Posted : Friday Jun 29, 2012 13:05:27 EDT
Volatile security conditions have forced the State Department to continue to employ a large number of contractors to protect personnel in Iraq after the shift from a military to civilian-led mission, several senior federal officials told a House committee Thursday.
“It is accurate our personnel have security concerns,” said Mara Rudman, U.S Agency for International Development assistant administrator for the bureau for the Middle East. Rudman spoke at a hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s national security subcommittee. “The security environment in Iraq is improving but is still not a normal security environment.”
The last American troops left Iraq in December, but the U.S. maintains a large presence in the country.
There are 16,000 personnel in Iraq employed by the State Department and other agencies, said Patrick F. Kennedy, undersecretary for management in the State Department. About 14,000 are contractors from the U.S. or other countries who take part in daily missions such as security for personnel and air transport of supplies and people in need of medical care.
About 6,500 of those 14,000 contractors are responsible for the security of American personnel in Iraq, Kennedy said. The high number is needed because of the still-volatile security situation in Iraq.
About 120 civilian workers at Fort Lewis will vote today whether to join Local 286 of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE). For the past six months, however, the workers’ employer—General Dynamics—has required them to attend meetings on the base that hammer home the message: unions are bad.
Among the faults cited by the defense contractor is the claim that if the employees vote to unionize, General Dynamics will lose its Stryker combat vehicle deal with the Army. The company received $19 billion in government contracts last year.
According to a story by Mike Elk of In These Times, the Army offered no comment and “has not taken a position on these meetings nor the claims that the workers voting to join a union would make them less attractive to the Army.”
One worker, former Marine Jason Croic, who now works at Fort Lewis, said “it’s bullshit the way they [General Dynamics] are talking to us,” adding: “You think when it’s prior military veterans who have done their part, they wouldn’t do this kind of thing to us.”
The Shooter- Ricky Elder, Ranger- PTSD
Stars and Stripes July 15, 2012
In October 2006, Elder deployed to Iraq. Nine months later, medical records show, he was working as a gunner on a Humvee when it was hit by a roadside bomb. The explosion threw Elder out of the turret, causing him to lose consciousness momentarily. His buddy died in the blast.
According to medical documents, the doctors who examined the then 22-year-old Elder shortly after the blast found that he suffered from post-concussion amnesia, as well as “irritability, dizziness, visual disturbance and ringing in his ears.”
Afterward, at Elder’s request, he was allowed to go to the morgue to see the body of his friend who had died.
“Patient crying heavily. Heard saying in heavy tears, ‘I don’t want to live anymore,’ ” a doctor wrote in a narrative summary.
After he was returned to his room, the summary says, Elder became “instantly agitated after crying on bed” and struck a bulletproof window so hard that it shattered the glass.
Updated 6 pm
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) — One soldier from the 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade is dead and two others are wounded following a shooting incident June 28, 2012.
During a unit safety brief a Soldier shot another member of the unit and then turned the weapon on himself. The shooter was injured and is in custody. A third Soldier who was in the area was also slightly wounded in the shooting.
“This is a tragedy for our community. We don’t yet know the reasons for the shooting, but are working with the unit and the affected Families to help them through this difficult period,” said Col. Kevin Arata, XVIII Airborne Corps and Fort Bragg Public Affairs Officer.
ABC News June 28, 2012
FORT BRAGG, NC (WTVD) — Fort Bragg law enforcement said it is responding to a shooting incident on-post that occurred at about 3:30 p.m.
Officials urged drivers and pedestrians to avoid the historic district of Fort Bragg until further notice.
The historic district is an area near Knox Street close to the 18th Airborne Headquarters and FORSCOM near the heart of Fort Bragg.
Officials did not immediately release more information. Sources told ABC11 that an officer was shot during a formation. The officer’s condition was not known.
The Washington Post June 28, 2012
United Technologies, a major defense contractor, and two of its subsidiaries on Thursday acknowledged covering up the illicit sale of sensitive military software to China — technology that the country later used to develop its first attack helicopter.
Federal prosecutors announced criminal charges against the firms and a fine of more than $75 million for what they called a violation of U.S. export laws. Justice officials said the software sold to China posed a risk to American troops overseas and U.S. allies.
“The Justice Department will spare no effort to hold accountable those who compromise U.S. national security for the sake of profits and then lie about it to the government,” Lisa Monaco, the assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement.
Connecticut-based United Technologies, which reported net sales of $58 billion in 2011, will pay the fine, along with Pratt & Whitney Canada and Hamilton Sundstrand Corp., as part of a settlement for lying to the government and delaying their disclosures about the illegal exports, officials said.
The EEOC granted a former Ronco Consulting Employee and American Injured War Zone Contractor the Right to Sue under the Americans with Disabilities Act after investigating the complaint.
The Americans with Disabilities Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities.
Even those who were disabled due to the negligence of the company in question.
James Wasserstrom, an American diplomat, was fired and then detained by UN police after raising suspicions of corruption
The Guardian June 27, 2012
A landmark case brought by a former United Nations employee against the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has cast light on what activists describe as a pervasive culture of impunity in an organisation where whistleblowers are given minimal protection from reprisals.
