David Isenberg at Huffington Post August 16, 2012
Last year I wrote a report for the Project on Government Oversight about and subsequently testified to Congress, regarding a Kuwaiti-based KBR subcontractor which had exploited hundreds of third-country nationals (TCN) coming from various South Asian countries.
Some of the subsequent press coverage criticized KBR, but that missed the point. Sure, in several respect KBR could have done much better, but at least it held special inspections documenting atrocious living conditions and threatened to cut off awards to the subcontractor.
But the real story is how little information the U.S. government has over the operations of foreign subcontractors. As I noted in my congressional testimony:
Subcontracting is among the most challenging parts of the U.S. government’s widespread outsourcing of war-related tasks. It works like this: A government agency – most likely the Defense Department, State Department, or U.S. Agency for International Development – will award work to a “prime” contractor. That prime contractor, usually a large American company like Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) or DynCorp International, will often subcontract some or even a majority of its work to other companies, including foreign-owned firms. Those subcontractors sometimes then turn around and subcontract part of the work, and so on.…
But in footing the bill for all this work by a network of companies, the U.S. government often doesn’t know who it is ultimately paying. And that can lead to fraud, shoddy work, or even taxpayer funds ending up in the hands of enemy fighters.
For more detail the article “Limitations Of the Contingency Contracting Framework: Finding Effective Ways To Police Foreign Subcontractors In Iraq And Afghanistan” by Carissa N. Tyler in the Winter 2012 issue of the Public Contract Law Journal provides some valuable detail on the scope of this problem. For example, “Subcontractors are responsible for approximately seventy percent of the work of prime contractors; however, the Government has extremely limited visibility into these subcontractors’ operations. U.S. taxpayer dollars are at risk because U.S. agencies cannot directly police foreign subcontractors. ”
Project on Government Oversight May 7, 2012
For Vinnie Tuivaga, the offer was the answer to a prayer: A job in a luxury hotel in Dubai–the so-called Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf–making five times what she was earning as a hair stylist in her native Fiji.
She jumped at the chance, even if it meant paying an upfront commission to the recruiter.
You probably know how this story is going to end. There was no high-paying job, luxury location or easy work.
Tuivaga and other Fijians ended up in Iraq where they lived in shipping containers and existed in what amounted to indentured servitude.
Journalist Sarah Stillman told Tuivaga’s story and that of tens of thousands of other foreign workers in acute detail almost a year ago in her New Yorker piece, “The Invisible Army.”
In some cases, Stillman found more severe abuses and more squalid living conditions than what Tuivaga and her fellow Fijians experienced.
But like Tuivaga, thousands of foreign nationals in the U.S. government’s invisible army ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones because they fell victim to human traffickers.
Let that sink in.
This human trafficking pipeline wasn’t benefitting some shadowy war lord or oppressive regime. No, these are workers who were feeding, cleaning up after, and providing logistical support for U.S. troops—the standard-bearers of the free and democratic world.
In its final report to Congress last year, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said it had uncovered evidence of human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan by labor brokers and subcontractors. Commissioner Dov Zakheim later told a Senate panel that the Commission had only scratched the surface of the problem. He called it the “tip of the iceberg.”
In essence, despite a 2002 presidential directive that set a “zero tolerance” on human trafficking, modern-day slavers have been operating with impunity under the aegis of the U.S. government.
Nick Schwellenbach, who until last month was the director of investigations at the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), and author David Isenberg also wrote about the conditions some of these foreign workers endured in Iraq.
Nick and David uncovered documents that showed how one U.S. contractor—in this case KBR—was well aware that one of its subcontractors, Najlaa International Catering Services, was involved in trafficking abuses.
Thousands of skilled workers from Africa are willingly facing danger in remote areas of Afghanistan for high-paying jobs supporting coalition troops.
Think Africa Press April 26, 2012
Beyond the primal beauty of the Southern Afghanistan desert lies the unknown for newcomers, military and civilians alike. Sand and rocks spread further across that vast sea of sparsely inhabited nothingness than the eye can see. For the troops stationed in the Helmand province, the unknown coupled with the deserted surroundings speak danger.
