Associated Press at Palm Beach Post May, 2012
KANO, Nigeria — Kidnappers stabbed a captive German engineer to death Thursday as soldiers unaware of the hostage’s presence raided a home in northern Nigeria, officials said, five months after his abduction by proclaimed al-Qaida-linked terrorists.
The killing of Edgar Fritz Raupach came as authorities acknowledged the kidnapping of an Italian working for a construction company, part of an increasing number of abductions targeting expatriates working in Nigeria’s north and central regions.
Soldiers launched a raid Thursday morning in Kano, the northern city where gunmen abducted Raupach on Jan. 26 following a major terrorist attack there that killed at least 185 people. The mission targeted a home that soldiers suspected held “an ongoing meeting of senior commanders of the terrorist element,” military spokesman Lt. Iweah Ikedichi said in a statement.
“On sighting the security forces, the terrorist element opened fire and threw (explosives),” the statement read. “The security forces responded immediately, resulting in a gun battle that lasted for about 30 minutes
WHY HAVE I NOT RECEIVED THE DEFENSE OF FREEDOM MEDAL?
The Defense of Freedom Medal is an award held to be the equivalent of the Purple Heart and is awarded to Civilian Contractors injured in the war zones.
One question we get here repeatedly is why have I not received the Defense of Freedom Medal? The question comes from severely disabled Civilian Contractors wounded in horrific explosions and insurgent attacks.
WHO IS HOLDING YOUR MEDAL HOSTAGE?
The company you work for is responsible for requesting that you receive the medal and providing the documentation that you have indeed suffered a qualifying injury.
As all Injured War Zone Contractors know the minute you must file a Defense Base Act Claim you are automatically placed in an adversarial relationship with your employer. Your Employer and the Defense Base Act Insurance Company are considered equal entities in the battle you have entered for your medical care and indemnity.
Your Employer is required to assist the insurance company in denying your claim. Under the War Hazards Act the Employer/Carrier must prove to the WHA Tribunal that they have diligently tried to deny your claim.
It appears that your Defense of Freedom Medals could be held hostage by your Employers due to the adversarial relationship the Defense Base Act has created.
When KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, Xe, et al, provide documentation of your injuries to the DoD they have just admitted that you are indeed injured and to what extent.
Specific information regarding injury/death: Description of the situation causing the injury/death in detail to include the date, time, place, and scene of the incident, and official medical documentation of the employee’s injuries and treatment. The description must be well documented, including the names of witnesses and point of contact (POC) for additional medical information, if needed.
These admissions sure would make it hard for Administrative Law Judges like Paul C Johnson to name them as alleged. ALJ Paul C Johnson has yet to award benefits to a DBA Claimant in a decision based on a hearing.
KBR who can never seem to find their injured employees medical records holds the key to the Defense of Freedom Medal.
Certainly there are other lawsuits outside of the DBA that the withholding of this information is vital too.
For those of you who still give a damn after being abused by so badly simply because you were injured-
The Defense of Freedom Medal may find you many years down the road once an Administrative Law Judge says you were injured.
We recommend that you contact your Congressional Representative or Senator and have them request this Medal if you qualify for it and would like to have it.
If you are still litigating your claim it SHOULD serve to legitimize your alleged injuries.
BBC Africa May 29, 2012
But unlike other private security firms which put guards on board other people’s ships, it will offer vessels of its own.
The chief executive of Typhon, Anthony Sharpe, says the plan is to rendezvous with cargo ships which sign up for their protection and form them into a convoy.
The company says it will establish what it is describing as an exclusion zone of one kilometre around the ships.
The company is buying three boats, which are currently being fitted out in Singapore.
Each of its craft will have up to 40 security officers, drawn from former British Royal Marines, as well as a crew of 20.
The ships will be fitted with machine guns and the staff will have rifles.
But Mr Sharpe told the BBC it is not a question of out-gunning the pirates.
“It’s not about lethal force matching lethal force,” he said.
“It’s more like applying a burglar alarm to the problem and the thief will be deterred – so will be looking elsewhere.”
Following U.S. Withdrawal from Iraq, Government Contractors Facing Tough Challenges from New Immigration Requirements
by Carson Burnham and Bonnie Puckett at Martindale May 29, 2012
The United States’ presence in transitional Iraq resulted in many opportunities for U.S. government contractors. Since the early 2000s, a significant number of U.S. government contractors have engaged individuals to perform work in Iraq, and sponsored visas for those individuals. In recent years, the legality of these arrangements largely was governed by an agreement between the United States and the Iraqi transitional government, called the “Status of Forces Agreement” (SOFA). Corresponding with the timing of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, SOFA expired at midnight on December 31, 2011. With this expiration came significant rule changes. In particular, any foreign company wishing to sponsor visas or work permits for foreign nationals working in Iraq must establish an entity in Iraq with a physical presence in the country. The implications of noncompliance are significant. The Iraqi government has even detained individuals without proper visas upon attempting to exit the country.
