Updates: Fluor states that the rape victim did not die but is in critical condition in Germany.
This post has been edited to correct errors in the original that reported the victim had died in Germany of her injuries.-Yes, sometimes I get it wrong too. Ms Sparky-July 26, 2011
Cross Posted from MsSparky July 25, 2011
I’m not certain of the date, but the attack occurred between July 17-22. She was reportedly found unconscious and was medi-vac’d to Bagram Air Field (BAF) and then to Germany where it has been reported, she died of her injuries.
This crime has apparently got the entire FOB locked down. Hopefully, they’ll find the person(s) who committed this heinous crime and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.
This is but another on the long list of tragic rapes and murders in Iraq and Afghanistan.
As soon as I get more information on this sad tragedy I will update the post.
My most heartfelt condolences to the friends, family and co-workers of this victim.
AFP July 25 2011
Libyan rebels say demining efforts outside the eastern oil hub Barge are being hampered by a lack of specialised kit, and that fighting against Muammar Gaddafi’s forces has lost some intensity.
“We have no choice. We have to clear the sand of mines,” Mohammed Seaway, a spokesman for the Union of Revolutionary Forces in Addable, told AFP.
He said the mine problem has sapped some momentum from the campaign to clear Barge of loyalists, although the rebels said on Sunday they captured one soldier and sent scores more fleeing west to Abuser village on the road to Ras Laming
by Spencer Ackeman at Wired’s Danger Room July 22, 2011
By January 2012, the State Department will do something it’s never done before: command a mercenary army the size of a heavy combat brigade. That’s the plan to provide security for its diplomats in Iraq once the U.S. military withdraws. And no one outside State knows anything more, as the department has gone to war with its independent government watchdog to keep its plan a secret.
Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), is essentially in the dark about one of the most complex and dangerous endeavors the State Department has ever undertaken, one with huge implications for the future of the United States in Iraq. “Our audit of the program is making no progress,” Bowen tells Danger Room.
For months, Bowen’s team has tried to get basic information out of the State Department about how it will command its assembled army of about 5,500 private security contractors. How many State contracting officials will oversee how many hired guns? What are the rules of engagement for the guards? What’s the system for reporting a security danger, and for directing the guards’ response?
And for months, the State Department’s management chief, former Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, has given Bowen a clear response: That’s not your jurisdiction. You just deal with reconstruction, not security. Never mind that Bowen has audited over $1.2 billion worth of security contracts over seven years
AN Iraq War veteran from Skegby has spoken of his fear he may develop cancer as a result of the deadly chemicals he was exposed to while serving in Basra.
Cpl Jon Caunt (35) undertook five tours of Iraq between 2003 and 2007 when he and other members of the RAF Regiment were exposed to a distinctive orange powder at the Qarmat Ali water treatment plant.
British troops, who were working alongside US forces and staff from private contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR), did not know the orange powder was in fact Sodium Dichromate, which contains a cancer-causing compound.
It is banned in many countries and had been used to stop pipes rusting.
The soldiers were responsible for restoring the plant so Iraqi people could resume oil production in a bid to rebuild their economy after the war – but they had no protection from the chemical and would often sleep on the ground surrounded by it.
Cpl Caunt said: “You have got to understand that we were breathing it in, we were firing in it and it was blown up by the wind – this stuff was everywhere.”
It was only when he was later contacted by Sgt Andy Tosh and underwent a medical examination in April this year that he became aware of the serious threat the exposure had to his health.
He said: “Until I went for the medical, I did not realise how serious it was. When I got the results back, I did not want to look at them.”
Cpl Caunt’s medical revealed he already had the symptoms of several diseases, including respiratory, stomach and skin diseases.
“I have had skin complaints for a while, but I just dismissed it and never really thought anything of it until this came up,” he said
Defense Industry Daily July 20, 2011
Canada’s $3 billion frigate modernization program, which specifically aimed to exclude American technologies from key areas, was just one example of a growing problem for American defense firms. Major players in the defense industry have been pushing for years to change US ITAR export controls.
Unfortunately, the USA’s use of export controls for protectionist and political purposes has had a predictable effect, and made American defense components toxic to some potential export customers. Even as cumbersome rules, and a slow American bureaucracy, add additional layers of export control across more than 3 different agencies. The end product is significant friction for important international deals, impediments to partnerships with friends and allies, and erosion of global market share for American defense products.
On April 20/10, American Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, backed by several other departments, crystallized a reform push that has been underway for years. The proposed “4 singles” approach would make significant changes to American technology export controls. Nor is that the only initiative underway…
The Federal Government has imposed travel restrictions on the Consul General of Eritrea after being refused access to a Broome skipper detained in the African nation.
Five months after Western Australian pearling skipper Adrian Troy and three British men were detained in Eritrea, the British and Australian Governments have made their first move, imposing limited sanctions.
The United Kingdom has barred Eritrean diplomats from travelling outside London and the Australian Government has responded with similar restrictions.
The Eritrean Consul General now cannot travel outside a 100 km radius of Melbourne, without permission from the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The four men were arrested in December over what is believed to have been a dispute with the Eritrean Navy.
The Federal Government says it will continue to push for consular access until it is granted.
U.S. agencies have “limited visibility over U.S. cash that enters the Afghan economy — leaving it vulnerable to fraud and diversion to the insurgency,” SIGAR said in a statement.
Kabul’s international airport has long been seen as a virtual black hole for foreign currency, the perfect venue through which travelers can smuggle out hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. aid that was intended for development projects.
More than a year after The Washington Post first disclosed American concerns about the airport, a report released Wednesday by the U.S. special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction concludes that attempts to choke off the exodus of cash have been plagued by a hard-to-fathom set of obstacles.
The installation of currency-counting machines to better trace illicit funds at the airport — one of the centerpieces of a plan by the Department of Homeland Security — was delayed by seven months because U.S. and Afghan officials could not agree on where to put them.
Once the machines were installed, in April, Afghan customs officials began using them to count the cash but not to record serial numbers or to report financial data, necessary steps to determine whether the money being carried out of the country had been siphoned from aid flowing in.
It took eight months for U.S. and Afghan officials to agree on where to place signs at the airport informing passengers of the requirement to declare cash totalling more than $22,000. Americans officials were unable to get approval to place the signs at the entrance to the airport, so they are now located beyond the point where passengers pass through customs.
“As a result,” the report noted, “passengers are not informed of the requirement to declare the currency until it is too late.”
Meantime, VIPs are still allowed to leave the airport without having their cash scanned through the currency counters — one of the main points of concern for U.S. officials, who believe some businessmen are carrying bagfuls of illicit cash to the Persian Gulf and elsewhere
DAKAR, 20 July 2011 (IRIN) – Institutional donor aid in 2010 was at its highest-ever level – US$16.7 billion – but so were aid costs, says aid watchdog Development Initiatives in its annual Global Humanitarian Assistance (GHA) report, released today.
The report, which looks at aid year-on-year over the past decade, also shows that disaster preparedness is consistently sidelined; and that emergency aid is spent in the same countries year-on-year, begging the question: is it the right solution to the problem?
Largely responsible for the boost in aid were the USA, Canada and Japan, according to the GHA. Their increases offset the declining aid budgets of a number of donors, including the Netherlands, Austria, Denmark, Greece, Korea, Portugal and Ireland – all of which watched their aid budgets shrink for the second year in a row.
Donors outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) [www.oecd.org/dac/] also gave more: between 2005 and 2009 their foreign assistance more than doubled from $4.6 billion to $10.4 billion, according to a second Development Initiatives report by Kerry Smith: Non-DAC Donors and Humanitarian Aid: Shifting Structures, Changing Trends.
But the additional funding does not go as far as it used to: price rises in food and fuel have “put pressure on the system and reduced buying power”, said GHA programme leader Jan Kellett. Fats and cereal costs more than doubled between 2007 and 2008, and continued to rise throughout 2010, while the cost of delivering them also continued to rise, according to Development Initiatives and the UN.
The UN estimates international food prices reached an all-time high in February 2011.
This and other factors meant the unmet needs in UN emergency appeals “worryingly” grew from 30 to 37 percent, according to Kellett. UN appeals for the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), Chad, Central African Republic and Uganda all experienced a widening in their funding gaps in 2010, according to the report.
Another area of unmet need was disaster preparedness and risk reduction, which received just 75 US cents out of every $100 spent on aid, according to Development Initiatives, reaching just $835 million in 2009.