This infamous province – a Taliban stronghold and site of frequent fighting between insurgents and NATO troops during the now 10-year-old Afghan War – has been welcoming a new breed of visitors: former soldiers turned personnel security providers, carpenters, electricians, plumbers, engineers, cashiers, information technology experts, mine specialists, or finance and administration officers. Many are Africans, who constitute the bulk of migrant workers in the area, along with civilian personnel from Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Croatia, Bosnia), and Asia (India, Philippines).
Outsourced wars, outsourced workers
The increased military presence of the US, EU and other countries involved in the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force after 2009 resulted in a major shift in roles. As the overextended military focused on taming a local insurgency, tasks that were once the exclusive domain of trained military personnel started to be offered to civilian skilled workers. Civilians contractors came to provide the workforces necessary to maintain and run dining facilities, Morale Welfare and Recreation centres, military berthing, and equipment repair and replenishment shops.
Ethiopian Henok Tessema, 33, now lodging in the civilian section of a Helmand Province military installation, made his way to Afghanistan following a routine online job search. Tessema had been juggling four part-time positions working as a financial administrator and accountant in Harar, and saw the vacancy at the Central Asia Development Group as an opportunity to consolidate four part-time positions into a single one.
Youth from Odaipatti village in Tamil Nadu risk their lives to work as cooks in U.S. forward military bases. It’s no cakewalk
Their pay did not include medical or life insurance, neither was there any clarity about compensation in case of death. That they could be summarily removed — sometimes with just three hours notice — in case of a health problem or vision difficulty was something the young men did not know about before taking up their jobs.
The Hindu February 16, 2012
Odaipatti may not be aware of it but the far-flung village, tucked away in the foothills of Megamalai in southwestern Tamil Nadu, has played a substantive role in subsidising U.S. war costs in Iraq and Afghanistan. For many years, this fertile village, along with neighbouring Govindanagaram, has provided an army of formally trained bakers, cooks, and other catering specialists to various U.S. military bases in active combat zones for salaries from as low as $550 to $700 a month.
Bharathkumar Sekar is only 25 years old, but he is already a two-war veteran. He served as a head baker at the U.S. Forward Operative Base Kalsu, located in Iskandariya, Iraq, and later at Kandahar in Afghanistan. The equally young B. Thangaraj managed dining halls at U.S. army camps in Kirkush, Iraq, before moving to Helmand in Afghanistan.
E. Srinivasan, K. Manikandan … the list is long. Villagers tell me that by now more than 100 youth from the two villages have worked at military camps either in Iraq or Afghanistan or both, and those with the right qualifications continue to be recruited by U.S. military contractors.
“We knew we were taking risks. There were many rocket attacks inside our army camps. At times rockets even landed on top of my kitchen, Bharathkumar said, explaining that “it was bombproof.”
The Edmond Sun November 17, 2011
EDMOND — The Department of Defense is allowing human trafficking to occur on military establishments by the tens of thousands, Congressman James Lankford said. Lankford said that he and others in Congress are trying to stop the abuse.
“We are holding people in debt bondage by the way we are doing our contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Lankford, R-Edmond.
Lankford is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, Intergovernmental Relations and Procurement Reform.
A human trafficking hearing led by Lankford in the House this month, questioned the Commission Overseas and Contingencies report. The report reveals human trafficking.
“I said this is a big issue,” Lankford said. “While they didn’t talk about it much, they basically said, ‘Yes we are — the Department of Defense — allowing human trafficking to occur on our military establishments.’”
Cross Posted from MsSparky’s November 8, 2011
On September 30, 2011 KBR, along with Berger/Cummins JV and IAP Worldwide Services, Inc. were awarded contracts by the The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide electrical services for contingency operations in Afghanistan. This $490 million dollar contract is to perform electrical services for prime power operations in support of any location within the Afghan Theater of Operations. This contract supports any and all U.S. facilities in Afghanistan, as required, up to the maximum capacity of $500 million.
The contract includes generator set Operations and Maintenance (O&M), preparation, transport, installation, preventive maintenance, scheduled maintenance, emergency maintenance, service, fueling, relocating and recovering generator sets, associated fuel systems (if required), and all transmission/distribution system maintenance including the underground or overhead system at the U.S. Facilities from the generators to the transformer and associated switchgear.
