Bloomberg at SF Gate July 31, 2011
A U.S. contractor in Iraq overbilled the Pentagon by at least $4.4 million for spare parts and equipment, including $900 for an electronic control switch valued at $7.05, according to a new audit.
Based on the questionable costs identified in a $300 million contract with Dubai-based Anham LLC, the U.S. should review all its contracts with the company in Iraq and Afghanistan, which total about $3.9 billion, said Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen.
“The audit found weak oversight in multiple areas that left the government vulnerable to improper overcharges,” Bowen wrote in the forward to his 30th quarterly report, released today. The contract in question was funded with a combination of money earmarked for Iraqi Security Forces and Army operations and maintenance funds.
Among the “egregious examples of overbilling” by Anham were $4,500 for a circuit breaker valued at $183.30, $3,000 for a $94.47 circuit breaker and $80 for a small segment of drain pipe valued at $1.41
Monitoring Responsibilities for Serious Incidents Involving Private Security Contractors Once U.S. Military Forces Leave Iraq Have Not Been Determined (SIGIR 11-019)
LETTER FOR SECRETARY OF STATE July 29, 2011
U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ
SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
COMMANDER, U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND
COMMANDING GENERAL, U.S. FORCES–IRAQ
Monitoring Responsibilities for Serious Incidents Involving Private Security Contractors Once U.S. Military Forces Leave Iraq Have Not Been Determined (SIGIR 11-019)
In September 2007, Blackwater, Inc., a private security contractor (PSC) under contract with the
Department of State (DoS), was involved in an incident that resulted in the death of 17 Iraqi
civilians. As a result of the incident and its repercussions, the Department of Defense (DoD) and
DoS took actions to improve their coordination and oversight of PSCs involved in serious
incidents.1 In April 2009, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR)
reported on the DoD system for reporting, investigating, and remediating serious incidents
involving PSCs in Iraq.2 Because of the planned withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Iraq in
December 2011, SIGIR reviewed the U.S. government’s current and planned oversight of PSCs
in that country. In April 2011, SIGIR reported on the relationship between the U.S. Army Corps
of Engineers’ Gulf Region District’s reconstruction activities and its security contract
requirements with Aegis Defense Services, Limited.3
SIGIR’s objectives for this report were to determine (1) changes in the serious incident reporting
and investigating system since SIGIR’s 2009 report, (2) plans for the system after U.S. military
forces leave Iraq, and (3) coordination of serious incidents with the Government of Iraq (GOI).
SIGIR also followed up on the status of recommendations in its April 2009 report. SIGIR will
be issuing separate reports on the current status of those recommendations.
SIGIR performed this audit under the authority of Public Law 108-106, as amended, which also
incorporates the duties and responsibilities of inspectors general under the Inspector General Act
of 1978 and in furtherance of a mandate in Section 842 of the National Defense Authorization
Act for 2008, Public Law 110-181, pertaining to contracts for the performance of security and
reconstruction functions in Iraq. SIGIR encountered significant constraints imposed by DoS’
Bureau of Diplomatic Security. The Bureau was unresponsive to SIGIR’s requests for
1 According to DoD guidance a serious incident includes, but is not limited to, “any damage of equipment or injury
to persons, attacks, any weapons discharge, criminal acts, traffic accidents, incidents involving ISF [Iraqi Security
Forces] and any incident believed to have possible strategic or operational impact. Incidents where aggressive
personal behavior and share the road policies are violated shall be reported.”
2 Opportunities To Improve Processes for Reporting, Investigating, and Remediating Serious Incidents Involving
Private Security Contractors in Iraq, SIGIR 09-019, 4/30/2009.
3 Gulf Region District Is Adjusting Its Aegis Security Contract Requirements for Changes in Reconstruction
Activities in Iraq, SIGIR 11-015, 4/27/2011.
New terms mean company will be paid even when production is disrupted, critics claim
The Guardian July 30, 2001
BP has been accused of taking a “stranglehold” on the Iraqi economy after the Baghdad government agreed to pay the British firm even when oil is not being produced by the Rumaila field, confidential documents reveal.
The original deal for operating Iraq‘s largest field – half as big as the entire North Sea – has been rewritten so that BP will be immediately compensated for civil disruption or government decisions to cut production.
This potentially could influence the policy decisions made by Iraq in relation to the Opec oil cartel, and is a major step away from the original terms of an auction deal signed in the summer of 2009, critics claim.
“Iraq’s oil auctions were portrayed as a model of transparency and a negotiating victory for the Iraqi government,” said Greg Muttitt, author of Fuel on the Fire: Oil and Politics in Occupied Iraq. “Now we see the reality was the opposite: a backroom deal that gave BP a stranglehold on the Iraqi economy, and even influence over the decisions of Opec.”
The concerns are shared by the Platform campaign group, which has obtained copies of the original and amended contracts and on Sunday will publish them on its website.
The UN News Centre 28 July 2011 –
The report states that the Eritrean Government “conceived, planned, organized and directed a failed plot to disrupt the African Union summit in Addis Ababa by bombing a variety of civilian and governmental targets.”
