Overseas Civilian Contractors

News and issues relating to Civilian Contractors working Overseas

If State Dept Is Not Cancelling Iraqi Police Training Program, Why Is Its Contractor Packing Up?

Excerpts from:  DiploPundit  May 16, 2012

Last week, NYT reported that the U.S. May Scrap Costly Efforts to Train Iraqi Police. We blogged about it in State Dept May Dump Multi-Billion Dollar Iraqi Police Program; Noooooooo! Not So Says Embassy Baghdad.

During the Daily Press Briefing of May 14, the State Department Spokesperson clarified that “we have no intention to cancel our police training program in Iraq,” and told reporters that the department “had considerable difficulties with that story.”

If that is so, how come it has not requested a retraction of this NYT story? But more to the point, why it its contractor handling the police training program in Iraq, packing up?

Either the NYT got this right or the NYT got this wrong.

And while State is working on “that set of issues” we heard from an official familiar with the program both under DOD and State that the contractor for the Police Development Program is packing up and will be out of there by this summer.

“If DoS intends to continue the program, they had better let the primary contractor know this because it is shuttering their operation as we speak.”

Our source says that there are less than 50 police trainers currently working under this contract, and by August 2012, all of them, will leave Iraq and finally end their embassy compound sequestration.

Somebody please send this tip to the spokespersons in Foggy Bottom and the US Embassy in Baghdad, in case this item was deemed “need to know.”

Please read the entire post at DiploPundit

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Iraq, State Department | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anthony Shadid, Reporter in the Middle East, Dies at 43

New York Times  February 16. 2012

Anthony Shadid, the two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning foreign correspondent who died on Thursday at 43, had long been passionately interested in the Middle East, first because of his Lebanese-American heritage and later because of what he saw there firsthand.

Mr. Shadid spent most of his professional life covering the region, as a reporter first with The Associated Press; then The Boston Globe; then with The Washington Post, for which he won Pulitzer Prizes in 2004 and 2010; and afterward with The New York Times. At his death, from what appeared to be an asthma attack, he was on assignment for The Times in Syria.

Mr. Shadid’s hiring by The Times at the end of 2009 was widely considered a coup for the newspaper, for he had been esteemed throughout his career as an intrepid reporter, a keen observer, an insightful analyst and a lyrical stylist. Much of his work centered on ordinary people who had been forced to pay an extraordinary price for living in the region — or belonging to the religion, ethnic group or social class — that they did.

He was known most recently to Times readers for his clear-eyed coverage of the Arab Spring. For his reporting on that sea change sweeping the region — which included dispatches from Lebanon and Egypt — The Times nominated him, along with a team of his colleagues, for the 2012 Pulitzer in international reporting. (The awards are announced in April.)

In its citation accompanying the nomination, The Times wrote:

“Steeped in Arab political history but also in its culture, Shadid recognized early on that along with the despots, old habits of fear, passivity and despair were being toppled. He brought a poet’s voice, a deep empathy for the ordinary person and an unmatched authority to his passionate dispatches.”

Please read more about Anthony Shadid here

February 17, 2012 Posted by | Afghanistan, Journalists | , , , | Leave a comment

NEW YORK TIMES PEDDLES LIES IN ARTICLE

We Posted the New York Times Article here and felt we should post this also

Cross Posted from Eben Barlow’s Military and Security Blog

They say if you tell a lie enough times, it eventually becomes “the truth”.

The New York Times have certainly tried to keep up with that adage, prompting me to write to them a few minutes ago.

My letter read as follows:

Pretoria,

South Africa

15th May 2011

Dear Editor,

It was with interest that I read your article headlined Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater’s Founder dated 14 May 2011 by your journalists Mark Mazzetti and Emily B Hager.

As the founder and chairman of the now defunct Executive Outcomes, I found it of even greater interest that they state in their article as fact that Executive Outcomes was “a South African company notorious for staging coup attempts…in Africa”.

Indeed, the only fact in their reference to Executive Outcomes is that it was a South African company.

Had your journalists done even the most basic of research, they would have discovered that:

Executive Outcomes was intimately involved in drafting the South African government’s legislation on foreign military companies

Executive Outcomes had a licence from the South African government to conduct its business

Executive Outcomes only accepted contracts from legitimate, internationally recognised governments. This included South Africa, Angola, Botswana, Sierra Leone and Indonesia to name a few

The South African media apologised to me for allowing themselves to be used to perpetuate disinformation on both myself and my company.

The book Executive Outcomes: Against all Odds, was written by myself and published in 2007 by Galago Publishing, detailing the company’s origins, contracts and activities. To date, no information I gave in the book has been refuted by any party.

