The New York Times November 25, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan — For the replacement Afghan security guards, their new posting — an established traffic checkpoint in a heavily guarded Western enclave in Kabul — would seem to be a decent one, other than the fact that three of their predecessors had just been killed by a Taliban suicide bomber.
The site itself told the story: the blast crater from the attack, on Wednesday, had been covered by two rows of green sandbags stacked 10 feet high, and ball bearings from the bomber’s vest pockmarked the neighboring walls. An excavator shoved dirt loosened from the blast into tidy mounds along the edges of the street, which sits a few blocks from the American Embassy in the city’s Wazir Akbar Khan neighborhood.
The new arrivals, private guards who work for a foreign security contractor, forlornly bear the assignment. Among the dead were friends and co-workers, including a 36-year-old guard named Shamsuddin, a father of two, and Mohammed Homayoun, 28.
The replacements are jittery, clutching their assault rifles as a supervisor stands nearby, scanning the street.
“They’re deeply hurt because they lost their colleagues,” said the supervisor, who would not give his name. “They were like members of the same family.”
The guards may well have the most thankless job in Afghanistan, serving as the first line of defense against bombings and bullets meant for Westerners and high-profile Afghan government officials. In countless cases, such private security guards are the ones killed by thwarted attacks. On Wednesday, the bomber detonated his vest after the guards demanded his identification, police officials said.
Private security companies have had a troubled and controversial history in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai has called for them to be banned, concerned that the armed companies, about 50 in all employing about 40,000 guards across the country, were becoming de facto militias. The president eventually made exceptions for embassies and international organizations, but required the firms to be licensed. Mr. Karzai remains committed to handing over security to Afghan government forces.
The New York Times October 31, 2012
WASHINGTON — The security guards at a nuclear weapons plant who failed to stop an 82-year-old nun from reaching a bomb fuel storage building earlier this year were also cheating on a recertification exam, according to an internal investigation by the Department of Energy, which owns the weapons plant.
The exam, with answers, was circulated to guards at the Y-12 National Security Complex, near Oak Ridge, Tenn., before they sat down to take it, according to the report, by the department’s inspector general. The report, released on Wednesday, said that the cheating was enabled by the department itself. It was routine practice for the department to involve contractor personnel in preparation of such exams, because the federal government did not know enough about the security arrangements to write the exam without the help of the contractor
A federal security official sent the exam by encrypted e-mail to “trusted agents” at the management contractor, B&W, but did not instruct those executives to keep it secret from the people who would have to take it, according to the report. The government found out about the cheating only because an inspector visiting the plant noticed a copy of an exam on the seat of a patrol vehicle the day before guards were to take it.
The security contractor was Wackenhut, but its contract was terminated after a security breach on July 28, when the nun, Sister Megan Gillespie Rice, and two accomplices cut through three layers of fence, splashed blood on a building housing bomb-grade uranium, performed a Christian ritual and then waited to be apprehended. A subsequent investigation found that many security cameras had been disabled long before the break-in.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) – October 1, 2012
The security contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Tennessee was fired Monday after authorities said three protesters cut through fences and vandalized a building in an unprecedented break-in.
Security contractor WSI Oak Ridge said it has started winding down operations and will transfer its protective force functions to B&W Y-12, the managing contractor at the plant, over the next several weeks. The Department of Energy had earlier recommended that WSI’s contract be terminated.
The security contractor was criticized for its poor response when the protesters, including an 82-year-old Roman Catholic nun, cut through fences on July 28 and defaced a building that stores the plant’s weapons grade uranium
What is not known is the impact among those who work in the armed private security sector
“There’s loads of loose cannons running around”
BBC Scotland October 1, 2012
Former SAS soldier Bob Paxman – who served in Iraq as well as other hostile environments – is one of a growing number of former servicemen who say they have suffered with the mental health condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
After a number of years in the military, Paxman retrained as a private security contractor, on protection contracts in Africa and Iraq.
He says as a result of being constantly in a dangerous environment and witnessing colleagues being killed and maimed he was diagnosed with PTSD.
The stress disorder is thought to affect up to 20% of military personnel who have served in conflict zones, according to research published by the National Center for PTSD in the US.
What is not known is the impact among those who work in the armed private security sector, many of whom are drawn from the military.
Yet the condition, says Paxman, led to him having flashbacks and becoming violent and paranoid.
“I was a danger to the public, a danger to myself,” Paxman says.
“A danger to whoever was perceived as being the enemy.”
