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Archive for March, 2010

Aegis Security Contractor, Robbie Napier, killed in explosion in Iraq March 10

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 31, 2010

Iraq: Aegis Defense Contractor Robbie Napier Killed, Others Wounded And Killed In Separate Incidents

Thanks to Matt at Feral Jundi for putting this together.  We still have no way of tracking Contractor Casualties unless a family member talks to the news or contacts us directly.

I had no idea that this happened several weeks back, and there is nothing on the Aegis company website or Army Corps of Engineers website about this death, or even the other attacks. Supposedly another contractor was killed by a sniper, and others severely wounded, but there is nothing in the news about it.  If a reader could please pass on the news link to the death related to that sniper, I will definitely make an edit to this post.

Wakefield bomb blast victim had just delivered baby

A SECURITY contractor was killed in an explosion in Iraq just three months after delivering his baby daughter in the kitchen of his home.

Ex-Marine and father-of-two Robbie Napier, 36, from Wakefield, died after the explosion this month.

On Friday, his grieving father told the YEP that just last Christmas he had returned home and delivered his baby daughter at his family home in Stanley.

An inquest in Wakefield into his death heard that Mr Napier was a front seat passenger in the front of a three-vehicle convoy on March 10.

Coroner’s officer Anthony Lancaster told the hearing: “Mr Napier sustained fatal injuries in an explosion of a detonated explosive device.”

The court heard that following the explosion in Baghdad Mr Napier was taken to a nearby base but was pronounced dead a short time later.

A post-mortem report gave his provisional cause of death as multiple injuries caused by a detonated explosive device. His body was flown home on March 16.

West Yorkshire coroner David Hinchliff adjourned the inquest pending further investigation.

Speaking to the YEP after the hearing, Mr Napier’s father Ronald said his son was married and had two young daughters.

He said: “Robbie was taking clients up to a site when his vehicle was hit by the device.

“We were told about what had happened on the same day by the police and then the next day, members of his firm came up and saw us.

“He had come home last Christmas and delivered his baby daughter on the kitchen floor.”

Mr Napier said his son had been in the Marines for 17 years before starting work for private security firm Aegis.

Aegis is a privately owned, British security and risk management company with overseas offices in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Iraq and the USA.

The firm’s website says it “provides comprehensive physical security services designed to meet the threat to personnel working in hostile environments around the world.”

U.S. contractors still face death daily, trying to do good in Iraq

Skip Rohde

March 28, 2010

Some days here in Baghdad are better than others. Friday was not one of the better ones.

Our command, part of the Army Corps of Engineers, had a very moving memorial service for one of our security contractors. Robbie was a young Brit who spent 15 years in the Royal Marines. He was an accomplished triathlete, very sharp, and a “by the book” team leader. He was also a husband and a father to three young children, one of whom he helped bring into the world just a few weeks ago. Robbie was killed last week by a roadside bomb.

Unfortunately, his is not the only hit that our security forces have taken recently while at, or en route to, project sites. A week prior to Robbie’s death, a member of a different security team was killed by a sniper. A few days ago, two more lost their legs to another roadside bomb.

That spate of incidents is extremely unusual. It’s not uncommon now for us to go for weeks with little activity, and there have been surprisingly few injuries or deaths over the past year or so. It’s easy to forget that we’re still in a war zone. We have a Burger King and a Cinnabon on the base, and there are salsa dance classes, yoga, and college classes.

The national and international newspapers only focus on the ongoing election process. I don’t recall seeing anything more than a brief one-liner about any of our forces being hurt or killed, never anything about a U.S. civilian, and especially never anything about contractors. If your only exposure to what’s happening on the ground in Iraq is the media, you’d think that we’re sitting here on our bases, twiddling our thumbs, waiting to go home.

But traveling around Iraq is still dangerous. The number of bombs and mortar attacks is way down, but not eliminated, and there are a few trouble areas where bad things happen a bit more often. All three incidents that I mentioned were in these trouble areas. Our security guys, Robbie included, knew the dangers and the risks and willingly took them.

