Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Army bars Leonie Industries co-owner from contracts

USA Today  June 20, 2012

WASHINGTON – The Army has suspended the co-owner of the military’s top propaganda firm in Afghanistan from receiving federal contracts after revelations about the owners’ tax debts and the admission by one owner that he launched an online campaign against journalists, according to government documents.

Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Ga., who is on the Armed Services Committee, asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday to expand the Pentagon investigations into Leonie Industries. In a letter, Johnson cited allegations that the company may have misrepresented its finances while bidding for federal contracts and had started an online smear campaign directed against two USA TODAY journalists.

Please see the original and read more here

June 20, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Department of Defense, Journalists, Propaganda | , , , | Leave a comment

Military superbug, quiet civilian epidemic

What this article fails to point out is that Acinetobacter baumannii infections were extremely rare in the US prior to the invasion of Iraq.  The Iraq Infections website mapped the spread of this Superbug from the military medical system to community hospitals across our country beginning in 2004. Acinetobacter baumannii spread from Landstuhl and the three main military hospital centers, to the VA hospitals, to the community hospitals.

Severely injured Civilian Contractors were repatriated via the military medical evacuation system then delivered to unsuspecting community hospitals in the US, the UK, Australia, Canada, and the many third world countries the TCN’s come from.

The quiet civilian epidemic was allowed to propagate due to the DoD and CDC‘s concerted effort to cover up this disaster that the Military had created themselves.  The DoD promoted such notions as the insurgents were putting Acinetobacter on bombs and the Main Stream Media (here and here) parroted the propaganda.   The CDC claimed they were not “authorized” to talk about it.

The military knew all along that Acinetobacter baumannii was a hospital acquired organism yet promoted the lie that it came from the soil in Iraq.  The original strains of Ab infecting soldiers and contractors were matched to the European (Landstuhl) strains which were already fast becoming a problem there.

See some of the Casualties of Acinetobacter baumanii

Military superbug, quiet civilian epidemic

(Notice even this reporter cannot escape the notion that the dust in Iraq was responsible)

A thick layer of dust covers the blazing hot combat fields of Afghanistan and Iraq, getting under soldiers’ helmets, chalking up their fatigues and covering exposed skin. When enemy fire hits, troops often sustain severe burns and open wounds with shredded surrounding skin. Medical aid is generally faster than in any other U.S. wars, thanks to technology and a transport chain designed for high speed. When medics come, there’s an efficient process of lifting wounded troops onto open transport vehicles, prodding them with devices to assess vitals, wrapping their wounds and giving them fluids and blood. But during all that activity, the dust, the many hands and bandages, open wounds and needle punctures give other enemies — microscopic superbugs — an opportunity to attack from the inside.

For troops wounded in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, one of the most prolific superbugs has been an almost exclusively hospital-bred strain of bacteria known as “Iraqibacter,” a mutated version of the common acinetobacter baumannii. While military hospitals have waged a somewhat successful internal battle against the bacteria, for civilian hospitals in the U.S. and around the world, these bugs are a formidable foe.

“The data we were seeing shocked us into action,” (is five years the normal reaction time?) said Colonel Dr. Duane Hospenthal, Infectious Diseases Consultant for the U.S. Army Surgeon General.

What Duane Hospenthal previously told the press:

Hospenthal added that he believes there is little cause for concern. “It’s a low-grade, low-virulence pathogen that can be recovered from soil and water. Without having it blasted into you or your being immunocompromised, it’s not going to hurt you. We still see Acinetobacter, but
now that it’s been recognized, people are less excited about it here.
It’s hard for me to even understand if this is a big issue.”

In fall 2008, the military expanded its infection monitoring and control system, also known as GEIS (Global Emerging Infectious Surveillance), to include acinetobacter and other multidrug-resistant organisms. This overhaul followed a spate of high-profile stories in Wired magazine and on the PBS program “Nova” about the prevalence of acinetobacter at Walter Reed Medical Center.

