Overseas Civilian Contractors

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Richard Holbrooke, Noted Diplomat, Dies

Richard Holbrooke, veteran US diplomat dies aged 69

A lifelong diplomat who helped bring peace to the Balkans as the chief architect of the Dayton accords

Richard Holbrooke, a lifelong diplomat who helped bring peace to the Balkans as the chief architect of the Dayton accords and who was attempting to wrestle with the ongoing sore of Afghanistan, has died in Washington aged 69.

Holbrooke’s death is a significant blow to the Obama administration just days before it is scheduled to announce the latest review of US policy in Afghanistan. He was a central member of the team seeking to steer the US on a course of gradually reduced involvement in the country and transfer of responsibility towards the Afghan military forces.

He had been very critical of president George Bush’s Afghanistan policy, and his position in the Obama administration was considered critical as the new president sought to crack down on al-Qaida and a resurgent Taliban in the region.

He died in the job, as Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. He fell ill last Friday, collapsing soon after having had a meeting with the secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Surgeons spent more than 20 hours trying to repair a torn aorta, but were unsuccessful.

Shortly before he died Obama had praised him as “a towering figure in American foreign policy. He is simply one of the giants of American foreign policy.”

Earlier yesterday Clinton had said “he has given nearly 50 years of his life to serving the United States“.

Holbrooke entered the foreign service directly on graduating from Brown university in 1962.

He cut his teeth as a diplomat on the thorniest foreign policy issue of the day: Vietnam, serving six years in the country and being appointed by Lyndon Johnson to his core team of advisers on the escalating war, despite his age at 24.

He went on to write part of the Pentagon Papers, the secret report on the US conduct of the Vietnam war leaked to the New York Times in 1971.

Vietnam gave Holbrooke a deep understanding of and connection with Asia. But he was later deployed to Europe when Bill Clinton appointed him ambassador to Berlin. He was seminal in carving out the US relationship with a recently reunited Germany.

His greatest triumph came two years later when he led the negotiation team attempting to bring peace to the Balkans following more than three years of bloody war in Bosnia.

The agreement was reached in Dayton, Ohio, in November 1995, with Holbrooke as its main architect.

Holbrooke put his tough negotiating style to good use in the lead up to Dayton. His forceful presence earned him the nicknames “the Bulldozer” and “Raging Bull”, and the distinction of being “Washington’s favourite last-ditch diplomat”.

CNN Richard Holbrooke Obit

(CNN) — Richard C. Holbrooke, the high-octane diplomat who spearheaded the end of the Bosnian war and most recently served as the Obama administration’s point man in the volatile Afghan-Pakistani war zone, has died, officials said.

The 69-year-old diplomat died Monday at George Washington University Hospital in Washington. He was admitted last Friday after feeling ill. Doctors performed surgery Saturday to repair a tear in his aorta.

One of the world’s most recognizable diplomats, Holbrooke’s career spanned from the Vietnam War-era to the war against the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, coinciding with presidencies of the past five decades, from John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama.

He also worked as a journalist and an investment banker. But as a diplomat, he was plain-speaking, accessible, and known for his tough-mindedness.

“He was known as a bit of bull in a China shop,” said Nic Robertson, CNN’s senior international correspondent who knew and covered Holbrooke.

“When he makes deals the crockery tends to get broken,” Robertson said.

Holbrooke was best known for being “the chief architect of the 1995 Dayton Peace Agreement” that ended the Bosnian war — the deadly ethnic conflict in the 1990s that erupted during the breakup of Yugoslavia.

Serving President Bill Clinton as assistant secretary of state for Europe from 1994 to 1996, Americans got a taste of Holbrooke’s drive and intellect, as typified in this remark from “To End a War” — his memoir of the Dayton negotiations.

“The negotiations were simultaneously cerebral and physical, abstract and personal, something like a combination of chess and mountain climbing,” he wrote.

After President Obama took office in 2008, Holbrooke took one of the toughest diplomatic assignments — U.S. special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, the region Obama regards as center of the war on terrorism.

“The environment was different,” Robertson said.

Holbrooke’s assertive style worked in the Balkans, but it brought perils for diplomats in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where long stretches of chatting and tea-drinking are the norm.

“Once you’ve insulted someone that’s it, your relationship is probably never going to recover,” Robertson said.

He was frank in his assessments about the region and officials in both countries regarded him as abrasive, including Afghan President Hamid Karzai. in April of 2009, there were reports of a heated argument between Holbrooke and Karzai after alleged fraud in the Afghan presidential election.

In an October interview with CNN, Holbrooke cautioned patience in the struggle against the militants and for democracy in the so-called AfPak region, a mission that he said was of the “most vital importance to our national security interests.”

“We are determined to see it through,” he said, and he made reference to the Vietnam War and the Dayton Accords in his insights.

“I’m not in the spin patrol of the people who are giddy with optimism on the op-ed pages of some papers or the people who say it’s another Vietnam and it’s hopeless,” he said. “It’s certainly not another Vietnam, for reasons you and I discussed before.