USACE, who has had their own employee issues lately, acts as if there are no other contractors out there who can do this work! Not to mention, I suspect these three contractors will load up on cheap third world or Afghan labor to perform this work instead of licensed electricians, further propagating US sponsored human trafficking.
Let’s take a look at these contractors one by one at MsSparky’s
Statement concerning filing of class action for fraud and bad faith against KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting, CNA Insurance, AIG Insurance and others who conspired to deny benefits to severely injured contractors and to harm them further
Scott Bloch files complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like
KBR, Blackwater.XE, DynCorp, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting and the global insurance carriers AIG, CNA, ACE and Zurich, on behalf of thousands of former employees, for unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of injured employees and their families
Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public.
The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.
“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be case aside without the benefits of the law. We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law. We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democratic institutions.
We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights.
This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”
This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States.
It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.
“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long.
We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”
This complaint is filed due to actions and omissions of defendants, in conspiracy with others, and individually, to defeat the right of American citizens and foreign nationals to receive their lawful benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”), as it adopts the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).
The lawsuit explains that those sued engaged under the RICO statute in an enterprise of fraudulent and or criminal acts to further their scheme to defeat the rights of individuals who have been injured or suffered occupational diseases, and death, while on foreign soil in support of defense activities under the DBA.
These acts were perpetrated repeatedly through bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, using telephones, faxes, and United States mail .
“These are heroes, decorated by America’s Armed Services,” said Bloch.
“Some of the foreign contractors were decorated special forces soldiers from their countries who assisted the United States in combating threats. The sheer disregard for human dignity and law is reprehensible and deserves punishment.
These families and many others who have been harmed need treatment, need compensation, need redress of the wrongs that have been perpetrated by these huge companies and insurance carriers for the last 10 years.
They have earned $100 billion per year on the backs of these people, with the blood of these plaintiffs and those whom they represent.”
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties.
Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290
FILIPINO workers stand to lose some 6,000 to 7,000 potential “good-paying jobs” in Afghanistan as a memorandum from the United States Military Command directed US contractors there to stop the hiring of third-country nationals whose domestic laws have deployment bans to the war-torn country
Filipino recruitment consultant and migration expert Emmanuel Geslani said that the jobs have been instead given to other nationalities vying for civilian contractor jobs in Afghanistan.
The job orders have since been awarded to Afghans, Pakistanese, Indians, Nepalese, Serbs, Macedonians, Fijis and other nationals.
Until the freeze memo from the US Military Command is lifted, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) there can no longer work with US international contractors.
This, he said, is despite “the surge in the construction of 20 more additional Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) for the additional 30,000 US Army troops ordered by President Barack Obama.”
According to Geslani, reports reach him that US companies Dyn International LLC was awarded the work for southern Afghanistan and Fluor Intercontinental was selected for work in northern Afghanistan. Both jobs will total to about $15-billion worth of contracts for the next five years.
The task orders encompass base life-support services and logistics support, which include base setup, food service, facilities maintenance, and morale, welfare and recreation.
“Filipino workers who have plans to proceed to Dubai, Kuwait or Bahrain and apply for civilian jobs in Afghanistan in the recruiting stations at the international airports are advised not to go on with their plans as all international contractors at US Military Bases are not allowed anymore to hire Filipinos despite the recommendations of logistics managers and supervisors who prefer to hire Filipinos for the civilian jobs inside the bases,” Geslani said.
Carlo Echano, a senior logistics manager for Dyn Corp., said that about 800 Filipinos comprise the more than 13,000 manpower of his company but because of the order from the US military command, Dyn Corp. had to stop the recruitment of Filipino workers.
The firm supplies necessary materials for US bases in the southern region of Afghanistan.
In a statement, Geslani said that “there are about anywhere from 500 to 1,000 jobless Filipino workers in Kabul scrounging for jobs.”
“Most of them came from the neighboring countries of Dubai, Kuwait and Bahrain after finishing their contracts and did not return to the Philippines, to try their luck in landing the very high-paying jobs in Afghanistan,” he added.
Salaries in the bases amount from $2,000 to $15,000 in US bases. More than 6,000 OFWs remit about $1,000 each to their families in the Philippines every month.