Please read the entire story here

August 21, 2011 Posted by | Acinetobacter, Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Department of Defense, Iraq, Pentagon, Propaganda | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Diplomatic tit for tat over held WA skipper in Eritrea

Head shot of Adrian Troy, skipper with WA Broome based Arrow Pearls, arrested in Eritrea

ABC Australia  July 21, 2011

The Federal Government has imposed travel restrictions on the Consul General of Eritrea after being refused access to a Broome skipper detained in the African nation.

Five months after Western Australian pearling skipper Adrian Troy and three British men were detained in Eritrea, the British and Australian Governments have made their first move, imposing limited sanctions.

The United Kingdom has barred Eritrean diplomats from travelling outside London and the Australian Government has responded with similar restrictions.

The Eritrean Consul General now cannot travel outside a 100 km radius of Melbourne, without permission from the Department of Foreign Affairs.

The four men were arrested in December over what is believed to have been a dispute with the Eritrean Navy.

The Federal Government says it will continue to push for consular access until it is granted.

July 20, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Eritrea, Pirates, Propaganda | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

For U.S., managing foreign media is a no-win proposition

By Walter Pincus at the Washington Post  April 25, 2011

When is the Defense Department going to quit trying to manage other countries’ media?

This month, the United States Forces-Afghanistan is back in the market for a contractor to assist the command’s deputy chief of staff of communications in carrying out “proactively” public affairs activities and countering “misinformation in the media,” according to a solicitation notice.

It carries the same old slogans: “The information domain is a battle space and it is one in which [the U.S. Afghan command] must take aggressive actions to win the important battle of perception.”

This not the first of these multimillion-dollar Pentagon PR contracts. Nor is it the first one that potentially could run for five years. By the way, that would it expires in 2016, two years after our combat troops are scheduled to have left.

Face it. The overall U.S. record of influencing media in a foreign country — particularly those where U.S. troops have fought — is not very good, and recent attempts by U.S. military units have been even worse.

Take Iraq, for example……

April 25, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Department of Defense, Government Contractor, Journalists, Propaganda | , , , , | 1 Comment

GORDON DUFF: LIBYA, A WAR OF LIES The “Conspiratorial Veil” of Western Racism

In the last 24 hours, we learned that Gaddafi’s claimed victims of the UN bombing campaign included victims of traffic accidents and recently dead, gleaned from hospitals and mortuaries around Libya.  The secret he is trying to hide is that the real dead, and their are dozens, aren’t from Libya at all.  Libya’s entire air defense command is “rented” from Belarus and the dead are mercenaries.

By Gordon Duff STAFF WRITER/Senior Editor Veterans Today

ISRAEL'S AFRICAN MERCENARIES, DEAD IN LIBYA..ARMOURED VEHICLE IN THE BACKGROUND DOES NOT EXIST IN OFFICIAL LIBYAN WEAPONS INVENTORY

“They” are coming out of the woodwork, claiming to be “liberals” or “anti-war.”  Any Arab uprising must be a Western plot.  Those “brown people” can’t really be seeking democracy and freedom and certainly can’t stand up to the “globalist plotters” of the west.  I have one reminder for those who think this way.

Afghanistan

On February 25, 2011, Veterans Today recommended immediate intervention in Libya.  Few had died, Israel had shown its hand as Gaddafi’s backer and the writing was on the wall.  Waiting would lead to civil war and large scale

intervention, led by France, bringing the potential for the movement for democracy to be pushed off track, as Iraq and Afghanistan are dark reminders of.  Arms and mercenaries flowed in, key media powers and the Israel lobby kept Obama sitting on his hands and, at the last minute, maybe beyond the last minute, there is a call to action.

Should be be suspicious?  Damned right!

Should we forget the right of self determination by the Libyan people being crushed, not only by their own government but Israel’s African mercenary armies as well and every resource Gaddafi could buy with the west’s oil money, yes, money from Halliburton and BP?  One only need to see the forces arrayed against the rebels, not just GLOBAL CST’s mercenaries but forces from Belarus and Georgia as well.

