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.”
CBS News September 29, 2009
CBS News first reported this month on the hazing and humiliating of local employees and other serious breaches of ethics and policy by civilian security guards during wild parties at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Turns out, the State Department was warned that things weren’t right at the embassy, but nothing was done. Now there are troubling questions for the man once in charge of investigating those problems, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson.
As inspector general for the State Department, Howard Krongard was supposed to be an independent watchdog.
It was his job to investigate the very type of misconduct alleged at the U.S. embassy in Kabul: forced sexual hazing of guards, contract fraud and waste of tax dollars.
CBS News has learned that serious allegations about the embassy reached Krongard’s office two years ago – where they apparently vanished into thin air.
How that could’ve happened is even harder to explain when you consider who made the complaint: Sen. Joe Lieberman, head of the Homeland Security Committee. His staffers say they notified Krongard’s office about security and fraud allegations made by high-level whistleblowers from inside ArmorGroup, the company that provides embassy security.
Asked if he remembers that, Krongard said, “No. I Have no knowledge of that whatsoever.”
But CBS News has learned Krongard had a special and controversial link to the company he should have been policing. His brother Buzzy, former executive director of the CIA, was on ArmorGroup’s board of directors.
Murderer was facing race attack charges in UK before killing in Iraq
Daily Gazette April 25, 2011
A DOUBLE murderer who served with the Army in Colchester was due to stand trial for racially aggravated assault in the UK before he killed two contractors in Iraq.
Former paratrooper Danny Fitzsimons, 31, was sentenced to at least 20 years in an Iraqi prison earlier this year.
But his violent tendencies had already surfaced with Fitzsimons facing an assault charge at Bolton Crown Court, according to the Manchester Evening News.
See Tuesday’s Gazette for the full story. See original at The Daily Gazette
WASHINGTON — The State Department has fired a contractor hired to provide security at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, less than six months after the company won the $274 million job.
The department ended its agreement for embassy security with EOD Technology of Lenoir City, Tenn., because the company was not going to be able to start work on May 1, as the contract required, the State Department said Thursday in a statement.
ArmorGroup North America will continue to guard the embassy for at least the next four months until a replacement for EOD Technology is found.
The State Department said in 2009 that it would not renew its contract with ArmorGroup after its guards were caught engaging in lewd behavior and drinking excessively at their living quarters.
“The failure of a competitor to take on security at the US Embassy in Kabul will see G4S stay on at the expense of the failed incumbent, at an improved rate.
(“improved” over that 1 million a month they were losing due to allegedly underbidding the contract)
Gordon’s lawsuit alleges that Michael O’Connell, ArmorGroup North America’s vice president of operations, emailed Sauer on March 11, 2007, “AGNA bid this at a very low price and a very low margin,” adding the next day that the timelines and resources given to State in its proposal “don’t match up,” but it wasn’t “a big deal unless” the State Department contracting officer’s representative “calls us on it”.
The contract rollover has been won in spite of controversy over the recruitment and behaviour of staff by ArmorGroup, a subsidiary acquired by G4S in 2008, which led to a critical report by the US State Department over the running of the contract.
People with PTSD can have “heightened levels of physiological arousal,” such as elevated heart rates even though they are not in real danger, Baldwin said.
“Because they feel unsafe, they’re more likely to be triggered into a defense state that might get them out of a traumatic experience that isn’t really happening,” he said.
“During this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger,” Baldwin said. “You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening.”
Danny Fitzsimons avoids death penalty and lawyers press for reduced sentence to be served in UK
Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s director, said: “If G4S had done the proper checks and risk assessments when Danny applied to work with them, they would have quickly seen that he was suffering from serious PTSD, a consequence of loyally serving his country.
A British former soldier has been jailed for 20 years by the supreme court of Iraq for the murder of two fellow security contractors, becoming the first westerner to be convicted in the country since the 2003 invasion.
The family of 31-year-old Danny Fitzsimons expressed relief that he had escaped the death penalty and asked Iraqi authorities and the UK government to ensure his safety in prison. Defence lawyers indicated they would try to get the term reduced.