James Wasserstrom, a veteran American diplomat, was sacked and then detained by UN police, who ransacked his flat, searched his car and put his picture on a wanted poster after he raised suspicions in 2007 about corruption in the senior ranks of the UN mission in Kosovo (Unmik).
The UN’s dispute tribunal has ruled that the organisation’s ethics office failed to protect Wasserstrom against such reprisals from his bosses, and that the UN’s mechanisms for dealing with whistleblowers were “fundamentally flawed”, to the extent the organisation had failed to protect the basic rights of its own employees.
The case was directed against Ban as being directly responsible for the actions of the ethics office.
Of the 297 cases where whistleblowers complained of retaliation for trying to expose wrongdoing inside the UN, the ethics office fully sided with the complainant just once in six years, according to the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a watchdog organisation in Washington.
Oregon Live June 26, 2012
It’s not clear who’s going to pay legal costs for defense contractor KBR Inc., which is being sued by National Guard soldiers who accuse the company of knowingly exposing them to a carcinogen.
While the company persuaded the Army Corps of Engineers to write an indemnification clause into its 2003 contract to restore the flow of Iraq’s oil, the Corps has twice refused KBR’s request to cover its costs in the two lawsuits proceeding against it in Oregon and Texas.
Lawyers for KBR say they believe the company is entitled to have its expenses covered by taxpayers but is proceeding through the litigation in the meantime at its own risk and expense, said Geoffrey Harrison of the Houston firm of Susman, Godfrey. The company expects to challenge the Corps’ denial “maybe at the end of the case,” he said.
Iraq Business News June 27, 2012
Hans Nijkamp, the head of Shell‘s operations in Iraq, has highlighted the success in removing explosive remnants of war (ERW) at the Majnoon oilfield, in which Shell has a 45% stake.
Speaking at CWC‘s Iraq Petroleum 2012 conference in London last week, Nijkamp said that more than 12 million square metres had been cleared so far, and work was proceeding at a rate of around 70,000 m2 per day.
Over 250 staff from 4 different contractors were involved in the operation, and well over 13,000 items have been removed and disposed of through controlled demolition by the Iraqi Army. The largest single item was a 500 kg explosive.
Shell’s other partners in the Majnoon venture are Petronas (30% share) and the Missan Oil Company, representing the Iraqi State (25% share).
Associated Press June 26, 2012
Landmines planted by al-Qaida militants before they fled key southern Yemen strongholds have killed 73 civilians over the past week, Yemeni officials said Tuesday.
Engineering teams have removed some 3,000 land mines around Zinjibar and Jaar, according to the governor’s office in Abyan province.
Government troops captured both towns in a two-month offensive to uproot al-Qaida fighters from large swaths of land they captured during last year’s political turmoil. Mines left behind killed 73 residents, the officials said.
The body of an Oklahoma contractor who was found dead in Baghdad is being flown back to the U.S. after a two-week bureaucratic debate over whether the Iraqi government would perform an autopsy on his remains.
Tulsa World June26, 2012
Officials say Michael David Copeland, 37, of Colbert in southern Oklahoma, is one of the first Americans working for the U.S. government to die in Iraq this year. He was found unresponsive June 9 in his living quarters. Foul play is not suspected in his death.
Copeland previously served in the Marines and later with the Oklahoma Air National Guard. He was a contractor with DynCorp International at the time of his death.
Copeland’s case is a snapshot of the new reality of working in Iraq for Americans who, over the years, were accustomed to vast privileges and influence that disappeared when U.S. troops left last December.
Iraq agreed to release the remains of the Oklahoma man after negotiations with the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. His body was flown out of Iraq Tuesday afternoon.
Arabian Business June 26, 2012
Dubai-based military contractor Anham has won a contract worth an estimated US $8.1bn to provide food to US troops serving in Afghanistan.
Anham will succeed present contractor Supreme Foodservice after it became embroiled in a billing dispute with the Pentagon.
“We have a long track record of conducting large-scale, successful operations in the most demanding conditions,” said Anham in a statement. “Whether it is our support of the US troops and state department in Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan or the US army in Afghanistan, we deliver the best services on time and within budget.”
The present contract with Supreme Foodservice was inked in 2005, costing the US government nearly US$6.8bn.
This year, however, payments to Supreme Foodservice have been reduced, following claims by the Pentagon that they have overpaid the supplier by US$750m.
The New York Times Africa June 25, 2012
The release by NATO of a list of unexploded munitions from the alliance’s military action in Libya has been both welcomed as a step toward postconflict accountability and criticized as a half-measure that falls short of protecting civilians and specialists trying to rid the country of its hazards.
The United Nations said this month that NATO, in an exchange not publicly disclosed, had shared details of 313 possible sites of unexploded ordnance from the alliance’s action against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s government last year. The alliance provided the latitude and longitude for each site, the weight of the ordnance and a description of the means of delivery (fixed-wing aircraft, helicopter gunship or naval vessel).
