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What the U.S. Government Knew About Najlaa

David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – July 11, 2012 – A bit over a year ago a report I co-wrote, documenting human trafficking and abuse of workers by Najlaa International Catering Services, a KBR subcontractor, was published by the Project on Government Oversight.

The internal company documents I uncovered revealed, among other things, that U.S. authorities were aware of the deplorable living conditions Najlaa workers endured back in 2008. To their credit both the U.S. government and KBR both worked to pressure Najlaa to fix things once they were alerted to the problem.

But, thanks to the American Civil Liberties Union, newly released documents reveal that the U.S. government and KBR were even more aware of the problem than previously known.

In July 2011 the ACLU filed a lawsuit demanding that the government release documents relating to the trafficking and the abusive treatment of foreign workers on U.S. military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case sought documents from the Departments of State and Defense that detail audits and complaints about military contractors working in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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America’s Shame: The U.S. Government’s Human Trafficking Dilemma

Joe Newman – (POGO) – May 7, 2012 – For Vinnie Tuivaga, the offer was the answer to a prayer: A job in a luxury hotel in Dubai–the so-called Las Vegas of the Persian Gulf–making five times what she was earning as a hair stylist in her native Fiji.

She jumped at the chance, even if it meant paying an upfront commission to the recruiter.

You probably know how this story is going to end. There was no high-paying job, luxury location or easy work.

Tuivaga and other Fijians ended up in Iraq where they lived in shipping containers and existed in what amounted to indentured servitude.

Journalist Sarah Stillman told Tuivaga’s story and that of tens of thousands of other foreign workers in acute detail almost a year ago in her New Yorker piece, “The Invisible Army.”

In some cases, Stillman found more severe abuses and more squalid living conditions than what Tuivaga and her fellow Fijians experienced.

But like Tuivaga, thousands of foreign nationals in the U.S. government’s invisible army ended up in Iraq and Afghanistan war zones because they fell victim to human traffickers.

Let that sink in.

This human trafficking pipeline wasn’t benefitting some shadowy war lord or oppressive regime. No, these are workers who were feeding, cleaning up after, and providing logistical support for U.S. troops—the standard-bearers of the free and democratic world. Read the remainder of this entry »

David Isenberg: Now Will You Do Something?

Najlaa CEO Bill Baisey aka Fathalla Belbaisi (photo from Facebook)

Najlaa CEO Bill Baisey aka Fathalla Belbaisi (photo from Facebook)

David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – November 18, 2011 – Normally, I’m not one to go around saying “I told you so,” but (you knew a “but” was coming) I can’t help but point you to Document 172 (Sentencing Memo) of Case 5:09-cr-00154-VEH -PWG, United States of America v. Eddie Presley, and Eurica Pressley, defendants filed on November 13 in the U.S. District Court for Northern Alabama, Northeastern Division.

This document has to do with the now infamous Eddie Pressley fraud case. For those unfamiliar with this the bottom line is that as an Army officer assigned to the Kuwait contracting office, Pressley was responsible for soliciting and reviewing bids for contracts for goods and services for Department of Defense (“DoD”) necessary to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, arranging for contracts to be awarded to DoD contractors, and arranging for calls to be issued under blanket purchase agreements awarded to such contractors.

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Former U.S. Army Major Eddie Pressley will be sentenced today (Updated)

Photo – Michael Mercier/The Huntsville Times

Eddie and Eurica Pressley’s sentencing has been delayed until Jan. 5, 2012

Pressley’s role adjustment is fully supported by the record. As for the number of individuals involved, the evidence at trial showed that the criminal activity involved Eddie Pressley, Eurica Pressley, John Cockerham, James Momon, Christopher Murray, Terry Hall, Bill Baisey (KBR and USAID subcontractor), Gopal Nair, Shaher Fawzi Audah, Finbar Charles, and Dorothy Ellis.

See, e.g., Document No. 145 at 15-16 (Court’s order upholding sufficiency of evidence supporting conspiracy charges, among others). ~Sentencing Memorandum PDF

Sentencing delayed for Harvest man convicted of bribery

“Everything Eddie Pressley has worked for his whole life is in ruins,” according to a sentencing memorandum filed by Rasmussen on Tuesday. “The government is seeking more than his ruination. They are in essence seeking the annihilation of his future, based on a small, if bad, part of his past, without consideration of the value he has provided to the Army during the rest of his 15 years service, or to his family and community during his whole life.”

“This court is urged to render a sentence that recognizes the whole of the defendant’s past, and that gives a future,” according to the memorandum filed by Rasmussen. ~The Birmingham News

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WAFF) – November 16, 2011 – A federal judge delayed the sentencing for a Harvest man convicted of masterminding a multimillion dollar bribery scheme during the war on terror.

Eddie Pressley went before a federal judge in Birmingham Wednesday morning for his scheduled sentencing hearing.

Pressley’s attorneys asked for more time to respond to the government’s sentencing memorandum that asks for him to be sentenced to life in prison.

Pressley’s sentencing hearing is now set for January fifth.

The case centered on allegations that Eddie Pressley, while serving as a contract specialist in Kuwait from October 2004 to October 2005, conspired with another Army major to direct work to certain contractors in exchange for bribes.

Pressley and his wife were convicted of receiving $2.8 million in bribes. (Click HERE for original article)

Prosecutors seek life imprisonment for Army major in bribery scheme
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  – November 16, 2011 –  Prosecutors are asking a federal judge in Birmingham to send a former Army major to prison for life for his conviction on charges of masterminding a multimillion dollar bribery scheme during the war on terror.

U.S. District Judge Virginia Emerson Hopkins scheduled a sentencing hearing for Wednesday for former Army officer Eddie Pressley of Harvest.

Pressley and his wife Eurica were convicted in March on charges of taking almost $3 million in bribes from a civilian contractor in exchange for $9.3 million in Pentagon contracts. Those included deals for bottled water and security fencing in Iraq and Kuwait.

The contractor, from Georgia, pleaded guilty.

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Poor Contracting Oversight Supports Human Trafficking; Erodes U.S. “Moral Standing”

Dana Liebelson – (POGO) – November 2, 2011 – U.S. taxpayers are inadvertently funding human trafficking and worker abuse because of the federal government’s poor oversight of contractors in war zones, POGO Director of Investigations Nick Schwellenbach told a Congressional panel today.

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