Please read the entire post here

March 21, 2011 Posted by | Libya, Propaganda | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Listen: Secret Libya Psyops, Caught by Online Sleuths

Noah Shachtman The Danger Room Wired March 20, 2011


“I just combine the global and free information on the Internet with my local received information from the ether,” Huub e-mails Danger Room. “[My] main goal to listen to this communication is to listen to ‘the truth,’ without any military or political propaganda.”

The U.S. military has dispatched one of its secret propaganda planes to the skies around Libya. And that “Commando Solo” aircraft is telling Libyan ships to remain in port – or risk NATO retaliation.

We know this, not because some Pentagon official said so, but because one Dutch radio geek is monitoring the airwaves for information about Operation Odyssey Dawn — and tweeting the surprisingly-detailed results. On Sunday alone, “Huub” has identified the tail numbers, call signs, and movements of dozens of NATO aircraft: Italian fighter jets, American tankers, British aerial spies, U.S. bombers, and the Commando Solo psyops plane (pictured).

“If you attempt to leave port, you will be attacked and destroyed immediately,” the aircraft broadcasted late Sunday night.  Please read the entire article and listen here

March 21, 2011 Posted by | Libya, Propaganda | , , | Leave a comment

Army Deploys Psy-Ops on U.S. Senators: Another Runaway General

Rolling Stone by Michael Hastings February 23, 2011

The U.S. Army illegally ordered a team of soldiers specializing in “psychological operations” to manipulate visiting American senators into providing more troops and funding for the war, Rolling Stone has learned – and when an officer tried to stop the operation, he was railroaded by military investigators.

The Runaway General: The Rolling Stone Profile of Stanley McChrystal That Changed History

The orders came from the command of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, a three-star general in charge of training Afghan troops – the linchpin of U.S. strategy in the war. Over a four-month period last year, a military cell devoted to what is known as “information operations” at Camp Eggers in Kabul was repeatedly pressured to target visiting senators and other VIPs who met with Caldwell. When the unit resisted the order, arguing that it violated U.S. laws prohibiting the use of propaganda against American citizens, it was subjected to a campaign of retaliation.

“My job in psy-ops is to play with people’s heads, to get the enemy to behave the way we want them to behave,” says Lt. Colonel Michael Holmes, the leader of the IO unit, who received an official reprimand after bucking orders. “I’m prohibited from doing that to our own people. When you ask me to try to use these skills on senators and congressman, you’re crossing a line.” Please read the entire article here

February 26, 2011 Posted by | Afghanistan, Department of Defense, Pentagon, Propaganda | , , | Leave a comment

“Wikipedia Journalism” Can be Contagious

Many Injured Contractors were repatriated via the Military Medical Evacuation System which was/is badly contaminated with Multi Drug Resistant Acinetobacter baumannii.  Soldiers and Contractors alike lost lives and limbs to this dangerous Superbug.

Injured Contractors played an even larger role in the spread of MDRAb across the US and to every country of the “coalition” than did the soldiers themselves.  Injured Contractors were infected  in field hospitals, Landstuhl, Walter Reed, Bethesda Naval, and then transferred to Civilian Community hospitals.    Civilian hospitals were seldom warned their new transfers were infected with a life threatening highly contagious bacteria.

The DoD’s usual knee jerk reaction was to cover this problem up rather than deal with it.  Lie about to be exact.

Steve Silberman, Investigative Journalist for Wired, has written again, on the spread of this Superbug and the Military and “Wikipedia Journalism’s” aiding and abetting the enemy.

Is Wikipedia Journalism Aiding the Spread of a Deadly Superbug?

By Steve Silberman at NeuroTribes

Japan is in an uproar. Last week, officials at the Teikyo University Hospital admitted that 46 patients in the past year have been infected with an antibiotic-resistant bacterium called Acinetobacter baumannii, and that 27 have died. Today, the number of infected patients was increased to 53, and hospital announced that it would admit no new patients until it checks for the presence of the bacteria in more than 800 patients currently in the hospital. In a contrite press conference, hospital officials admitted that they had not promptly reported the infections to local authorities as they are legally required to do, and that this delay likely contributed to the spread of the bacteria through the wards, and to patient deaths.