Before his conviction and sentencing in a hearing lasting less than 30 minutes, there had been talks over whether he could be transferred to a British prison. Fitzsimons’s family and campaigners fear for his safety if he is moved outside Baghdad’s Green Zone to the city’s Rusafa prison.
Fitzsimons, from Middleton, Manchester, was accused of shooting fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in Baghdad, colleagues with the UK security firm ArmorGroup, part of G4S, after an argument in the Green Zone in August 2009. He was also accused of wounding an Iraqi guard while fleeing. The incident happened within 36 hours of his arrival in the city. He had worked in the country before.
Fitzsimons admitted shooting the men but claimed it was in self-defence. The colleagues had been out drinking and the other two tried to kill him during an altercation, he said. Fitzsimons claimed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
As he was led from the courtroom by Iraqi guards, he told reporters he was happy with the sentence. Asked whether he thought the trial had been fair, he said: “No.”
In an interview before the sentence, he told the Independent he had been treated “like a dog” in court.
Fitzsimons’s family and his British lawyer, John Tripple, who attended a court session last week, were not present at the hearing. His Iraqi lawyer, Tariq Harb, said: “This is a very good sentence. I saved him from the gallows.”
He told the Guardian he would appeal within 30 days. “I expect the sentence can be lightened to 15 years. The Iraqi law is independent and it is very fair.” Please read the entire story here
Judge hearing trial of Daniel Fitzsimons orders clarification of post-traumatic stress disorder
Sentencing of Daniel Fitzsimons, a British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Baghdad has been adjourned until 28 February after a late intervention from his UK-based lawyer.
Judge Ali Yousef in Baghdad’s serious crimes court ordered further clarification of the term post-traumatic stress disorder, which is not recognised by Iraqi law but has been heavily relied on as a defence by Fitzsimons.
Fitzsimons has pleaded not guilty to murder but admitted manslaughter with diminished responsibility, claiming he acted in self defence.
He is accused of shooting dead two fellow ArmorGroup security contractors, Paul McGuigan, a Briton, and Darren Hoare, an Australian, at a base inside Baghdad’s Green Zone in August 2009.
If convicted, he could face a death sentence.
John Tipple, for Fitzsimons, said he would push for a prisoner transfer agreement with the Iraqi government which would allow his client to serve any sentence in the UK. Please see the original here
In only a matter of hours , barring further delays, Danny Fitzsimons will face sentencing for shooting and killing Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan in ArmorGroups living quarters in the Green Zone. A possible death sentence.
The first Contractor to be tried in the Iraqi Courts under Iraqi Jurisdiction.
Lucky for ArmorGroup.
Under Iraqi Jurisdiction there was no formal inquiry into who armed a man with several psychiatric diagnoses, a criminal record, pending weapons charges, who was fired from two other security companies and was known to be a problem among his peers.
Under US or UK law ArmorGroup would bear some responsibility for arming a man this whacked. Maybe even be considered accessory to the murders.
Negligence of this nature occurs as a matter of rule with some of these Contract Companies. Like Armorgroup did, just under bid the contract so you can win it. The solution then is to understaff, overwork, refuse to provide the necessary equipment that was contracted and paid for, and put any warm body in place without vetting them to ensure that they are who and what they claim to be.
How many accidents, injuries, and deaths have occurred due to negligence of this nature?
We will never know. Very few incidents are publicized.
Contractors with psychiatric meltdowns are spirited away and promoted or dumped on their families. The victims of the melt downs are paid to keep them from filing a Defense Base Act Claim.
Deaths and Injuries of many foreigners are never filed on because they and their families do not know they are due benefits. Defense Base Act Claim filings are the only numbers kept.
All accidents in the warzones are the fault of no one due to the DBA’s Exclusive Remedy and dead men tell few tales when no real unbiased investigation is required.
There has been a very vocal outcry from the families and friends of Paul McGuigan and to a lesser extent Darren Hoare regarding what a bad man Danny Fitzsimons is and how they cannot wait to see him hung. We get these comments on our blogs as well as witness them in recent media coverage.
