life memorial gathering to share memories and stories will be held Friday at 11:30 a.m. at Beech Mountain Lakes Community Clubhouse, Beech Mountain, Route 309. There will be no viewing.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Eric W. Hooker Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o KNBT Bank, 24 S. Hunter Highway, Route 309, Drums, PA 18222.

Harman Funeral Homes and Crematory Inc. (East), 669 W. Butler Drive, Drums, is assisting the family with the arrangements.

Condolences may be e-mailed from and more information is available at www .harmanfuneral.com.

Former Conewago supervisor dies in Iraq

Eric Hooker supposedly died of natural causes while working as a civilian contractor.


Updated: 05/02/2010 08:29:40 AM EDT

A former Conewago Township supervisor and Adams County prison guard died last week while serving as a civilian contractor in Iraq with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.

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Hooker moved to Drums six years ago after living in Hanover where he sat on the Conewago Township Board of Supervisors for two years out of his six-year term.

In his brief time as a supervisor, before his family moved to Drums, Hooker argued the township manager had too much power and pushed for the manager ordinance to be revamped to give more authority to the board of supervisors and to allow for a variety of other changes.

Former supervisor and current Penn Township Police Officer Travis Shearer said Hooker was a “great guy and family man.”

The two met while running for the board of supervisors, and were behind the push for changing the manager ordinance.

“He put a lot of hard work into the township,” Shearer said, adding that the time got cut short because of Hooker’s job offer and move out of the area.

Shearer said their work together, however brief, brought justice and change to a few areas in the township that needed to be addressed.

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Defense Base Act | , , , , , | Leave a comment