Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Public urged to boycott census over contractor’s alleged torture link

The Guardian UK The Observer March 6, 2011

The public are being urged to boycott the census in Scotland over allegations that the parent company of a UK firm contracted to gather information has been linked to the torture of prisoners at Iraq‘s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

Protesters say they are willing to break the law and face a criminal record and a £1,000 fine in an attempt to force the Scottish government to cancel the £18.5m contract it awarded to CACI (UK).

The London-based company is a wholly-owned subsidiary of US contractor CACI International, which provided interrogators who worked at Abu Ghraib prison at the height of the prisoner abuse scandal. The prison became infamous in 2004 when disturbing images emerged of US soldiers abusing prisoners. The pictures included naked Iraqi detainees cowering from dogs, and US soldiers were later found to have perpetrated widespread torture.

Civilian staff working for private US security companies specialising in interrogation techniques were alleged to have been involved in some of the human rights abuses.  Please see the original article here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Government Contractor, Iraq | , , , , | Leave a comment

Private security firms paid £29m last year for contracts in Afghanistan

Figures released under the Freedom of Information Act confirm growing reliance on privatisation underpins Britain’s war effort

The Guardian The Observer

Senator Carl Levin briefs the US media on the inquiry by the Senate armed services committee into the role and oversight of private security contractors in Afghanistan. Photograph: Alex Wong/Getty Images

A record £29m worth of contracts were awarded last year to British private security firms in Afghanistan, fuelling fears over the increasing privatisation of the UK’s military capability.

New figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, confirm that a growing reliance on private firms is underpinning Britain’s war effort. They come as the private security industry regulator reveals it is being encouraged by the government to take a “more extended” role in supporting military operations.

Andy Bearpark, director general of the British Association of Private Security Companies (BAPSC), will meet Foreign Office officials this Wednesday to discuss a closer relationship with Whitehall. He said: “The point is that the British government has just about finalised its position on private security, this will legitimise companies working with the government.”

The £29m spent last year in Afghanistan represents a significant increase compared to the £62.8m spent on security contractors between 2007 and 2009. Most contracts were awarded to G4S, with £23.3m designated to provide “mobile and static security” in Afghanistan. The company is the parent firm of ArmorGroup, the focus of a US Senate inquiry alleging it “relied on a series of warlords to provide armed men” engaged in murder and bribery.

Please read the entire story here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, ArmorGroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, G4S, Government Contractor, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Security contractors can abuse and be abused without a trace

As a security contractor, he ended up in what looked like “an orange box”, no questions asked.

Ken Loach’s new film, Route Irish, explores the private security sector. Its screenwriter details findings that perturbed him

Guardian UK

Our genius for measurement never ceases to amaze; from the precise moment of the Big Bang, to the infinitesimally microscopic in the deepest ocean. But isn’t strange how we can’t keep a simple list of names when it interferes with making profit.

In course of researching Route Irish I couldn’t find out with any certainty how many private contractors were working in Iraq, how many had been killed or injured, and how many Iraqis they had killed under cover of Order 17, imposed by the Americans, which gave them blanket impunity from prosecution by Iraqi authorities. Why keep a list when it invites scrutiny?

One woman I met came face to face with this reality when an undertaker picked up her brother’s body at Glasgow airport. He died in an ambush in Iraq. As a paratrooper he was on lots of lists. As a security contractor, he ended up in what looked like “an orange box”, no questions asked.

Please read the entire article here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Private Security Contractor | , , | Leave a comment

Cuba: Judges convict US aid worker Alan Gross

BBC News Latin America and the Carribean

A US aid worker in Cuba, Alan Gross, has been found guilty of crimes against the state, Cuban television said.

Mr Gross, 61, was arrested in December 2009 accused of setting up illegal internet connections in Cuba under a programme funded by the US government.

Sentencing is not due to be announced for several days, but prosecutors have been seeking a 20-year jail term.

The US has warned that there can be no further easing of relations until he is released.

Please read the entire article here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department, USAID | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bomb disposal hero Ken Bellringer reveals he is the only one of six comrades to return from Afghanistan

Sarah Arnold The Sunday Mirror March 6, 2011

It’s not with bitterness that Ken Bellringer speaks out today about his experiences with a bomb disposal team in Afghanistan.

It’s just that he’s the only one of his band of brothers left alive to do so.

Warrant Officer Bellringer was one of six elite bomb-disposal men who forged a close friendship as they met on ­missions around the world.

One after another the men, trained for war’s most dangerous work, were posted to Afghanistan. Only Ken came back – although with such horrific ­injuries he has been described as the most wounded survivor of the war.

But there’s a lingering emotional pain too… his belief that his five comrades would still be alive today if they had been better equipped.

“There’s no question, men have been killed and injured out there because they were faced with a high level of risk that could have been reduced,” he says.

“We were working with inferior kit. Bomb disposal is a dangerous job. But it was made more ­dangerous because we weren’t ­supplied with the best equipment.”

Instead of using sophisticated remote-controlled robots to dismantle deadly devices, the bomb disposal man’s critical tool was a £1 piece of string, Ken says.

Please read the entire article here

 

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eglin airman killed in Iraq was too close to controlled detonation (REPORT)

He was one of 19 service members who were allowed to watch Explosive Ordnance Disposal troops destroy unserviceable muntions, according to the Materiel Command

nwf Daily News March 5, 2011

An airman from Eglin Air Force Base who was killed in an accident in Iraq last year was among a group of service members who were too close to where munitions were being detonated, according to an Air Force investigation.