Why? Well, that’s a good question. A skeptic might say it’s for the money or the adrenaline rush. That might come into play for some people. Everybody has a lot of reasons why they’re here. Most of the military members are ordered here; some volunteer, and all volunteered to be in the service.

All the civilians and contractors are here because we volunteered. Money is probably part of the reason; career advancement may be another.

Maybe I’m an idealist, but I think most of us are here primarily for other reasons: the opportunity to contribute to something bigger than ourselves, to participate in something vitally important, to do something that not many other people can do or are willing to do. I think that’s especially true for those who put their lives on the line and go outside the wire on a regular basis.

I didn’t know Robbie, but I heard about him from his buddies. Robbie was a level-headed, very dedicated guy. You have to be to survive 15 years in the Royal Marines, and Rambos don’t last long in the real world. So as a level-headed guy, Robbie certainly wasn’t here just for the money. He was here for something else, bigger than him. And he accepted the risks.

When I first arrived, I wanted to get off the bases as much as possible. I’ve been lucky enough to have made some trips around the country. But I’ve also gained an appreciation for what it takes to do those trips, and especially for the security contractors that take me where I need to go. Every one of those men and women has been extremely professional. I owe it to them to make sure that my trips are absolutely necessary.

On the other hand, our very business requires us to go outside the wire. You can’t run construction projects if you never see the sites. And we’re not building things, or (in my case) running training and development programs, just because we want to. These are projects that will help make Iraq stronger and more able to stand on its own feet. The sooner the Iraqis do that, the sooner the level of violence will drop, and the sooner we can all go home. And then maybe one day, in a generation or two, Iraq might actually be a fully-functioning member of the world community.

So that’s what Robbie was doing here: helping this place get back on its feet. He knew the risks, just as we all do. But we have to take them if we’re going to succeed.

Tomorrow morning, Robbie’s teammates will go back out again, taking us to project sites or critical meetings.

The mission goes on.

Skip Rohde is a retired Navy officer living in Mars Hill. In August 2008, he went to work for the State Department in Baghdad, then moved over to the Corps of Engineers. He blogs at http://storypaintings.blogspot.com. Next month Rohde hopes to return home to resume life as an artist down in the River Arts District.

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

CNA loses USAID Defense Base Act Contract 2010

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 30, 2010

CNA has just lost it’s contract with the State Department to poorly provide Defense Base Act Insurance benefits on USAID contracts.  Allied World Assurance, brand new to the DBA Dropping the Ball Game was just awarded this contract.  We’ll have the full story on that as soon as they let go of it.

Allied World’s Kevin Behan to Speak at the IPOA 2010 EuroConference

Another PR Announcement from Offshore

It will be intersting to hear what Kevin Behan has to say about Risk Management in Conflict and Post-Conflict Zones, and examining how companies, military and governments can prepare to manage risk in these environments.

While the Contract Companies continue to have the DBA’s Exclusive Remedy shielding them from negligent safety practices it would encouraging to think that  Mr. Behan will be speaking on reducing safety risks to employees.  We all Know what the term “risk management” means in the insurance industry and it has everything to do with reducing their risk of losing some of their profit.

If we’re wrong, let us know.  We are always open for honest discussions here.

PEMBROKE, Bermuda, March 30 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, Ltd (NYSE: AWH) announced today that Kevin Behan, Senior Vice President for General Casualty in the United States, will be
speaking at the IPOA’s 2010 EuroConference. The conference will focus on RiskManagement in Conflict and Post-Conflict Zones, and examine how companies, military and governments can prepare to manage risk in these environments. The event takes place in London on April 8 & 9, 2010.

Mr. Behan joined Allied World in October 2008, as Senior Vice President for General Casualty. He is responsible for Primary Casualty, working with brokers to develop Allied World’s Primary Casualty business capability. Primary Casualty includes Defense Base Act Business, General Liability, Automobile Liability and Physical Damage. Mr. Behan has over 25 years of experience in the insurance industry.