U.S. Agencies Have Provided Training and Support to Afghanistan’s Major Crimes Task Force, but Reporting and Reimbursement Issues Need to be Addressed
What SIGAR Reviewed
Corruption continues to be a significant problem in Afghanistan. To help fight corruption, the Afghan government
established the Major Crimes Task Force (MCTF) in 2009 as the principal Afghan government agency responsible
for investigating and processing major anti-corruption, kidnapping, and organized crime cases. In particular, the
MCTF conducts corruption investigations of high-level Afghan government officials. U.S. government agents,
primarily from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), mentor and train Afghan investigators who are assigned
to the MCTF. SIGAR conducted this audit to (1) determine the nature and extent of U.S. assistance for the MCTF
and (2) evaluate whether U.S. assistance was provided in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. This
report is part of a series of audits by SIGAR addressing U.S. government efforts to strengthen anti-corruption
capabilities of the Afghan government. We conducted our work in Kabul, Afghanistan, and Washington, D.C., from
September 2010 to July 2011, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Limited Interagency Coordination and Insufficient Controls over U.S. Funds in Afghanistan Hamper U.S. Efforts to Develop the Afghan Financial Sector and Safeguard US Cash
What SIGAR Reviewed
Since 2002, Congress has appropriated more than $70 billion to implement security and development assistance
projects in Afghanistan, with some of those funds converted into cash and flowing through the Afghan economy. The
United States is implementing programs to increase the capacity of Afghanistan’s central bank (Da Afghanistan Bank, or
DAB) to regulate the nation’s 17 commercial banks and to strengthen U.S. and Afghan law enforcement agencies’
oversight over the flow of funds through the Afghan economy. This report (1) evaluates U.S. efforts to improve the
capacity of the Afghan government to regulate the financial sector (which includes commercial banks and informal
financial organizations, or hawalas) and (2) assesses the controls that U.S. agencies use to track U.S. funds as they flow
through the Afghan economy. To accomplish these objectives, we reviewed Afghan laws and U.S. policies, plans, and
progress reports relevant to U.S. financial sector development initiatives. We met with officials from the Departments
of State, Homeland Security (DHS), Treasury, Defense (DOD), and the U.S. Agency for International Development
(USAID). We conducted our work in Washington, D.C., and Kabul, Afghanistan, from October 2010 to July 2011 in
accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.
Dangerously Blurring the Line: How the DoD Allows Contractors to Grade Themselves and Write Their Own Contract Terms
One of the most egregious actions in this report was to allow the contractors to write up the requirements of the follow-on contract and then allow them to bid and win the contract.
The Department of Defense (DoD) Inspector General’s (IG) office recently found that the Marine Corp allowed their contactors for a vital troop protection system to act as government employees, including directing and evaluating government employees’ work, grading their own work and writing up requirements for the follow-on contract. The contractors then bid on those requirements and won multimillion-dollar contracts.
The IG issued a report this month with the mundane title, “Contract Management of Joint Logistics Integrator Services in Support of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected Vehicles Needs Improvement.” The report points out, in glaring examples, how the Marine Corp allowed two companies to infiltrate and control two very important logistics and maintenance contracts.
The program where this abuse occurred could not be more crucial to the troops. The program does maintenance support and logistics for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles program (MRAP). MRAP is a $17.6 billion program to build or modify military vehicles with a V-shaped hull to prevent or reduce troop injuries and death from IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices). MRAP was a rushed program because it had the potential to save lives and prevent severe injury at a time when IEDs were wreaking havoc on American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan
From the report:
On May 2, 2007, the Secretary of Defense designated the MRAP program as the highest priority DoD acquisition program and stated that all options to accelerate the production and fielding of the MRAP capability to the theater should be identified, assessed and applied where feasible. To reduce the burden on units receiving MRAP vehicles, JPO [Joint Program Office] MRAP established a forward presence in Iraq, Afghanistan, Qatar and Kuwait. According to the Joint Supportability Plan, the JPO MRAP Forward includes personnel from the JPO, JLI [Joint Logistics Integrator] and MRAP vehicle original equipment manufacturers to form an integrated team to stand-up, coordinate and execute JPO MRAP operations in theater.
The two companies, Jacobs Technology and SAIC (Science Applications International Corp) received contracts worth $193 million and $285 million, respectively, to do this work. SAIC started out as a subcontractor in the Jacobs Technology contract and then won the bid for the follow-on contract. This contract work was provided in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait from 2007 to 2011 and the DoD provided only one government employee overseas to oversee the whole program.