“And it is certainly not hopeless. But anyone who doesn’t recognize what a daunting task it is is misleading. And the American public should understand that this is not going to be solved overnight. … it is going to be a difficult struggle. It has a political component, where you’re not trying to win this war militarily, and a Dayton-type negotiation is also very unlikely.”

A graduate of Brown University, Holbrooke’s experience extended from Vietnam to the post-9/11 era.

He joined the Foreign Service in 1962 and served in Vietnam, a job that included a tour of duty in the Mekong Delta for the Agency for International Development.

In the 1960s, he worked on Vietnam issues at the Lyndon B. Johnson White House, wrote a volume of the Pentagon Papers, and had been part of the American delegation to the Paris peace talks over Vietnam.

From 1970 to 1972, he was the Peace Corps director in Morocco and served as managing editor of Foreign Policy from 1972 to 1977.

During the Carter administration, Holbrooke was assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and was in charge of U.S. ties with China when that relationship was “normalized in December of 1978,” the State Department said.

He later held senior positions at two leading Wall Street firms, Credit Suisse First Boston, where he was vice chairman; and Lehman Brothers, where he was managing director.

Along with his negotiation of the Dayton peace agreement, Holbrooke also served as “special envoy to Bosnia and Kosovo” and special envoy to Cyprus on a pro-bono basis while as a private citizen.

Over the years, he commented on this and other major events in the Balkans with candor.

For example, when former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic died in prison in 2006, Holbrooke said, “His actions led to the deaths of over 300,000 people, four wars, the destruction of stability in southeastern Europe, the creation of criminal gangs. Let’s talk about the victims of his actions; he was never going to see daylight again and that was appropriate and now he’s gone.”

When Bosnia Serb leader Radovan Karadzic was caught in 2008, Holbrooke hailed it as a “historic day.”

“One of the worst men in the world, the Osama bin Laden of Europe, has finally been captured. A major, major thug has been removed from the public scene.

“He was at large because the Yugoslav army was protecting him. But this guy in my view was worse than Milosevic … he was the intellectual leader,” Holbrooke said.

When he visited Bosnia in 2008, the memories of his own family history — when his Jewish grandfather fled Germany after Hitler took power — and the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Bosnia prompted him to reflect.

“I thought I’m seeing a color remake of the black-and-white scenes we’d seen in World War II of Jews signing away their property at the point of a gun and then being shipped off to who knows where,” Holbrooke said.

“I don’t think you have to be Jewish to understand that what you’re seeing was a genuine crime against humanity. The Europeans were doing nothing, and the Americans were doing less,” he said.

He worked from 1993 to 1994 as the U.S. ambassador to Germany and served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations while a member of Clinton’s Cabinet from 1999 to 2001.

He was an adviser to candidates, such as the presidential campaign of Sen. John Kerry in 2004.

The Obama administration swiftly appointed Holbrooke to the special representative job and Holbrooke dove in headfirst to tackle the challenges. One of them is the fact that the foes are diffused.

“A peace deal requires agreements, and you don’t make agreements with your friends, you make agreements with your enemies,” he told Fareed Zakaria in October.

He mentioned a range of militants groups, such as the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban, the Haqqani Network, and Lashkar-e Tayyiba and noted that “an expert could add another 30.”

“There’s no Ho Chi Minh. There’s no Slobodan Milosevic. There’s no Palestinian Authority. There is a widely dispersed group of — of people that we roughly call the enemy. There’s al Qaeda, with which there’s no possibility of any discussion at all.”

“There is no clear single address that you go to,” Holbrooke said.


December 13, 2010 Posted by | State Department | , | Leave a comment

Moody Case Dismissed; Reno Veteran to Return Home Soon

Channel 2 News Reno

For months, the family and friends of Corporal Nicholas Moody have been waiting for answers. This morning, they finally have some relief.

The Reno veteran was arrested nearly three months ago for carrying gun parts on a plane, and he had been held then released from a prison in Abu Dhabi.

Nicholas’ mother Lorina called Channel 2 News early Monday morning, and says her son’s case has been dismissed.

“Hearing his voice, hearing he had gotten positive results and that he will be able to come home soon was tremendous for us the whole family and all of the friends and supporters out there are also equally happy,” says Lorina Moody.

Nicholas Moody called his mother from the United Arab Emirates around midnight and told her the news.

Moody had been returning from work as a private security contractor in Iraq when he was arrested in late September, and his sentencing was delayed several times. Now that his case has been dismissed, his mother says he can come home once he files his paperwork.

“Everyone can understand that as relieved as we are, it’s just a matter of actually having him here so we’re still going to be anxious and we’re still going to be waiting to hear when he’s actually gonna be here it’s not quite over for us until we actually see his face.” Moody says.

Moody says unless some major weather delays his trip, she is optimistic her son will be home in Reno by Christmas

Please see the original here

December 13, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor | , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon forced to extend Iraq contracts that are under appeal

By Walter Pincus at The Washington Post

The Defense Department is being forced to extend multimillion-dollar contracts for services in Iraq, including one with a firm under criminal indictment, because losing bidders have legally challenged the companies selected as replacements.