About Allied World Assurance Company

Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, Ltd, through its subsidiaries, isa global provider of innovative property, casualty and specialty insurance and reinsurance solutions, offering superior client service through offices in Bermuda, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore and the United States. Our insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries are rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best Company. For further information on Allied World, please visit our website at http://www.awac.com.

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Update on ACE Defense Base Act Insurance carrier

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 30, 2010

What happens when you speak up and say ACE isn’t doing such a bad job at taking care of Injured Contractors stuck under their care by the Defense Base Act?

You quickly find out that it is not true.

ACE, and their lawfirm, which you can find leading the pack at the Longshore Conference are apparently working  just as hard at screwing injured contractors out of the benefits they are due under the Defense Base Act as AIG and CNA.  This is according to the injured contractors and the attorneys that represent them.

Sorry we spoke too soon.  And Zurich, your right on their heels.

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Two ProPublica Reporters Win IRE Awards

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 30, 2010

ProPublica reporters T. Christian Miller and A.C. Thompson have won best-of-category awards in the 2009 Investigative Reporters and Editors Awards.

Miller won the top award in the Online category for “Disposable Army [2],” along with Doug Smith and Francine Orr of the Los Angeles Times, Anvi Patel of ABC News and Pratap Chatterjee, an independent journalist and author.

Thompson won the top award in the Magazine/Specialty Publication category for “Katrina’s Hidden Race War” and “Body of Evidence,” which were published both by ProPublica and The Nation. “Katrina’s Hidden Race War” also received support from The Investigative Fund [3]. His latest reporting on the issue can be found here [4].

Additionally, Karen Weise, a once and future ProPublica intern who is at the Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, was a finalist in the Student Work category for her articles on loan modifications [5], and ProPublica reporter Sheri Fink”s story, “The Deadly Choices at Memorial [6],” was a finalist in the Online category.

The IRE judges said [7] (PDF) that “…ProPublica’s reporting with the Los Angeles Times and ABC News in the ‘Disposable Army’ series is remarkable for its depth and complexity…” and that “the reporting led to a congressional hearing and a systemic overhaul by the Labor Department and the Pentagon.”

About Thompson’s reporting on the aftermath of Katrina, the IRE judges commented [7] (PDF) that Thompson “…conducted an examination that shed light on a sensitive subject and detailed a largely unexplored story…”

The top awards in the annual competition, the IRE Medals, were given to The New York Times for its “Toxic Waters” series and to KHOU, Houston for “Under Fire: Discrimination & Corruption in the Texas National Guard.”

Congratulations to all IRE winners and finalists [8].

Update: This post has been updated to show that A.C. Thompson’s reporting for “Katrina’s Hidden Race War” also received support from The Investigative Fund.  Original Story here

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DynCorp employee sentenced in drunken shooting death of Justin Pope in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 30, 2010

Court records said Palmer and Justin Pope worked as security contractors for DynCorp, a Department of State contractor, at a U.S. embassy office in Erbil, Iraq.

The 25-year-old Riverview native was employed as a civilian contractor with Falls Church, Va.-based DynCorp International, where he served as a personal security specialist.He was protecting U.S. diplomats in Kirkuk, Iraq, last Wednesday when his life was cut short by a sniper’s bullet. HERE

RIVERVIEW, Mich. —  A U.S. veteran who returned to Iraq as a civilian contractor was shot to death while protecting American diplomats in Iraq, his employer said Sunday.

Justin Pope, 25, died after being shot late Wednesday or early Thursday in Kirkuk, said Douglas Ebner, a spokesman for Falls Church, Va.-based DynCorp International.