Meanwhile, other Tokyo hospitals are also now reporting infections and deaths. Yurin Hospital discovered that eight of its patients — aged 59 to 100 — were colonized by the bacteria, and four of them have died. Three patients at the Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital were also infected, and one has died. The bacteria seems to be spreading rapidly through hospitals in the Japanese metropolis, aided by patient transfers, overuse of antibiotics, lack of sufficient infection control, and failure to report the infections to health authorities. Seeking to place the blame for the seemingly sudden upsurge of the bacteria, The Daily Yomiuri ominously speculated today, “Could medical tourists bring something more sinister than their own health problems with them when they come to Japan?”

Sadly, none of this is a surprise to me: not the rapid spread of the bacteria, not the deaths, and not the failure to acknowledge the problem until numerous patients had died or become colonized, and not the frantic seeking to place the blame by demonizing people from other cultures. The same pattern emerged in an epidemic of Acinetobacter baumannii infections among American and Canadian troops returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I wrote about for Wired magazine in 2007, in an in-depth investigative feature called “The Invisible Enemy.”

Back then, it was the U.S. Defense Department officials who were slow to acknowledge rampant acinetobacter infections in the ranks, and they were not nearly as eager to take responsibility as Japanese officials have been this week. Indeed, there seemed to be a coordinated effort to mislead the press about the true source of the infections. Antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is almost always found in hospitals and other health care facilities. It is a nosocomial infection — like MRSA, Clostridium difficile, and the other horsemen of the post-antibiotic apocalypse, it preys on those who are already sick, elderly, or traumatically injured, piling agony upon agony. That’s why troops and civilians gravely wounded in war are one of acinetobacter’s favorite target demographics: all that fresh, exposed meat, left undefended by already weakened immune systems or immunosuppressive drugs. Particularly among the young — car-crash victims and the like — many acinetobacter infections go undetected, because the primary trauma alone is enough to kill the patient.

The story coming from Washington, however, was that the source of the bacteria was Iraqi insurgents who were intentionally “dosing” improvised explosive devices (IEDs) with the superbug, in the form of dog feces or rotting meat. The alternate version of the official story was that Acinetobacter baumannii lurks in the Iraqi soil itself, waiting to pounce on young American warriors like some kind of microbial jihad. In the fog of war, reporters bought these official story lines and parroted them dutifully, from CNN’s Situation Room to CBS correspondent Kimberly Dozier, who called A. baumanniian Iraqi bacteria” (as if organisms carry passports) after barely surviving an IED attack and subsequent infection in 2006. In the military and the press, the bacteria acquired the catchy nickname “Iraqibacter,” which has a darkly ironic grain of truth to it — wounded Iraqi citizens cared for in our field hospitals in the early days of the war became infected at much higher rates than our troops, and were then released back into a country with a health-care infrastructure that had been bombed back to the Stone Age.

For more information about how the Pentagon conducted a secret war against this bacteria, see my 2007 story. But I knew when I filed it that the saga of the medical battle against Acinetobacter baumannii was just beginning. Since my story ran, there have been numerous outbreaks of the superbug in hospitals in Europe and Asia, with scores of patients — both military and civilian — left dead.

In time, the “dosed IED” story slowly faded away. But one aspect of the misleading press coverage of the bacteria refuses to die: the notion — repeated by the Mainichi Daily News and other Japanese papers this week — that multi-drug resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is commonly found in water and soil. This notion — that A. baumannii is nearly ubiquitous in the natural world — has been reinforced by everyone from local TV news stations to the New York Times.

Multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii is not commonly found in water and soil. It is found in hospitals and clinics, where the tenacious organisms earn their resistance to the best drugs we can throw at them; it is particularly prevalent in intensive-care units, lurking among those moist places where medical equipment enters the body, such as catheters and breathing tubes.