“That’s around $6 million or P250,000 million each month and over P3 billion to the economy and yet the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs] refuses to lift the ban for our countrymen but accepts the money sent by the OFWs,” Geslani said.
Several spokesmen for the Filipino workers in Afghanistan have called on President Benigno Aquino 3rd “to lift the ban immediately as the US government is waiting for the [Foreign Affairs department’s] response to the imminent termination of all Filipino workers in Afghanistan working in US bases.”
Several groups clamor for the recall of the ban, saying that US bases are generally safe.
Since 2007, a total travel and work ban has been imposed to Afghanistan because of continuing security concerns in the country, citing numerous attacks by the Taliban and several bomb attacks directed towards United Nations forces.
The department last week said that it would not be proposing the lift of the ban despite numerous calls from OFW groups because it cannot ensure the safety of all Filipinos working there.
An order from the United States Central Command official in September last year “virtually tied” the hands of US contractors to hire additional OFWs for their new contracts as they have been advised to remove all third-country nationals, including Filipinos, whose domestic laws prevent them from working in Afghanistan. Please see the original article here
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has recommended that President Aquino convene a high-level committee to address a recent directive issued by a United States (US) government agency that would affect Filipinos working for US interests in Afghanistan.
The DFA was referring to the memorandum issued by Centcom on the termination of certain foreign workers in Afghanistan, including overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).
In its recommendation to President Aquino, the DFA proposed that the committee be headed by the Executive Secretary with the secretaries of the Departments of Foreign Affairs and Labor and Employment as members.
The committee will be mandated to assess the security situation in Afghanistan, the implications of the Centcom order, and make recommendations to ensure the safety and welfare of Filipino workers currently employed by the US government or its sub-contractors in Afghanistan.
A Centcom memorandum issued on September 17, 2010 ordered the termination of employment of all foreign workers whose domestic laws prohibit them from traveling to, or working in, Afghanistan.
The Philippines has an existing travel and deployment ban to Afghanistan since 2005.
However, there are an estimated 2,500 to 4,000 Filipinos working in US military facilities in Afghanistan, mostly on Third Country National (TCN) basis.
TCN refers to workers that are of separate nationality to both the contracting government or private contractor or the host country or area of operations
PENTAGON SCAM ENRICHES “REVOLVING DOOR” BUDDIES
A water truck backs up to the Euphrates River in Iraq. The driver, a Ugandan or maybe an Ethiopian, gets out, lowers a hose into the sewage ridden flow and fills his truck. 5 miles away, a US Army water purification center sits, too far away. The driver thinks, “water is water.” Another of the Pentagon’s “Zombie Contractors” take their toll, part of the army of “undead” and unqualified who are the world’s most expensive work force.
The driver, an employee of a company once headed by the Vice President of the United States, could care less, clean water, filth or sewage, it is only going to American troops as drinking water.
The words “typhoid” or “hepatitis” mean nothing to him, he has never heard them and certainly didn’t read them in his daily log. He never reads anything. He can’t as he is illiterate like tens of thousands of other employees that the American taxpayer is coughing up $1000 a day for, even more, sometimes much more.
The driver considers himself well paid at $10 dollars a day.
The troops drinking the water would only find out weeks later that it was contaminated with sewage. Similarly, 33 American soldiers have been electrocuted by faulty wiring installed by work crews that wouldn’t know “positive” from “negative.” The Pentagon paid for journeymen and got third world unemployed, swept up off the streets, trucked out of the slums of Africa or South America, many decent and hard working people but to the contracting firms, American, British and Israeli, mostly, they are nothing but a way of defrauding the Pentagon, something any child could do.
The Pentagon doesn’t care, not as long as the company’s politics are right and, under the Bush administration, “right” meant extreme right.
Americans have been told the hundreds of thousands of highly paid contractors in, not only Iraq and Afghanistan but throughout the Middle East, were veterans, most Marines, Rangers, Seals and Special Forces, paid a thousand dollars a day to put their lives on the line and, in the process, building a “net egg” for their lives, should they survive and return home. The controversy, we were told, was that our active duty troops only made a fraction as much. This story, however, was only meant to deceive, dissemble and misinform. Yes, many veterans hold security contracting jobs and pull down high dollars but the truth is far different than we were told.