It adds that “since the Eritrean intelligence apparatus responsible for the African Union summit plot is also active in Kenya, Somalia, the Sudan and Uganda, the level of threat it poses to these other countries must be re-evaluated.”
The report, which is over 400 pages, also points to Eritrea’s continuing relationship with Al-Shabaab, the Islamist militant group that controls some parts of Somalia’s territory and has been waging a fierce battle against the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) there.
While the Eritrean Government acknowledges that it maintains relationships with Somali armed opposition groups, including Al-Shabaab, it denies that it provides any military, material or financial support and says its links are limited to a political, and even humanitarian, nature.
However, evidence and testimony obtained by the Monitoring Group, including records of financial payments, interviews with eyewitnesses and data relating to maritime and aviation movements, all indicate that Eritrean support for Somali armed opposition groups is not limited to the political or humanitarian dimensions.
In August 2009, the Pentagon awarded five Theater-wide Internal Security Services (TWISS) contracts for site security in Iraq. These contracts, awarded to EOD Technology, Inc.; Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, LLC; Special Operations Consulting-Security Management Group; Triple Canopy, Inc.; and Protection Strategies Inc., have a combined value of $485 million.
U.S base commanders nominate contracting officer’s representatives (CORs), who are responsible for verifying the U.S. government receives what it pays for. The Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) appoints and trains CORs and manages their activities. DCMA uses Quality Assurance Representatives (QARs) to monitor the CORs’ and contractors’ performance.
Yet although COR duties are critical to the U.S. government’s oversight of the TWISS contracts, almost 40% of the CORs it surveyed said the training they received did not prepare them for their duties and 25% said they lack sufficient time to conduct effective oversight, according to an audit report “Control Weaknesses Remain in Oversight of Theater-wide Internal Security Services Contracts,”
released today by the Office of the Special Inspector General For Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).
Why is this important? Please read the entire story at HuffPost
By ISHTIAQ MAHSUD, Associated Press – July 29, 2011
SHAWAL, Pakistan (AP) — The Pakistani Taliban have custody of two kidnapped Swiss tourists and will free them if the U.S. releases a female Pakistani scientist convicted of trying to kill Americans, the No. 2 commander of the militant group told The Associated Press.
Gunmen abducted the man and woman as they traveled in the southwestern Baluchistan province earlier this month.
Authorities later said the two were taken to South Waziristan, a northwestern tribal region that borders Afghanistan and has been a hotbed of Pakistani Taliban activity for years.
Many locals and several foreigners have been kidnapped by militants in the border region over the past eight years. Some have been killed, while others have been released or their fate is unknown, often after ransoms have been paid.
The commander, Waliur Rehman, spoke to an AP reporter on Thursday in the Shawal area of South Waziristan. He said his group ordered the kidnapping in a bid to gain freedom for Aafia Siddiqui, a U.S.-educated neuroscience specialist and mother of three who is serving 86 years in an American jail for trying to shoot U.S. security officials in Afghanistan.
Rehman said that if Siddiqui is not freed, a Taliban court will decide their fate. He did not give any deadlines.
“We have not tortured this couple, and we have no such intention,” he added.
Officials at the Swiss and U.S. embassies in Islamabad declined to comment Friday on Rehman’s demand.
Iraq’s interior ministry plans to sign a deal with the US government to supply scores of US civilian security personnel to train its troops, a senior Iraqi security official said.
The agreement, which requires Iraqi cabinet approval, would mean the interior ministry at least will have little need for US troops to stay on beyond their planned year-end withdrawal, senior ministry official Adnan Al Asadi told Reuters.
Iraq wants the United States to supply several thousand trainers for its military, sources have said, but is still debating whether to ask Washington to leave some troops behind for training, especially to fill gaps in their capabilities.
Mr. Asadi said the deal with Washington would supply Iraq with 200 security advisers and experts from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation. They will be deployed at the training centers in Baghdad, Basra, Arbil, Mosul and maybe Hilla.
US troops are scheduled to leave when a security accord with Iraq ends this year, but the training agreement will be covered by a broader security cooperation framework between the governments.
An alarming story of greed, negligence, and a lack of government oversight
Starring the DBA Insurance company that most ruthlessly denies the medical care and benefits to Injured Contractors and the Widows and families of those who are killed.
July 28, 2011
So this $58.5 million was overcharged in a very small portion of the DBA business that CNA carries.
Basically CNA overcharged, didn’t reimburse USACE and contractors for labor charges that turned out not to be justified, did not have proper paperwork in place and accounting procedures to allow DCAA to be able to look at their books and determine who was owed what.
CNA also commingled funds meant to be segregated for different contracts, lumping them all into one account.
The workers’ compensation program is so riddled with problems as a result of using a third-party insurer that the inspector general’s office suggests it may be worthwhile to dump the insurer altogether, the audit reads.
More to come
AlJazeera July 28, 2011
US mainstream media and the public’s willful ignorance is to blame for lack of knowledge about true cost of wars.
