Hearing: Are Government Contractors Exploiting Workers Overseas? or Does the end justify the means? (updated 11-2-2011)
Ms. Liana Wyler, Senior Analyst Congressional Research Service
Mr. David Isenberg, Independent Analyst and Writer
Mr. Nick Schwellenbach, Director of Investigations, Project on Government Oversight
Mr. Sam W. McCahon, Founder McCahon Law
The Honorable Kenneth P. Moorefield, Deputy Inspector General for Special Plans & Operations U.S. Department of Defense
Mr. Michael P. Howard, Chief Operation Officer Army and Air Force Exchange Service
Ms. Evelyn R. Klemstine, Assistant Inspector General for Audits U.S. Department of State
Ms. Linda Dixon, Combating Trafficking in Persons Program Manager, U.S. Department of Defense
On Wednesday November 2, 2011 at 10:00 AM EDT, the Subcommittee on Technology, Intergovernment Relations and Procurement Reform will hold a hearing on US Government contractors who exploit foreign national workers at US facilities overseas. I hope Congress doesn’t think human trafficking is a new issue. I’ve been blogging about the exploitation of foreign national workers in Iraq and Afghanistan since I started this blog nearly four years ago.
The Trafficking in Persons (TIPs) of workers is a clear violation of the FAR and DFARS and therefore a violation of US law and many international laws as well . Yet, this most egregious crime against humanity goes mostly unchecked by many Defense Department, State Department and USAID contractors and their subcontractors. Why is that? Does the US Government feel the end justifies the means?
The US Government, in all their infinite wisdom (sarcasm), have adopted the philosophy it is more cost effective to award contracts to those who hire labor brokers to fill most labor positions in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan. These labor brokers in turn go to destitute third world countries such as India, Nepal, Uganda and The Philippines to hire tens of thousands of both male and female workers. The recruits are promised the moon and charged a hefty recruiting fee for this “once in a lifetime” opportunity. Many recruits are blatantly lied to and have no idea they are heading to a war zone. Many know they are going to a war zone but end up in over crowded, unsanitary living conditions with far less pay than what they were promised. Some of these conditions are experienced on US Military installations, some in staging facilities outside the “wire” with little protection from the insurgency.
These foreign nationals are the workers who prepare the food in the Dining Facilities (DFAC), work in the laundries, drive in the convoys and perform other menial labor tasks. In the past, passports have been confiscated and the recruits are held as little more than slaves. Many foreign national workers have been abandoned in Iraq when contractors lose their contracts or contracts never materialize. Such as when American owned IADCO, a KBR subcontractor walked away from the Embassy Rewire Project leaving a couple dozen illegally smuggled Filipinos stranded in the Green Zone with no passports, money, food or water. Also, recently in the news Najlaa Catering, another KBR subcontractor was accused of warehousing SE Asian workers in unsanitary inhumane conditions in Iraq for months with no pay.
Forcing both male and female local national and foreign national workers into prostitution has been prolific in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Very recently three, yet to be confirmed, prostitution operations were reportedly shut down in Afghanistan.
- Sources claim, approximately 3 months ago, Fluor expats were operating a prostitution ring at FOB Meterlahm possibly using Bosnian foreign national women. Several Fluor expats were allegedly fired including the camp manager.
- Prior to that, at FOB Sharana a building was allegedly discovered specifically designed for prostitution and gambling. There have been reports, that large amounts of cash and possibly drugs or alcohol may have been found as well. Reportedly, Fluor fired about 20 employees who all left the following day.
- In Southern Afghanistan, apparently a Dyncorp prostitution ring at FOB Ripley in Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan was recently shut down. This operation reportedly included renting hooches (rooms) by the hour for the clients’ use.
It’s only obvious Fluor and Dyncorp would be obligated to fired all those directly involved in running these operations. What about the clients, the Johns? Solicitation of prostitution by a contract employee is also a violation of the FAR and DFARS and therefore a crime. Have criminal charges been filed against any of these pimps or johns? Were Corrective Action Requests (CARs) issued by the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA)?
There have been similar facilities in Iraq exploiting foreign and local women. Many have heard of the Boom Boom Room at Taji and the operation at the Baghdad International Airport (BIAP). Nearly every camp in Iraq has had a prostitution operation of some kind exploiting primarily Filipino and Iraqi women. How can that happen without the blessing, if not the total cooperation of management?
Then there are the USG contractor prostitution operations in Thailand. I have blogged many times about KBR managers in Iraq who not only owned and operated “hotels” (aka brothels) in Thailand, but used their positions in Iraq to solicit clientele. John Reddy, former KBR Deputy Project Manager and Donald Vannoy former TTM Supervisor both own(ed) and operate(ed) “hotels” in Thailand. They allegedly used their positions with KBR to flagrantly hand out business cards and fliers to recruit clients in need of some personal companionship while on R&R in Thailand. Many of the “visitors” to to John Reddy’s establishment, The Towne Lodge and Toxic Bar in Bangkok were higher level KBR managers such as Bruce Chirinko and KBR’s own corporate attorney Michael Peck. Keep in mind, contractor managers at this level normally have Secret or Top Secret DoD security clearances.
POGO’s Nick Schwellenbach to testify to Congress on Human Trafficking, click here to read his earlier article.
David Isenberg to testify before the Subcommittee on Technology, Intergovernment Relations and Procurement Reform, click HERE for original article.
Of all the crimes committed by US Government contractors, I feel human trafficking is the most heinous and the most accepted as the US Government just looks the other way. Apparently, the end justifies the means.