Detroit-area television station WJBK reported Saturday that Pope was killed by sniper fire. Ebner denied that, saying Pope died of “an accidental gunshot wound.” He would not elaborate, saying the incident was under investigation by DynCorp and the U.S. State Department. Here

Miss. man sentenced for manslaughter in Iraq

GULFPORT, Miss. — Authorities say a Mississippi man who worked as a security contractor has been sentenced to three years in federal prison for accidentally shooting a co-worker in Iraq.U.S. District Judge Louis Guirola Jr. sentenced 27-year-old Kyle Palmer of Biloxi on Monday.

A news release from the U.S. attorney’s office said Palmer was intoxicated when he and Palmer pointed a 9 millimeter pistol at each other during an informal party in March 2009.  Original here

Palmer allegedly fired Pope’s weapon without checking whether the gun was loaded and accidentally killed Pope.

Justin Pope
Patricia Salser told The Associated Press that 25-year-old Justin Pope died after being shot Wednesday. Southfield television station WJBK said Pope had served two tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and was assigned to protect U.S. diplomats in Kirkuk when he was killed by sniper fire.
Pope was employed by Falls Church, Va.-based DynCorp International. Messages seeking comment were left with a company spokesman Saturday. The U.S. military  does not keep a count of civilian deaths in Iraq, but the AP says 1,264 civilian  employees of U.S. government contractors had died through Sept. 30, 2008.  HERE

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing, Dyncorp, Political Watch | Tagged: , , , | 5 Comments »

The Unknown Contractor

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 29, 2010

By David Isenberg at Huff Post

In my March 25 post I mentioned how difficult it still is, despite years of trying, to collect accurate data on basic private military and security contractor (PMSC) facts, such as how many are there,

And I noted that to help increase oversight of activities supporting the Defense and State departments and USAID’s efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the three agencies designated the Synchronized Predeployment and Operational Tracker (SPOT) as their system for tracking the required information. That information, required for each contract that involves work performed in Iraq or Afghanistan for more than 14 days, includes:

* a brief description of the contract,* its total value, and

* whether it was awarded competitively; and

* for contractor personnel working under contracts in Iraq or Afghanistan,

* total number employed,

* total number performing security functions, and

* total number killed or wounded.

Now, despite years of effort SPOT still has problems in terms of collecting and saving information. Some reasons are disappointing but understandable, given differing methodologies for collecting and saving information across different departments and agencies.

But one truly disappointing thing it does not do well is to keep track of contractors who are killed or wounded. According to John Hutton, Director, Acquisition and Sourcing Management, U.S. Government Accountability Office, who on March 23 testified before the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations regarding “Interagency Coordination of Grants and Contracts in Iraq and Afghanistan: Progress, Obstacles, and Plans“:

In addition to agreeing to use SPOT to track contractor personnel numbers, the agencies agreed to use SPOT to track information on contractor personnel killed or wounded. Although SPOT was upgraded in January 2009 to track casualties, officials from the three agencies informed us they are not relying on the database for this information because contractors are generally not updating the status of their personnel to indicate whether any of their employees were killed, wounded, or are missing. In the absence of using SPOT to identify the number of contractor personnel killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, the agencies obtain these data from other sources. Specifically, in response to requests made as part of our ongoing review, State and USAID provided us with manually compiled lists of the number of personnel killed or wounded, whereas DOD provided us with casualty data for U.S citizens, but could not differentiate whether the individuals identified were DOD civilian employees or contractors.

While contractors are not active duty military, although they may very well have been not that long ago, they don’t deserve to be treated like the Unknown Soldier either. Whether or not you like the idea of the government relying on PMSC the reality is that they make a significant contribution, just like regular military personnel. Contractors know going in that if they are killed their family members won’t get the same survivor benefits, except for what they get under the Defense Base Act, as a soldier or marine who is killed. They know no chaplain will arrive at the door of their home to comfort the grieving.