I personally remain opposed to coups and I also run a blog where I have written, warned against and prevented coups in Africa (http://eebenbarlowsmilitaryandsecurityblog.blogspot.com/2011/02/warning-against-joining-planned-coup.html)

However, as your paper accepted and published a factually incorrect comment on Executive Outcomes, despite it being libellous, I reserve the right to take legal action. Meanwhile I demand that your journalists furnish me with proof of any coup attempts planned or staged by the defunct Executive Outcomes. Should your journalists argue that the failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea is an example of such an action, may I point out that Executive Outcomes closed its doors in January 1998. It therefore cannot, in any way, be linked to a coup attempt several years later. If any ex-Executive Outcomes men were recruited by the planners of such a coup, Executive Outcomes can still not be linked to the attempt.

I look forward to your comments.

Sincerely,

EEBEN BARLOW

Please see the original with comments here

May 15, 2011 Posted by | Civilian Contractors, Private Military Contractors, Private Security Contractor | , , | Leave a comment

U.S. Subpoenas Times Reporter Over Book on C.I.A.

By Charlies Savage   The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is seeking to compel a writer to testify about his confidential sources for a 2006 book about the Central Intelligence Agency, a rare step that was authorized by Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.

The author, James Risen, who is a reporter for The New York Times, received a subpoena on Monday requiring him to provide documents and to testify May 4 before a grand jury in Alexandria, Va., about his sources for a chapter of his book, “State of War: The Secret History of the C.I.A. and the Bush Administration.” The chapter largely focuses on problems with a covert C.I.A. effort to disrupt alleged Iranian nuclear weapons research.

Mr. Risen referred questions to his lawyer, Joel Kurtzberg, a partner at Cahill Gordon & Reindel L.L.P., who said that Mr. Risen would not comply with the demand and would ask a judge to quash the subpoena.

“He intends to honor his commitment of confidentiality to his source or sources,” Mr. Kurtzberg said. “We intend to fight this subpoena.”

The subpoena comes two weeks after the indictment of a former National Security Agency official on charges apparently arising from an investigation into a series of Baltimore Sun articles that exposed technical failings and cost overruns of several agency programs that cost billions of dollars.

The lead prosecutor in both investigations is William Welch II. He formerly led the Justice Department’s public integrity unit, but left that position in October after its botched prosecution of Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska.

Matthew A. Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to discuss the subpoena to Mr. Risen or to confirm its existence. “As a general matter, we have consistently said that leaks of classified information are a matter we take extremely seriously,” he said.

Mr. Risen and a colleague won a Pulitzer Prize for a December 2005 New York Times article that exposed the existence of the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance program. While many critics — including Barack Obama, then a senator — called that program illegal, the Bush administration denounced the article as a damaging leak of classified information and opened an investigation into its sources. No one has been indicted in that matter.

The second chapter in Mr. Risen’s book provides a detailed description of the program. But Mr. Kurtzberg said the Justice Department was seeking information only about Mr. Risen’s sources for the ninth chapter, which centers on the C.I.A.’s effort to disrupt Iranian nuclear research. That material did not appear in The Times.

The book describes how the agency sent a Russian nuclear scientist — who had defected to the United States and was secretly working for the C.I.A. — to Vienna in February 2000 to give plans for a nuclear bomb triggering device to an Iranian official under the pretext that he would provide further assistance in exchange for money. The C.I.A. had hidden a technical flaw in the designs.

The scientist immediately spotted the flaw, Mr. Risen reported. Nevertheless, the agency proceeded with the operation, so the scientist decided on his own to alert the Iranians that there was a problem in the designs, thinking they would not take him seriously otherwise.

Mr. Risen described the operation as reckless, arguing that Iranian scientists may have been able to “extract valuable information from the blueprints while ignoring the flaws.” He also wrote that a C.I.A. case officer, believing that the agency had “assisted the Iranians in joining the nuclear club,” told a Congressional intelligence committee about the problems, but that no action was taken.

It is not clear whether the Iranians had figured out that the Russian scientist had been working for the C.I.A. before publication of Mr. Risen’s book.

The Bush administration had sought Mr. Risen’s cooperation in identifying his sources for the Iran chapter of his book, and it obtained an earlier subpoena against him in January 2008 under Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey. But Mr. Risen fought the subpoena, and never had to testify before it expired last summer. That left it up to Mr. Holder to decide whether to press forward with the matter by seeking a new subpoena.

If a judge does not agree to quash the subpoena and Mr. Risen still refuses to comply, he risks being held in contempt of court. In 2005, a Times reporter, Judith Miller, was jailed for 85 days for refusing to testify in connection with the Valerie Plame Wilson leak case.

Department rules say prosecutors may seek such subpoenas only if the information they are seeking is essential and cannot be obtained another way, and the attorney general must personally sign off after balancing the public’s interest in the news against the public’s interest in effective law enforcement.

Congress is considering legislation that would let judges make that determination, giving them greater power to quash subpoenas to reporters. The Obama administration supports such a media-shield bill, and the House of Representatives has passed a version of it. But a Senate version has been stalled for months.

April 29, 2010 Posted by | CIA | , , , , | Leave a comment