But there is an odd abscence of them laying any blame where it us undoubtedly deserved upon the negligence of ArmorGroup for arming Danny Fitzsimons and putting their loved ones in his path.
Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan paid for this negligence with their lives.
The families of all involved have paid dearly and always will.
Danny Fitzsimons will soon pay for his actions, as well as every wrong done by every Contractor to the Iraqi people.
Danny Fitzsimons is to the Iraqi’s what Raymond Davis is the Pakistani’s.
Armorgroup continues to guard the US Embassy in Kabul despite having the low bid contract “taken away”.
ArmorGroup caused an international scandal and lost its State Department contract. Why’s the company still protecting one of America’s most dangerous diplomatic outposts?
“If there’s a better argument for making this mission an inherently governmental function, this situation is it,” she says. “We’ve got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company.”
More than a year has passed since the State Department decided to drop its contract with the security firm protecting the US embassy in Kabul, following an international scandal featuring drunken debauchery fit for a Van Wilder flick. But the company that introduced the world to vodka butt-shots is still on the job—and it doesn’t seem to have plans to stand down anytime soon. Long after the expiration of its initial contract, in fact, ArmorGroup North America is currently hiring more guards to protect the Kabul embassy.
The firm sparked controversy in September 2009, when a Washington-based watchdog group sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighting a list of violations by the company, from a chronic guard shortage to the hiring of personnel who couldn’t speak English and would be unable to communicate with their colleagues in an emergency. But the most shocking charges concerned what the Project on Government Oversight called a “Lord of the Flies environment”—hazing and wild partying depicted in a series of graphic photographs showing members of the Kabul embassy security force drunk, half-naked, and engaged in an array of NSFW behavior.
Embassygate tainted not just ArmorGroup North America (AGNA) and its parent company, the security conglomerate G4S, but the State Department, too, leading to investigations by Congress and State’s inspector general. In the years leading up to the scandal, it turned out, the State Department had repeatedly found fault with the company’s performance—at one point stating in an internal memo that “the security of the US Embassy in Kabul is in jeopardy” as a result—but failed to fire AGNA. A former high-level AGNA employee also came forward to say that he’d warned the State Department about “lewd, aberrant, and sexually deviant behavior” by the company’s recruits more than two years before this conduct made global headlines. Again, no action was taken.
In December 2009, deeply embarrassed by the controversy, the State Department said it planned to axe AGNA once its contract came up for renewal that summer. But when that time came, the agency ended up extending the firm’s contract for another six months while it brought in another security provider. “Because the current KESF [Kabul Embassy Security Force] contract can only be extended through December 30th, we must have the company on the ground and operating by then,” a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security told Mother Jones last summer.
In late September, the agency selected the Tennessee-based firm EOD Technology to take over the contract. But December 30 came and went with no changing of the guards. And AGNA apparently believed it was staying put, at least for a while. In mid-January, the company posted a job ad on Careerbuilder noting that it was “recruiting Protective Security Specialists to provide security to the U.S. Embassy in, Kabul, Afghanistan.”
A spokeswoman for AGNA, Susan Pitcher, confirmed that the firm is still protecting the embassy, but declined to comment further, citing a State Department policy about contractors speaking to reporters. EODT also declined to comment. But a Diplomatic Security spokesman told Mother Jones that the transition has been delayed. Now, he said, the handover won’t happen until May. “In order to provide EODT with adequate time to make an orderly transition, it has been given 120 days from the end of AGNA’s contract,” the spokesman said.
Sources familiar with the security force contract questioned whether the delay has anything to do with the transition process; one suggested that the State Department may merely be stalling after unwittingly selecting a replacement for AGNA that also has a controversial background.
In October, a week after the agency chose EODT for the job, the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has conducted a years-long investigation into private security firms in Afghanistan, released a report leveling serious allegations at both EODT and AGNA. It accused the companies of relying on local warlords to staff their guard forces—strongmen with unclear allegiances and possible Taliban ties. In one case, according to the report, EODT hired a group of Afghans who had recently been fired by ArmorGroup for “providing sensitive security information to…a Taliban-affiliated warlord.” (In response, EODT claimed that “all leaders which EODT utilized were made known to the US military at every stage of mobilization.” AGNA countered that it only relied on Afghans who had been recommended by special operations troops.)
