There are lots of signs the nation, now amid its longest war ever in Afghanistan – and just finishing up a second lengthy military campaign in Iraq – has been fighting too long. Sure, the budget deficits are one sign. So is the human carnage, both among innocent civilians in both lands, but also among the 2.4 million U.S. troops who have fought there. Beyond the 6,300 Americans killed and 40,000 wounded are the broken families, PTSD and suicides the wars have triggered.
But here’s a new one: 28 firefighters who went to work in the war zones for private contractors KBR and Wackenhut claim they were shortchanged by their employers.
They have filed a class-action suit on behalf of some 2,000 firefighters and maintain they routinely “were required to provide 24/7 fire protection” but paid for only 12 hours. When the firefighters complained, they allegedly were told “that they were lucky to have jobs, that they would be fired and sent back to America, and that many were waiting in line for their jobs,” their suit alleges. “Various phrases were used as shorthand for threats to fire if the Plaintiffs continued to complain, such as `chicken or beef,’ which referred to the dining choices one had on the flight home from Iraq.”
It’s a safe bet the contractors will deny wrongdoing, and it’s a safe bet the firefighters’ claim for $100 million is excessive. But what’s also clear is that any war that generates a need for private firefighting forces – and then drags on so long that the firefighters become aggrieved enough to believe they have a case that they were underpaid – is a war that has gone on too long for the firefighters, the contractors, the military and the country. Not to mention the taxpayers
More on the Class Action Lawsuit against Wackenhut at www.scottblochlaw.com
On November 29, 2010, we discovered that certain hard drives shipped from our office in Iraq were stolen in transit to out US offices along with other office equipment. After investigation, on November 30, 2010 we determined, to the best of our knowledge, that the stolen hard drives contained personal information of certain of our past employees. Based on our investigation, we believe that the stolen hard drives contained the following unencrypted personal information of our past employees: (i) first and last names, (ii) social security numbers, (iii) passport numbers, (iv) last known home addresses and (v) date of birth and place of birth.
On December 13, 2010 WSLLC notified each of the affected personnel via the US Postal Service to inform them of the breach. They were offered a one year subscription to ConsumerInfo.com credit monitoring service and some advice on how to best protect their credit.
Wackenhut was the primary provider of fire protection services at FOB’s/COB’s in Iraq from 2004 until they lost the contract in Nov 2010. The loss of the contract would account for the reason the hard drives and office equipment was being shipped back to the states. That’s six years worth of employee information on those hard drives. We could easily be talking about 10,000 affected employees.
I’ve contacted WSLLC for answers to specific questions and asked if they would like to make a statement regarding this incident. As of the publishing of this post I have yet to received a response from them.
Wackenhut is not the first company to lose control of it’s employees personal information. A an employee of joint Venture Stanley Baker Hill (SBH) and DAAR published and distributed the names and social security of 269 employees working in Iraq and elsewhere. SBH was the contractor awarded the task of electrical inspections in Iraq for Task Force SAFE. They have since been replaced Versar International Inc.. Many victims on this list were employees of the individual companies in Iraq and elsewhere and had no association with the SBH joint venture. I believe the four individual companies of Stanley Consutants, Michael Baker Corporation, Hill International, or DAAR Engineering still have US Government contracts. At the time of that posting SHB still had not officially notified everyone on the list. Many found out about the breach after reading the article on MsSparky.com. I do not believe SBH ever contacted any State Attorney General’s office.