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At least Congress agrees on something – stop aiding and abetting government contractors’ that profit from slavery

These people thought they had a job that provided a good wage, food and housing. They found out they had none of that.

Portman, Blumenthal Secure Inclusion of Anti-Human Trafficking Legislation in Defense Bill

Office of Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) – Washington, D.C.- Novemeber 30, 2012 – Yesterday, Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) secured inclusion of the End Trafficking in Government Contracting Act (S.2234) in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013 (S.3254).  Earlier this month, Portman and Blumenthal launched the Senate Caucus to End Human Trafficking.  The caucus will bring Senators together to combat human trafficking by promoting awareness, removing demand, supporting prosecution efforts, and providing appropriate service systems for survivors.

Despite the U.S. government’s zero tolerance human trafficking policy, investigations have found that human trafficking by government contractors and subcontractors who operate overseas is still an issue. For example, in 2011, the Commission on Wartime Contracting – an independent, bipartisan legislative commission established to study wartime contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan – concluded that “[e]xisting prohibitions on such trafficking have failed to suppress it.” The commission also concluded that “evidence of the recurrent problem of trafficking in persons by labor brokers or subcontractors of contingency contractors.”

More than 70,000 third-country nationals work for contractors and subcontractors of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan.

McCaskill, Collins Demand Answers on $70 Million Settlement with Contractor DynCorp

Severe soil settling has caused this guardhouse to lean and its surrounding walls to crack. SIGAR has recently identified significant soil stability issues at the construction site of the Kunduz ANA garrison. (SIGAR photo)

Senators see ‘harm to taxpayers’ in government’s decision to pay contractor for inadequate and incomplete work on construction contracts in Afghanistan

(Office of Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) – WASHINGTON – November 20, 2012 -In a bipartisan effort to protect taxpayer dollars, U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) today sought answers from the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) concerning its decision to approve a $70.8 million dollar settlement with the contractor DynCorp International for faulty construction of an Afghan Army garrison. According to a report by the Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) that questioned the settlement, some of the structures built by the contractor had completely “failed” and were either “unsafe, uninhabitable, or unusable.”

In a letter to Lieutenant General Thomas Bostick, Commanding General and Chief of Engineers for the Army Corps, McCaskill and Collins address multiple reports of waste and mismanagement associated with the contract, asking General Bostick to provide them with information that would justify the $70.8 million settlement.

“It looks like we paid $70 million for a contract that delivered next to nothing-any reasonable person is going to ask why,” said McCaskill, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Contracting Oversight. “Every taxpayer dollar spent in Afghanistan is a dollar that wasn’t spent to build a school or repair a road right here at home, and I think it’s critical that we really scrutinize what we’re getting for the money we’re spending on projects halfway around the world.”

“Many questions are raised by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers decision to let Dyncorp off the hook for poor performance in a settlement agreement made in connection with contracts to construct a garrison for the Afghan National Army,” said Collins, the ranking Republican on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. “The Corps of Engineers has been unable to provide a justification, despite repeated requests from Congress and the Special IG for Afghanistan Reconstruction. The IG audit on the construction of this garrison documented a number of failures. Such failures undermine our national security objective in Afghanistan to train and support the Afghan National Army. This settlement agreement appears to be yet another inexcusable failure of oversight that undermines the overall mission in Afghanistan and wastes taxpayer dollars.”

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Committee acts to stop contractors from enabling human trafficking

Joe Davidson – (Washington Post) – June 27, 2012 – A Senate committee wants to make sure Uncle Sam doesn’t act as an inadvertent enabler for international human traffickers and pimps.

With a voice vote Wednesday, the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee preliminarily approved legislation designed, as its title says, to “End Trafficking in Government Contracting.”

When contractors submit proposals for government work overseas, they don’t include provisions for trading in humans or indentured servitude. But that apparently has been the case with some private firms operating on U.S. military bases in foreign countries.

“Modern-day slavery by government contractors — unknowingly funded by American taxpayers — is unconscionable and intolerable,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), prime sponsor of the bill. “Current law prohibiting human trafficking is insufficient and ineffective, failing to prevent or punish abuses.”

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Colombia Secret Service Prostitution Scandal Spreads to the DEA

Interview with Cartagena “Escort” involved in Secret Service scandal (May 2012)

Pierre Thomas and Jason Ryan – (ABC News) – May 22, 2012 – A month after the Secret Service was rocked by allegations that agents brought prostitutes to a Colombia hotel where they were preparing for a visit by President Obama, the Drug Enforcement Administration today announced that at least three of its agents are also under investigation for allegedly hiring prostitutes in Cartagena.

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Arrested developments and other news

Report: TRC Folded In Inquiry
Haines City firm faced accusations of supplying Army with bad gyroscopes.
Kyle Kennedy – (The Ledger) – HAINES CITY – May 20, 2012 – When Technology Research Consultants landed in Polk County in 2003, the company shined with promise.

But about five years later, the celebrated defense contractor abruptly shut down. Until now, the reason behind its exit has been a mystery.

TRC, which made gyroscopes for the Army’s Black Hawk helicopters, secured millions of dollars’ worth of government contracts and eventually grew to more than 70 employees at the firm’s headquarters in Haines City. Local business and economic development leaders hoped TRC’s award-winning success might attract interest from other technology firms.

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