Making matters worse for EODT, federal agents raided its offices in early December in connection with an investigation into potential export violations involving the transit of weapons or other military-grade materials. The company has said it is cooperating with the investigation and has denied any wrongdoing. “We obviously would not have been selected for some of the sensitive and important projects we handle for our country around the world had we not been thoroughly investigated before and found to be trustworthy,” the firm said in a statement. A State Department official said the agency was unaware the company was the subject of a federal investigation until stories about the raid appeared in the press, and insisted the probe “has not held up the transition.”
For Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, the fact that the State Department handed the embassy job to a company saddled with its own serious baggage illustrates the flawed logic of placing contractors in roles that she believes should be performed by US government personnel. “If there’s a better argument for making this mission an inherently governmental function, this situation is it,” she says. “We’ve got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company.”
We ask again why ArmorGroup is not on trial for endangering the lives of everyone they exposed to an armed Danny Fitzsimons?
Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare are dead because of ArmorGroup’s negligence in failing to Vet a mentally ill employee with a weapons charge pending in England.
Before joining ArmorGroup, Mr Fitzsimons had been dismissed by two other security firms, Aegis and Olive, on one occasion for “extreme negligence”. At the time that he was taken on by ArmorGroup he was on bail awaiting trial for assault in Manchester. here
And who paid the families of the dead? The Defense Base Act’s Exclusive Remedy relieved ArmorGroup of responsibility but does not pay benefits when alcohol is involved.
Upon arrival, he was given an M4 rifle, a pistol and a bullet-proof vest which he set down in his room before meeting with an old friend he had made during a previous tour in Iraq, where he worked with three different firms before joining ArmorGroup.
Fitzsimons and his friend, another ArmorGroup security guard who was identified only as Kevin, bought two bottles of whiskey before settling in Kevin’s trailer in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone to chat over drinks. here
“You must question their employment practices and for them to be walking away at a crucial time like this is absolutely irresponsible. They have been part of the process right from the word go.” here
Daniel Fitzsimons denies murder of two colleagues in Iraq
British security contractor Daniel Fitzsimons tells Baghdad court he is guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility
British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has given his first courtroom account of the drunken night that has left him facing a possible death sentence.
Daniel Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper, told a criminal court in Baghdad today that he was not guilty of murdering Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in August 2009, but was guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, after he responded to taunts from both men.
Fitzsimons claims he was watching a DVD with a colleague from his army days, Kevin Milson, when McGuigan joined them. Fitzsimons had returned to Baghdad just over 24 hours earlier, following two previous tours with other security companies. He said he did not know McGuigan, but claimed intra-military tensions soon played out between them.
“Paul was with the marines and I was with the Parachute Regiment and as everyone knows there is rivalry between the two,” he said. “He started to insult me and insulted two friends of mine who had died in Iraq. I punched him in the nose and said ‘come on, fight me’.”
Fitzsimons’s testimony was similar to an account he gave to the Guardian in March last year. He claims to have been provoked, first in Milson’s room and then, later, in his own cabin, where he had returned to use the internet.
“I had been on the internet for an hour and then slept and then my door crashed in,” he said. “I saw Paul McGuigan and the Australian man, Darren Hoare. They kicked me in the face with their sandals. They wanted to kill me. It was shameful for a soldier.
“Paul took my M4 [assault rifle] from beside my bed and pointed it at me. He said ‘I am going to kill you’. I raised my pistol and shouted to Paul twice to put down his weapon, but he did not respond. Then I made my decision, as an old soldier, as a trained soldier, I shot him twice in the chest and a third time in his face as he fell.
“The Australian then tried to fight me for the pistol. He went for the trigger and tried to turn the pistol to my neck. He was shouting that he was going to kill me. He was much bigger than me. I pulled the trigger and put two, maybe three bullets in his chest.”
Fitzsimons had been diagnosed in Britain with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Iraqi court is yet to decide whether that will be used in his defence. Iraqi medical experts have twice found that Fitzsimons was suffering no particular emotional disorder at the time of the killings.
The judge, Ali Yousef, questioned Fitzsimons on forensic evidence prepared for a coroner, which said powder burns were absent from Hoare’s body, not supporting Fitzsimons’s account of a close contact struggle during which fatal shots were fired from a short range.
Fitzsimons said: “I think the evidence was manipulated by the security company. The crime scene was changed.”
Salam Abdul Kareem, a lawyer for the victims’ families, urged the court to hand down the maximum sentence, which is death by hanging, or life imprisonment. “He did not stop shooting until all 14 bullets were finished,” he said.
McGuigan’s relatives and former fiancee in Britain have strongly challenged Fitzsimons’s version of events, claiming McGuigan was executed.
The case was adjourned until 20 February, when a verdict is expected
Danny Fitzsimons was hired by ArmorGroup to carry a gun despite having been diagnosed with PTSD, being in trouble with the law, and posting on Facebook about “The War Inside His Head”. ArmorGroup should be on trial here too.
The trial of a British security contractor charged with killing two of his colleagues last year opened Wednesday in Baghdad with testimony from a guard who said the contractor shot him.
Danny Fitzsimons, who attended the hearing, is the first Western contractor on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 U.S.-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreign contractors.
Iraq pressed hard for foreign contractors to be accountable for their actions after armed contractors employed by the North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe, opened fire at a Baghdad intersection in September 2007, killing 17 civilians.
Fitzsimons is charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of two contractors, a British and an Australian, during an argument last year inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone. He is also charged with an attempted murder of an Iraqi guard working for a British security firm.
Fitzsimons could receive the death penalty if convicted.
The trial opened with a testimony of the Iraqi guard who claims Fitzsimons shot him in the leg.
Arkan Mahdi Saleh, an Iraqi guard at the security firm ArmorGroup that also employed the defendant and the two slain men, told a three-judge panel that he saw Fitzsimons with a pistol before he was shot.
“I was standing at a guard post when I heard some movements behind me,” said the 33-year old Saleh. “When I turned back to check, I saw Fitzsimons with a pistol in his hand and aiming at me,” Saleh, identifying the defendant as the man who shot him.
Two other witnesses took the stand on Wednesday, confirming much of Saleh’s account of the shooting. One said he saw Saleh lying wounded on the ground.
Fitzsimons appeared in court clean shaven, wearing a beige shirt, jeans and sneakers. He stood behind a wooden fence with two security guards closely watching him.
After hearing the eyewitness testify, the defendant asked a judge for permission to speak. The request was refused.
“I got a lot to say,” Fitzsimons told his lawyer, Tariq Harb, after the court adjourned and the guards were handcuffing him for the trip to prison.
One of the judges, presiding over the 45-minute hearing, read written testimonies of three foreign security contractors who have left Iraq since the fatal incident.
None of the three testified to witnessing Fitzsimons shoot his two colleagues and the Iraqi guard. They wrote in their statement they saw the group of three foreign contractors drinking and quarreling inside one of the caravans where they lived. Please see the original here
from the Huffington Post
at the Burnley Express
The trial of a security contractor from Manchester charged with killing two of his colleagues in Iraq last year has opened in Baghdad.
Danny Fitzsimons, from Middleton, Manchester, is the first Westerner to go on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 US-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreign contractors.
He was at Wednesday’s hearing which adjourned the trial until January 23.
He has been charged with shooting and killing two contractors — a British and an Australian — during an argument inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in June last year and then wounding an Iraqi while fleeing.
All three men were working for the British security firm ArmorGroup Iraq.
Senate panel: U.S. money was funneled to Afghan warlords with links to violence
The leading Senate panel on military affairs has found that several private security contractors in Afghanistan funneled money from their Pentagon contracts to warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping and bribery.
The private security contractors at the center of the yearlong Senate Armed Services Committee investigation also used U.S. taxpayers’ money to pay off individuals who supported the Taliban or took action against NATO-coalition forces in Afghanistan, according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the panel’s chairman.
