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We Served Too: Remembering Civilian Sacrifices Made on Behalf of Country and Honoring Those Who Serve Alongside the Military in Conflict Zones

Anne Speckhard – (Huffington Post) – May 28, 2013 – This Memorial Day all Americans send a heartfelt salute to all those warriors who fought and died so gallantly in recent and far off wars in behalf of our freedoms and safety.  On behalf of those who died, we can never thank them or their families enough for the ultimate sacrifice they made for our country. Alongside that salute we now also need to begin to honor the oft forgotten civilians who also serve in war and high threat security environments alongside the military, supporting their efforts and working in concert with them — especially all those civilians who served in the two recent U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — as many civilian workers have also lost their lives while serving our country.

While we don’t often remember the sacrifices of civilian workers in conflict zones, or have a holiday to commemorate their service, we do need to honor that they too serve their country.

A little known fact is that in September 2007 there were more contractors in Iraq than combat troops.  According to a 2013 report of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) reports that, “In September 2007, the United States had more than 170,000 combat personnel in Iraq as part of the counterinsurgency operation, with more than 171,000 contractors supporting the mission.”  These contractors are credited in the report for supporting “the counterinsurgency mission in unstable, yet strategically significant, areas such as Baghdad, Anbar, and Babylon provinces.”

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Returning War Contractors Face Second Battle, Against AIG

After his rig bottomed out in a bomb crater, AIG made former KBR trucker David Boiles of Willis suffer through 14 months of agonizing back pain and sciatica before they authorized surgery. – Photo Daniel Kramer

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.”

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War’s Risks Shift to Contractors

Contractors from the United States and other countries were wounded in an attack last year in Logar Province, Afghanistan. (NYTimes)

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: Gun? Check. Radio? Check. Lawyer? Check!

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.

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KBR, Halliburton Won’t Face Trial in Iraq Convoy Driver Deaths, Court Says

By Laurel Brubaker Calkins and Margaret Cronin Fisk - Jan 12, 2012 3:55 PM CT

(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.

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