So it is really too much to ask that at the very least the government could at least kept track of those who are wounded and killed? After all, one can find contractor casualty lists on Wikipedia. If websites like Icasualties.org could include contractor casualties, as it used to do, the U.S. government with vastly greater informational resources at its disposal should be able to do so as well, albeit in far more comprehensive fashion.

Some contractors are extremely good about letting the world know when their people are killed. DynCorp, for example, has for years, put out a press release every time one of its contractors dies. Why other contractors “are generally not updating the status of their personnel to indicate whether any of their employees were killed, wounded, or are missing” is an interesting question that someone ought to ask. Perhaps the Commission on Wartime Contracting can do so the next time it holds a hearing.

Needless to say, SPOT data, should include contractors of any and all nationalities working for a PMC, not just a citizen of the host country

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Panel says firms need U.S. guidance to reduce contractors in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 29, 2010

Washington Post

The U.S. government is likely paying contractors millions of dollars for unnecessary work in Iraq because the military is not giving companies clear enough guidance about reducing their employees, officials on the Commission on Wartime Contracting said Monday.

There are roughly 102,000 contractors in Iraq, and each contracted worker can cost the government thousands of dollars a month, according to federal auditors. Commissioners said they were concerned that the U.S. military was not providing contractors with key information to help them synchronize their efforts with the drawdown of combat forces.

There are about 98,000 troops in Iraq, but that figure is expected to drop to 50,000 by August. At that time, the Pentagon estimates that the number of contract employees in the country will still exceed 70,000 — about half the count in January last year.

“Conducting the drawdown of forces . . . is not a simple task like turning down a thermostat,” said Michael Thibault, co-chairman of the commission. “Thousands of contractor employees must be reassigned or released. Hundreds of military bases have to be closed or handed over to the Iraqis. Millions of items of equipment, whether military or acquired by contractors and now government-owned, must be moved, donated or scrapped.”

The commission, which was appointed in 2008 to look at the use of government contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, questioned officials from Houston-based KBR at a hearing Monday about whether they were reducing their work force in a cost effective and timely way. Under a $38 billion contract, KBR provides a variety of logistics services, from running dining halls to doing laundry and transporting supplies for U.S. troops.

Auditors for the Defense Department said late last year that KBR could save $193 million from January to August this year by reducing its workforce. But, in a new report, auditors said that KBR’s plans for a drawdown during the same time period would save only $27 million.

KBR officials said they need “written contractual direction” from the U.S. military about its plans to reduce troops so that it can staff accordingly.

Douglas Horn, a KBR vice president of operations, told commissioners that while troop levels will come down, the company still has to “support those service members who remain.” KBR has said that it expects to have 30,000 employees in Iraq by late summer of this year, compared with more than 60,000 in March last year.

Lt. Gen. James Pillsbury, deputy commanding general of the U.S. Army Material Command, which helps to oversee the military’s contracting work in Iraq, asserted that the drawdown of contractors in Iraq is on track. But he said that moving personnel and equipment out of Iraq is a massive, complex job, with “situations on the ground that are somewhat fluid.”

The “magnitude and scope of the Iraq drawdown is unprecedented,” Pillsbury said, noting that there are more than 341 facilities; 263,000 soldiers, Defense Department civilians and contractor employees; 83,000 containers; 42,000 vehicles; 3 million equipment items; and roughly $54 billion in assets that will ultimately be removed from Iraq.

Pillsbury said that the effort is “equivalent, in personnel terms alone, of relocating the entire population of Buffalo, N.Y.”

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End KBR’s Monopoly in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 29, 2010

Project on Government Oversight

March 29, 2010

We may have spoken too soon when we praised the Army for taking past contractor performance into consideration for the LOGCAP program. POGO was recently informed that the Army is considering awarding KBR additional work in Iraq under the LOGCAP III contract. That action would continue KBR’s monopoly on LOGCAP work in Iraq, rather using the competitive procurement procedures created under LOGCAP IV.

