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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.”
By ROD NORDLAND (NYTimes)
Published: February 11, 2012
KABUL, Afghanistan — Even dying is being outsourced here.
This is a war where traditional military jobs, from mess hall cooks to base guards and convoy drivers, have increasingly been shifted to the private sector. Many American generals and diplomats have private contractors for their personal bodyguards. And along with the risks have come the consequences: More civilian contractors working for American companies than American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year for the first time during the war.
American employers here are under no obligation to publicly report the deaths of their employees and frequently do not. While the military announces the names of all its war dead, private companies routinely notify only family members. Most of the contractors die unheralded and uncounted — and in some cases, leave their survivors uncompensated.
“By continuing to outsource high-risk jobs that were previously performed by soldiers, the military, in effect, is privatizing the ultimate sacrifice,” said Steven L. Schooner, a law professor at George Washington University who has studied the civilian casualties issue.
Last year, at least 430 employees of American contractors were reported killed in Afghanistan: 386 working for the Defense Department, 43 for the United States Agency for International Development and one for the State Department, according to data provided by the American Embassy in Kabul and publicly available in part from the United States Department of Labor.
By comparison, 418 American soldiers died in Afghanistan last year, according to Defense Department statistics compiled by icasualties.org, an independent organization that monitors war deaths. 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.
(Bloomberg News) – Halliburton Co. (HAL), won’t face a jury on claims they sent unarmed civilian convoy drivers into an Iraqi battle zone in 2004, knowing the workers would be injured or killed, an appeals court ruled.
The U.S. Court of Appeals in New Orleans today ruled the drivers’ claims were blocked by the Defense Base Act, a U.S. law that shields military contractors from lawsuits. The drivers were attacked and injured because of their role in support operations for the U.S. Army, which is covered under that statute, the judges said.
“Coverage of an injury under the DBA precludes an employee from recovering from his employer,” even if the worker claims the company was “substantially certain” the injuries would occur, U.S. Circuit Judge Priscilla R. Owen said in a 30-page ruling by the panel.
Scott J. Bloch – September 28, 2011 – I like representing heroes. I did it in the federal government, helping whistleblowers who were taking it on the chin for protecting us. One of the more rewarding things I had the privilege of doing in government as U.S. Special Counsel was protecting the jobs of heroes returning from National Guard or reserve duty under USERRA. Now back in private practice, I have been privileged to protect the rights of our silent service members – private contractors who work in Iraq and Afghanistan and Kuwait in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
While about 150,000 troops from America have served in Afghanistan and Iraq at any given time over the last few years, we don’t hear much about the 200,000 private contractors, about 100,000 from America, the rest from England, South Africa, Australia and other countries such as Kuwait, Iraq, India, Afghanistan, South America, Uganda and so on. There have been several thousand deaths among these contractors, and over 50,000 injuries, some catastrophic, some psychological, sometimes both.
Many of them are decorated veterans of the two current wars, Operation Desert Storm, the Bosnian conflict, or Vietnam, some with purple hearts, silver and bronze stars and other combat medals and awards. Many have been in the special forces of their countries’ armed services. They believe in helping America fight terrorists and defend freedom. They have placed their lives on the line as security personnel, carrying guns, or as combat drivers, as firefighters on bases where they are attacked, bombarded by mortar fire, shot at, and subjected to extremes of war and heat, during long work days usually seven days a week. These are not“mercenaries,” with all of the negative connotations contained in the word. They are patriots.
Many of these ordinary heroes have suffered physical and mental injuries, including having their limbs blown off, contracting brain injuries from concussion blasts of roadside bombs, or severe post traumatic stress disorder from being subjected to horrifying scenes of dismemberment, death, and threats of same every day. What has the American government done for them, and what have the insurance companies being paid billions done for these men and women?