With the widespread use of sophisticated targeting sensors, with which aircrews record infrared video of the impact of a missile or bomb, air forces have a greater capacity than ever to know exactly where weapons struck and when they have failed to function properly. Such data is routinely gathered as part of what militaries call battle damage assessment. It is used to determine whether a target has been destroyed or should be hit again, and to assess the reliability and effectiveness of various missiles and bombs.
The data also presents options for humanitarian and cleanup efforts. When shared, it can allow for governments and mine-clearing organizations to alert residents of specific risks at specific places, and to focus efforts on removing high-explosive remnants of war. Its existence also suggests an opening for Western militaries to adopt a new standard for responsibility in air campaigns.
For these reasons, the United Nations, which had asked NATO for the data last year, welcomed the list, even though it contained limited information.
The Virginian Pilot June 25, 2012
Academi plans to build a 235-bed lodge at its Moyock, N.C.,-based compound with plans to expand operations where it trains military and law enforcement personnel how to shoot better under stress, protect officials from terrorist attacks, and storm criminal hideouts, among other things.
The $3.2 million lodge is the largest expansion of facilities on the 7,000-acre compound in at least four years. It comes after a tumultuous period during which the company name changed twice and management rolled over.
Formerly known as Blackwater, Academi is the largest taxpayer in Camden County. With about 250 workers on site, it also is the largest private employer in the county, where most its facilities are based.
G4S Driver Steals GBN 1.5 million June 23, 2012
Plovdiv. 33-year-old driver of armoured cash transport car in Plovdiv stole BGN 1.5 million.
The man was declared for a nationwide search. Yesterday at 14.25 in the First Regional Police Department was received a signal that there was an abandoned security van on Petrova Niva Str. During the investigative activities has been established that there were about BGN 1,5 million in a different currency missing from the car owned by a private security firm. Driver of the cash transport car George Enev (33) from the town of Plovdiv is suspected of committing the offense. In connection with the search police presence in Plovdiv is stepped up. Police stop vehicles and check IDs.
The inspection of the vehicle found that it is owned by a private security firm G4S. Clients of the security firm headquartered in England, are Governments, banks, insurance companies, industrial companies, commercial companies, public institutions and private individuals.
Last year, Danny Fitzsimons, a G4S ArmorGroup security guard in Iraq was convicted of shooting and killing two G4S colleagues, after a Baghdad bar fight. His family insisted he suffered from post-traumatic stress from an earlier stint in Iraq as a British paratrooper, and was so unstable, G4S ArmorGroup should never have hired him.
The Edmonton Journal June 22, 2012
After last week’s triple homicide at the University of Alberta’s HUB Mall, that ancient question has haunting relevance.
Armoured car guards Michelle Shegelski, Brian Ilesic, Eddie Rejano, and their wounded colleague, Matthew Schuman, were employees of G4S Secure Solutions, the world’s largest private security company.
So was Travis Baumgartner, 21, now charged with shooting them. Over the last few days, G4S has repeatedly asked Edmontonians to donate to a trust fund the firm established for the victims’ families. G4S won’t say how much, if anything, it is contributing.
It’s a lovely gesture to create a trust to accommodate a spontaneous outpouring of community generosity. But for the world’s second-largest employer, a firm with 657,200 staff in more than 125 countries, to launch a corporate fundraising campaign, without leading by example, is little short of offensive.
According to G4S’s 2011 annual report, last year it had revenues of about $12 billion, and profits of about $317 million. It’s part of the security-industrial complex that ballooned after 9/11. The Anglo-Danish multinational doesn’t just guard bank deliveries. Cash security is just 17 per cent of its global business.
In Australia, G4S was hired to provide detention services for refugee claimants and prisoners, with disturbing results. In 2007, the Western Australia Human Rights Commission concluded G4S drivers locked detainees in a scorching van without food or drink, leaving one man so dehydrated one drank his own urine. G4S was ordered to pay a $500,000 fine. In 2008, an aboriginal man in G4S custody of died of heat stroke after being driven through the desert in a metal pod behind a prisoner van. It was so hot inside, the man was severely burned, where his skin touched the metal floor. G4S was fined $285,000.
Are such controversies relevant to the HUB tragedy? A transnational conglomerate can’t be held responsible for the alleged actions of one employee among 657,000. And no psychological screening process in the world can infallibly predict human behaviour. Yet this tragedy, fundamentally, is about one G4S employee accused of shooting four others. In a world where governments increasingly contract out police, prison and quasi-military services to for-profit companies, it’s worth asking how we ensure these guns-for-hire are fit to carry them and how we hold a corporation accountable when things go wrong.
Tom Boyle, Civilian Contractor, Highly Decorated Marine, Heroic Former Police Officer Killed in Afghanistan
CBS Chicago June 22, 2012
Tom Boyle, 62, of Barrington Hills died in one of the latest attacks on a coalition forces in Kandahar Province. He’d been working as a civilian security consultant, training Afghan police officers.
He was well-qualified.
Boyle had been a highly decorated Marine in Vietnam before becoming a Chicago police officer.
“Tom was a hero in Vietnam, he was a hero in Chicago,” says longtime friend Steve Kirby, an Elmhurst private investigator. “He was a hero in 1985 when he caught the Strickland brothers.”