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Contract unbecoming of a department of the U.S. Government

Triple Canopy Investigation, Deposition of Ronald Boline

Two More Merc Firms Get Big Iraq Contracts

Spencer Ackerman – (Danger Zone) – Two more security firms have won contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars to build the State Department a private army in Iraq. The department confirms to Danger Room that longtime Iraq contractor Triple Canopy and newcomer Global Strategies Group will contribute to State’s planned protection force of 5,500 contractors.

In September, the State Department announced that eight security firms would share in a $10 billion contract to guard diplomats. Both Triple Canopy and Global were among those firms, which have the right to bid on so-called “task orders” for protecting specific department operations around the world. One of the first task orders awarded was to SOC, to safeguard the Baghdad embassy, a deal that would net the company up to $973 million over five years.

At the time, that looked like a slap to Triple Canopy, which has provided security forces for the massive compound since 2005, earning itself $438 million in the process. But it turns out Triple Canopy won’t be going anywhere — despite a warning about the firm from State’s own watchdogs.

Read the remainder of this entry »

Surprise! Another War-Zone Embassy Poorly Guarded by Contractors

By Spencer Ackerman –  The Washington Independent March 26, 2010

Last time, it was the lascivious behavior of ArmorGroup — the private security firm handling the U.S. Embassy in Kabul — that attracted headlines. Those revelations led to disclosures of how contractors knowingly hired guards with poor English skills to save money — something the State Department knew about before renewing the company’s contract. Now it’s Triple Canopy, which guards the gargantuan U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

The Project on Government Oversight, the good-government group that discovered ArmorGroup’s State Department-abetted negligence, has obtained a report from the State Department investigating the department’s management in handling its contract with Triple Canopy for embassy security. POGO was good enough to pass the report on to me. Labor standards are such that Triple Canopy guards often worked ten or eleven consecutive days on average, with some working 39 days in a row without a break.

Here are some highlights of how State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which controls the contract, is managing your money and protecting American diplomats in what remains a warzone.

Embassy Baghdad has not adequately planned for a reduced Department or Department of Defense (DoD) presence in Baghdad, resulting in a projected unnecessary cost of approximately $20 million to the U.S. Government for site security over the next two years. Of this sum, the Department would incur approximately $12 million and DoD would incur more than $8 million in unnecessary costs.

Remember that everything the U.S. is supposed to be doing in Iraq is predicated on the 2011 troop withdrawal. I’ve heard from former administration officials that the embassy is lax in its political mission in Baghdad. Apparently that attitude has some spillover effect.

This will be familiar:

DS does not ensure that [Triple Canopy] personnel have required English language proficiency.

The report further finds that DS did not carry out the random language checks they were supposed to have carried out. True story: when I visited the embassy in 2007, the Triple Canopy guards were very nice people from (if I recall correctly) El Salvador, who made up for their lack of English with warm attitudes. I saw one guard actually reading a Teach-Yourself-English handbook on post in the Green Zone. Clearly DS’s negligence with ArmorGroup’s English-challenged guards is hardly an isolated case.

This might be my favorite:

The contracting officer’s representative in Baghdad does not verify either the guards’ attendance at their posts or the accuracy of personnel rosters (muster sheets) before they are submitted, to ensure contractor charges for labor are accurate. In addition, DS does not ensure that personnel have required English language proficiency.

DS lacks standards for maintaining training records. As a result, Triple Canopy’s training records are incomplete and in disparate locations making it difficult for the Bureau to verify whether all personnel have received required training.

And yet the IG’s overall conclusion is “The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) generally manages the Triple Canopy contract well.” The last State Department Inspector General to take such a sunny interpretation of contract security in spite of the accumulated evidence resigned in disgrace.

POGO executive director Danielle Brian comments in a prepared statement, “How could State not have learned their lesson after the public flogging they got for their handling of the Kabul contract?…This report again raises an important point about whether State can properly manage Embassy security contracts in a war zone.” (Click HERE for the original article)

I would like to remind everyone that Triple Canopy located at Camp Olympia in the International (Green) Zone is where Adam Hermanson was electrocuted to death in his shower last year.

Ms Sparky

Janine Hermanson still seeks answers in Adams electrocution death

Nearly four months later, Janine Hermanson still searches for answers regarding the circumstances surrounding the death of her husband Adam Hermanson who was electrocuted and died in his shower. This happened at Triple Canopy’s Camp Olympia in the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq on September 1, 2009.

(For some reason I am having problems with this video viewing properly in FireFox. Internet Explorer seems to be viewing it OK. If you are just seeing a big black box click HERE to go the NBC site to watch the video there. I will get it fixed ASAP….I hope.) Read the remainder of this entry »

Widow pleads for information about electrocution death of husband

Widow Raising New Questions About Electrocutions in Iraq

Husband Died While Showering in Baghdad
Carol Han – November 25, 2009

Adam's widow Janine Hermanson

Adam's widow Janine Hermanson

WASHINGTON — It appears as if 18 deaths, a congressional probe and new military marching orders were not enough to end a rash of electrocutions in Iraq.

Now, a Pennsylvania woman is demanding accountability after her husband, an Air Force veteran and military contractor, died in a Baghdad shower Sept. 1. Adam Hermanson’s death comes less than two years after a Pittsburgh soldier, Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth, was electrocuted while taking a shower in Iraq.

Janine Hermanson, of Muncy, Pa., says that for the past two months, she has been getting the runaround from military investigators and Triple Canopy, the Defense Department contractor that hired her husband.

SLIDESHOW: Widow Raising New Questions About Electrocutions in Iraq

KIROTV Video-In depth exclusive

KIROTV Video-Janine Hermanson “How I cope”

KIROTV Video-Janine Hermanson “No one will give me answers”

Senator Casey-Closing the contractor loophole

“It’s so frustrating,” Janine Hermanson said. “All I want to know is what happened to him and why it happened to him but no one can tell me. No one seems to care to tell me.”

Janine Hermanson’s search for answers started not long after she received a phone call from the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. Hermanson says the woman on the phone told her there was no foul play involved.

It’s the same point repeated in a letter she received from the U.S Embassy in Iraq dated Sept. 1. In it, Jennifer Tierney, chief of American Citizen Services, writes: “There is no indication of any foul play or unusual circumstances.”

Read the entire letter HERE.

“I didn’t understand,” Janine Hermanson said. “He didn’t have any medical problems. No health problems.” Read the remainder of this entry »

Arrogance instead of answers for the Hermanson family

Adam Hermanson 2aAdam V. Hermanson, 25, died needlessly on September 1, 2009 when he was electrocuted in his shower at Camp Olympia in the International (Green) Zone in Baghdad, Iraq while working for security contractor Triple Canopy. It has been 2 1/2 months since Adam died and his family is no closer to finding who’s responsible for his death than they were on September 1st.

“I’m tired of people not talking to me. I have every right to know what happened to my husband.” demands Janine Hermanson, Adam Hermanson’s widow.

Right after Adam’s death there was a huge amount of confusion over whether he was working on a DoD or DoS contract and who was responsible for Camp Olympia.  Both the DoD and DoS said “Not us!” It would have appeared at the time that Adams death was going to be labeled a “tragic accident” and was not going to be investigated. Being electrocuted in a shower is not an accident. It is the result of negligence and total disregard for the safety of the occupants of the building.

On September 17, 2009 House Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) sent a letter to Secretary Gates requesting he: Read the remainder of this entry »