Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

US Downsizing Operations in Iraq

The Turkish Weekly Tuesday, 7 August 2012

From its sprawling, $750 million embassy in Baghdad – the largest, most expensive American diplomatic mission in the world – Washington had hoped for a cozy relationship with the Iraqi government, forged after a U.S.-led military coalition ousted former president Saddam Hussein.

But in the seven months since the United States withdrew its combat forces from Iraq, U.S. relations with Baghdad have deteriorated as Iraqi insurgents have carried out a major attack at least once a month.

Hundreds of people have been killed in the ongoing violence that included coordinated bombings and gunbattles on July 23 unleashed by Iraq’s al-Qaida affiliate.

​​As American influence in Iraq has ebbed to its lowest point in years, and with Iraq in political turmoil, the Obama administration recently announced large reductions to the size and scope of its mission in a country less willing to accept a significant American footprint.

These include plans to slash the huge diplomatic presence it had envisioned for Iraq by one-third, drastically pare down a highly-touted but deeply unpopular police training program and close its consulate in Kirkuk.

Please read the entire article here

August 8, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues, State Department, USAID | , , , , , | Leave a comment

US insists Iraq police training not being scrapped

AFP  May 13, 2012

BAGHDAD — The US embassy in Baghdad insisted on Sunday it had no plans to shut down a multi-billion-dollar police training programme that it said was a “vital part” of its enormous civilian mission here.

Responding to a New York Times report that the US may phase the programme out entirely, the embassy did not comment on the newspaper’s claims it would reduce the number of police advisers to just 50 or directly address charges it spent more than $100 million on a facility that it will no longer use.

“Despite a New York Times report to the contrary, the US Embassy in Baghdad and the Department of State have no plans to shut down the Police Development Programme in Iraq that began in October 2011,” an embassy statement said.

It said it would return a Baghdad Police College annex to Iraqi authorities, thereby relocating US police advisers to the heavily-fortified embassy and generating “considerable cost savings”.

“The Police Development Programme is a vital part of the US-Iraqi relationship and an effective means of standing by our Iraqi friends as they protect their sovereignty and democratic institutions from internal and external threats,” embassy spokesman Michael McClellan said in the statement.

Citing unnamed State Department officials, the New York Times reported on Sunday that new restructuring plans called for the number of police advisers to be reduced to just 50, from what was originally envisioned as a cadre of 350.

It also said that the embassy spent more than $100 million on upgrades to the Baghdad Police College, but that the building was “recently abandoned, unfinished”.

The embassy did not immediately confirm the amount of money spent on the police college, and a spokesman said that “all staffing levels are evaluated periodically in coordination with the” Iraqi government.

May 13, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, State Department | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Civilian Contractor Former Flour Employee David John Welch pleads guilty to stealing, selling military equipment

Associated Press at The Times News  April 2, 2012

RALEIGH — A civilian contractor from Hope Mills has pleaded guilty to his role in a scheme that involved the black market sale of equipment stolen from a U.S. military base in Iraq.

The U.S. Justice Department says David John Welch entered the plea Monday in Raleigh federal court.

The 36-year-old was the operations manager for a U.S. government contractor at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad.

Prosecutors say Welch and another person hatched a plan to steal and sell 38 military generators on the black market in Iraq last year. Investigators say Welch made nearly $39,000 from the scheme.

Welch’s sentencing is scheduled for July 9. He faces up to five years in prison and a fine of $250,000. He also has to pay the government $160,000 in restitution

For more on this see

Former Civilian Contractor Pleads Guilty in North Carolina for Role in Scheme to Steal and Sell Military Equipment in Iraq at MsSparky

April 10, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Iraq | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Zone empties out under Iraqi control

Dan Norse The Washington Post  February 19, 2012

BAGHDAD — Green Zone. International Zone. The Bubble. To the foreigners still living there, the Iraqi capital’s fortified center has a new name: Ghost Town.

The Iraqi government has taken full control of the former heart of the American occupation. It decides who gets past the 17-foot-tall concrete blast walls encircling the zone

On the inside, Iraqi police and military forces have raided the offices of private security companies, prompting the firms and commercial companies that rely on them to relocate.

“They have hit a point where it’s virtually impossible to stay,” said Doug Brooks, president of the International Stability Operations Association, a trade group that represents foreign firms and nonprofit organizations in Iraq.

The result: The International Zone has become the Iraqi Zone, and an increasingly isolated one at that

Please see the original and read more here

February 19, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

State Department Fixing the Facts Based on Policy in Iraq

State Department personnel in Iraq may be in danger as transition plans leave gaps in security and medical care

Peter Van Buren at HuffPost  November 22, 2011

Please see Peter Van Buren’s blog We Meant Well

The State Department can often times be so inward looking that it fixes the facts based on the policy need, making reality fit the vision whether that naughty reality wants to or not. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it can be tragic.

