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Black market weapons, sexual harassment, drunken antics – it’s all in a day’s work for USG contractors overseas
The alleged fraud included purported animal house style alcohol and drug abuse, physical harassment of females, attempts to coerce a government officer to sole source contracts to the company, purchase and use of black market weapons and illegal possession of deadly firearms.~Amended Complaint, November 20, 2012
“And those headlines can impact the mission that we’re engaged in,” the secretary said. “They can put your fellow service members at risk. They can hurt morale. They can damage our standing in the world, and they can cost lives.”~Secretary Leon Panetta
Here’s a thought, Mr. Panetta, as the Secretary of Defense and appointed leader of the Department of Defense; perhaps you should hold the contractors you award contracts to and their personnel, who are within our troops circle of influence, to some standards… ~Forseti
Contractors Alleged to Abuse Alcohol, Drugs, Guns at Parties In Afghanistan
Puck Lo – (CorpWatch) – November 14, 2012 - Jorge Scientific Corporation, a military contractor with nearly a billion dollars in U.S. government contracts, is being sued by former employees for “shocking misconduct” in Afghanistan. The charges include illegal and reckless use of firearms, abusing alcohol and drugs and billing the government for property destroyed during raucous parties.
In the summer and fall of 2004, 58-year-old William Manning was working east of the Green Zone in Iraq. As a labor foreman, Manning, a marine Vietnam vet, was overseeing and escorting other civilian contractors at a work site near the police academy where Iraqi rookie cops were trained. ~Mine Fields: Injured Iraq/Afghanistan Contractors Fight to Get Compensated for War Wounds
Whatever your role in the U.S. war effort, if you were injured overseas, at least you’d be covered back home, right?
John Nova Lomax – November 14, 2012 – Ever since that June day in 2010 when the roadside bomb detonated ten feet from the cab of his truck on a dusty road in Iraq, Terry Enzweiler has not been the same. He gets lost coming back from the same grocery store he’s shopped in hundreds of times; his daughter had to buy him a GPS to help him navigate his own neighborhood. He takes Xanax and Zoloft to combat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
“The Xanax stops me from jumping through the roof when a pencil falls on the floor,” he says.
Even medicated, his blood still curdles when he hears Arabic spoken on TV or drives through one of the Chicago area’s Muslim neighborhoods. He wore earplugs for much of the week leading up to and right through the Fourth of July. “Those half-sticks sound just like a .50-cal,” he says, referring to a type of heavy machine gun.
The chuck-chuck of helicopter blades terrifies him, as does the sight of his own 25-year-old son. In Iraq, 46-year-old Enzweiler, a recent client of Houston attorney Gary Pitts, saw a dead Iraqi child who looked just like his boy did 13 years ago. “My psychiatrist said it’s like a marriage where there’s been infidelity,” he says in a phone interview. “The wife forgives the husband. Two years later, she sees a blond woman in a blue dress. Two years prior, the other woman looked like that. So in the mind, the two images come together, and for absolutely no reason, you become furious, and your subconscious takes over. It’s the same thing now. When I see my son, I think of that kid. I saw some horribly gruesome stuff over there.”
John Hudson – (The Atlantic Wire) – August 8, 2012 – America’s least favorite mercenary firm got another black eye on Tuesday when it admitted to key facts behind 17 federal criminal charges. The security contractor Academi LLC, previously known as Xe and even more previously known as Blackwater Worldwide, agreed to pay a $7.5 million fine to settle charges related to arms smuggling and unauthorized possession of automatic weapons. That’s of course on top of a$42 million settlement it reached with the State Department in 2010 for violating the Arms Export Control Act and the International Trafficking in Arms Regulations. So what did these guys allegedly do this time? The Associated Press has the details:
The list of violations includes possessing automatic weapons in the United States without registration, lying to federal firearms regulators about weapons provided to the king of Jordan, passing secret plans for armored personnel carriers to Sweden and Denmark without U.S. government approval and illegally shipping body armor overseas.
In an act of neighborly hospitality, the company also allegedly provided training to the Canadian military without the needed U.S. licenses. Using a catchall term for the company, which keeps changing its name after successive scandals, the FBI’s Chris Briese didn’t mince worlds in court. “For an extended period of time, Academi/Blackwater operated in a manner which demonstrated systemic disregard for U.S. Government laws and regulations,” he said. “Today’s announcement should serve as a warning to others that allegations of wrongdoing will be aggressively investigated.”
This mistrust stems from perceived arrogant behaviour by employees of these firms in the past and various incidents of violence involving them.
The most infamous incident was the 2007 killing of at least 14 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisur Square by gunmen from the Blackwater firm guarding a US embassy convoy.
While Blackwater, now called ACADEMI, was later banned from the country, security contractors still guard US diplomats in Iraq and provide security for various foreign companies.
“Iraq is not looking to expand the security companies’ work here,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in an interview with AFP.
“We feel that Iraq should move to the normal life — we don’t want to see the tens of the security companies taking the job of the ministry of interior.
“Iraq has got a not friendly history with the security companies, especially … Blackwater, and we don’t want to repeat that crisis again. So, we would like to limit their work here in Iraq, but we don’t want to stop them,” Dabbagh said.
The firms “have to understand that … they don’t have free (movement) in the country. They have to follow the instruction, they have to hold the permit, a valid permit, and they are not allowed to violate the Iraqi laws.”
“They are not exempted as before, and they are not getting any sort of immunity,” he said. Read the remainder of this entry »
David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – January 20, 2012 – Some things just seem to go together: day and night, bread and butter, Romeo and Juliet, Abbott and Costello, Crosby and Hope, Batman and Robin, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Cheech and Chong, Sonny and Cher, Beavis and Butthead and sharks and suckerfish (remora) for example. In light of that last pair, another symbiotic pair is private military and security contractors and lawyers.
When historians try to calculate the various benefits that the past decade of privatized contingency operations has brought, one hopes they won’t forget to include the huge number of billable hours that various law firms representing various plaintiffs and defendants have amassed. Firms like KBR, Blackwater and DynCorp alone have doubtlessly enabled scores of lawyers to pay for their children’s education all the way up through doctorates.
For example, earlier this month the security company once known as Blackwater, now Academi, agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by six victims or their families in the Sept. 16, 2007 shootings in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, an incident that remains a lightning rod over the use of private contractors in war.
According to Charlotte, North Carolina law firm Lewis & Roberts, who represented the victims in this case, the lawsuit was the “last active civil suit stemming from the incident,” in which five Blackwater guards were accused in 14 deaths of civilians.
Also this month the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced that DynCorp International, a Falls Church, Va.-based private military contractor and aircraft maintenance company, will pay $155,000 and furnish other significant relief to settle a sex-based harassment and retaliation lawsuit.