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Vanishing acts and other news

Tracking Gaddafi: The case against the Canadian accused of aiding a dictator’s son
Stewart Bell – (National Post) –  MEXICO CITY – March 24, 2012 –  When a dictatorship falls, the old regime takes flight.

And so when Colonel Muammar Gaddafi began losing his grip on Libya last year, a mixed bag of friends, allies and profiteers went to work planning exile for those close to him.

A town near Puerto Vallarta was the soft landing chosen for Saadi Gaddafi, the dictator’s hedonistic third son and head of the Libyan Special Forces. To get him there, according to Mexican officials, properties were purchased, planes were rented and passports were forged.

But if there was such a plot, it was a spectacular flop. Because instead of wading in the Pacific surf, Mr. Gaddafi ended up in Niger, a landlocked sandbox, while the Canadian, Dane and two Mexicans accused of orchestrating his escape are behind bars.

Because of Mexico’s closed legal system, few details of the case have been officially released. But documents obtained by the National Post reveal the events leading up to the arrests of Canadian Cynthia Vanier, who has denied the allegations, and her co-accused.

The paper trail identifies for the first time the international team of private security contractors that left Canada with Ms. Vanier last year in a small jet, destined for Col. Gaddafi’s collapsing capital. But it also raises doubts about the reliability of the evidence presented in court by Mexican authorities — in particular a central witness with a criminal past.

Aside from a stint negotiating for the release of hostages in Colombia, Ms. Vanier, a mediator from Mount Forest, Ont., had no apparent experience in war zones when she was hired to write a report on Libya, then five months into an armed revolt against its brutal, erratic dictator.

SNC-Lavalin, the Montreal-based engineering and construction company, said it contracted her “in the interest of the safety and security of our personnel and operations when we will need to go back to Libya to complete our projects.”

A chain of emails shows planning got underway on July 12, 2011. Gregory Gillispie, who runs a San Diego airplane brokerage, was asked by Loren Berenda, a former employee of U.S. security giant DynCorp, in Illinois, to find a jet to transport the Canadian and her entourage. (Click HERE for article)

Pressure Mounts for Transparency in Pfc. Manning’s Court-Martial
Adam Klasfeld – (Courthouse News) – MANHATTAN – March 22, 2012 – A lawyer from a civil libertarian group representing Wikileaks and Julian Assange urged a military judge to release records related to the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning, the alleged source for the biggest leak in U.S. history.

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You know how to whistle don’t you and other news…

Finding Secrets in the U.S. Defense Budget and a KBR Hat
…Looking for rendition sites in Kabul, Paglen recalls how once, when driving down a forgotten road, he got caught in a goat traffic jam. The goatherd sported a baseball cap marked KBR, short for Kellogg Brown & Root, the notorious private military contracting company… - David Cotner (LA Weekly)

Proposed Anti-Fraud Wall Art for DoD Contractors

Revelations in BAE Saudi case prompt inquiry call
Christopher Hope and Stephen Swinford – (The Telegraph) – March 12, 2011 – A senior MP has demanded a parliamentary inquiry into Britain’s £43 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia after a leaked US diplomatic cable disclosed the full case against BAE Systems, the defence contractor.

The Serious Fraud Office dropped the investigation in December 2006, after intense diplomatic pressure from the Saudis. BAE was fined by US authorities last year after it admitted a relatively minor charge of making false statements. It faced no action in Britain over the Saudi allegations and until now the full details of the case have been kept secret.
However, a US cable given to the WikiLeaks website and obtained by The Daily Telegraph discloses the strength of the investigators’ case. Written four months after the collapse of the investigation, it shows the SFO had evidence that:

BAE paid £73 million to a Saudi prince who had “influence” over the Al-Yamamah defence contract and that there were “reasonable grounds” to believe another “very senior Saudi official” received payments;

The contractor was being covertly investigated by the SFO for carrying out a “potential fraud” against a government department;

BAE allegedly circumvented anti-bribery laws by making “substantial payments” to overseas agents employed by the Saudi government.

Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, then British ambassador in Riyadh and now a BAE Systems’ director, “had a profound effect” on the decision by Robert Wardle, then SFO director, to end the investigation. (Click HERE for article)

DoD Proposes Anti-Fraud Wall Art For Contractors
Joe Palazzolo – (WSJ Blogs) – March 11, 2011 – If you see fraud, say something.

That’s the message the Defense Department wants to convey in contractors’ offices around the globe, anyway.

The department proposed a rule in Friday’s Federal Register that would require defense contractors to prominently display Defense Department fraud hotline posters in common work areas.

As it stands, contractors with their own ethics programs that include hotline posters are exempt from having to display the Defense Department’s version.

