Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

Eritrea: Free Political Prisoners 10 Years On – President Isaias in New York to Demand UN Respect His Rights, Denies Them to His People

“Instead of lobbying the UN, President Isaias should allow people to speak freely, to worship as they please, and to leave Eritrea if they want,” said Bekele. “Eritreans will continue to face prolonged, indefinite national service, repression, and torture unless President Isaias changes his abusive policies”

All Africa Human Rights Watch Washington DC   September 22, 2011

Ten years after President Isaias Afewerki of Eritrea ordered the detention of 21 senior government members and journalists who criticized him, his government should release the detainees or reveal their fate, Human Rights Watch said in a briefing paper released today. Eritrea should also open its jails to international monitors, Human Rights Watch said.

Isaias is visiting New York for the United Nations General Assembly in an attempt to rehabilitate his country’s image even as his government labors under UN sanctions for its role in supporting the Somali insurgent group al-Shabaab.

In the past 10 years, Isaias has closed all independent media outlets and turned Eritrea into a country where arbitrary arrest, torture, disappearance, and death are rife and where it is almost impossible to leave. The paper, “Eritrea: 10 Long Years, A Briefing on Eritrea’s Missing Political Prisoners,” outlines what is known about the political prisoners, none of whom has been seen by outsiders since being detained in September 2001.

“Eritrea is effectively a giant prison, and international pressure should continue on Eritrea until President Isaias frees political prisoners and restores the rule of law,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “To start with, President Isaias should end the inhumanity of prolonged secret, silent detention and allow family members and international monitors to see the prisoners.”

In mid-September 2001, Isaias ordered the arrest of 11 high government officials who had written open letters criticizing his rule. He also arrested 10 journalists who had published the letters and other information critical of him and his policies, and closed all independent newspapers.

The 20 men and one woman have never been seen again by anyone outside the penal system, including their families, lawyers, or prison monitoring groups. They have never been afforded a hearing; rather, all 21 were incarcerated in secret detention facilities in solitary confinement. According to former guards whose reports Human Rights Watch has not been able to confirm, 10 of the 21 have died in prison and the remaining 11 are physically or mentally incapacitated and emaciated.

The 21 are the most prominent victims of Isaias’s denial of basic rights, but hundreds of thousands of others in the country of 5 million have been victimized during the past decade. The briefing paper recounts that thousands of Eritreans are incarcerated because they are suspected of not fully supporting the regime or have attempted to flee Eritrea’s compulsory and indefinite national service. They are given no access to a court and no means to appeal to any impartial body. Thousands more Eritreans are incarcerated because they are members of religious groups that the Eritrean government refuses to recognize as legitimate: Jehovah’s Witnesses, evangelical Christian churches, and reformist wings of the Eritrean Orthodox Church.

Please read the entire press release here

September 23, 2011 Posted by | Africa, Eritrea, Journalists, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

U.S. officials believe ISI ordered journalist killed

FP Foreign Policy Daily Brief  July 5, 2011

U.S. intelligence officials reportedly believe that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI) ordered the killing in May of journalist Saleem Shahzad, after Shahzad investigated connections between the ISI and militants (NYT).

Intelligence was gathered about the threat to Shahzad’s life before and after his disappearance, and an official said that, “Every indication is that this was a deliberate, targeted killing that was most likely meant to send shock waves through Pakistan’s journalist community and civil society.”

July 5, 2011 Posted by | Journalists, Pakistan, Safety and Security Issues | , , , | Leave a comment

CIA used Blackwater Linked Mercenaries as Journalists

Special Reports
CIA used Blackwater-linked mercenaries as journalists
By Wayne Madsen
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 4, 2009, 00:21

(WMR) — The CIA used credentialed journalists to engage in counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism operations from 2003 to 2005.

WMR has learned that two individuals working as subcontractors to the CIA had significant links to Blackwater’s CIA-approved and sanctioned operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran. Both traveled with credentials issued by United Press International (UPI), the wire service owned by News World Communications, owned by South Korean cult leader Reverend Sun Myung Moon.

One of the contractor fake UPI journalists obtained a journalist visa from the Iranian Interests Section, which operates under the Pakistan embassy in Washington, to visit Tehran in 2003 and engaged in “target analysis and spotting” for a planned U.S. attack on Iran. The fake journalist also maintained close liaison with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s office and officers of the Israeli Defense Force. The “reporter” also engaged in counter-intelligence/terrorism operations in the Pakistani northwest tribal border region with Afghanistan, as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Another journalist covert agent operated in Afghanistan with not only a UPI credential but also a UPI tri-band international cell phone, which the individual used to run up a huge phone bill making phone calls from Afghanistan and other locations to the United States.

One of the CIA journalist agents also swept up intelligence on the knowledge possessed by various overseas officials about what they knew about the 9/11 attacks. These included Taliban, Northern Alliance, and Pashtun officials in Afghanistan, Pakistani Inter Service Intelligence (ISI) officers and mujaheddin elements once allied to the CIA during the Afghan war with the Soviet Union, Saudi government officials, and members of the neocon-linked Iraqi National Congress, including its leader Ahmad Chalabi.

Both faux journalists were also in Uzbekistan in the months following 9/11, ostensibly to cover the regional news from that country. However, the country was also a focal point for U.S. military activities in the region and, in 2005, Uzbek forces launched an attack against protesters in Andijan, killing up to 1,500 people. The government claimed the protesters were Islamic radicals but later admitted they were protesting poor economic conditions.

The CIA has long stressed that it does not use journalists as agents. However, the use of UPI-credentialed journalists in private military contractor covert operations puts to rest that stated policy.

Both journalists in question were veterans of the U.S. Special Forces and had close links to the headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Blackwater/Xe maintains a training facility at Moyock, North Carolina.

Over the past few days, the Associated Press has reported that the CIA used Blackwater contract assassins in other countries and there have been other reports that the firm used foreign mercenaries to carry out covert operations. The AP also quoted one former high-level CIA official as stating that the agency used Blackwater for hit teams because “you wouldn’t want to have American fingerprints on it.”

WMR has also learned that a Blackwater security operative infiltrated the presidential campaigns of former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska and Representative Ron Paul (R-TX). The operative, who was permitted to carry loaded weapons at televised presidential debates featuring other candidates, including Secret Service-protected candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, as well as Senators John McCain, Joe Biden, and Chris Dodd, Representative Dennis Kucinich, and former Governors Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, also served in Iraq and had close ties with the Israeli Defense Force. The Secret Service refused to interfere with the Blackwater employee’s access to the presidential candidates of both parties, claiming that whom presidential candidates chose to have as their personal security members was their business. The Blackwater employee also was permitted to fly on regularly-scheduled commercial flights with the loaded weapons.

The employee’s affiliations were not much of a secret as one source reported that he had a “huge Star of David” tattooed on his chest.

September 4, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment