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New Legislation Includes POGO’s Recommendations for Ending Human Trafficking in U.S. War Zones

Dana Liebelson – (POGO) – March 28, 2012 – U.S. taxpayers unknowingly fund human trafficking in Iraq and Afghanistan because of poor contractor oversight–but bipartisan Members of Congress are cracking down on this deplorable crime. A new bill introduced on Monday in the House and the Senate incorporates many of POGO’s recommendations for stopping U.S. contractors and subcontractors from getting away with modern-day slavery. Some contractors may complain, but both versions of the bill deserve resounding support from the public.

The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S. 2234 and H.R. 4259) is sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Rep. James Lankford (R-OK) respectively, along with many notable cosponsors. The legislation is the long-awaited response to a variety of reports from war zones over the course of several years—including the Commission on Wartime Contracting’s final report, which found “tragic evidence of the recurrent problem of trafficking in persons by labor brokers or subcontractors of contingency contractors.”

POGO Director of Investigations Nick Schwellenbach testified before a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on this issue in November.

The legislation includes many of the important recommendations POGO made at that hearing. For example, it expands the definition of “fraudulent recruiting” to include the recruiting of laborers who work on U.S. government contractors outside the U.S. At present, the law only applies to those who are recruited to work in the U.S.  The bills also requires anti-trafficking in persons clauses to be included in contracts—a recommendation POGO made, as it helps contracting officers hold contractors accountable.

Additionally, the bills require contractors with contracts over $1 million plans to implement anti-trafficking plans, and tell the U.S. government when its subcontractors are violating the law.

“The legislation would give the government sharper and more potent weapons to fight human trafficking in our contractor supply chain,” said Schwellenbach.

A House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee held a hearing yesterday on the topics covered in the legislation. At the hearing, Luis CdeBaca, Ambassador-at-Large at the State Department, reaffirmed in his testimony that this legislation picks up where existing laws fail.

“We’ve come to understand that the role of government in fighting this crime need not be limited to law enforcement and the provision of victim services,” CdeBaca said. “Policies that apply what we’ve learned about supply chain monitoring, responsible labor recruitment practices, and honorable conduct to government procurement and contracting [will] have ripple effects far and wide into the private sector.”

With its widespread, bipartisan support, this legislation has a good chance of passing—but given previous contractor opposition to anti-trafficking rules, it’s likely that contractors will try to push back or water down some of its provisions. However, this legislation provides a tangible solution to an abhorrent problem that has gone on too long.  

For more information on the trafficking crimes this legislation would address, be sure to check out POGO’s recent podcast with Sam McCahon and Sindhu Kavinamannil, two activists who are making a documentary about the labor trafficking.

“The bill is well written and fairly comprehensive,” McCahon, a former federal prosecutor who has spent time in private practice working on the issue of labor trafficking on U.S. government contracts, told POGO. “I think it is the best chance for change and I am supporting the measure.” (Click HERE for original article)

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10 Comments

  1. Comment by Intrepid:

    Will not work. They are in bed with the Contractors. Why do these contractors have to use 3RD world nationals instead of Host Country Nationals as a supplement to US Workers? The bottom line in profit will be the same. Something smells here and they just keep trying to re-invent failure.

  2. Comment by DCMA Watch:

    EVEN DCMA WAS LOOKING THE OTHER WAY WHEN GLOBAL ( BRITISH ) HAD

    LET’S SEE – THIS IS HOW MY CITATION READS:

    brought to the ACOs attention that the Gurkhas have been traveling to BIAP in “Soft Cars” when the rule has been that since October 04 – No Soft Cars in the Red Zone and that they now only have 36 vehicles for 1000 + employees -woefully short. They also have 8 vehicles that need to be accounted for (3 totaled ones turned in to be cannibized and 2 to get repaired – others are lost or stolen and need paperwork
    • Also Gurkhas are living 6 to a trailer and 90 to a tent – same recipe for the November disaster that came in the form of 2 rockets – 4 KIA and 18 WIA

    THERE WERE ACTUALLY 12 IN A REGULAR TRAILER AND THE 90 IN A TENT IS ACCURATE.

    HAROLD PRICE ( THE STATE DEPARTMENT LIAISON ) WOULD NOT LET THE NEPALESE HAVE HARD CARS ( EVEN AFTER THE BLACKWATER MURDERS ) AND HE WOULD NOT LET THEM HAVE T-WALLS ( KEVIN KOCH ) CONTRACTING OFFICER WHIMPED OUT WHEN HE DIDN’T BYPASS HAROLD. AND THE DCMA COMMANDER, COLONEL MILES FAILED IN HIS DUTIES BY ALSO NOT BYPASSING HAROLD PRICE AND HAD THE SAME SANDBAGS AND T-WALLS BEEN AFFORDED THE NEPALESE EX-BRITISH FORCES SOLDIERS – THEY WOULD NOT HAVE SUSTAINED THOSE INJURIES OR DEATHS.

    SO, WHEN THE STATE DEPARTMENT IS PREACHING OUT ONE SIDE OF THEIR FACE – THEIR ACTIONS SPEAK FAR LOUDER THAN WORDS.

    HILLARY CLINTON NEEDS TO FIX THE STATE DEPARTMENTS TRAFFICKING PROBLEM AND ENSURE THAT THE LAWS THAT CAN HAVE THE MOST IMPACT ARE PUTTING ON THE EXCLUDED PARTY LISTING SYSTEM THE NAMES OF ANY LABOR AGENCY CAUGHT TRAFFICKING LIKE KUWAIT SALWA LABOR AGENCY BUYING AND SELLING MAIDS. LIKE JORDAN’S AL-MASA LABOR AGENCY TRAFFICKING IN WORKERS INTO JORDAN AND ENSLAVING PHILIPPINE CITIZENS WHO THEIR COUNTRY HAS ALREADY DEEMED AN UNFIT COUNTRY TO HAVE THEIR CITIZENS.

    3 OF THOSE YOUNG WOMEN HAVE BEEN BEAT SO BAD IN JORDAN BY THEIR COCKROACH TRAFFICKERS THAT THE WOMEN DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHO THEY ARE.

    SO, STATE DEPARTMENT, STOP YOUR WHINING ANNUAL REPORT AND START BLACKLISTING THE TRAFFICKERS AND ANY DoD COMPANY THAT WITHHOLD PASSPORTS.

    TELL THE CONTRACTING OFFICERS TO GET OFF THEIR COLLECTIVE ASSES AND GO OUT TO THE COMPANIES AND TALK TO THE EMPLOYEES AND ASK THEM TO PRODUCE THEIR PASSPORT WITHOUT GOING TO THE SAFE IN THE ACCOUNTANTS OFFICE TO RETRIEVE IT.

    DCMA – THAT SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD JOB FOR YOU. THE ARMY ARE TOO LAZY AND ARE LIABLE TO ACCEPT A KICKBACK NOT TO PUT THOSE COMPANIES ON THE EPLS.

    THE TOOLS ARE THERE – COMPETENT AND DILIGENT CONTRACTING OFFICERS ARE NOT THERE IN THE U.S. KO INVENTORY.

  3. Comment by DLA Watch:

    ASK SPECIAL AGENT YORK IF HE HAS INVESTIGATED THE WITHHOLDING OF PASSPORTS BY ONE OF ” HIS ” DOD CONTRACTORS IN KUWAIT ?

    DID HE TAKE THE REPORT AND SWEEP IT UNDER THE RUG LIKE HE DID WITH MIKE DIETTEL AND THE PRIVATELY CONDUCTED SOLICITATION AND THE PAYMENT THAT WAS GOING TO BE MADE IN EXCHANGE FOR THE AWARD OF A CONTRACT ON CAMP ARIFJAN ?

    DLA’s IG TEAM FAILED LtCol Gutierrez WHEN HE BLEW THE WHISTLE ON PWC ( AGILITY ) AND THEIR CONTRACTING OFFICERS ARE FAILING IN ENFORCING DOD CONTRACTORS IN KUWAIT WHO ARE WITHHOLDING PASSPORTS AND N O T SUSPENDING AND DEBARRING THOSE DoD CONTRACTORS.

    A WHITEWASH VACATION THAT TRIP WAS TO KUWAIT EH ? KAREN HAMMONTREE MOVED ON – DISGUSTED AT THE LACK OF ENFORCEMENT.

  4. Comment by AFFEES Watch:

    THIS WOMAN READ DOESN’T KNOW WHAT SHE IS TALKING ABOUT FOR STATE. JUST GO DIRECTLY TO THE EMPLOYEE AND ASK FOR THEIR PASSPORT LADY.

    OK, ALL FAST FOOD CONTRACTS ARE THROUGH AFFEES.

    IN KUWAIT – KFC / MCDONALDS / SUBWAY / PIZZA HUT ALL AND I MEAN ALL EMPLOYEES HAVE THEIR PASSPORTS LOCKED UP.

    VIRGIN RECORDS ALSO HAD THEIR EMPLOYEES PASSPORTS LOCKED UP AND I ATTRIPUTE THAT DIRECTLY TO THEIR JORDANIAN AND LEBANESE MANAGERS.

    KUWAIT WOULD GO A LONG WAYS IN DEPORTING IMMEDIATELY ALL JORDANIANS AND LEBANESE AS NOT ONLY ARE THEY WITHHOLDING PASSPORTS OF THEIR MAIDS / BUT OF ALSO THEIR EMPLOYEES.

    THE KUWAITIS KNOW THAT THE APRIL 2010 KUWAIT LABOR LAWS MADE THAT ILLEGAL AND THE ONLY ID THAT CAN BE IN THE EMPLOYEES FILE IS A COPY OF THEIR CIVIL ID.

    IMMEDIATELY SHUT DOWN MCDONALDS / BURGER KING / KFC / SUBWAY AND PIZZA HUT UNTIL THOSE EMPLOYEES COME TO WORK WITH PASSPORTS.

    WE ALREADY KNOW THAT COLONEL ROGERS – HEAD OF THE PARC DOESN’T ENFORCE THE TIP REGULATIONS AND THERE ARE NOT SPOT CHECKS OF DOD CONTRACTORS BACK AT THE DoD company’s offices. So trafficking go on and the employees remain trapped in their jobs for years because their passports are withheld from them.

    Do your job contracting officers – spot check and get out of the base in into Kuwait to see the trafficking for yourself. What – do you want me to do this job for you too ?

  5. Comment by STATE DEPARTMENT WATCH:

    I THINK HAROLD SAID IS THIS GOING TO BE ANOTHER CRUSADE. I WOULD VENTURE TO SAY THAT HAD IT BEEN YOUR CRUSADE HAROLD – 4 GHURKA’S WOULD NOT BE IN GRAVES AND 18 GHURKAS WOUNDED.

    STATE KNEW AND HEARD THE STORIES OF FIRST KUWAITI’S TRAFFICKING PRACTICES AND INSTEAD GAVE A SINGLE SOLE SOURCE CONTRACT WHERE – I WOULD BE A STEAK DINNER – THAT THERE ARE BODIES OF THIRD COUNTRY NATIONALS BURIED ON THE GROUNDS OF THE U.S. EMBASSY – IRAQ AND IN THE WALLS. YOU SEE – TO A COMPANY LIKE FIRST KUWAITI – IT IS EASIER TO BURY THEM THAN TO REPATRIATE THEM. OF COURSE WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF STATE – WHO STILL HAVE NOT RECOVERED THE $ 150 MILLION THAT FIRST KUWAITI OWES THE U.S. GOVERNMENT.

  6. Comment by DCMA WATCH:

    OK, IF DCMA QARs COULD NOT PREVENT 35 SOLDIER ELECTROCUTIONS – THEN WHY, LIKE HAROLD PRICE, DO THEY GIVE A RAT’S ASS ABOUT THIRD COUNTRY NATIONALS.

    IT COMES DOWN TO EMPLOYEES AND THEIR DIRECTIVES FROM THEIR COMMANDING OFFICERS.

    IF DCMA COULDN’T KEEP THE INTERNATIONAL ZONE FROM TAKING SHOWERS IN WATER DELIVERED WITH A SEWAGE TRUCK – THEN WHY DO THEY CARE ABOUT TCNs.

    YOU HAVE COMMANDERS LIKE COLONEL MCQUAIN COVERING UP FOR KBR’S USE OF 15 SEWAGE TRUCKS AND FUEL TRUCKS DELIVERING WATER. AND HE ALREADY HEARD ABOUT THE PLIGHT OF THE GHURKA’S AND DIDN’T BOOST THEIR HARD CARs and DIDN’T DEMAND 4 TO A TRAILER INSTEAD OF 12.

    STATE AND THE ARMY ARE PATHETIC WHEN IT COMES TO ENFORCEMENT AND METRICS.

    NOT MEANS NON-EXISTENCE OF ENFORCEMENT. WHAT DO YOU EXPECT WITH LEADERSHIP LIKE THIS AND CONTACTING OFFICER LIKE U.S. ARMY MAJOR JOHN COCKERHAM AND HIS ASSOCIATES LINING HIS POCKETS.

  7. Comment by The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S. 2234 and H.R. 4259) WATCH:

    WHY NOT GCC WIDE HILLARY CLINTON

    PUT THE HAMMER DOWN ON TRAFFICKING

    BLACKLIST THE COMPANIES SO SOLDIERS CANNOT FREQUENT THAT TRAFFICKER’S OTHER BUSINESSES

    DCMA – WE PREFER TO COVER UP AND NOT HOLD ACCOUNTABLE THE DoD Contractor. STATE is NOT debarring violators and those IG Teams are as ineffective as DLA SPECIAL AGENT YORK. DAMN INEFFECTIVE.

  8. Comment by The End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S. 2234 and H.R. 4259) WATCH:

    OH AND BY THE WAY – ARE YOU FREE TO LEAVE THE CONTRACT

    OH AND BY THE WAY – SHOW ME YOUR PASSPORT

    OH AND BY THE WAY – THE CONTRACT ALLOTTED YOU X AMOUNT OF SQUARE FEET TO LIVE IN – SHOW ME WHERE YOU ARE LIVING.

    OF COURSE WITH THE MASONIC BROTHERHOOD CALCULATING LIVING SPACE, THAT JUST MIGHT BE A CHALLENGE. THE TRAILERS NEED TO MATCH THEIR QUOTE. LOW QUOTES REWARDED AND NO CHALLENGED BY SIMPLETON CONTRACTING OFFICERS. YOU DON’T TURN ON THE CONTRACT OR PAY AN INVOICE UNTIL THE QAR INSPECTS THE NUMBERS OF EMPLOYEES.

    HOW ABOUT KRH IN KUWAIT TRAFFICKING AMERICANS AND PUTTING IN FALSE LABOR CONTRACTS. NO ENFORCEMENT BY ROCK ISLAND. THAT QUI TAM AGAINST ITT AND KRH IS BEING REFILED AND MAYBE THIS TIME AROUND – THERE WILL BE ACCOUNTABILITY.

  9. Comment by DCMA WATCH:

    BTW – I was a QAR for DCMA when I discovered those living conditions and THAT was the reaction of STATE.

    IT COST LIVES IN THIS CASE.

    THAT IS HOW STATE BEHAVES AND NOT DCMA IS GOING TO ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE WEASEL OUT CORRECTIVE ACTION AS THEY HAVE DONE FOR THE ENTIRE IRAQ OCCUPATION.

    THEY COULD NOT PROTECT SOLDIERS FROM ELECTROCUTION DEATHS ( ONE WHICH WAS ALMOST MYSELF IN A KBR TRAILER AT BLACKHAWK ACROSS FROM THE REPUBLICAN GUARD PALACE aka U.S. EMBASSY )

    DCMA COVERED UP FOR SOME MAJOR THINGS FOR KBR AND OTHER CONTRACTORS PERFORMING PRIME CONTRACTS FOR THE STATE DEPARTMENT.

    THOSE GHURKAS WERE OUR STATE DEPARTMENT GUARD FORCE AND THAT IS HOW STATE TREATED THEM. THEY WERE NOT ALLOWED TO TAKE THE RHINO ( ARMORED WINNEBAGO ) WHEN THEY ARRIVED IN COUNTRY WITH 130 PERSONNEL – THEY WERE TOLD TO CONVOY AND THEY DID THAT WITH SOFT SKINNED SUVs. THAT IS THE SUPPORT GIVEN BY STATE TO THEIR GUARD FORCE.

    SO, CAN WE TRUST THE STATE DEPARTMENT AND DCMA TO ENFORCE THIS NEW LAW. NO CONVICTIONS OR DEBARMENTS FOR TRAFFICKING FROM STATE, DCMA OR THE DoD.

    Can the PEOPLE of the United States trust these 3 agencies to enforce this new law and not COVER-UP for their buddies who are running the contracts. How do you get the ARMY CID to actually not whitewash a report.

    You have independent verification – a Human Trafficking Watchdog get the funds to be on-site and do do their own independent verifications and they have the authority to direct investigations and they follow up on the enforcement action which even the Director of DCMA says she didn’t know what happened after a case was referred. Oblivious and unaccountable.

    Empower a Watch Dog Group. An on-site and traveling empowered watchdog group.

    That is what the PEOPLE can trust. Not DCMA, Not DoD, and NOT the STATE DEPARTMENT.

    Ms Sparky, if you want the pictures – send me an email.

  10. Ping from New Allegations Surface Of Secret Service Misbehavior In El Salvador – Ms Sparky:

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