One contracting firm, handing security for the United States Air Force, had over 8000 employees in Afghanistan. All were assumed to be Rangers, SAS or other combat vets. In reality, only 6 were trained military veterans from these services. Every other employee was, not only “third world” but also never trained or members of military forces rated, frankly, as armed rabble.
The Pentagon paid nearly as much for one of these shoeless, uneducated and untrained contractors in a week as a flag officer makes in a month, actually more than that, embarrassingly more.
What are these contractors paid, who sees if they are qualified or even checks of they are wanted criminals? Well, actually, no one. Americans, veterans serving in Iraq and Afghanistan go through security screenings, rigorous and continual,even humiliating drug testing but the majority of their fellows, including tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of “kitchen workers” or related professions could be anyone, could be and certainly are.
Questions come to mind. Why would the most expensive and highest paid military force on earth with the most technologically advanced surveillance systems imaginable need to be guarded by third world nationals cited for performing their duties in filthy shorts, no shoes or shirt and carrying an aging rusted Soviet weapon from a scrap heap?
Have you noticed you have never seen one of the thousands of real security contractors from Ethiopia, Somalia, Sudan, Congo, Uganda and other areas of Africa in photographs? All you see are burly ex-Marines, armed to the teeth.
Ever see a photograph of the living quarters for the other workers, the ones who clean the toilets, cook the food, and outnumber our troops? Why are they hidden? Is something wrong? Why the secrecy? Are we too busy photographing troops tiptoeing through poppy fields to look into the issue of “guest workers.” How do the Pentagon’s favorites, the “no-bid” boys get away with over-billing billions for “mercenaries” when, in actuality they are supplying house maids, janitors dishwashers and billing as though they were all hedge fund managers.
For those who are working “security,” for each burly ex-Ranger, there are a hundred near starving Ethiopians being paid “cigarette money.” Try finding a photograph of one of them. You stand as much chance of finding nuclear weapons assembly videos.
At least the mercenary army, shoes or no shoes, has weapons that work, no matter how old or dirty. The Pentagon has more games than simply throwing away billions to pay workers that may not exist. There is big money in defective weapons also.
Yes, we admit, a 30 year old AK 47 assembled in Nigeria is less likely to jam in combat than the M-4 carbine, according to every test ever run. We could talk about the boondoggle “single source” contract, spending hundreds of millions on a weapon troops not only don’t trust but has proven useless in the long range combat of Afghanistan. We could talk about where 250,000 AK 47′s, not junk, but new “top of the line” models with forged receivers simply disappeared.
Our hope is that they ended up at the bottom of the Euphrates River, dumped, truckload after truckload by impatient Rwandan truckers looking to shorten their workday. I am sure we will be seeing those weapons again, not at a local gun show in Colorado, but “business end first” during our next “endless war” but I digress.
What don’t we know about who we pay hundreds of billions of dollars for?
At one time I was told the US Army had 125,000 kitchen workers in Iraq alone. Then I was told the figure was actually much higher. The total contractor figure, during the time of our highest troop deployments was three times that of the number of soldiers in theater. Who are they and what are they paid? Nobody knows, in particular, congress, the General Accounting Office and the Department of Defense and no one is asking.
We don’t have a remote idea what any of the contractors actually do, where they live, what their jobs are and if they do them at all or if they actually exist at all. We simply pay and pay.
In fact, the job of overseeing contractors is, in itself, actually contracted out. Oh, it gets better, the job of overseeing the contractors who oversee the contractors is contracted out also. Is there an end to this? We haven’t found it yet.
Subject: PDPM Meeting 8-18-10
· The ADPM announced today that the DoS has finalized their decision to remove TCNs from PSD positions due to the requirement for secret clearances.
· There will be a transition plan to replace TCN personnel with US as they arrive starting with the next PSS course graduation in November.
· He will be talking with PMO to see if there are other positions elsewhere within the company.
· If personnel have other opportunities and want to depart sooner, he will look into pro-rating bonuses.
John O’Ryan, PMP
Deputy PSD Commander
DynCorp International CIVPOL-Iraq
U.S. Department Of State
International Narcotics And Law Enforcement
LSA Butler, Bagdad, Iraq