When I arrived at my second Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Iraq, we were told to call the area we worked in the “Sunni Triangle of Death.” The meme was “Look at us bad boys, reconstructing the nasty Sunni Triangle of Death. It proves State is not a sissy.” About six months later we were told to stop calling the place the “Sunni Triangle of Death,” because since we had been working for half a year, we needed to show some progress. “Triangle of Death” did not signify progress so the Embassy banned the term to fit the policy meme, even though nothing had really changed. No real harm done, I guess.

Around election time, the initial plan was for PRT staffers to observe the March 2010 voting up close, mostly so the Embassy could claim the election was legitimate based on the happy-talk reports we understood we were to file. That was part of the warp, but the real kicker was that to show our faith in Iraqi security, we were told we were not to wear body armor at the polling stations. The Embassy felt that photos of us all geared up, as we believed we needed to be based on local security conditions, would not play well with their PR campaign that all was well. There was a lot of back channel grumbling, and a few threats to refuse to observe, and the Embassy quietly just changed plans and canceled most of the rural observations. Again, narrowly, no real harm done.

Now, as the State Department rushes to replace all of the military support it needs to exist in still-dangerous Iraq without the Army, there are fears that the warping of reality may indeed endanger lives in Baghdad

Please read the entire post here

November 22, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Former Army Corps of Engineers Employee Pleads Guilty to Accepting Bribes from Iraqi Contractors

Execute Army Corp of Engineers projects as part of rebuilding Iraq program. Manage public work, military base and Iraqi infrastructure building construction projects. Mentor and train Iraqi Engineers to step up to the Western techniques in financial and financial project schedule management. ~LinkedIn Profile

He apparently was also the Deputy Program Manager for in Iraq prior to landing the USACE gig. I hope the DoD, DoJ and are reviewing his dealings at too! ~Forseti

Cross Posted from MsSparky

(DoJ) – WASHINGTON – September 19, 2011 –

A former employee of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, pleaded guilty today to conspiring to receive bribes from Iraqi contractors involved in the U.S.-funded reconstruction efforts, announced Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride for the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge James W. McJunkin of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

, 50, of Chantilly, Va., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga in the Eastern District of Virginia. Sentencing has been scheduled for Dec. 9, 2011. Manok faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

According to court documents, Manok admitted to using his official position to conspire with Iraqi contractors to accept cash bribes in exchange for recommending that the Army Corps of Engineers approve contracts and other requests for payment submitted by the contractors to the U.S. government. According to court documents, in March and April 2010, Manok agreed to receive a $10,000 payment from one such contractor who had been involved in constructing a kindergarten and girls’ school in the neighborhood of Baghdad and had sought Manok’s influence in having requests for payment approved by the Corps of Engineers. According to court documents, Manok was to receive an additional bribe payment from the contractor once the contractor’s claim had been approved. Manok also admitted that he intended to conceal the payments from authorities by transferring them, via associates, from Iraq to Armenia.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General, the Army Criminal Investigation Command and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, as participants in the International Contract Corruption Task Force. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Nathanson of the Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Mary Ann McCarthy of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.

Please go to MsSparky to read more

September 19, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, USACE | , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Norwegian Contractors Injured in Baghdad IED Blast

Hamid Ahmed Associated Press May 16, 2011

BAGHDAD — Two members of Iraq’s security forces were killed and two Norwegian contractors injured Monday in attacks in Baghdad, part of a recent uptick in violence as U.S. troops prepare to leave the country by year’s end, authorities said.

In Monday’s attacks, an Iraqi guard died at al-Kindi hospital about 90 minutes after the convoy he was trying to protect hit a roadside bomb on a major highway in eastern Baghdad, officials said.

Two Norwegians along with two Iraqi guards were injured in the blast. A hospital official said they were in stable condition and being treated for shrapnel wounds.

The convoy was headed to Iraq’s water resources ministry, which had hired the Norwegians as consultants. The ministry is located in central Baghdad.

Please read the entire article here

May 16, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , | Leave a comment

Appeals Court Reinstates Blackwater Manslaughter Case in D.C.

By Blog of the Legal Times  April 22, 2011 

A federal appeals court today reinstated the prosecution of a group of Blackwater security guards charged in Washington with manslaughter and weapons violations for their alleged roles in a shooting in Baghdad that killed more than a dozen civilians.

In December 2009, Judge Ricardo Urbina of U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed the Justice Department prosecution of five guards, saying the prosecution was tainted through the improper use of compelled statements the defendants made to investigators following the shooting in September 2007. DOJ appealed the ruling.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously reversed Urbina’s decision, sending the case back to the trial court for further hearings. The appeals court’s 17-page redacted opinion is here. (The court simultaneously filed a confidential opinion under seal. The court heard oral argument in a closed session in February.)

