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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 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 »
Roger Friedman – September 14th, 2010 – By the time I finished watching Rachel Weisz in her new thriller, “The Whistleblower,” I wanted all my money back from those UNICEF cartons.
This exciting film debuted at Toronto on Monday afternoon and I mean, it really got wild cheers and people going crazy at the end to meet Weisz, the filmmaker, and the woman upon whose experiences the film was based.
Larysa Kondracki has made a film certainly inspired by and as good as “Silkwood,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Norma Rae” or “Klute.”
Weisz–in a non-stop, gripping performance– plays Kathy Bolkovac, a Nebraska cop who went to Bosnia as part of a peacekeeping team and wound up the head of the UN’s Gender Relations division there.
Bolkovac uncovered a massive human trafficking scandal involving the UN and a frightening real life company called DynCorp in Bosnia. When she went public she was threatened, fired, harrassed.
She lives in the Netherlands now, and has been essentially blacklisted from working in international positions.
The depiction of what DynCorp employees in Bosnia allegedly did to young women who’d been (again, allegedly) kidnapped or bought by them for sex was so intense that a woman at yesterday afternoon’s screening left the theater and immediately fainted out front.
The movie is that intense. Read the remainder of this entry »
DEFENSE: War Contracting Commission Cites Center Article on Trafficking
By Nick Schwellenbach | July 28, 2010
The Center For Public Integrity
During a hearing on the oversight of subcontractors in war zones, the Wartime Contracting Commission on Monday cited the Center for Public Integrity/Washington Post investigation into the difficulty of enforcing a U.S. ban on contractors engaging in sex trafficking. It also delved into numerous instances of human trafficking and pressed government witnesses and contractors, especially Houston-based Kellogg, Brown, and Root (KBR), on what they’re doing to stop these abuses.
Subcontractors are companies that work for “prime” contractors, which have a direct contractual relationship with the Pentagon or U.S. government.
“We all saw recently a news article that says the buck is being passed around here” regarding allegations of human trafficking, said Charles Tiefer, a commission member. “And that is, the IG sends it to somebody else, the criminal people say it’s not ours, and the program manager says it’s not ours.”
“I wonder whether you would favor formalizing the responsibilities, so the program manager has to follow up any allegations,” Tiefer asked three government witnesses. That means a subcontractor or military contracting officer would be “obliged to follow up any allegations of human trafficking and cannot simply say ‘I’ve delegated that to somebody else’.” Read the remainder of this entry »