To put it another way, Acinetobacter baumannii is not a “wild” superbug. It is a thoroughly domesticated superbug, inadvertently trained and evolved by us, living alongside us in a terrible synergy, and thriving on the spoils of war, aging, disease, and the failure to implement proper infection controls.

Beyond misleading shaggy dog-poop stories from Pentagon spokespeople, the source of this problem in journalism may be tragically mundane. Acinetobacter in general — that is, not baumannii — is one of the largest and most diverse genera of bacteria on the planet, comprising more than 30 distinct species, including Acinetobacter baylyi and Acinetobacter haemolyticus. Right up at the top of the Wikipedia entry for Acinetobacter, Googling journalists on deadline are informed that the bacteria is an “important soil organism.” While that’s true of some members of the genus, it’s not true of the species causing these infections. You have to get down in the fine print to realize that A. baumannii — the evolutionary sequel — is a whole other kind of beast, native to hospitals, and worthy of its own Wikipedia entry.

This confusion has resulted in hundreds of news stories — and even a fact sheet [PDF link] put out by the Infectious Diseases Society of America — claiming that Acinetobacter baumannii is “commonly found in water and soil,” when the scientist who discovered antibiotic resistance in the organism, Lenie Dijkshoorn, a senior researcher at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, told me when I interviewed her for my Wired story, “My colleagues and I have been looking for Acinetobacter baumannii in soil samples for years, and we haven’t found it. These organisms are quite rare outside of hospitals.”

So what’s the big deal?  The big deal is that errors in medical journalism — particularly ones that proliferate everywhere in big media virtually unchallenged — can lead to bad medicine. I felt a chill pass over me when I read a 2006 paper in the Canadian Medical Association Journal that quoted Major Homer Tien, a Canadian trauma surgeon serving in Afghanistan, saying that because he believed the windblown desert sand carries A. baumannii, “There’s talk of building an antechamber to the hospital, so you’d have a double set of doors, to help keep the sand out.”

In any health-care setting, infection-control resources are stretched thin. Hospitals — on the front lines or back home — simply cannot afford this kind of confusion. Every news story that echoes the false claim that Acinetobacter baumannii is “commonly found in soil and water” is part of the problem.

A citizen journalist named Marcie Hascall Clark — the wife of a contractor who picked up the bacteria in a hospital after being wounded in Baghdad — has been sounding the alarm for years, a voice in the online wilderness. By 2007, when I wrote my Wired story, many physicians in the military had already figured out what was really going on, and were starting to implement strict protocols — including rebuilding the field hospitals, increasing disease surveillance, and isolating infected and colonized patients — to minimize colonization and new infections among wounded troops. The US medical establishment and smart science bloggers like Maryn McKenna, author of Superbug, have also awakened to the growing threat of this particularly nasty and adaptive organism. “In the all-star annals of resistant bugs,” McKenna wrote in June, “A. baumannii is an underappreciated player.”

Much of the media, however — from America to Japan — has yet to catch up.

September 8, 2010 Posted by | Acinetobacter, Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Pentagon, Propaganda | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pat Tillman’s mother on Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal: I told you so

Over the last five years, the Pentagon and Congress have had numerous opportunities to hold accountable those responsible for the coverup of Pat’s death. Each time they’ve failed. The government didn’t just lie to us; it lied to a nation

Mary Tillman speaks on Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his role in covering up the truth about her son’s death

Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal was forced to retire because of remarks he made to a Rolling Stone reporter. Having read the article that led to his departure, I feel strangely validated. “The Runaway General” described by journalist Michael Hastings is exactly the arrogant individual I believed him to be.

McChrystal was in charge of Joint Special Operations Command in 2004, when my son, Pat, was killed in Afghanistan. But I didn’t become aware of him until March 2007. That’s when someone anonymously sent an Associated Press reporter a copy of a high-priority correspondence. The memo was written on April 29, 2004, by McChrystal and sent to Gen. John P. Abizaid, Gen. Bryan Douglas Brown and Lt. Gen. Philip R. Kensinger Jr. Its purpose was to warn President George W. Bush and other officials to avoid making public comments about Pat’s heroic death at the hands of the enemy, because it was beginning to seem “highly possible that Corporal Tillman was killed by friendly fire.”