Lawyers for the guards were not immediately reached for comment this morning. Steptoe & Johnson counsel Bruce Bishop argued for the guards, collectively, and the Justice Department’s Demetra Lambros of the Criminal Division appellate section represented the government. “We’re pleased with the ruling and are assessing the next steps,” DOJ spokesman Dean Boyd said.

After the fatal shooting, the Blackwater guards provided sworn written statements to the State Department on forms that included a guarantee that the information would not be used in a criminal proceeding. Urbina found disclosure of the defendants’ statements tainted much of the evidence federal prosecutors presented to a grand jury.

The D.C. Circuit remanded the prosecution with instructions for Urbina to determine what evidence the government presented against each defendant that was tainted and “in the case of any such presentation, whether in light of the entire record had shown it to have been harmless beyond a reasonable doubt.”

The panel judges—Senior Judge Stephen Williams and Judges Merrick Garland and Douglas Ginsburg—said in the court’s ruling that Urbina made “a number of systemic errors based on an erroneous legal analysis.”

The court said, among other things, the “presence, extent and possible harmfulness” of tainted evidence must be reviewed on an individual basis even though the government brought a single indictment charging five guards.

“To the extent that evidence tainted by the impact of one defendant’s immunized statements may be found to have accounted for the indictment of that defendant, it does not follow that the indictment of any other defendant was tainted,” Williams wrote in the ruling for the appeals court. “The district court assumed the contrary.”

The D.C. Circuit also said Urbina failed to detail what statements from the guards “played exactly what role” in guiding the government’s investigation of the shooting in Iraq. “We cannot uphold the judgment of dismissal to the extent that it rests on such vague propositions,” the appeals court said.

Four guards–Paul Slough, Evan Liberty, Dustin Heard and Donald Ball–face the potential for further prosecution in Washington federal district court. Prosecutors abandoned the case against the fifth guard, Nicholas Slatten. But DOJ moved to dismiss without prejudice, reserving the right to seek re-indictment.  Please see the original at Blog of the Legal Times

April 22, 2011 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Casualties, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, State Department, Xe | , , , , | Leave a comment

Baghdad Bombers Hit Green Zone Checkpoint

The New York Times April 18, 2011

BAGHDAD — A spate of violence spread across Baghdad on Monday, including a series of explosions at a checkpoint to the heavily fortified Green Zone, killing at least six people and wounding at least 30, including a former high-ranking official.

The attacks, which ended nearly three months of relative calm in Baghdad, demonstrated that as the United States prepares to withdraw its troops by the end of the year the security situation in Baghdad remains tenuous and the Green Zone remains a target of insurgents.

At 8 a.m., an explosive device was detonated near Baghdad University, injuring two people, government officials said. Sounds of gunfire broke out throughout the city and a few minutes later a suicide bomber detonated a car bomb at the Green Zone checkpoint.

April 18, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Safety and Security Issues | , , | Leave a comment

US Baghdad embassy will double in size

A private security force some 5,500 strong will protect the large US diplomatic presence in Iraq, Jeffrey told the lawmakers

AFP  April 1, 2011

BAGHDAD — The US Embassy in Baghdad, already the largest in the world, is expected to double its staff after American forces pull out of the country later this year, Washington’s envoy said on Friday.

“We’ll be doubling our size if all of our plans go through and if we receive the money from Congress in 2011 and then again in 2012,” James Jeffrey, the US ambassador in Iraq, told reporters.

He said the staff would increase “from 8,000 plus personnel that we have now to roughly double that by 2012,” adding that US forces would make up only a very small part of that number.

“This will be an extraordinarily large embassy with many different functions. Some we took over from USFI (United States Forces in Iraq) and some of them continuation of the work we are doing now.”

Jeffrey said that US military advisers and trainers would stay or be added to support the Iraqi military with US-made equipment such as M1A1 tanks and other weaponry. He said the added personnel would not include combat troops.

Please read the entire article here

April 1, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , | Leave a comment

Baghdad to US: You owe us $1bn

From Press TV You S Desk

Baghdad has asked the U.S. to apologize and pay $1 billion for the damage wrought by Humvees and blast walls during the Iraq war.

“The U.S. forces changed this beautiful city (Baghdad) to a camp in an ugly and destructive way, which reflected deliberate ignorance and carelessness about the simplest forms of public taste,” the city said in a statement.

The statement makes no reference to damage caused by bombs, Reuters notes. Officials instead made mention of the concrete blast walls constructed throughout the city, which they say tend to cause traffic jams and have damaged sewer and water systems, pavement, and parks. Only 5% of the walls have been removed since violence in the country died down. They also say U.S. Humvees, which were driven over gardens and street medians, caused further damage.