One of the companies investigated, ArmorGroup, a subsidiary of the British company G4S, relied on Afghan warlords — some of whom were Taliban supporters — to provide manpower for the company’s guard force at an Afghan air base, the report said.
During the contract period with the U.S. Air Force, one of the warlords who provided security forces for ArmorGroup killed another warlord in a shootout at a bazaar, according to the report. A third warlord working with ArmorGroup was killed in a U.S.-Afghan military raid on a Taliban meeting at his home.
A second company, EOD Technology (EODT), relied on local powerbrokers to supply personnel for its guard force, including one individual said to have raised money for the Taliban. EODT also hired personnel that had previously been fired by ArmorGroup for passing sensitive information to a Taliban-linked warlord, according to Levin.
EODT is registered as a foreign corporation in Tennessee.
The investigation also looked into more than 125 Pentagon security contracts in Afghanistan that were in place from 2007 to 2009. The panel found that contractors did not properly vet their personnel or ensure they received adequate training. The investigation revealed wasted resources and “wide gaps in government” oversight that allowed “dangerous” failures to take place, Levin said.
“Money is ammunition; don’t put it in the wrong hands,” Gen. David Petraeus warned in an August memo that gave counterinsurgency (COIN) guidance. But apparently the U.S. government is doing just that. Yesterday, the Senate Armed Services Committee released a report detailing examples where the U.S. has fueled warlords connected with the Taliban and Iranian intelligence. This is at least the third government report made public that asserts that weak contract oversight is undermining U.S. efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan–in sum, we may be funding the very folks we’re fighting against.
According to the Senate report, its “inquiry uncovered evidence of private security contractors funneling U.S. taxpayers dollars to Afghan warlords and strongmen linked to murder, kidnapping, bribery as well as Taliban and other anti-Coalition activities.” The report delves into numerous problems connected to the more than 26,000 private security personnel in Afghanistan, an estimated 90 percent of whom are funded through U.S. contracts or subcontracts. The issues range from untrained guards to insufficient weaponry to unmanned posts.
Federal Judge Denies Defendants ArmorGroup’s and Wackenhut’s Motions to Dismiss False Claims Act Whistleblower Lawsuit Involving Fraudulent Practices at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 27/ — Judge James Cacheris of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has denied Defendants ArmorGroup North America (“AGNA”), ArmorGroup International, Wackenhut Services, Inc., and Cornelius Medley’s motions to dismiss whistleblower James Gordon’s lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act.
On September 9, 2009, Mr. Gordon, former Director of Operations of AGNA, filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit under the False Claims Act in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, charging that ArmorGroup management retaliated against him for whistleblowing, internally and to the United States Department of State (“DoS”), about illegalities committed by ArmorGroup in the performance of AGNA’s contracts with the United States to provide security services at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and at the U.S. Naval base in Bahrain.
The Complaint charges that during Mr. Gordon’s seven-month tenure as Director of Operations, he investigated, attempted to stop, and reported to DoS a myriad of serious violations committed by ArmorGroup, including:
- Severely understaffing the guard force necessary to protect the U.S. Embassy;
- Allowing AGNA managers and employees to frequent brothels notorious for housing trafficked women in violation of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act;
- Endangering the safety of the guard force during transport to and from the Embassy by attempting to substitute company-owned subpar, refurbished vehicles from Iraq rather than purchasing armored escort vehicles as promised to DoS;
- Knowingly using funds to procure cheap counterfeit goods from a company in Lebanon owned by the wife of AGNA’s Logistics Manager; and
- Engaging in practices to maximize profit from the contract with reckless disregard for the safety and security of the guard force, the U.S. Embassy, and its personnel
In his Memorandum Opinion (August 27, 2010), Judge Cacheris noted that “Plaintiff alleges and Defendants offer no facts to dispute that Defendants … began to try to constructively discharge [Mr. Gordon] by ‘making [his] working conditions intolerable.'” Judge Cacheris further noted that “Plaintiff alleges, and Defendants have not offered any evidence refuting the fact, that [Defendant] Medley excluded Plaintiff from management meetings, shunned him, and relegated him to a position of persona non grata in the office” and that “Medley made clear to Plaintiff by his behavior, and to other staff members by his direct boasts, that his priority was to force Gordon to quit.” In denying Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Judge Cacheris concluded that “there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding the continued nature and duration of the allegedly illegal acts Plaintiff was requested and required to participate in.” The parties will now proceed into the discovery phase of the litigation.