Private security firm G4S still needs to train and accredit 9,000 more guards, according to security sources
The Guardian UK July 8, 2012
The private security company being paid nearly £300m to guard the London 2012 Olympics has yet to fully train or accredit thousands of security guards needed to protect the games from terrorist attack, it has emerged.
Ministers are anxious that with three weeks left until the opening ceremony, only half the guards needed to guarantee fully staffed patrols of the entrances to venues and carry out other security duties are ready to start work.
The home secretary, Theresa May, has stepped in amid growing concern that additional military personnel may be needed to make up the shortfall. It is understood May called senior G4S executives on Friday after the firm failed to supply enough staff for patrols last week at venues in the Olympic park in east London.
G4S, the private security contractor hired to supply 13,700 guards, still needs to train and accredit about 9,000 guards, according to a security source familiar with preparations. Organisers believe G4S needs at least 19,000 security guards to fulfil its £284m contract, which requires 10,400 licenced guards and 3,300 students. The extra guards are needed as a buffer when staff fail to turn up or fail security screening. G4S will also manage 7,500 military personnel and 2,500 volunteers.
A spokesman for G4S confirmed it has 12,000 security guards available and is training a further 20,000 and will be doing so just days before the games open on 27 July.
Sky News May 21, 2012
Five Afghan guards with a private security company have been killed in a roadside bombing in southern Afghanistan, a district governor says.
The incident took place in the Shahr-e-Safa district of the volatile southern province of Zabul on Monday, district governor Shadi Khan told DPA.
“The guards’ vehicle hit a roadside bomb in Shahr-e-Safa district while protecting a convoy of the foreign forces,” Khan said.
He said there were no casualties among the foreign soldiers. He refused to disclose the troops’ nationalities
Pirate Wars March 16, 2012
These days, such guards are embraced as the best defense against increasingly desperate, greedy and violent pirates.
“The unique selling point for the security companies is that to date no ship with armed guards has been hijacked,” said Stephen Askins, a leading expert on maritime security and piracy at the international law firm Ince and Co. International Maritime Bureau (IMB) figures confirm this.
Armed guards are now on about 1,500 voyages every month, according to the Security Association for the Maritime Industry.
“About half of all ships [now] use armed guards, up from 25 percent a year earlier,” said Andrew Mwangura, editor of the Piracy Report, a journal in Mombasa.
Providing ships with security is a lucrative and growing business: Ship owners spent over $1 billion on “security equipment and armed guards” last year, according to “The Economic Cost of Piracy,” a report by One Earth Future, a non-governmental organization promoting better governance.
Hiring a four-man team for a single voyage through pirate waters costs about $100,000, according to security experts. They say there are hundreds of these teams operating off the Somali coast at any time
The incident on Thursday in Sari Pul province came less than a fortnight after an Afghan soldier shot dead four unarmed French troops at a base in the east of the country.
The victim was named as 22-year-old Abdul Rahim. He had been newly appointed as a guard by a private security company, Jahangir said.
KABUL: An American soldier shot and killed an Afghan guard at a base in the country’s north, apparently because the American thought the guard was about to attack him, Afghan police said on Sunday
DAWN February 5, 2012
There have been a growing number of attacks by Afghan soldiers against international forces in Afghanistan in recent years, some the result of arguments and others by insurgent infiltrators. Last month, an Afghan soldier shot and killed four unarmed French troops last month at a base in eastern Afghanistan.
Friday’s shooting in Sari Pul province in northern Afghanistan resulted from an unfortunate misunderstanding, said Sayed Jahangir, the deputy police chief for the province.
Afghans guard the outside perimeter of the base and Americans guard inside. Jahangir said that the Afghan guard _ a man named Abdul Rahim _ wanted to go into the base and started arguing with the American at the door. Rahim did not raise his weapon, but the American thought he was about to do so and fired, Jahangir said.
”Our initial reports show that the American thought he was acting in self defense,” Jahangir said. Rahim was a private guard, not an Afghan soldier or policeman, Jahangir said.
Minyanville by Stuart Wong December 6, 2011
As China continues to develop at a breakneck pace, the gap between the rich and the poor has also widened dramatically, and there is growing resentment towards those who have prospered.
Roughly a third of China’s burgeoning millionaire class is comprised of women, as the BBC reports, and many of them are now seeking protection, fearing that their wealth and status will attract crime.