In a letter sent today to Army Secretary John McHugh, POGO urged the Army to end KBR’s monopoly in Iraq and reconsider the continued use of the LOGCAP III program. To better evaluate goods and services, and to get the best value for taxpayers, the government must encourage genuine competition.

The spotlight on KBR’s work in Iraq was also reviewed today as company representatives testified before the Commission on Wartime Contracting at a hearing on the “Rightsizing and managing contractors during the Iraq drawdown.” The military is going to have to handle many issues, including troop withdrawals and determining adequate levels of contractor support needed for ongoing activities. Additionally, the government must resolve logistical problems with the goods that have brought into the country to support military and reconstruction effort – sometimes with a lack of planning and management.

Posted in KBR | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Wartime Contracting Commission to examine level of contractors in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 29, 2010

Rightsizing and managing contractors during the Iraq drawdown

9:30am to 2pm today

Dirksen Senate Office Building

C Span 2 on your television or

http://www.c-span.org/Watch/C-SPAN2_wm.aspx

Posted in KBR | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

US Troop Deaths Double in Afghanistan

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 28, 2010

We’ll get the numbers of DBA claims filed on contractors for the quarter ending this week but expect a rise in Contractor Casualties as well.

KABUL – The number of U.S. troops killed in Afghanistan has roughly doubled in the first three months of 2010 compared to the same period last year as Washington has added tens of thousands of additional soldiers to reverse the Taliban’s momentum.

Those deaths have been accompanied by a dramatic spike in the number of wounded, with injuries more than tripling in the first two months of the year and trending in the same direction based on the latest available data for March.

U.S. officials have warned that casualties are likely to rise even further as the Pentagon completes its deployment of 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and sets its sights on the Taliban’s home base of Kandahar province, where a major operation is expected in the coming months.

“We must steel ourselves, no matter how successful we are on any given day, for harder days yet to come,” Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at a briefing last month.

In total, 57 U.S. troops were killed here during the first two months of 2010 compared with 28 in January and February of last year, an increase of more than 100 percent, according to Pentagon figures compiled by The Associated Press. At least 20 American service members have been killed so far in March, an average of about 0.8 per day, compared to 13, or 0.4 per day, a year ago.

The steady rise in combat deaths has generated less public reaction in the United States than the spike in casualties last summer and fall, which undermined public support in the U.S. for the 8-year-old American-led mission here. Fighting traditionally tapers off in Afghanistan during winter months, only to peak in the summer  Read the full story here

Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Ex-TSA pick Harding’s firm got Army deal after he cited sleep apnea disability

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 28, 2010

By Robert O’Harrow Jr.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The firm owned by the decorated general who withdrew his nomination to lead the Transportation Security Administration had received a consulting contract worth almost $100 million from the Army after certifying he was a “service disabled veteran,” according to documents and interviews with government officials.

The disability he has cited was sleep apnea, a sometimes chronic breathing disorder that disrupts sleep.

Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert A. Harding, who became a federal contractor in 2001 after serving at the highest levels of military intelligence, withdrew his name late Friday at the end of a week in which he had been repeatedly questioned about his contracting activities. His withdrawal also came after The Washington Post raised questions with the White House on Friday about his disabilities status.

The White House declined to comment about the $100 million contract, awarded in July 2008, or about Harding’s disability, including its cause, diagnosis or impact on his work.

White House spokesman Nicholas Shapiro said in a statement that in “nominating General Harding, the President tapped an individual with more than 35 years of military and intelligence experience who is dedicated to improving the security of our nation. The President is disappointed in this outcome but remains confident in the solid team of professionals at TSA.”

Attempts to reach Harding on Saturday at his home were unsuccessful. In a Friday statement released by the White House, Harding did not address the disability questions but said, “I feel that the distractions caused by my work as a defense contractor would not be good for this Administration nor for the Department of Homeland Security.”  Read the full story here

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A Plea for American Prisoners of War in Iraq

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 27, 2010

لرجاء يسلم اطلاق سراح هذا الجندي يدعى أحمد وهو غاب عن عائلته ، واسمحوا الحرب قد انتهت ، أن نتذكر أن نصف الأمريكية لم تؤيد غزو العراق ، شكرا لك

Please free Prisoner of War in Iraq – US Army Sergeant Ahmed Qusai al Taie

(BAGHDAD / SALEM) – During the Vietnam War, thousands of Americans were held as Prisoners of War, though they were never regarded as such by their captors.

