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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 »
…“God will forgive you, but the bureaucracy never will.”
This is an appropriate warning for civil servants who would report contractor fraud against the military, one of our nation’s more popular corporate pastimes. Be prepared for the Pentagon to side with the crooked contractor and fire you. No bureaucrat can afford to have fraud discovered on his watch. It’s bad for the career.
And if you happen to work for the crook, it’s even worse. Not only will you be fired, but you will never find another job in the industry. If the crook is the government itself — say, one of the security agencies — you will doubtless be prosecuted. And if the crook is a corporation, you’ll likely be sued. ~ William A. Collins, The Reporter
The Afghanistan Report the Pentagon Doesn’t Want You to Read
Michael Hastings – (Rolling Stone) – February 10, 2012 – Earlier this week, the New York Times’ Scott Shane published a bombshell piece about Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis, a 17-year Army veteran recently returned from a second tour in Afghanistan. According to the Times, the 48-year-old Davis had written an 84-page unclassified report, as well as a classified report, offering his assessment of the decade-long war. That assessment is essentially that the war has been a disaster and the military’s top brass has not leveled with the American public about just how badly it’s been going. “How many more men must die in support of a mission that is not succeeding?” Davis boldly asks in an article summarizing his views in The Armed Forces Journal.
David Isenberg – (Huffington Post) – January 20, 2012 – Some things just seem to go together: day and night, bread and butter, Romeo and Juliet, Abbott and Costello, Crosby and Hope, Batman and Robin, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, Cheech and Chong, Sonny and Cher, Beavis and Butthead and sharks and suckerfish (remora) for example. In light of that last pair, another symbiotic pair is private military and security contractors and lawyers.
When historians try to calculate the various benefits that the past decade of privatized contingency operations has brought, one hopes they won’t forget to include the huge number of billable hours that various law firms representing various plaintiffs and defendants have amassed. Firms like KBR, Blackwater and DynCorp alone have doubtlessly enabled scores of lawyers to pay for their children’s education all the way up through doctorates.
For example, earlier this month the security company once known as Blackwater, now Academi, agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by six victims or their families in the Sept. 16, 2007 shootings in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square, an incident that remains a lightning rod over the use of private contractors in war.
According to Charlotte, North Carolina law firm Lewis & Roberts, who represented the victims in this case, the lawsuit was the “last active civil suit stemming from the incident,” in which five Blackwater guards were accused in 14 deaths of civilians.
Also this month the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), announced that DynCorp International, a Falls Church, Va.-based private military contractor and aircraft maintenance company, will pay $155,000 and furnish other significant relief to settle a sex-based harassment and retaliation lawsuit.
…In April 2003, Dyncorp dropped its appeal against the verdict, and three days later announced an award by the US state department for a contract to police Iraq…
…”These crimes are perpetrated by individual men who rape and torture girls on mission, then go home to their wives. And it’ll carry on until there’s a knock at the door and they find themselves getting arrested in front of the wife and kids.” ~ Ed Vulliamy – Has the UN learned lessons of Bosnian sex slavery…
Soldier faces hearing at Afghan base over suicide
Associated Press – (Wall Street Journal) – KABUL, Afghanistan – January 15, 2012 – An American soldier charged with abuse that led to the suicide of a 19-year-old fellow soldier in Afghanistan is facing a preliminary hearing Sunday on a base in the country, the military said.
The hearing came as two more members of the international force in Afghanistan died of what NATO described as “non-battle-related” injuries.
Dina Rasor – (Truthout | Solutions) – January 12, 2012 – Several years ago, I pushed for a revival of the old “Truman Committee” in the US Congress to look at war fraud and profiteering in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I had just written a book about the fraud and waste by contingency contractors in the Iraq war and was shocked, even after 30 years of investigating the Pentagon, at how much the government was being cheated, especially at the expense of our troops.
Sens. Claire McCaskill and Jim Webb pushed for a revival of a Truman Committee-style look at our wartime contracting because they, too, were shocked at what they were seeing in these current wars’ private contracting. The original Truman Committee exposed and corrected major fraud in World War II while the war was still going on. Truman, then a senator from Missouri, was proud that he found fraud and actually sent a general to jail.
The idea for the committee was to have it run and staffed by a group of current members of Congress, but politics intervened and, instead, the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) was staffed and chaired by appointees from each of the political parties. Even though I promoted this commission in my past life as a Huffington Post blogger because of the desperate need for oversight in this area, I knew that it might have turned out like many other commissions on Department of Defense (DoD) spending that I had witnessed over the years. Without having current, working members of Congress with subpoena and other investigative powers, I feared that this commission would not have the clout to really make a difference and change this destructive contracting. I testified in front of this commission and advised them several times, but could see the politics on the part of the appointees.