The January 1, 2009 SOFA—concluded as a U.S. executive agreement and approved by the Iraqi Council of Ministers—allowed government contractors to enter and leave Iraq easily, without risk of violating immigration rules. Specifically, SOFA’s Article 14 enabled members of the Armed Forces and civilian employees working for the U.S. military to enter and leave Iraq through specified official entry/exit points merely by displaying identification cards and U.S.-issued travel orders. While not directly addressing immigration for government contractor employees, SOFA’s permissive treatment of Armed Forces members and employees led to similarly permissive application of the requirements for U.S. government contractor employees.
Almost immediately after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the corresponding expiration of SOFA, Iraqi authorities began detaining foreign contractors at various checkpoints and at the airport, citing improper paperwork such as invalid or expired visas, weapons permits, work permits, and route authorizations, many of which the government refused to renew. With little warning, the lax immigration requirements under SOFA were replaced by the more common requirement in the global arena that foreign nationals must have current work permits tied to a locally-registered business entity that is sponsoring the employees.
Sources estimate that hundreds of individuals have been detained for periods of 24 to 96 hours or more, sometimes including severe interrogation. Some contractors have been ordered to leave Iraq within 10 days due to new limitations on visas. Many government contractors were utterly unprepared for this sudden crackdown, as immigration requirements in a post-SOFA world were not clear at the time of SOFA’s expiration. Some commentators also have surmised that Iraqi government authorities felt compelled to assert their newfound sovereignty against mistrusted contractors, some of whom reportedly mistreated the Iraqi population during the occupation.
The result? U.S. government contractors are now on notice that Federal Iraq will strictly monitor the immigration status of their employees. The penalties for noncompliance include detention of employees working in and attempting to exit Iraq.
As a first step, all U.S. government contractors should promptly review their staff’s travel documentation to ensure that it has not expired or is otherwise invalid. To comply with the new state of the law, it is also recommended that U.S. government contractors that do not already have a subsidiary based in Iraq for the purpose of sponsoring employees for business permits take immediate steps to create one. Requirements for an LLC include, but are not limited to:
- A business name, which must be in Arabic and have an Arabic meaning;
- A designated managing director, and a copy of his or her passport (if foreign) or identification (if Iraqi);
- Initial capital of one million Iraqi Dinar (approximately $850) in an Iraqi bank;
- Lease agreement for the company’s location in Federal Iraq, which the authorities likely will inspect;
- A designated agent for service of process and filings with the Registrar of Companies; and
- A resolution of the Board of Directors of the parent company establishing the Iraqi subsidiary, which meets the requirements of the Registrar of Companies.
Additional requirements exist for commercial agents and retailers. The entire process takes approximately four months to complete. Once the Iraqi entity is established, it must comply with all relevant laws in securing work permits and visas, which may vary by region. An individual authorized to work in one region of Iraq may not be permitted to work in another region.
BEST KEPT SECRET OF THE WARS
The Majority of ExPat Civilian Contractor Casualties first served their country in the military.
Many of them gave twenty and more years of service before deploying in a civilian capacity.
Many of them were buried with military honors.
Yet we are not supposed to know their names or even that they died in our wars.
Defense Base Act War Profiteers are encouraged to abuse the families they leave behind
You can see some of these nameless hero’s at
Please keep them and their families in your thoughts today and everyday
BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN — The American grenade that nearly killed 10-year-old Shah Mohammed landed on an unmarked firing range in a scrubby desert, in the shadow of the largest U.S. military base in the country.
Like hundreds of other U.S. explosives fired here, it was supposed to detonate on impact. Like hundreds of others, it didn’t
On the periphery of Bagram Airfield, farmers, scrap-metal collectors and sheep herders have been crippled, blinded and burned by U.S. military ammunition on an unfenced and poorly marked training ground. Called the East River Range, the training ground is blanketed with unexploded U.S. ordnance that was dropped from helicopters and fired from vehicles as part of battlefield rehearsals.
There is no barrier between nearby villages and the range — it is unclear where the dusty townships end and the vast military training area begins. The only apparent warnings are scrawled in faded, barely decipherable English lettering on concrete blocks: “Small Arms Range” and “Weapon Range.” There is no translation in Dari or Pashto, the two most common languages in Afghanistan.