Animated POW MIA Flag

Similar to the Bush/Cheney/Obama Iraq War idea of literally stripping the rights accorded by the Geneva Convention from a combatant for suspicions of “terrorism”, the North Vietnamese viewed the American military as an illegal force, and claimed they were not bound to any international rules.

It led to the mistreatment of Americans at places like the Hanoi Hilton. Americans were horrified to learn upon their first mass release, that U.S. POW’s were hideously tortured inside the walls of the North Vietnam prison complex. Slightly more than three decades later, a U.S. President and his entire cabinet, particularly Vice President Dick Cheney, solidly assumed the pose of America’s former Communist enemies by endorsing torture as a national concept.

This article also considers a different kind of torture; the ulcer and gray hair causing variety, experienced by the families of captive Americans who are so helpless to make a difference in a place as far away as Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam.

I will examine the status of the various Americans that we know of who were captured in the current war. Iraq is not the only war by any means, though it was the scene of so much fighting for so many really hard years.

You’ll want to see this excellent presentation HERE

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US Says missing contractor in Iraq, Issa Salomi of El Cajon CA, returns

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 27, 2010

Update March 28

Family Rejoices at release of contractor in Iraq

SAN DIEGO—The family of an Iraqi-American contractor said to have been kidnapped in Baghdad in January rejoiced Saturday over his release, saying they did not believe they would see him alive again.

Issa Salomi, 60, spoke with his 27-year-old son Roger Friday and told him that memories of the birth of the oldest of his four boys sustained him during captivity, said Vivian Tilley, a niece.

A few hours later, Salomi called his wife of 30 years, Mura Salomi, and asked for her homemade tabbouleh when he arrived home.

Update  March 27

Civilian believed to be kidnapped in Baghdad, returns

An Army civilian contractor from El Cajon, believed kidnapped in Baghdad in January, has been “returned to military control,” the Pentagon announced Saturday.

Issa T. Salomi, 60, turned up on Thursday, but the military released no information about where or how he returned to the military.

The Pentagon referred questions to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which has not responded to questions. Salomi was unaccounted for on Jan. 23 and believed to have been kidnapped in Baghdad, where he was assigned to U.S. Forces-Iraq, the Defense Department said. Salomi was declared “Excused Absence Whereabouts Unknown.”

(AP) – 1 hour ago

WASHINGTON — The U.S. says an Iraqi-American contractor said to have been kidnapped in Baghdad in January by Shiite militiamen is back in American hands.

A Shiite extremist group claimed responsibility for the Jan. 23 kidnapping of Issa Salomi of El Cajon, Calif. A Pentagon statement on Saturday gave no details about Salomi’s return on Thursday or about his disappearance.

The statement said the circumstances of the case are under investigation.

An Iraqi defense official said in February that Salomi was kidnapped by the militiamen who had lured Salomi into central Baghdad by promising to help find distant relatives.

Salomi’s permanent assignment is at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Original Story here

See Also

Pentagon Identifies Contractor Missing in Iraq

The Missing Man Blog


Posted in Contractor Casualties and Missing | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

POGO Uncovers Lax Oversight of Baghdad Embassy Diplomatic Security

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 26, 2010

Surprise! Another War-Zone Embassy Poorly Guarded by Contractors

By Spencer Ackerman 3/26/10 8:35 AM

Last time, it was the lascivious behavior of ArmorGroup — the private security firm handling the U.S. Embassy in Kabul — that attracted headlines. Those revelations led to disclosures of how contractors knowingly hired guards with poor English skills to save money — something the State Department knew about before renewing the company’s contract. Now it’s Triple Canopy, which guards the gargantuan U.S. Embassy in Iraq.

