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A “Mutiny” in Kabul: Guards Allege Security Problems Have Put Embassy at Risk

Adam Zagorin – (POGO) – January 17, 2013 – Private guards responsible for protecting what may be the most at-risk U.S. diplomatic mission in the world — the embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan — say security weaknesses have left it dangerously vulnerable to attack.

In interviews and written communications with the Project On Government Oversight (POGO), current and former guards said a variety of shortcomings, from inadequate weapons training to an overextended guard force, have compromised security there — security provided under a half-a-billion-dollar contract with Aegis Defense Services, the U.S. subsidiary of a British firm. “[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue,” a guard serving at the embassy wrote in a late November message to POGO.

“[I]f we ever got seriously hit [by terrorists], there is no doubt in my mind the guard force here would not be able to handle it, and mass casualties and mayhem would ensue.”

In July, dissatisfaction boiled over when more than 40 members of the embassy’s Emergency Response Team signed a petition Read the remainder of this entry »

Billions Wasted, Again: State Likely to Give Up on Costly Efforts to Train Iraqi Police

Peter Van Buren – (Huffington Post) – May 14, 2012 – The New York Times reports that the State Department, in the face of massive costs and Iraqi officials who say they never wanted it in the first place, slashed and may soon dump entirely “a multibillion-dollar police training program in Iraq that was to have been the centerpiece” of post-occupation US presence in Iraq. After all of five months.

In October I reported on my blog wemeantwell.com that the State Department was on Capitol Hill in front of the Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations, begging a skeptical Congress for more money for police training in Iraq. “Training” was again being cited as the cure-all for America’s apparently insatiable desire to throw money away in Mesopotamia. That latest tranche of taxpayer cash sought by State was one billion dollars a year, every year for five years, to pay police instructors and cop salaries in Iraq.

The U.S. has been training Iraqi cops for years. In fact, the U.S. government has spent $7.3 billion for Iraqi police training since 2003. Ka-ching! Anybody’s hometown in need of $7.3 billion in Federal funds? Hah, you can’t have it if you’re American, it is only for Iraq!

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Iraq wants to limit private security contractors

”](AFP) – February 8, 2012 – Iraq deeply mistrusts private security companies and wants to limit their operations here, officials say, while the contractors themselves have faced bureaucratic delays and detentions.

This mistrust stems from perceived arrogant behaviour by employees of these firms in the past and various incidents of violence involving them.

The most infamous incident was the 2007 killing of at least 14 civilians in Baghdad’s Nisur Square by gunmen from the Blackwater firm guarding a US embassy convoy.

While Blackwater, now called ACADEMI, was later banned from the country, security contractors still guard US diplomats in Iraq and provide security for various foreign companies.

“Iraq is not looking to expand the security companies’ work here,” government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said in an interview with AFP.

“We feel that Iraq should move to the normal life — we don’t want to see the tens of the security companies taking the job of the ministry of interior.

“Iraq has got a not friendly history with the security companies, especially … Blackwater, and we don’t want to repeat that crisis again. So, we would like to limit their work here in Iraq, but we don’t want to stop them,” Dabbagh said.

The firms “have to understand that … they don’t have free (movement) in the country. They have to follow the instruction, they have to hold the permit, a valid permit, and they are not allowed to violate the Iraqi laws.”

“They are not exempted as before, and they are not getting any sort of immunity,” he said. Read the remainder of this entry »

Flexing Muscle, Baghdad Detains U.S. Contractors

By MICHAEL S. SCHMIDT and ERIC SCHMITT
Published: January 15, 2012

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities have detained a few hundred foreign contractors in recent weeks, industry officials say, including many Americans who work for the United States Embassy, in one of the first major signs of the Iraqi government’s asserting its sovereignty after the American troop withdrawal last month.

The detentions have occurred largely at the airport in Baghdad and at checkpoints around the capital after the Iraqi authorities raised questions about the contractors’ documents, including visas, weapons permits and authorizations to drive certain routes. Although no formal charges have been filed, the detentions have lasted from a few hours to nearly three weeks.

The crackdown comes amid other moves by the Iraqi government to take over functions that had been performed by the United States military and to claim areas of the country it had controlled. In the final weeks of the military withdrawal, the son of Iraq’s prime minister began evicting Western companies and contractors from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which had been the heart of the United States military operation for much of the war.

Just after the last American troops left in December, the Iraqis stopped issuing and renewing many weapons licenses and other authorizations. The restrictions created a sequence of events in which contractors were being detained for having expired documents that the government would not renew. Read the remainder of this entry »

Blacklisted contractor continues receiving government money through Haiti contracts

Despite the blacklist designation Agility was able to secure government funding for work in Haiti through a joint venture. An analysis of the Federal Procurement Data System shows that Contingency Response Services LLC (CRS) has received over $16 million in government funding from the Department of the Navy since the earthquake. The particularly bland sounding Contingency Response Services consists of three defense contractor giants — Dyncorp, Parsons and Agility Logistics (then PWC logistics).

Jake Johnston, lead researcher at Center for Economic and Policy Research – (The Hill) – December 2, 2011 – Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti on January 12, 2010, the U.S. launched an unprecedented relief effort, eventually totaling over one billion dollars. But the lead agency in the immediate aftermath was not the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), as is typically the case when our nation provides humanitarian assistance, but the military.  Just after the earthquake, the U.S. had over 20,000 troops in Haiti. Of the $1.1 billion in humanitarian funding from the U.S. in 2010, nearly half was channeled to the Department of Defense.

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