According to Debra S. Katz, counsel for Mr. Gordon, “this is an important victory for conscientious employees, like Mr. Gordon, who blow the whistle on fraudulent practices by defense contractors and wind up then paying the ultimate price. The court’s decision today makes clear that such employees can bring federal claims under the False Claims Act to obtain redress.”
Debra S. Katz and Lisa Banks, attorneys at Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP, along with Janet Goldstein and Robert Vogel at Vogel, Slade & Goldstein, LLP, represent James Gordon.
Judge Cacheris’ opinion is available at http://www.kmblegal.com/2010/08/27/court-denies-summary-judgment-in-false-claims-act-whistleblower-retaliation-suit-by-kmb-client-james-gordon-against-afghanistan-defense-contractor-armorgroup/.
A British security guard facing the death penalty for murder in Baghdad has been declared mentally fit for trial in a ruling that paves the way for him to face court in August.
By Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent Telegraph UK
Published: 3:19PM BST 13 Jun 2010
The trial of Danny Fitzsimons, who is accused of murdering two colleagues in a drunken rampage, will open on August 4 unless further medical reports contradict the assessment.
Judge Ali Abbas al-Yousif of the Baghdad central criminal court said yesterday Mr Fitzsimons had been adjudged by doctors to be mentally normal and fit to stand trial.
But he also allowed an appeal by Mr Fitzsimons’s lawyers for a second opinion, allowing a re-examination by a second panel of doctors.
Mr Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper, was working for ArmorGroup, a private security division of G4S, the former Group 4 Security, last August when he shot two colleagues and an Iraqi interpreter.
The two dead men were Paul McGuigan, 37, a Briton, and Darren Hoare, 37, an Australian, with whom he had been drinking in a bar in Baghdad’s “Green Zone” foreign enclave. He wounded the interpreter as he tried to run away.
Mr Fitzimons has claimed self-defence, but his lawyers are also arguing that he was suffering post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his years of military service in Iraq.
He had previously been fired from another security company after it was decided he was too unstable and had been given a suspended sentence for firearms charges in the previous November. Mr Fitzsimons was facing further charges after brandishing a gun at a gang of teenagers outside his flat in Bolton.
If he is convicted, he faces the death penalty, though lawyers say it is more likely that he would receive life in prison, and at some time be transferred to serve his sentence in Britain.
BAGHDAD — Lawyers for a British security contractor accused of fatally shooting two colleagues are fighting a medical report stating he is mentally able to stand trial
The legal appeal has postponed the trial of Danny Fitzsimons until August 4.
Baghdad criminal court judge Ali Abbas al-Yousif said Sunday that doctors found Fitzsimons’ mental condition normal.
But al-Yousif said a second panel of doctors will conduct another examination in response to Fitzsimons’ appeal.
Fitzsimons is accused of shooting two colleagues, a Briton and an Australian, during a fight in Baghdad’s Green Zone last summer and then wounding an Iraqi while fleeing.
All three men were working for the British security firm ArmorGroup Iraq. Original Story here
(AP) – 1 hour ago
WASHINGTON — Attorneys for a whistleblower suing the contractor hired to protect the U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan say a top company executive was aware since July 2008 of alleged illegal and immoral conduct by guards.
The claim made Friday contradicts the sworn testimony of Samuel Brinkley, a vice president for Wackenhut Services, the owner of ArmorGroup North America. Brinkley told the Commission on Wartime Contracting that he and other corporate officials didn’t know until late August of problems that reportedly included lurid parties and ArmorGroup employees frequenting brothels in Kabul.
But in a letter to the commission, the attorneys say their client, James Gordon, told Brinkley during a meeting in July 2008 of alleged guard misconduct. Brinkley did not immediately respond to a request for comment.