Give yourself credit if you guessed “ArmorGroup North America Inc.” (AGNA) and the “Lord of the Flies” environment they oversaw in the housing camp for U.S embassy guards in Kabul, Afghanistan, which our friends over at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) exposed back in 2009.
Earlier this month, AGNA, the private security company and subsidiary of the British security services conglomerate G4S, settled a whistleblower’s lawsuit associated with the scandal, agreeing to pay a $7.5 million fine. Importantly, though, the contractor settled the suit without an admission of fault or liability, effectively sweeping the incident under the rug with regard to future considerations of government contracts
Any future contracting officials seeking to determine ArmorGroup’s integrity and trustworthiness will not see the incident listed in the government’s top contracting performance database, the Federal Awardee Performance and Integrity Information System (FAPIIS).
Currently, FAPIIS only displays lawsuits or administrative actions taken by federal, state, or local governments where there is an admission of fault or liability by the contractor. And guess what contractors always demand whenever they settle something out of court; yup, immunity from any finding of fault, keeping many of the worst contracting abuses out of the government’s databases and away from the eyes of contracting officials.
In AGNA’s case, that includes allegations of the company blatantly disregarding “its obligations to ensure the safety and security of the U.S. Embassy in Kabul” – according to the whistleblower who sued – and various other nefarious wrongdoings – according to the Department of Justice (DOJ). Offenses include:
- “AGNA submitted false claims for payment on a State Department contract to provide armed guard services at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan”;
- “[I]n 2007 and 2008, AGNA guards violated the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) by visiting brothels in Kabul, and that AGNA’s management knew about the guards’ activities”;
- “AGNA misrepresented the prior work experience of 38 third country national guards it had hired to guard the Embassy”; and
- “AGNA failed to comply with certain Foreign Ownership, Control and Influence mitigation requirements on the embassy contract, and on a separate contract to provide guard services at a Naval Support Facility in Bahrain.”
Those seem like some important pieces of information that a contracting official might want to take into consideration if choosing between ArmorGroup and one of its modestly more responsible competitors when determining the award of a future federal contract.
Of course, contracting officials – and the public for that matter – could see this information if Congress simply passed some common sense contracting transparency reforms. Last spring, then-Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced a bi-partisan bill including just such reforms.
Included in the legislation was language to pull into FAPIIS “records of any administrative proceeding entered into by a contractor at any level of government” no matter the finding of fault or liability. There was also a provision “increasing the length of time from five years to 10 that a contractor’s past performance record on a government contract” would stay in the database.
The legislation ingloriously died in committee, however, and with Sen. Feingold now out of the Senate, the transparency community needs a new champion to step up in Congress and push for these basic contracting reforms.
Defpro July 19, 2011
ITT Systems Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., was awarded a $267,918,208 cost-plus-award-fee contract.
The award will provide for the modification of an existing contract to provide base operations and security support services in support of the military troops and equipment moving through the country of Kuwait. Work will be performed in Kuwait, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 28, 2015. The bid was solicited through the Internet, with five bids received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Rock Island, Ill., is the contracting activity (W52P1J-10-C-0062).
Defpro July 19, 2011
DRS Technical Services, Herndon, Va., was awarded a $19,632,592 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract.
The award will provide for the specialized training and mentoring services for Afghanistan’s Ministry of the Interior and the Afghan National Police. Work will be performed in Afghanistan, with an estimated completion date of Jan. 16, 2012. One sole-source bid was solicited, with one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity (W15P7T-11-C-B001).
Ed O’Keefe is on temporary assignment as The Washington Post’s correspondent in Iraq. In addition to traditional war zone reporting, he is keeping tabs on what it’s like for U.S. troops and government officials living and working in Iraq.
BAGHDAD – Interested in working for the U.S. government in Iraq? Though the dangers are obvious, the pay and perks can be pretty good.
Federal employees and contractors serving here face an almost-daily barrage of rocket attacks, the inability to travel freely, scorching hot temperatures and other cultural and linguistic limitations. But workers with the State Department, U.S. Agency for International Development and other federal agencies keep on coming, especially as the U.S. presence here becomes more of a civilian affair.
Despite the violence, harsh temperatures and separation from family, serving the U.S. government in a war zone often guarantees promotions and ultimately can lead to assignments at the most coveted diplomatic outposts, according to current and former officials who’ve served time in Iraq.
So how much can a typical federal worker in Iraq anticipate earning?