But the department’s inspector general has determined that the exemption could diminish “the means by which fraud, waste, and abuse can be reported under the protection of federal whistleblower protection laws,” the proposal says.

The inspector general is also revising the agency’s fraud hotline poster to inform contractor employees of their whistleblower protections.

The public comment period on the proposed rule closes on May 10. (Click HERE for article)

U.S. prosecution of leakers could chill whistle-blowers
Chuck Raasch – (USA Today) – WASHINGTON – March 11, 2011 – Despite the Obama administration’s promise to increase openness and transparency, the Justice Department is stepping up prosecution of those who leak classified information, a move that critics say will have a chilling effect on whistle-blowers who are essential to keeping government in check.

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Schwartz on smoking, Myles joins the club & other news

“Don’t blow smoke up my ass” about what a military platform can do and when it will be ready, Schwartz told a tense and silent ballroom filled with defense industry executives. “There’s no time for it. There’s no patience for it. OK?” –Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz

Interesting Times
ROBERT KAHN – February 11, 2011 – “May you live in interesting times” is supposed to be an ancient Chinese proverb – though no one has ever proved that, and Westerners don’t know whether it’s supposed to be a blessing or a curse.

We live in interesting times, but am I the only one who feels that the rest of the world is missing the point?

Take Wikileaks and Julian Assange.

I, for one, do not care how Julian Assange has sex, nor with whom he has it. Nor do I see what Julian Assange’s sex life has to do with the 251,287 diplomatic cables from U.S. Embassies around the world that have embarrassed O so many people, and may have contributed to the revolution in Egypt.

What I wonder is why the U.S. Army allowed a private, first class, to get his hands on a quarter of a million classified cables, so he could slip them to Mr. Assange.

Doesn’t that seem a more interesting question, for U.S. national security and all, than what Julian Assange did with the condom? (Click HERE for article)

Major General (USA Ret.) James R. Myles Joins DynCorp International 
FALLS CHURCH, Va. – February 11, 2011 – DynCorp International (DI) yesterday announced that Major General (USA Ret.) James R. Myles has joined the company as Vice President of Aviation Operations, within the company’s Aviation business area. He is based in Huntsville, Ala.
“We are honored that General Myles chose to join our team,” said Steve Gaffney, Chairman and CEO of DynCorp International. “As we look to the future and across our seven business areas, DI holds tremendous potential for growth and Gen. Myles’ extraordinary achievements and knowledge will enrich the services we provide. We are committed to the Huntsville community and look forward to continuing to expand our presence there.”

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Trafficking in Persons, DoD, DoS & DoJ – start by cleaning up your own backyard!

U.S. boosts anti-trafficking campaign

WASHINGTON – (UPI) – February 2, 2011 – U.S. agencies are launching a coordinated campaign against human trafficking, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says.

Joining other Cabinet members in an inter-agency task force Tuesday, Clinton called for “ending the practice of punishing the victims of human trafficking. For all the millions who are held in servitude, fewer than 50,000 have been officially identified as victims. Too many others are either ignored, or even worse, treated as criminals.”

Clinton said some nations will be downgraded in the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report and the United States is being included for the first time. She said foreign diplomats will be briefed on their obligations to their domestic workers and a code of conduct is being drafted for private security contractors.

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis said new regulations will strengthen protection for farm workers.

“We reject the proposition that it is acceptable to pursue economic gain through force, fraud, and coercion of human beings,” she said.

Attorney General Eric Holder said the Justice Department “has prosecuted more human trafficking cases than ever before.”

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said border authorities also have stepped up enforcement. (Click HERE for article)

Department of Justice Announces Launch of Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative

WASHINGTON – February 2, 2011 – The Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Labor announced today the launch of a nationwide Human Trafficking Enhanced Enforcement Initiative designed to streamline federal criminal investigations and prosecutions of human trafficking offenses.

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Timing is everything….

U.S. State Department Hilariously Announces ‘World Press Freedom Day’

Ken Layne – Wonkette – December 7, 2010 –  The United States, which is currently engaged in a complete war against some weird guy with a website, is going to host “World Press Freedom Day,” the Department of State announced today. They’re all especially excited about protecting the flow of digital news, which is why Washington is “concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information.” LOL. This is the same Department of State (and Justice Department and Pentagon and CIA and NATO and PayPal) trying everything to cut off WikiLeaks’ access to the Internet and its own money. Washington is also, at this moment, planning to extradite Julian Assange if it can figure out what the Swedes want. Where is Sweden, anyway?

From the official announcement:

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information. We mark events such as World Press Freedom Day in the context of our enduring commitment to support and expand press freedom and the free flow of information in this digital age.

[U.S. Department of State]

(Click HERE for original article)