Agility, a Kuwaiti firm charged in November 2009 with overbilling food contracts worth $8.5 billion over four years for troops, civilians and contractors in Iraq, Jordan and Kuwait, recently received a $26 million, six-month contract extension. The extension was granted because another Kuwaiti concern challenged the April award of the food contract to Agility’s replacement, Anham, a Dubai-based conglomerate.

A second firm, Fulcra Worldwide of Arlington was awarded an extension worth $5 million on its strategic communications contract in Iraq with U.S. Central Command after Fulcra itself filed a claim against loss of the contract to another bidder, SOS International, a New York firm with offices in Reston.

The Defense Logistics Agency, which supervises the food contract, decided to extend the Agility contract through April 2011 while the protest against Anham by another bidder is being adjudicated by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

Agility had been scheduled to transition the work, which amounts to more than $300 million a year, to Anham. However, cargo shipper Kuwait & Gulf Link Transport filed a protest against the award on the grounds that Anham’s proposal failed to meet criteria set out in the contract offering.

While a decision by the GAO is expected shortly, Anham has been delayed in preparing to take over the contract, which involves not only purchasing and supplying food and other items, but also warehousing it in Kuwait before shipping to Iraq and Jordan to meet the needs of about 145,000 people.

Meanwhile, Agility, which has been barred from bidding directly or through affiliates on new U.S. contracts, will continue to provide provisions under the contract extension. The company also has been fighting the Justice Department indictment in federal court in Georgia claiming it cannot be subpoenaed or tried anywhere outside Kuwait. After the indictment, Agility closed its U.S. offices, even though top officials of the subsidiary handling the contract are not only U.S. citizens but also former Army generals, one of whom served in a senior position with the Defense Logistics Agency.

Central Command announced last week it had to extend the Fulcra contract for six months because to “award to any other source would result in unacceptable delays and negatively impact the ability” of U.S. forces in Iraq to carry on “all aspects of media communications activities,” according to the paper justifying the decision.

Under the contract, which it has had for more than three years, Fulcra not only works directly with the Iraq government spokesman and ministers at the Defense and Interior ministries, but also carries out monitoring of media in Iraq, plans strategic messaging, and manages web materials for English and Arabic sites supporting the Iraq command. Fulcra is the new name for the Lincoln Group, which as a Pentagon contractor in 2005 was found to have paid Iraqi newspapers to print stories written by American soldiers or its employees.

Fulcra lost its bid on the new contract in June and in July filed the first of three complaints with the GAO. It lost the first two and before the last one was settled, the firm filed a protest in October with the United States Court of Federal Claims, where it is pending. Meanwhile, Central Command was faced with a dilemma since Fulcra’s complaint prevented SOS International from making preparations to begin work and keeping Fulcra in place was its only option.

Fulcra is claiming that SOS filed an “unreasonably low-priced proposal,” according to its complaint before the Court of Federal Claims. Arguing the new contract was “largely similar” to the one Fulcra now holds, the firm said its current monthly price was $531,459 while the SOS bid averaged out to $158,620 a month for what were to be “largely similar” services. In the complaint, Fulcra argues that SOS’s bid, which offered a 70 percent reduction in cost, was “unrealistic” and thus should have been”technically unacceptable” by Central Command.

Fulcra described the SOS bid as a “bait and switch” violation, where the offer misrepresents its costs with the hopes of winning the contract and then expects to be paid based on higher actual expenditures.

SOS’s response to the allegations was sealed and a lawyer representing the firm said she would not comment on the case. Please see the original here

See also at MsSparky

December 13, 2010 Posted by | Contractor Corruption, Department of Defense, Iraq, Kuwait, Pentagon | , , , , , | Leave a comment

American gets suspended sentence on weapons charge

American gets suspended sentence on weapons charge

Hassan Hassan, Courts and Justice Reporter

Last Updated: Dec 13, 2010

ABU DHABI // The State Security Court sentenced an American military contractor today to a suspended three months in jail and Dh15,000 fine for carrying non-dangerous weapons parts in hand luggage through Abu Dhabi International Airport.

The contractor, Nicholas Moody, a former US soldier, had been travelling from Iraq to the United States. Security officials at the airport said in September they found four pieces related to a rifle, including a gun-cleaning brush and a front grip.

Through a translator, the judge told Mr moody he was free to go but if he were arrested again, he would have to serve his sentence.

The parts “could not make a weapon,” NM told The National after the hearing. “That is why I didn’t think twice. …  It has been tough but it is a lesson. I learned from it.”

He spent the last two and a half months in Al Wathba prison.

“It has been … tough. I was treated nicely, but [prison] is not a good place to be,” NM said.

He said he was going back to the United States “as soon as possible” and was going to immediately notify his family of the verdict.

“I’m glad I am free,”  he said. “It is over.”

December 13, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor | , , | Leave a comment