And why a female bodyguard, instead of, say, a Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard-type? Wen Cui, a mercurial Chinese businesswoman who founded a personal security firm, Guodun, after noticing the gap in the market, explains that “female clients prefer women to their often burly male counterparts as they
Class Action filed against Blackwater Xe based on fraudulent misclassification as independent contractors
Scott Bloch blasts Blackwater on behalf of thousands of former employees who were mistreated and denied employee benefits, unemployment and other withholding based on a fraudulent misclassification as independent contractors.
Statement Concerning Filing of Class Action Tax Misclassification Against Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) on Behalf of Personal Security Specialists for Loss of Benefits and Withholding
WASHINGTON, DC (June 7, 2011) –
Since 2007, Blackwater Industries, which has changed its name to Xe Services, has employed over 10,000 personal security specialists to perform operations in Iraq and Afghanistan under lucrative contracts with departments of the United States Government including the State Department and CIA.
While employing these individuals, many of whom are decorated veterans of the armed services including Special Forces, Army Rangers, Navy Seals, Blackwater sought to avoid millions of dollars in taxes, withholding, and payments of benefits to these employees by classifying them improperly as independent contractors.
Yesterday, Scott Bloch filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of four former security specialists, who were injured while working for Blackwater, in order to recover their payment of social security, unemployment insurance, and unpaid benefits and state and local withholding and unemployment insurance, and other unspecified damages. The action is brought on their own behalf and thousands of others who have worked for Blackwater and its newly named Xe Services.
The action seeks $60,000,000 in damages and punitive damages, as well as additional amounts as proved for the class of specialists.
“These brave individuals who worked in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Afghani Enduring Freedom, deserve better than to be turned away without health insurance, pension benefits, unemployment benefits, and other withholding afforded to Blackwater’s other employees,” said Scott Bloch.
According to the lawsuit, the United States treasury loses billions of dollars annually to misclassified employees. Under the commonlaw and the IRS 20 questions put out in 1987 pursuant to a regulation, Blackwater was obliged to classify these individuals as employees if Blackwater had the right to control the employees’ actions, manner of performing duties, hours, training, equipment, whether the duties of the employees go to a core function of the employer or are duties that are consider ancillary to the main purpose of the company, and other factors.
The lawsuit states that Blackwater provided their equipment, including weapons issued by the government, training, and control over employees’ duties, manner of performing their security duties, operations they went on, protection details and other duties.
“These veterans were actually given diplomatic passports and classified as employees of Blackwater to the United States government in the contracts as they procured insurance required for employees, and also represented to the State Department that they were employees,” said Bloch in a statement upon filing, “yet when it came to paying taxes, paying their employer portion of social security and Medicare taxes that all Americans expect their employers to pay, they simply claimed they were independent contractors.”
The suit also states that one of the representative plaintiffs already had a determination from the IRS that Blackwater misclassified him as an independent contractor. “The IRS already determined in the case of one of my clients that he should have been classified as an employee,“ said Bloch. “Now thousands of people will have to file amended returns. Thousands of people will likely be entitled to benefits they were denied due to the misclassification, including payment of their employer share of pension, health and disability insurance premiums, and other plans that Blackwater filed with the government for its employees, promising it would not discriminate against those employees as they did here.”
In addition, claims the suit, the United States Congress previously held hearings under the Oversight and Government Reform committee, Rep. Henry Waxman, Chair, which determined that Blackwater and its related companies misclassified employees in order to avoid millions of dollars in taxes. In addition, the IRS prior to making the determination on the plaintiff in this suit, had ruled on behalf of other Blackwater security specialists, and related job titles, that Blackwater had misclassified these employees who performed services under contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Blackwater made hundreds of millions of dollars from taxpayers and hired thousands of former veterans of military service and police officers. They also had in their ranks Federal Agents, such as current employees of the FBI on leave of absence. They were hired as security specialists in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Bloch. “It is a grave injustice to them who were mistreated and left without any health insurance or other benefits for their families, and left to fend for themselves in paying into Social Security and Medicare. They laid down their lives to protect dignitaries and carry out duties in support of wars for America, and they deserve better than this. Many of these same men risked their lives to protect everyone from the President of the United States to U.S. Senators, Congressman, U.S. Diplomats, to Foreign Presidential & Diplomatic Figures in one of the most dangerous places on the planet.”
The case was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States and some Americans living abroad, including all former and current Blackwater and Xe employees and so-called independent contractors.
Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290 Law Offices of Scott Bloch Website
Rueters Security Developements in Afghanistan May 3, 2011
* GHAZNI – Ten Afghan security guards were killed when a strike by aircraft from the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) inadvertently hit their convoy carrying supplies for ISAF troops in the Gilan district of central Ghazni province, Ghazni police chief Zelawar Zahid said. The aircraft mistook the convoy for insurgents, he said. There was no immediate comment from ISAF on the strike
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
Maputo — The Mozambican judicial authorities on Thursday ordered the release of the 24 workers from the firm Group Four Securicor (G4S) who were jailed in Maputo awaiting trial on charges relating to demonstrations outside the G4S offices on 6 April.
The decision was made by Judge Ana Felisberto Cunha of the Maputo Judicial Court, on presentation of declarations of identity and residence by the strikers
The release of the workers comes after the company withdrew the criminal complaints it had made against the group. According to G4S managing director, Pedro Baltazar, the decision to withdraw the charges was taken during a meeting of the Board of Directors held in Maputo on Monday as part of efforts to find a peaceful solution to the labour dispute at the company.
The Somali pirates and the merchant ships that ply the Indian Ocean have two things in common. The first, of course, is that they both make their living at sea. The second is that they lack sufficient incentives to change their harmful behaviour. The pirates persist
– with the help of criminal transnational investors and ever-more-sophisticated equipment – for the simple reason that piracy pays. Ransoms have been spiraling upward, totaling $238 million last year. The Indian Ocean is just too vast to effectively police, and too many ships are easy pickings. In short, the pirates have no reason to change course. But the shipping companies apparently lack reason to change course as well. Their vessels aren’t sufficiently hardened against attack, perhaps because they can rely on the world’s navies for protection. And until recently, when pirate cruelty and greed began to get out of hand, they may have calculated that it was cheaper and safer to pay a ransom occasionally than take more drastic measures.
Is this behaviour harmful? Of course it is. Paying ransoms to pirates only encourages piracy, drawing more pirates and investors into the increasingly lucrative racket and underwriting more effective pirate ships, weapons and technology. Every dollar paid in ransom makes the seas a more dangerous place. Please read the entire article here
OPERATIVES investigating the sh800m stolen by private security guards attached to G4S have recovered sh13m. The money was buried in a pineapple garden in Molo village, Tororo district.
The recovery of the sum, just a day after the theft, brought the total sum of cash recovered by Friday to over sh130m.
The sh13m, sources said, was recovered after operatives from the Rapid Response Unit (RRU) arrested a driver of the security chase car that was escorting the bullion van at the time of the theft.
The driver led the operatives to the spot where he had buried his ‘share’. The driver was reportedly picked from an outlet of one of the telecommunication firms in Mbale town.
“We are pursuing very useful clues and the rest is just a matter of time,” a source said. The driver, who claims that he was placed at gunpoint, was nabbed after he abandoned the chase car near Mbale stadium.
The money, belonging to Stanbic Bank, was being transported in a bullion van from Mbale to Moroto and not Nakapiripirit district as earlier reported, when the G4S guards disappeared with it, abandoning the van in the eastern district of Bulambuli.
In a statement issued on Thursday, G4S said significant progress had been made in the investigation working in collaboration with the Police.
POLICE have recovered part of the sh800m Stanbic bank cash that was stolen from a bullion van in Bulambuli last week by G4S security guards.
This is not the first time security guards entrusted with escorting cash in transit to other branches have fled with the money.
In 2005, Securicor Gray guards were accused of stealing sh700m they were transporting in a bullion van.
In 2006, thirteen Group 4 security guards were charged with stealing money in transit worth sh723m belonging to four Kampala banks.
All the previous heists were the work of private security guards. Liberalisation of the escort services has certainly given rise to the mushrooming private security firms.
However the recent thefts seem to give out the message some private security firms hired by the banks have become unreliable.
To compound the problem, security firms have a very poor vetting system. Majority of the firms hire former security personnel without properly screening them.
Although the money is insured, entrusting it to people whose criminal records have not been established can lead to cash flow problems.
Investigations into these thefts point to the fact that they are done with the connivance of some bank officials. There is also need to always rotate the cash escort guards.
Banks should also introduce other strict control methods such as the one used by the Central Bank where the armoured bullion vans can only be accessed once they reach their pick up points or final destinations.
Police might have had their own limitations at the time, but they were not involved in bullion van cash- in-transit thefts.
The banks should reconsider using police or military police services as they are more discreet and accountable.