Why is it so easy for political leaders in the US to convince ordinary citizens to support war? How is it that, after that initial enthusiasm has given away to fatigue and disgust, the reaction is mere disinterest rather than righteous rage? Even when the reasons given for taking the US to war were proven to have been not only wrong, but brazenly fraudulent – as in Iraq, which hadn’t possessed chemical weapons since 1991 – no one is called to account.
The United States claims to be a shining beacon of democracy to the world. And many of the citizens of the world believe it. But democracy is about responsiveness and accountability – the responsiveness of political leaders to an engaged and informed electorate, which holds that leadership class accountable for its mistakes and misdeeds. How to explain Americans’ acquiescence in the face of political leaders who repeatedly lead it into illegal, geopolitically disastrous and economically devastating wars of choice?
The dynamics of US public opinion have changed dramatically since the 1960s, when popular opposition to the Vietnam War coalesced into an antiestablishmentarian political and cultural movement that nearly toppled the government – and led to a series of sweeping social reforms whose contemporary ripples include the recent move to legalise marriage between members of the same sex.
Why the difference?
Numerous explanations have been offered for the vanishing of protesters from the streets of American cities. First and foremost, fewer people know someone who has been killed. The death rate for US troops has fallen dramatically, from 58,000 in Vietnam to a total of 6,000 for Iraq and Afghanistan. Many point to the replacement of conscripts by volunteer soldiers, many of whom originate from the working class, which is by definition less influential
LONDON—The BBC says one of its reporters has died in an insurgent attack in Afghanistan that killed at least 17 people.
The broadcaster says that Ahmad Omid Khpolwak was killed in Thursday’s suicide attack in the southern Uruzgan province.
Afghan authorities said the attack left at least 17 people dead.
BBC says the stringer was 25 years old and joined the network in 2008.
Three suicide bombers blew up vehicles packed with explosives in three almost simultaneous attacks in Uruzgan. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the assaults.
This week, it was reported that federal prosecutors are investigating potential new criminal charges against Agility, the Kuwaiti logistics company under indictment for overcharging the U.S. military on food supply contracts.
Agility (formerly Public Warehousing Company KSC and PWC Logistics), has been suspended from federal contracting since being indicted in November 2009. (The suspension record can be found on the Excluded Parties List System website.) Agility is also facing a civil False Claims Act lawsuit in the matter. The criminal charges also prompted DynCorp International to fire Agility as its main subcontractor in Afghanistan. This is what happens when you get caught “Playing With Uncle Sam’s Food,” as POGO wrote when we first heard about the case.
According to a court order, prosecutors subpoenaed an Agility executive, retired U.S. Army General Dan Mongeon, to testify before a grand jury in order to explore possible new charges. Agility is accused of overcharging the Department of Defense by inflating food prices and submitting false information on food supply contracts awarded between 2003 and 2005. It is not clear what General Mongeon’s testimony will add to the case, which seemed on the verge of settling last year.
A judge has dismissed rape and indecent liberties charges against a former Iraq contractor.
The Pilot Online July 27, 2011
Police brought Daniel P. Phillips, 46, back from Iraq in January to face felony charges of rape, indecent liberties and aggravated sexual battery, according to a police report.
In court papers, Phillips denied the allegations and stated that he was in Kuwait and Iraq between December 2004 and January 2005, when the alleged attacks occurred.
Earlier this month, a prosecutor asked the judge to dismiss the charges and release Phillips from the Norfolk jail. Circuit Court Judge Charles E. Poston on Monday signed an order dismissing the charges
Three people including one security personnel and two peace committee members were killed in mine explosions when security forces launched the third phase of the operation Brekhna in Tehsil Bayzai of Mohmand Agency.
“We have started the third phase of the military operation Brekhna in the Bayzai Tehsil of Mohmand Agecy,” confirmed a security official in Peshawar.
Sources said that the security forces were moving along with the peace committee and Levis personnel in the Manzaree Cheena area when the members of the peace committee hit a land mine in which two members were killed.
In the second explosion, one more security person was killed.
Sources said that there were at least five mine explosions in which at least five security personnel and seven members of the peace committee were injured.
“Although we are facing no resistance from the militants,” said APA Upper Mohmand, Maqsood Khan while speaking to The Express Tribune “It’s the mines that they left behind that are causing some problem. However, the sweeping of the area is underway,” he added
Associated Press at SF Gate July 26, 2011
A whistleblower lawsuit against the security firm once known as Blackwater is heading to trial in Virginia.
Jury selection starts Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria in a lawsuit brought by former Blackwater employees Brad and Melan Davis.
They accuse the company of cheating the government in bills it submitted for protecting government employees in Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has already dismissed several of the lawsuit’s claims, including an allegation that Blackwater billed the government for prostitutes.
The Davises’ lawsuit is one of several legal skirmishes Blackwater has fought following its contract work. Blackwater now operates under the name Xe Services
Associated Press at Sacramento Bee July 25, 2011
While the company’s executive leadership will be based in Arlington, the 7,000-acre training facility in Moyock will also have an executive presence. Xe Services also has training facilities in Groton, Conn., and San Diego and a permanent 10-acre operating base in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Under the Blackwater name, the firm provided guards and services to the U.S. government in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. It drew harsh criticism from members of Congress and others after a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that killed 17 people.