Senior Airman James A. Hansen, 25, was killed Sept. 15 after he was hit by debris from the explosion, according to a news release summarizing a report from the Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. Please read the entire story

My son SRA James A Hansen USAF was killed 15 September 2010

My son SRA James A Hansen USAF was killed 15 September 2010 at Joint Based Balad, Iraq. We received the Ground Accident Investigation Report. The Col. expressed his condolences and then went into the report. The executive summary gave most of the answers. It seems that there were to be five controlled detonations. There were 16 observers. The military lets the troops watch things like this as a morale booster. The observers were inside an old building that was open on either end. There were walls on each end about 20 – 25 feet from the end of the building. So the observers could stand under the building but in direct sight of the explosions. Because of the location of the detonation site, the EOD folks set the explosions up so the fragments head toward the observers. According to the report, this was a normal practice.
Another shortfall the report identified was that no one was given protection, either frontal or head. So they all stood there in the uniforms no protection. A third thing was the weight of the explosives. The range is certified for up to 50 pounds, they were using 100 pounds. Another thing was the explosions were done on the ground not in a ditch or hole.
A fifth thing was that the EOD folks are under the civil engineering commander. The report found that the CE chain of command had no knowledge of EOD operations. The Senior Master Sergeant that was in charge should have known better, this is something he will have to live with. All of the EOD folks, on the advice of their lawyers decline to talk to the accident investigation board.
So here is what happened. The first detonation went off as planned. The second went off and a piece of the shells they were blowing up came into the shelter. It went through my sons chest and out his side. He died instantly. Then the shrapnel hit an Army Staff Sergeant. It hit his arm and broke it pretty bad and then hit his groin. His femoral artery was almost cut in half. They had to put tourniquets on his arm and leg.
They tried to do lifesaving on my son but he was already gone. The ambulance came and took the Army staff sergeant away and then mortuary affairs came and picked up my son.
There were so many things that were done wrong due to being complacent, lack of supervision and poor leadership.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Explosive Ordnance Disposal, Iraq | , , | Leave a comment

Trial of US contractor enters 2nd day in Cuba

By PAUL HAVEN  Associated Press

HAVANA (AP) – The trial of a U.S. government contractor detained more than a year on charges he sought to undermine Cuba’s government enters its second day Saturday in a case that has worsened relations between the longtime enemies.

Alan Gross, who was arrested in December 2009, stands accused of illegally bringing communications equipment into Cuba for Development Associates International as part of a USAID-backed democracy program.

Cuba says the programs are aimed at overthrowing the government of President Raul Castro. U.S. officials and Gross’ family insist he has done nothing wrong, and say he should be freed on humanitarian grounds in any case. Gross faces 20 years in jail if convicted.

The trial began Friday with about nine hours of testimony in a courtroom in a converted mansion in a once-prosperous neighborhood of Havana. The proceedings were closed to journalists.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department, USAID | , , , , | Leave a comment

Possible Diyat “Blood Money” Deal for Raymond Davis

American experts arrive in Pak to provide legal aid to Davis

Islamabad March 5, 2011

Two American experts arrived in Pakistan today to provide legal aid to a US embassy official on trial for shooting and killing two armed men in Lahore in January, according to media reports.

The detention of private security contractor Raymond Davis triggered a serious diplomatic row between Pakistan and the US and ties between intelligence agencies of the two countries have plunged to a new low.

The US hired three Pakistani lawyers to defend Davis, whose claim of diplomatic immunity has been rejected by a court in Lahore. Sensing that Pakistani courts will proceed against Davis, the US has now sent two legal experts to aid him, TV news channels reported.

The American experts will meet Davis at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore, where he is being held, and discuss the cases against him, the reports said. In addition, the experts will hold a meeting with the families of the men killed by Davis, the reports said.

The US is reportedly trying to seek a solution to Davis’ case under Islamic laws, which allow such matters to be settled through a “blood money” deal, sources close the families said.

The US diplomats have reportedly contacted the families and offered ‘diyat’ or compensation paid to the heirs of a dead person. The Pakistan government is under pressure from the US to free Davis but it is also facing internal pressure as opposition parties have demanded that he should be punished.  Please read the entire story here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | CIA, Civilian Contractors, Government Contractor, Legal Jurisdictions, Pakistan, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , | Leave a comment

Support Grows for Private Anti-Pirate Fleet

What is driving the concept is the increasing number of attacks, said Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association, a Washington D.C.-based trade association for private security contractors.

Sharon Weinberger AOL News

With too many pirates and not enough warships, the insurance companies that have been forced to pay huge ransoms for hijacked ships have come up with their own solution: They are proposing a privately operated fleet that would accompany ships through pirate-infested waters.

This convoy escort program would establish a fleet of fast, armed patrol boats to combat the spate of pirate attacks in the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean, Gulf of Aden and elsewhere. And the push for it is not coming from ship owners, but rather from those who pay the price when a ship is hijacked — the insurers.

Please read the entire story here

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Civilian Contractors, Pirates, Private Security Contractor | , , , , , | 1 Comment

More than 50 Peacekeepers reported killed in Somalia

The Ledger AP

NAIROBI | More than 50 African Union peacekeepers have died in fighting in Somalia since a major offensive against Islamist militants began two weeks ago, officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

The death toll is far higher than any publicly acknowledged casualty figures for the AU, which appears to be trying to keep the extent of its losses under wraps because of political considerations in Burundi, one of two nations providing the bulk of the forces that are fighting alongside Somali troops.

March 5, 2011 Posted by | Africa, United Nations | , , | Leave a comment