Will ArmorGroup, AGNA, G4S, finally be held accountable for the deaths of Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare??
The programme-makers heard stories of contractors being forced to work on dangerous missions with inadequate equipment, incident reports sanitised to protect company reputations and numerous deaths of former soldiers.
One security contractor, Bob Shepherd, said: “We know when a soldier dies it’s all over the newspapers, it’s on the TV. But we never know when security contractors die.
“For the companies it’s bad for business, for the government it’s hiding the true cost of these conflicts.
“If the British taxpayers knew the total numbers of people that have died on behalf of British security companies in places like Iraq and Afghanistan they would be shocked.”
BBC News Oct 1, 2012
Security firm G4S was sent warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq just days before he murdered two colleagues, a BBC investigation has found.
Private security guard Paul McGuigan, from the Scottish Borders, was shot dead by Danny Fitzsimons in 2009 in Baghdad while on a protection contract.
Another man, Australian Darren Hoare, was also killed.
All were working for UK contractor G4S, which was operating under the name ArmorGroup in the region.
In a BBC documentary, it is revealed that a G4S worker sent a series of emails to the company in London, warning them about Fitzsimons’s previous convictions and unstable behaviour.
The anonymous whistleblower signed one email “a concerned member of the public and father”.
The worker warned G4S: “I am alarmed that he will shortly be allowed to handle a weapon and be exposed to members of the public.
“I am speaking out because I feel that people should not be put at risk.”
Another email, sent as Fitzsimons was due to start work in Baghdad, said: “Having made you aware of the issues regarding the violent criminal Danny Fitzsimons, it has been noted that you have not taken my advice and still choose to employ him in a position of trust.
“I have told you that he remains a threat and you have done nothing.”
Within 36 hours of arriving in Iraq in August 2009, Fitzsimons – a former paratrooper – had shot and killed the two men after what he claimed was a drunken brawl.
An Iraqi colleague was also wounded as Fitzsimons tried to flee the scene.
Fitzsimons had worked as a private security contractor before in Iraq, but he had been sacked for punching a client.
At the time he was taken on by G4S, Fitzsimons also had a criminal record, was facing outstanding charges of assault and a firearms offence, and had been diagnosed by doctors as having PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
In the documentary, the parents of Paul McGuigan call for the company to face criminal charges over the killing.
His mother Corinne Boyd-Russell, from Innerleithen in the Borders, said: “[Fitzsimons] fired the bullets. But the gun was put in his hand by G4S ArmorGroup. They put the gun in that man’s hand.
“I want G4S to be charged with corporate manslaughter and be held accountable for what they did.”
The parents of Danny Fitzsimons, who is serving 20 years in a Baghdad prison after being sentenced for the murders in February 2011, were also shocked to hear about the existence of the emails.
Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “And they still took him out there? They [G4S] need to be taken to task for that.
“The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”
A G4S spokesman admitted that its screening of Danny Fitzsimons “was not completed in line with the company’s procedures”.
It said vetting had been tightened since the incident.
Regarding the email warnings, the spokesman G4S told the BBC it was aware of the allegations but that an internal investigation showed “no such emails were received by any member of our HR department”.
He did not say whether anyone else in the company had seen them.
An inquest into the death of Paul McGuigan, a former Royal Marine, is due to begin in December.
The revelations in the Fitzsimons case come just weeks after G4S found itself at the centre of a crisis over its inability to meet its commitment to recruit security staff for the Olympics in London.
It is the biggest security company in the world in an industry that is worth about £400bn globally
WARNINGS ABOUT KILLER OF SCOT WENT UNHEEDED October 1, 2012
CONTROVERSIAL security firm G4S ignored warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq who went on to murder two of his colleagues, it has been claimed.
It emerged that a whistleblower sent two e-mails to the London-based company, which operates as Armorgroup in Iraq, expressing concerns that Fitzsimons’ unstable behaviour made him unsuitable to be handling weapons in a war zone.
The parents of Fitzsimons were also shocked to hear about the existence of the e-mails.
Mother Liz Fitzsimons, from Manchester, said: “The people who we feel are responsible, who we hold responsible for putting that gun in Danny’s hand, are without a shadow of a doubt G4S.”
The news comes just months after the UK Government was forced to call in 1,200 troops to police the Olympic Games venues after G4S failed to provide enough staff.
The firm recently won a £20million contract to manage the electronic tagging of Scottish offenders.
A spokesman for G4S said: “Although there was evidence that Mr Fitzsimons falsified and apparently withheld material information during the recruitment process, his screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.
“Our screening processes should have been better implemented in this situation, but it is a matter of speculation what, if any, role this may have played in the incident.”
while three other U.S. citizens and one Afghan were wounded, police spokesman Wali Mohammad said on Sunday.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Two Americans and three Afghan soldiers died in a firefight that may have involved insurgent forces, the International Security Assistance Force said Sunday.
One of the U.S. deaths was a soldier; the other, a civilian, U.S. officials said.
A NATO soldier, a NATO civilian contractor and several Afghan soldiers were killed by an Afghan soldier on Saturday in eastern Afghanistan, the latest in growing number of the so-called “green-on-blue” insider attacks in the country, the NATO said Sunday.
“An International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service member and an ISAF civilian contractor died following a suspected insider attack in eastern Afghanistan yesterday,” the NATO-led coalition or ISAF said in a statement.
“It is also known that there were Afghan National Army (ANA) casualties,” it said, adding “a joint ANA and ISAF assessment is underway.”
The brief statement did not disclose the nationalities of the victims and the exact place of the incident under ISAF policy.
Troops mainly from U.S. have been stationed within the 100,000 strong NATO-led ISAF forces in eastern Afghan provinces.
Now that the London Olympics are receding into memory and the world has moved on to other pressing sports issues, like substitute NFL referees, the time is right to look back and ask one very important question; namely, just how badly did G4S screw up?
You remember G4S, don’t you? That is the British private security company that was unable to provide enough guards for the Summer Games and failed to disclose its problems in the buildup to the event. Its performance was so bad that the British got mad at Mitt Romney back in July when he, in one of his rare absolutely honest statements, indirectly mentioned its obvious lack of readiness.
As it turns out, the most charitable thing one can say is that G4 did badly, very badly. Others, such as British Members of Parliament would be much harsher. As evidence, consider the newly released report put out by the British Parliament’s Home Affairs Committee. In the conclusion the report states:
Reports commissioned by LOCOG [London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games] in the months preceding the Games indicated clearly that there were problems with G4S’s recruitment, training and communications. They also found that the management information presented to LOCOG by G4S were fundamentally unreliable. G4S, meanwhile, continued to insist that it was in a position to deliver its contract. Although Mr Buckles [G4 CEO] claims to have acted on all the relevant recommendations, the final outcome suggests that the changes to the data G4S were reporting to LOCOG were more presentational than substantial. The data were at best unreliable, if not downright misleading, and the most senior personnel in the company must take full responsibility for this.
To paraphrase what King Henry the Young said of Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th century, will no one rid me of this turbulent company?
This, by the way, was not some unfortunate confluence of events that nobody could anticipate; a perfect storm, as it were. There were many warning signs. For example:
It seems that the penny finally dropped with G4S management on 3 July, when Mr Taylor-Smith [Chief Operating Officer of G4] telephoned Mr Buckles to inform him there would be a shortfall of staff. Mr Buckles was on holiday at the time, which suggests that this was something more than a routine call. But Mr Buckles did not mention the scale of the problem to the Home Secretary when he spoke to her on 6 July, the same day on which Mr Horseman-Sewell was boasting recklessly in the press that G4S would have been more than capable of simultaneously delivering multiple Olympic security projects around the world. Neither did Mr Buckles disclose the scale of the problem when he met the Home Secretary on 10 July. It is clear that by this stage the Home Office had realised that something might be seriously amiss, as Charles Farr [Director-General of the Office for Security and Counter-Terrorism at the Home Office and Chair of the Olympic Security Board] had already begun to put contingency plans into place. But it is astonishing that G4S took a further week to tell its partners how bad things were.
G4S’s debacle was far more than a black eye just for G4S. It set back the entire security industry in the United Kingdom.
Unknown Senator blocks bill; costing disabled veterans up to $500 next year
Our guess, and it’s only a guess is Johnny Isakson
Bergmann and Moore September 27, 2012
After passing the House of Representatives, the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) increase for VA benefits was blocked in the Senate by an unknown Senator, according to Senate staffers who alerted Bergmann & Moore.
The Veterans COLA affects a number of key benefits for veterans: disability compensation, pension as well as survivor benefits. The uncontroversial bill adjusts VA benefits to keep up with inflation and easily passes Congress each year.
Paul Sullivan, a Gulf War veteran and Director of Veterans Outreach for Bergmann & Moore, LLC, a law firm concentrating on VA disability law, said, “This secret hold is unconscionable: it will take up to $500 next year out of the wallets of disabled veterans and their families: money they need to pay their rent and put food on the table for their children.”
According to a statement this afternoon from Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, blocking the bill will reduce benefits starting in January for 3.9 million veterans and their survivors.
StockMarketWire.com September 27, 2012
Goldman Sachs downgrades G4S from sell to conviction sell, target price cut from 264p to 231p
Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal Association, Charleston Local Chapter 6, is hosting the fourth annual EOD Charity Golf Tournament Oct. 6 at the Shadowmoss Golf Plantation in Charleston.
For more information or to participate, contact Tuck LeBree at email@example.com.
Melbourne-based Atom Airways caters to private contractors’ comfortable traveling to Afghanistan
The flight from the United States to Afghanistan is long and, more often than not, boring and uncomfortable.
Dan Carson, founder of Atom Airways LLC, aims to change that.
Next month he plans to offer weekly flights from Melbourne International Airport to Afghanistan, focusing on transporting private contractors to the war-torn country on an upgraded wide-body Boeing 767. Carson wants to tap into defense contractors in Brevard County and across the U.S just as they start to play a bigger role in security and rebuilding efforts in Afghanistan
The flights would leave Melbourne International, stop briefly in Bucharest, Romania, and travel into Afghanistan and land at one of four airports in that country. The goal is to pamper the passengers and ensure they’re well-rested and fresh when they land, because typically contractors go right to work after clearing security.
“There is a pent-up demand for this,” said Carson, 69, a longtime commercial pilot and Indialantic resident who since 2005 has flown private contractors into Iraq.
According to the Defense Department, there were 113,491 employees of defense contractors in Afghanistan in January. Of those, 25,287, or about 22 percent, were American citizens, according to a report earlier this year in the New York Times.
Most of the major defense contractors in Brevard County have employees in Afghanistan, though they prefer for security reasons not to mention locations or itineraries.
“Melbourne is an excellent airport to come into and fly out of,” Carson said. “While there is limited service here, you can fly into Orlando from anywhere in the United States and then make the short drive to Melbourne.”
The flight from Melbourne International to Bucharest takes 9½ hours. From Bucharest, it’s about another five hours to Afghanistan
The 24-year-old aircraft, last used by the Australian-based air carrier Qantas, has been modified to make traveling more comfortable. The jet’s 206 seats have been reduced to 150 seats to give the passengers in coach class more legroom.
Passengers also will be provided with pillows, blankets, iPads loaded with games, DVD players, movies and food from Chantilly, Va.-based Rudy’s Inflight Catering.
“They can sleep whenever they want and they can eat whenever they want,” Carson said. “They have a real nice comfortable ride, which is good for them.”
Atom’s jet is owned by EL Management LLC, a Miami-based private investment company that purchases and leases aircraft, and also sells parts for aircraft.
The first flight from Melbourne to Afghanistan is scheduled for Oct. 12. Carson won’t say how many people have booked flights but indicated its fewer than the 150 available seats. That’s partially on purpose, he said, so he and the flight staff can work out any kinks in the operation.
Marcie Hascall Clark, whose husband was a civilian contractor seriously wounded in Iraq, likes the idea behind Atom Airways. Clark operates a support group and website called “Civilian Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“It’s a long flight and most of the time you have to spend a couple of days in Dubai,” said Clark, who lives in Satellite Beach and blogs about civilian contracting issues.
“Contracting over there probably is going to stay lucrative for some years to come, so he should be in a good position to continue,” she said.
Carson, who previously ran flights for the U.S. State Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also hopes to fold a tourism charter business into Atom’s strategic plan, which would involve bringing Eastern Europeans to Central Florida and vice versa, since Bucharest is a key leg of the route.
In Melbourne, the company has 25 employees and plans to ramp up a sales and marketing and operations staff of 200 during the next two years and lease office space at Melbourne International.
Currently the most common way to get to Afghanistan on a non-military flight is to fly to Dubai on Delta Air Lines or United Airlines from a major U.S. airport. From there, a traveler usually has to choose from a list of foreign commercial carriers like Air Arabia or Pakistan International Airlines.
Atom’s round trip cost to Afghanistan is $3,850 for coach and $5,250 for business class. The fares are higher than other airlines but Carson said Atom allows modifications up to 48 hours prior to takeoff without penalties.
With the other airlines, those penalties can run into the thousands of dollars if last-minute scheduling changes are needed, Carson said.
As a civilian contractor you will be denied early treatment by the defense base act insurance company.
David Woods The Huffington Post September 20, 2012
WASHINGTON — Almost a quarter million American troops diagnosed with traumatic brain injury are at risk of developing a degenerative disease that causes bursts of anger and depression and can lead to memory loss, difficulty walking and speaking, paranoia and suicide, according to military researchers.
At present, medical officials cannot diagnose or prevent the disease, called Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, and there is no known treatment for it, said Army Col. Dallas Hack, director of the Army’s Combat Casualty Care Research Program.
But researchers are hot on the trail of new procedures to detect and diagnose the disease, and there is hope that early detection of brain injury among troops exposed to blasts from improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan could prevent them from falling victim to CTE.
“We don’t fully understand the incidence of CTE with the occurrence of traumatic brain injury,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Randall McCafferty, chief of neurosurgery at the San Antonio Military Medical Center. “But we may be able to learn that early treatment of the initial acute [brain] injury may avoid this cascade from brain injury to CTE.”
Defpro September 20, 2012
American Science and Engineering Inc., Billerica, Mass., was awarded a $20,799,851 firm-fixed-price contract.
The award will provide for the contractor logistic support services to the Government of Iraq.
Work will be performed in Iraq, with an estimated completion date of Sept. 9, 2013
One bid was solicited, with one bid received. The U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., is the contracting activity
The Voice of Russia September 18, 2012
A Kyrgyz national died in a terrorist attack in Afghanistan earlier today, according to the Russian Embassy in Kabul.
The authorities are now checking up on the number of those injured.
Permission was obtained from their families.
Christian Johannes Justus PRETORIUS, aged 30, Pretoria, Gauteng
Fraser Angus CAREY, aged 31, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Brandon Quinn BOOTH, aged 47 , Balgowan, KwaZulu-Natal
Johan Abraham VAN HUYSSTEEN, aged 31, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
Johan Frederick BOUCHAUD, aged 30, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Johannes Judenis HUMPHRIES, aged 65, Centurion, Gauteng
Steven LEONG, aged 31, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Jenny Margaret AYRIS,aged 46, Scotland, United Kingdom
We remember them, we mourn their passing and we will never forget them. Rest in Peace. SHOUT
SOUTH AFRICAN born Jeni Ayris, who lived in Edinburgh, was killed in the blast in Kabul.
The Daily Record September 19, 2012
A WOMAN who was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan was due to return home this week.
Jeni Ayris, 46, who was born in South Africa but held a British passport, died in the blast in the capital, Kabul, yesterday, when a female insurgent drove a car full of explosives into a minibus carrying mainly foreign workers.
Her friend, Kirsten Bennett, from the Isle of Mull, said Ms Ayris was expected to return to Edinburgh this weekend.
Ms Ayris worked as a customer relations manager for South African aviation company ACS/BalmOral.
In a statement, the firm said: “ACS/BalmOral is deeply saddened by the loss of the lives of some of our staff in Kabul, Afghanistan, due to a suicide bombing attack that occurred on September 18.
“We are in the process of notifying the next of kin and our main focus now remains with the families of the innocent victims who tragically lost their lives. Our prayers and thoughts are with them and all our staff remaining in Kabul.”
Ms Ayris lived in the Morningside area of the Scottish capital for about 17 years.
She was born in the Durban region of South Africa, but left the country many years ago and had dual citizenship with the UK.
Ms Ayris ran a South African themed cafe in the Tollcross area of Edinburgh, Ndebele, for about a decade.
Two separate suicide attacks in Afghanistan – both aimed at foreign workers or military forces, left at least 14 civilians dead and three U.S. troops wounded on Tuesday, according to Afghan officials.
The U.S.-led military coalition in Afghanistan, ISAF, confirmed only that a suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest attacked in the Kunar province’s Watahpur district, wounding three foreign troops.
A senior Afghan security official tells CBS News that the bomber walked into a group of American soldiers and local residents who had gathered for a ceremony launching work on a new bridge. He said the ISAF troops wounded were Americans, and an Afghan civilian was also killed in the blast.
Earlier Tuesday, a suicide bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into a mini-bus carrying foreign aviation workers to the airport in the Afghan capital, killing at least 13 people in an attack that a militant group said was revenge for an anti-Islam film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad.
A senior Kabul police official tells CBS News the dead include eight South Africans, four Afghan nationals and one person from Kyrgyzstan. Many of the victims were employees of an aviation company, including pilots. Two sources have told CBS News separately that the victims of the attack worked for a company contracted to fly U.S. State Department staff within Afghanistan, Aviation Charter Solutions (ACS),
Tierney and Cummings Seek Administration Help on Legislation to Save Taxpayers Billions on Defense Base Act Insurance
“IT”S TIME TO FIX THIS PROGRAM”
Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Rep. John F. Tierney, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, sent a letter to the Office of Management and Budget requesting support for, and input on, H.R. 5891, The Defense Base Act Insurance Improvement Act of 2012.
“This is a common-sense bill that would save the American taxpayers billions of dollars,” said Tierney. “Numerous government audits have concluded that we are paying too much for workers’ compensation insurance for overseas government contractors, and that these workers aren’t getting what they deserve. It’s time to fix this program.”
The legislation would transition the existing Defense Base Act (DBA) insurance program to a government self-insurance program. According to a 2009 Pentagon study, this change could save as much as $250 million a year. The study found: “In the long run, the self-insurance alternative may have the greatest potential for minimizing DBA insurance costs, and it has several administrative and compliance advantages as well.”
“We are sponsoring this legislation because several audits of the current DBA program have documented enormous unnecessary costs incurred by taxpayers,” Cummings and Tierney wrote.
The existing system has been a boondoggle for private insurance companies, which have reaped enormous profits under the program. According to an Oversight Committee investigation, insurance companies providing DBA insurance in Iraq and Afghanistan have made enormous underwriting profits that are significantly higher than those of traditional workers’ compensation insurers.
The letter from Tierney and Cummings requests support for the legislation and notes that “OMB may be evaluating similar options.”
Wired’s Danger Room September 17, 2012
The State Department signed a six-figure deal with a British firm to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya just four months before a sustained attack on the compound killed four U.S. nationals inside.
Contrary to Friday’s claim by State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland that “at no time did we contract with a private security firm in Libya,” the department inked a contract for “security guards and patrol services” on May 3 for $387,413.68. An extension option brought the tab for protecting the consulate to $783,000. The contract lists only “foreign security awardees” as its recipient.
The State Department confirmed to Danger Room on Monday that the firm was Blue Mountain, a British company that provides “close protection; maritime security; surveillance and investigative services; and high risk static guarding and asset protection,” according to its website. Blue Mountain says it has “recently operated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, the Caribbean and across Europe” and has worked in Libya for several months since last year’s war.
A representative for Blue Mountain, reached at its U.K. offices Monday, said no one was available to comment.
The State Department frequently hires security companies to protect diplomats in conflict zones. It usually is done through what’s known as the Worldwide Protective Services contract, in which a handful of approved firms compete to safeguard specific diplomatic installations. In 2010, State selected eight firms for the most recent contract. Blue Mountain wasn’t among them, and the State Department did not explain why the Benghazi consulate contract did not go to one of those eight firms.