The Iraqi capital city’s government issued its demands in a statement on Wednesday, Feb 16, that said Baghdad’s infrastructure and aesthetics had been seriously damaged by the American military.

‘The U.S. forces changed this beautiful city to a camp in an ugly and destructive way, which reflected deliberate ignorance and carelessness about the simplest forms of public taste,’ the statement said.

‘Due to the huge damage, leading to a loss the Baghdad municipality cannot afford … we demand the American side apologize to Baghdad’s people and pay back these expenses.’

Baghdad’s neighborhoods have been sealed off by miles of concrete blast walls, transforming the city into a tangled maze that contributes to massive traffic jams.

Despite a reduction in overall violence in recent years only 5 percent of the walls have been removed, officials said.

The heavy blast walls have damaged sewer and water systems, pavement and parks, said Hakeem Abdul Zahra, the city spokesman.

U.S. military Humvees, driven on street medians and through gardens, have also caused major damage, he said.

‘The city of Baghdad feels these violations, which have taken place for years, have caused economic and moral damage,’ he said.  Read more on this story at Press TV

February 17, 2011 Posted by | Iraq | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ex-Blackwater firm seeks to stop lawsuit

The Charlotte Observer

The government contractor formerly known as Blackwater asked a federal judge Friday to reconsider his ruling that allows a lawsuit to proceed in the 2007 shootings of Iraqi civilians.

Federal judge Terrence Boyle issued an opinion earlier this week remanding a suit against the N.C.-based company to state court.

The ruling kept alive the last active lawsuit connected to the Sept. 16, 2007, Nisoor Square shooting in Baghdad

Please read the entire article here

January 29, 2011 Posted by | Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Oversight, Iraq, Legal Jurisdictions, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

Contractor Injured in Green Zone Rocket Attack aimed at Security Contractor

FACTBOX-Security developments in Iraq, Sept 23

BAGHDAD – Three rockets targeting a security company were fired at Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone government and diplomatic enclave, wounding one foreign contractor, an Iraqi army source said. Police said two rockets were fired without giving any further details.

September 23, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Iraq, Private Security Contractor, State Department | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Security Contractors killed in Green Zone Rocket Attack

Rocket attack on Baghdad Green Zone kills three

The dead and wounded are all employees of the US contractor Triple Canopy.

Two Ugandans and a Peruvian died, and two Americans were among the those wounded when the rocket struck on Thursday.

Triple Canopy, based in Herndon, Virginia, guards security checkpoints for US military facilities in Iraq.

The firm was founded by US special forces veterans.

Rueters

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – A rocket attack on Baghdad’s international Green Zone on Thursday killed two Ugandans and a Peruvian working for a security contractor hired to protect U.S. facilities in Iraq, the U.S. embassy said.

Fifteen other people, two of them American, were wounded, all employees of the security contractor, the embassy said in a statement.

July 22, 2010 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, Private Security Contractor, Safety and Security Issues | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Video of Journalists’ Death Answers Some Questions, but Raises Others

by Marian Wang, ProPublica  T Christian Miller contributed to this story

April 7: This post has been corrected.

On Monday, WikiLeaks made a big splash when it released a still-classified military video [1] from 2007 that shows a U.S. helicopter gunship shooting down a group of men in a suburb of Baghdad.

Reactions to the video range [2] widely: Some believe it betrays a possible war crime; others find it completely justifiable. Interestingly enough, many commentators fail to mention that, in recent weeks, the military itself has made some serious admissions about shooting civilians.

During a videoconference to answer soldiers’ questions in March, military officials said that U.S and allied forces had killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others during shooting incidents at Afghan checkpoints and during convoy runs, the New York Times reported in a little noticed story [3]. Gen. Stanley McChrystal said that military inquiries into the incidents revealed that none of civilians had turned out to be threats.

“We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat,” McChrystal said during the videoconference, the Times reported.

Earlier this week the U.S. military did an about-face and admitted that American forces killed three Afghan women [4] during a nighttime raid in February. The military had previously denied involvement in their deaths.

Same Video, Different Interpretations

The aerial footage of the attack begins with several men walking down a street in Baghdad. The audio of transmissions between the helicopter pilots and gunners indicate that they believe some of the men in the group are armed, but it’s unclear from the video whether they are. The military personnel request permission to engage, and it is granted. They fire on the men, most of whom are struck down immediately. One in the group is wounded and proceeds to slowly crawl away. An unmarked rescue van pulls up, and two men get out of the vehicle to help the wounded man and transport him elsewhere, but the personnel in the helicopter request permission to shoot the van, and when it is granted, they fire on it. Later, ground reconnaissance reveals that two Iraqi children are in the van and are wounded. Both the man who had been crawling and another man who was killed in the first round of fire were later identified as journalists working for Reuters [5].

Please read the story in it’s entirety at ProPublica

April 7, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment