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Two recent press releases indicate that once again the DoD and the DoJ are standing on their collective soapboxes and taking a stand against human trafficking.
Excuse me while I yawn at their anemic attempts to truly combat this problem.
How many headlines have to hit the news? How many lawsuits have to be filed? How many people have to come forward before they actually do something more than simply push paper and provide lip service on this issue?
Don’t even get me started on the DoS, whose annual reports admonishing foreign governments for their failures in mitigating the problem and yet they never touch on the fact that as the international “watchdog” they keep hiring notorious contractors who create international incidents and embarrassments on a regular basis. Not to mention the nefarious individuals who not only participate, promote or otherwise condone trafficking in persons of foreign national workers on government installations overseas and when they get a some time off from work they hop on a plane to head to the nearest brothel for a little sex tourism.
Speaking of the State Department I have unconfirmed reports from my readers that Bruce Chirinko, pictured left, is currently in Baghdad working on the LOGCAP IV project supporting the State Department.
When a contractor employee does take a stand for his foreign national workers, they are threatened by their managers such as KBR’s Mike Land. For his efforts, Land received a letter of reprimand (pdf) from KBR, telling him that if he didn’t “refrain from further involvement regarding the working and living conditions of the sub-contract workers,” he could be fired.
Chirinko’s name has come up numerous times. His signature is on the letter of reprimand (Project Manager), referenced above. He has also been named in at least one lawsuit.
When I contacted the Towne Lodge, Chirinko’s name was given to me as a reference, along with several other high level KBR managers working on LOGCAP, including Michael Peck, who according to LinkedIn was “Corporate Legal Counsel-Baghdad and Middle East at KBR Middle East/Central Asia CSC”.
Here is an excerpt from a post I did in 2009:
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. Read the remainder of this entry »
In the June 6th issue of the magazine, my “Invisible Army” piece told the story of foreign workers on U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq. The allegations on which I reported—tales of deceptive recruitment, unpaid wages, sexual assault, and conditions resembling indentured servitude faced by some foreign subcontract workers of the Pentagon—were cited in federal hearings of the Commission on Wartime Contracting.
One of the commission’s members, Dov Zakheim, called the situation described in the article “a major scandal for the United States,” and asked the State Department’s Ambassador Patrick F. Kennedy what was being done about these sorts of “shocking” abuses. What he was trying to get a handle on, from a policy standpoint, is what several readers have now asked me from a human one: Are there any signs of meaningful reform, or any efforts to which we can lend our support?
At the highest levels of governance, I’m not so sure. But in the worker camps on U.S. bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, I’ve met dozens of whistleblowers whose stories merit telling. Some are U.S. soldiers; others are foreign and American contractors. They have spoken out on behalf of the wars’ vast support forces from places like Fiji, Sierra Leone, and Nepal, occasionally at great risk to themselves and their jobs.
One man in particular stands out: a former employee at KBR, a global engineering and construction company, named Mike Land. Land calls himself a Texas cowboy. For nearly four years, he worked as a labor foreman in Baghdad. In my article, I alluded to his efforts to confront Prime Projects International, a Dubai-based subcontractor of KBR, about the dismal living conditions of the Indian and Filipino men he supervised. (Sadly, he didn’t make much headway; after Land left Iraq, I uncovered a massive food riot that took place on the same base complex last summer, involving more than twelve hundred angry South Asian men rioting for food.) Read the remainder of this entry »
In a recent news release from KBR, it states they have made it onto the “Top 50 Employers” list for Woman Engineer Magazine with a ranking of #46. The lists published on WEM’s site do not include KBR so I can’t confirm KBR’s claim. Assuming KBR is not trying to mislead their employees and investors and did in fact somehow magically make it onto this list, I must then ask “Who in the Hell is #47, #48, #49 & #50?” KBR is notorious for their crimes and abuses against women employees. (Click HERE to contact Women Engineer Magazine and insist KBR be removed from the list)
Let’s start with this short list of well documented cases of female KBR employees who were brutally raped, harassed, intimidated and held against their will while working for KBR in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Jamie Leigh Jones – Drugged and gang raped by KBR employee Charles Boartz and other unidentified KBR employees (firemen) and then held against her will by KBR management in the Green Zone – Baghdad, Iraq. To top it off KBR has the audacity to publicly vilify Jones by calling her a liar on their own site and in the media.
Anna Mayo – Raped and brutally beaten by who is believed to be a KBR employee and who was allowed to leave the country most likely by KBR management at Balad, Iraq. Again KBR chooses to publicly vilify Mayo by claiming she did not pursue the issue when she felt threatened by this employee when in fact she did report it to KBR management. Read the remainder of this entry »
Updated 5-3-2011: It appears Yuksel Construction Company, the KBR subcontractor at the center of this investigation, may be providing the DoJ with an abundance of pertinent information. Yuksel contacted the DoJ and according to the most recent motion “Yuksel presented additional factual information bearing on the issues in the case.” One can only hope Yuksel does the right thing and gives the DoJ a list of names of the wrong doers!
~ Ms Sparky
The DoJ is preparing to join the Qui Tam suit against KBR for alleged materials fraud at the H-Sites, Iraq amounting to at least $31 million . I thought it would be helpful to provide some names and photos of potential persons I feel need to be on the short list, for questioning or indictments, whichever suits the DoJ’s fancy. Conveniently someone in Leesville, Louisiana has a website or read (pdf HERE) with photos and names of some of the key players. How thoughtful of them to provide information and support to the DoJ in investigating the misdeeds of KBR management at the H-Sites. I think if the DoJ continues to pull the string on all the H-Sites managers they will most likely find this is just the tip of the “fraud” iceberg.
I’ve written about John Reddy and his Towne Lodge Hotel (aka brothel) in Bangkok before. Reddy has been accused of using his former management position with KBR to solicit KBR employees in Iraq as clientele for his Bangkok business. Bruce Chirinko is named in at least one lawsuit against KBR for sexual harassment.
According to our readers this is not the first or the last of the fraud, waste and rampant abuse of power that has been going on since day one in Iraq and LOGCAP management has been the problem. Most disturbing is when one of these managers gets caught they are allowed to resign and just hop in bed with another contractor and continue their wicked ways. There isn’t a government contractor out there that doesn’t have one or more of these crooks on their payroll. Yes, DynCorp, Fluor, L-3, Agility, ITT and of course KBR the finger is pointing at all of you! Not to mention the fact that these are managers and many hold security clearances. Read the remainder of this entry »