The Project on Government Oversight, the good-government group that discovered ArmorGroup’s State Department-abetted negligence, has obtained a report from the State Department investigating the department’s management in handling its contract with Triple Canopy for embassy security. POGO was good enough to pass the report on to me. Labor standards are such that Triple Canopy guards often worked ten or eleven consecutive days on average, with some working 39 days in a row without a break.

Here are some highlights of how State’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, which controls the contract, is managing your money and protecting American diplomats in what remains a warzone.

Embassy Baghdad has not adequately planned for a reduced Department or Department of Defense (DoD) presence in Baghdad, resulting in a projected unnecessary cost of approximately $20 million to the U.S. Government for site security over the next two years. Of this sum, the Department would incur approximately $12 million and DoD would incur more than $8 million in unnecessary costs.

Remember that everything the U.S. is supposed to be doing in Iraq is predicated on the 2011 troop withdrawal. I’ve heard from former administration officials that the embassy is lax in its political mission in Baghdad. Apparently that attitude has some spillover effect.

This will be familiar:

DS does not ensure that [Triple Canopy] personnel have required English language proficiency.

The report further finds that DS did not carry out the random language checks they were supposed to have carried out. True story: when I visited the embassy in 2007, the Triple Canopy guards were very nice people from (if I recall correctly) El Salvador, who made up for their lack of English with warm attitudes. I saw one guard actually reading a Teach-Yourself-English handbook on post in the Green Zone. Clearly DS’s negligence with ArmorGroup’s English-challenged guards is hardly an isolated case.

This might be my favorite:

The contracting officer’s representative in Baghdad does not verify either the guards’ attendance at their posts or the accuracy of personnel rosters (muster sheets) before they are submitted, to ensure contractor charges for labor are accurate. In addition, DS does not ensure that personnel have required English language proficiency.

DS lacks standards for maintaining training records. As a result, Triple Canopy’s training records are incomplete and in disparate locations making it difficult for the Bureau to verify whether all personnel have received required training.

And yet the IG’s overall conclusion is “The Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) generally manages the Triple Canopy contract well.” The last State Department Inspector General to take such a sunny interpretation of contract security in spite of the accumulated evidence resigned in disgrace.

POGO executive director Danielle Brian comments in a prepared statement, “How could State not have learned their lesson after the public flogging they got for their handling of the Kabul contract?…This report again raises an important point about whether State can properly manage Embassy security contracts in a war zone.”  Full Story here

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Suits over Iraqi convoy deaths delayed by ruling

Posted by defensebaseactcomp on March 26, 2010

HOUSTON — A federal judge on Thursday said most of the lawsuits filed over deadly ambushes that killed civilian truck drivers in Iraq can go to trial, saying it’s unclear if the military contractors being sued knew their workers would come under attack but still sent them into harm’s way.

But U.S. District Judge Gray Miller also delayed the cases, which were set for trial May 24, saying in a 41-page ruling that the companies being sued — Halliburton and a former subsidiary, KBR Inc. — could appeal his ruling. Miller did dismiss one lawsuit in the case.

KBR spokeswoman Heather Browne said the company will appeal.

“We are pleased that the court completely dismissed one of the cases and acknowledged that none of the tragic injuries and deaths that occurred were intentionally caused by KBR,” she said.

Halliburton spokeswoman Cathy Mann said because the “lawsuit is based on KBR activity in Iraq, we believe that Halliburton will be found to have no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for the actions alleged.”

Scott Allen, an attorney representing several injured drivers and the families of others killed in the attacks, said he was both pleased and disappointed with the ruling.

“It clearly shows we have sufficient evidence and have a right to proceed but we are somewhat upset for our clients, that their trial may be delayed,” he said.

Read the full story here

Posted in KBR | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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