Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Alan Gross not among foreign prisoners freed in Cuba

Cuba frees more than 2, 500 prisoners

Free Speech Radio News   December 28, 2011

More than 2, 500 people have been released from prison in Cuba, after a mass pardoning by the federal government

An upcoming visit by the Pope was among the reasons for the release.

Several foreign prisoners were included in the release, but US contractor Alan Gross was not among them.

Gross is serving a 15 year prison sentence, after being convicted of crimes against the Cuban government earlier this year.

A contractor for USAID, Gross was arrested for bringing communications equipment into the country without a permit and has now been detained in Cuba for more than 2 years.

His imprisonment is at the center of a diplomatic dispute between Washington and Havana.

Human rights organizations have criticized the Cuban government’s prison policies, the regime currently imprisons an estimated 70 to 80 thousand people

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractors Held, Legal Jurisdictions, State Department, USAID | , , , , | Leave a comment

Civilians to guard Marine base in Afghanistan

By Dan Lamothe – Staff writer Marine Times Dec 28, 2011 5:23:05 EST

U.S. commanders want civilian contractors to provide military security at the Marine Corps’ largest base in Afghanistan as a planned withdrawal of U.S. forces from the war-torn country expands.

The contracted security personnel will guard Camp Leatherneck, the sprawling, 1,500-acre-plus installation that serves as the Corps’ main hub of operations in Helmand province and home to II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), commanded by Maj. Gen. John Toolan. To date, coalition forces have handled security at Leatherneck, but commanders have discussed using contractors for months in anticipation of a smaller Marine footprint, said Lt. Col. Riccoh Player, a Marine spokesman at Leatherneck.

“As we prepare for fewer Marine boots on the ground, the requirement to maintain a certain level of security aboard Camp Leatherneck must be maintained,” Player said. “That’s where contractor support will provide Camp Leatherneck security where Marines have in the past.”

U.S. Army Contracting Command announced a competition for the job in November. At least 166 civilian guards will be needed at all times, meaning the company that wins the contract will almost certainly need more to account for vacations and other leave time. Companies who seek the job must hire guards who are citizens of the U.S. or some of its closest allies: the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

Please read the entire story here

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Over 1,000 US Contractors may be blocked

Washington Bloomberg via SFGate  December 28, 2011

The Obama administration, under pressure from Congress to weed out government suppliers for ethics violations or poor performance, has proposed to ban almost as many contractors this year as President George W. Bush did in his entire second term.

Federal agencies have proposed blocking 1,006 companies and individuals from contracting so far this year, as well as asking a judge to ban a unit of food-processing giant Cargill Inc. of Minneapolis, in a process known as debarment. That is 16 percent more than the 868 contractors that governmental agencies proposed to block in all of 2010, and only 70 fewer than the 1,076 contractors that U.S. agencies sought to debar under Bush from 2005 to 2008, according to the General Services Administration.

Federal agencies are under pressure after a series of congressional hearings and reports from inspectors general and the Government Accountability Office faulted procurement officials for failing to keep unqualified or ineligible vendors out of the $500 billion-a-year federal market.

“We are starting to see the pendulum swing to more contractor accountability, but government needs to do a lot more to ensure it only works with responsible contractors and thereby protects the public,” said Scott Amey, general counsel for the Project on Government Oversight, a nonprofit watchdog group

please read the entire story here

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Follow the Money, Government Contractor | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Iran: American spy suspect faces death penalty

(CBS/AP)

TEHRAN, Iran – An American man accused by Iran of working for the CIA could face the death penalty, the semiofficial Fars news agency reported Tuesday.

In a closed court hearing, the prosecution applied for capital punishment, the report said, because the suspect, identified as Amir Mirzaei Hekmati, “admitted that he received training in the United States and planned to imply that Iran was involved in terrorist activities in foreign countries” after returning to the U.S.

The prosecutor said Hekmati entered Iran’s intelligence department three times.

The report said Hekmati repeated a confession broadcast on state TV Dec. 18.

Iran broadcasts alleged U.S. spy’s confession

Under the Iranian law spying can lead to death penalty only in military cases.

The Fars report said Hekmati’s lawyer, who was identified only by his surname, Samadi, denied the charges. He said Iranian intelligence blocked Hekmati from infiltrating, and under the Iranian law, intention to infiltrate is not a crime.

The lawyer said Hekmati was deceived by the CIA. No date for the next court hearing was released.

Hekmati, 28, was born in Arizona. His family is of Iranian origin. His father, who lives in Michigan, said his son is not a CIA spy and was visiting his grandmothers in Iran when he was arrested.

Because his father is Iranian, Hekmati is considered an Iranian citizen

Please read the entire story here

December 28, 2011 Posted by | CIA, Civilian Contractors, Legal Jurisdictions | , , , | Leave a comment

Iraq releases 3 security contractors

(AP)/CBS News  December 28, 2011

NEW YORK – Three security contractors including two Americans were released by Iraqi Army forces Tuesday after they were held for more than two weeks, the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security announced as he demanded a full report on the episode.

Republican Peter King identified the men as Army veteran Alex Antiohos of West Babylon, N.Y., National Guardsman Jonas March of Savannah, Georgia and Kevin Fisher of Fiji.

King said they were working for a security firm when Iraqi Ministry of Defense officials rejected paperwork prepared on their behalf by the Iraqi Ministry of Interior and began holding them on Dec. 9.

The men weren’t charged with any crimes and King said it appeared that the men were not injured.

He said Antiohos, who lives on Long Island, spoke to his wife Tuesday evening, and he was expected to be home later this week.

“She said he seems to be doing well,” he said.

King said they were released after efforts by his office, the State Department, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, the Defense Department and the White House.

He said he will demand answers from the Iraqis as well from U.S. authorities about how the incident was handled after they learned about the men.

“We’re going to have thousands of contractors over there, including many Americans. Can the Iraqis just take them off the street and hold them? This is a terrible precedent. We have to get to the bottom of this,” he said.

The New York congressman said he was concerned that U.S. military authorities had not been notified by the U.S. embassy that the men were being held and that embassy representatives had not visited the men when he learned about it from Antiohos’ wife last week.

“We have to find out if there could have been better coordination between all the agencies to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again,” King said.

U.S. troops completed a full withdrawal this month after nearly nine years of war.

“This should be a bit of a wake-up call as to whether the situation really is deteriorating in Iraq,” he added. “Iraq was supposed to be an ally. We liberated Iraq. Yet they hold these men for 18 days. … It’s inexcusable that they were treated this way by a supposed ally.”

Please see the original story here

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues, State Department | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Santa Brings Little Girls Contractor Father Home from Iraq for Christmas

You Tube/ CBS News

Christmas may have come and gone but there is still magic to marvel at from this joyous holiday, like the magic that granted the wish of a little girl who only wanted her soldier father back for the holidays.

Bethany Arnold’s class got a visit from Santa Claus this past holiday. He brought toys and goodies that everyone of her classmates asked for, except it seems for little Bethany.

The only gift she asked for in her letter to Santa was to have her father, Wyndall Arnold, home for the holidays. He’s an electrical contractor working on Iraq’s badly needed infrastructure and she’s only seen him for a couple of weeks in the last two years.

It turns out that Santa was listening after all. Watch the touching video below, featuring a surprise you won’t see coming

December 28, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq | , , , | Leave a comment