Contracting out U.S. military operations has the effect of removing the shared experience by the American public, of a “national force in which citizens see the consequences of war illustrated by departing troops in uniforms and flag-draped coffins
The Final Call May 24, 2012
According to World Political Review (WPR), “U.S. contractors will train three quarters of the 18,000 African Union troops deployed to Somalia, and the U.S. government has spent $550 million over the past several years on training and equipment.”
Contracting out U.S. military operations has the effect of removing the shared experience by the American public, of a “national force in which citizens see the consequences of war illustrated by departing troops in uniforms and flag-draped coffins,” according to sociologist Katherine McCoy, writing in the 2009 issue of Contexts magazine
“The use of private, mostly foreign troops externalizes the costs of war because contractors don’t leave the same impression on the public conscience.” For this reason foreign contractors are sometimes used for “high-risk” or “high-visibility” combat roles.
Doug Brooks, an expert on the private military industry and president of the International Stability Operations Association, appears to agree. “A lot of people see the use of contractors as a way of avoiding democratic accountability or a way of undermining democracy,” he said to WPR
He also said contracting helps avoid “an issue (that might come up) in the election,” where you’d never get U.S. support, such as sending troops into Somalia. In 1993 the infamous “Black Hawk Down” incident occurred, in which, 18 U.S. troops were killed in Mogadishu, then Somalia’s capital. “Sending troops to Somalia has not been an option,” Brooks said.
While American casualties might make headlines and political waves, the same is not true of “captured or killed foreign contractors, McCoy said. According to McCoy, these are the “hidden casualties of war.”
MENAFN – Jordan Times May 24, 2012
The Jordan Armed Forces on Wednesday said Israeli troops will work on removing anti-tank mines in the land opposite Al Rabei area in Deir Alla in Balqa Governorate on Thursday.
The mine clearance will be carried out from 8:00am to 7:00pm, according to a source from the JAF, who noted that Jordan has requested that Israelis abide by the amounts of explosives previously agreed on during demining operations.
The government decided that contractors are eligible for public honor as civilians, through awards such as the Defense of Freedom Medal. This is described as the “civilian equivalent” of a Purple Heart, as both require the recipient to have been injured or killed. But the contractor is honored as victim; not hero.
While this Medal is available the majority of injured contractors will not receive it
David Isenberg at Huffington Post May 24, 2012
Please see David’s blog The Isenberg Institute of Strategic Satire
How should one recognize an act on the battlefield that gets you wounded? If you are a soldier, marine, sailor or airman the answer is easy; you get a Purple Heart. That medal, originally created by General George Washington, is awarded to U.S. soldiers wounded by the enemy in combat. It was ordered by the Continental Congress to stop giving commissions or promotions, since the Congress could not afford the extra pay these entailed, so Washington drew up orders for a Badge of Military Merit made of purple cloth. In 1782 he directed that “whenever any singularly meritorious action is performed, the author of it shall be permitted to wear on his facings, over his left breast, the figure of a heart in purple cloth or silk edged with narrow lace or binding.”
In short, Washington gave cloth because he could not give money. But if you are a private contractor and you get wounded you don’t get a Purple Heart. You, hopefully, will get medical care and benefits which your employer is required, at least theoretically, to provide under the Defense Base Act.
To Mateo Taussig-Rubbo, a professor at the State University of New York, Buffalo Law School this raises the question as to whether they are forms of value which can be substituted one for the other.
In an essay he wrote, “Value of Valor: Money, Medals and Military Labor,” published earlier this year he explores the divide between money and medals. This raises interesting questions about motivation.
Reuters May 24, 2012
Gunmen in Afghanistan are demanding money for the release of five aid workers, including two Western women doctors, held in remote mountains and authorities have opened negotiations in the hope of freeing them, an investigator said on Thursday.
The aid workers employed by Swiss-based aid group Medair were making their way from Faizabad city in rugged northeast Badakhshan province on Tuesday to visit flood-stricken areas when they were abducted about half-way to their destination.
“All five aid workers have been carried to the mountainous district of Shahr-e Bozorg and they are keeping them there,” said Sakhidad Haidari, the senior police detective for the remote province.
“We have found their position and we are in negotiation, but that process has not reached any conclusion yet,” Haidari said.
The kidnapping of foreigners has become relatively common in parts of Afghanistan since U.S-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban government in 2001, heralding a 10-year anti-insurgent war.
In 2010, 10 foreign medical workers, including six Americans, were killed in Badakhshan in an attack blamed on insurgents.
Haidari said the gunmen in the latest incident were thought to belong to kidnap and criminal groups who were taking advantage of the difficult terrain and the loose grip on the area of Afghan security forces.
“I don’t think that they have any connection with the Taliban or other insurgent groups,” Haidari said.
Associated Press at MSN News Center May 24, 2012
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) – Danish shipper A.P. Moller-Maersk says armed guards have thwarted a pirate attack on one of its U.S.-flagged cargo ships in the Gulf of Oman.
The Copenhagen-headquartered company says “multiple pirate skiffs” headed toward the 488-feet (148-meter) long Maersk Texas on Wednesday, despite receiving “clear warning signals” from guards onboard.
The pirates opened fire on the ship, and guards returned fire, eventually forcing the pirates to abandon their attack.
No one was injured in the incident and the ship continued on its voyage to the U.S. No other details were immediately available Thursday.
Somali pirates have been increasing their range, but attacks around the vital oil lanes near the Strait of Hormuz remain relatively rare.
The Oregonian May 22, 2012
U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden is calling for the Department of Defense to investigate “excessive” expenses of the legal team of defense contractor Kellogg, Brown and Root, granted special indemnity for its contract in Iraq.
Wyden’s sharply worded letter sent Wednesday to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta comes after recent investigations into KBR’s legal team uncovered costs that included attorneys bills of $750 per hour, numerous first-class flights and paying one expert more than $500,000 for testimony and consultation who admitted billing for time spent sleeping.
A lawsuit against KBR was brought by a group of Oregon Army National Guard assigned to provide security in 2003 for KBR personnel claims KBR management knew that the soldiers were being exposed to carcinogenic chemicals while working at a water treatment plant in Qarmat Ali.
The Pentagon legally covers dozens of military contractors doing dangerous jobs at home, such as making anthrax vaccine or disposing of mustard gas. The details of the immunity emerged in 2010 in a court case in Portland. It releases KBR from all financial liability for misconduct and allows KBR to pass all legal costs to the U.S. government.
“Essentially, KBR was handed a blank check with the Pentagon’s signature, and it seems clear to me that they intend to run up the bill as much as possible before cashing that check,” Wyden wrote in the letter.
Under KBR’s contract, the government has the ability to direct KBR’s legal defense and require it to settle with Oregon Guard, according to Wyden
Law Offices of Scott J Bloch May 23, 2012
WASHINGTON, DC (May 23, 2012) – Blackwater Industries, which changed its name to Xe Services, and now has changed it yet again to Academi LLC, lost its initial bid to have the $240 million suit for employee misclassification sent to arbitration and dismissed from federal court in Washington, D.C.
Scott Bloch filed an amended complaint (see link above) in the class action lawsuit on behalf of four former security specialists, who were injured while working for Blackwater, in order to recover their payment of social security, unemployment insurance, and unpaid benefits and state and local withholding and unemployment insurance, and other unspecified damages. The action seeks $240,000,000 in damages for lost benefits, overtime, treble damages and punitive damages, as well as additional amounts as proved for the class of specialists.
The court has rejected that motion filed by Blackwater and required it to file another motion to determine if the same Plaintiffs agreed to have an arbitrator determine if the agreements were unconscionable, procured by duress, fraud and undue influence.
“Blackwater acted illegally and unconscionably toward these brave individuals,” said Bloch. ”Through their fraud as pointed out in the Amended Complaint, they avoided overtime for security workers who worked sometimes 12-16 hours a day 6 days a week. They were forced to sign agreements they never read and were not given time to read and not given copies, which took away valuable rights and were unlawful in their terms. Now the court has rejected their initial motion and required Blackwater to seek the same relief if they can prove that the Plaintiffs who never were allowed to read the original agreements agreed to have an arbitrator determine whether they properly agreed to anything. We continue to assert the illegality of the agreements and the actions of Blackwater.”
N.J. man is awarded $50.4M after claiming he was cheated out of money from Afghanistan and Iraq construction
New Jersey .com Morristown May 22, 2012
A judge in Morristown has awarded $50.4 million to a Livingston businessman who says he was cheated out of his share of proceeds from reconstruction work in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Lawrence Longhi, 76, sued his former partner, Khaled Monawar, 35, a former East Hanover resident and nephew of a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, who he says invited him to join a construction venture as a project facilitator and agreed to pay him one-third of their proceeds from a partnership that involved two other companies.
Monawar has not responded to Longhi’s lawsuit and was judged in default in 2010.
Under the order issued by Superior Court Judge Stephan Hansbury, Monawar must pay Longhi $8.4 million in compensatory damages and $42 million in punitive damages.
Hansbury said $42 million was the maximum amount allowed and called it “appropriate” because Monawar “has simply turned his back to these accusations and provided no attempt to explain the failure to honor the various obligations.”