The memo went on to caution against “unknowing statements by our country’s leaders which might cause public embarrassment if the circumstances of Corporal Tillman’s death become public.”

We knew nothing about this memo at the time it was written. In fact, we did not learn until weeks after Pat’s memorial service that it was even possible he was killed by friendly fire.

The memo makes it clear there was no intention of telling the truth unless circumstances made it absolutely necessary. Much later, during Brig. Gen. Gary Jones’ investigation of Pat’s death, McChrystal was asked why we were kept in the dark.

“Question: Once you became aware that this was a possible fratricide, was there a conscious decision made not to tell the family of the possibility?”

“Witness: There was a conscious decision on who we told about the potential because we did not know all the facts. I did tell the senior leadership [long redaction] about the possibility prior to the memorial ceremony, because I felt they needed to know that before the ceremony. I believe that we did not tell the family of the possibility because we didn’t want to give them a half-baked finding.”

McChrystal says they didn’t want to give us a half-baked finding. Yet that is exactly what they did. Rather than being told there were questions about Pat’s death, we were presented with a contrived story, an absolute lie about how he had been killed by enemy fire.

What many people don’t realize is that Pat’s autopsy and field hospital report were very suspicious from the start. The autopsy gives a description of Pat’s body that led us to later question if the autopsy was even his, and the field hospital report contains language that suggests he was alive when he was brought back to the field hospital at Forward Operating Base Salerno. Yet soldiers’ statements indicated Pat was decapitated by the barrage of bullets, and he was deemed killed in action by the medic on the scene.

These horrifying discrepancies raised dire questions. Even the medical examiner called for a criminal investigation, but the adjutant general prevented it from going forward. By covering up the circumstances of Pat’s death, McChrystal and the rest of the chain of command may have, knowingly or unknowingly, covered up a crime.

McChrystal’s actions should have been grounds for firing him back then. That is why it was so disturbing to us when President Obama instead promoted McChrystal to the position of top commander in Afghanistan last year. At the time, I sent the president an e-mail and a letter reminding him of McChrystal’s involvement in Pat’s coverup. In the letter, I suggested McChrystal be “scrutinized very carefully” by the Senate Armed Services Committee. Pat’s father and I both gave statements to the media reiterating that McChrystal should be properly vetted. We had real knowledge of McChrystal’s questionable behavior, of actions that should perhaps have disqualified him from this position, and we felt it would be negligent not to do something. Our entreaties fell on deaf ears.

After McChrystal was forced to step down in June, I was contacted by several reporters and asked to give my thoughts about McChrystal, but I declined to comment. I hadn’t read the piece in its entirety, so it seemed inappropriate to respond. Now, though, I have read and thought about the article. Obama clearly had no choice but to relieve McChrystal of his command. But how sad that the president and Congress didn’t properly scrutinize the general a year ago.

People have asked, “Why is Pat so special that so much attention is given to his death”? I understand that question. Thousands of soldiers and Marines have died in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many of their families have also been lied to, yet those deaths have not received the attention Pat’s did. And Pat’s death continues to be in the news.

Pat’s story initially became news because he was well known for having played in the NFL. The government used his fame to create propaganda for the war. Pat is not more important or special than any of the others who have fought in these wars, but the truth of what happened to Pat — and to every soldier who has died — is important. The truth shines a light on systematic corruption, incompetence and lack of accountability in the military and in government.

Over the last five years, the Pentagon and Congress have had numerous opportunities to hold accountable those responsible for the coverup of Pat’s death. Each time they’ve failed. The government didn’t just lie to us; it lied to a nation.

August 8, 2010 Posted by | Afghanistan, Propaganda | , , , , | Leave a comment