October 25, 2012
Voluntary Today, Involuntary Tomorrow
Another Successful Flush by Wackenhut G4S
Will the last Ronco Consulting Corporation Employee out please close the lid ?
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on October 25, 2012
October 25, 2012
Voluntary Today, Involuntary Tomorrow
Another Successful Flush by Wackenhut G4S
Will the last Ronco Consulting Corporation Employee out please close the lid ?
Posted in Afghanistan, Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, G4S, Iraq, Ronco Consulting, State Department, Taxes, Wackenut | Tagged: injured war zone contractors, Armorgroup, State Department, G4S, Ronco, Ronco Consulting, Wackenhut, Demining, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Riff, Riffing, Landmines | Leave a Comment »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 30, 2012
WARNINGS ABOUT KILLER OF SCOT WENT UNHEEDED October 1, 2012
ArmorGroup put the gun in his hand knowing that he was troubled
CONTROVERSIAL security firm G4S ignored warnings not to employ an armed guard in Iraq who went on to murder two of his colleagues, it has been claimed.
The firm recently won a £20million contract to manage the electronic tagging of Scottish offenders.
A spokesman for G4S said: “Although there was evidence that Mr Fitzsimons falsified and apparently withheld material information during the recruitment process, his screening was not completed in line with the company’s procedures.
“Our screening processes should have been better implemented in this situation, but it is a matter of speculation what, if any, role this may have played in the incident.”
Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act, Defense Base Act Insurance, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Department of Labor, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, G4S, Hope that I die, Iraq, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI, Ronco Consulting, State Department, UK Contractor killed, Wackenut | Tagged: AGNA, Armorgroup, ArmorGroup North America, Civilian Contracotor, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties, Contractor Casualty, Danny Fitzsimons, Darren Hoare, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, G4S, Iraq, Paul McGuigan, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, ptsd, Ronco, Ronco Consulting, Ronco Consulting Corporation, Vetting Employees, Whistleblower, WSI | Leave a Comment »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on September 14, 2011
by Jake Wiens at POGO September 14, 2011
Armed with rockets and machine guns, a group of militants yesterday launched a sophisticated attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul from a partially constructed building about half a mile away, reports the New York Times.
The attack comes just months after two separate attacks rocked Afghanistan’s capital. The first was a June attack on the famed Inter-Continental Hotel, which reportedly claimed the lives of at least 10 people. Following that attack, at least nine people were killed and dozens more were injured when Taliban militants, dressed as Afghan women, detonated car bombs at the British Council on Afghanistan’s Independence Day in late August.
Although no embassy personnel were harmed during today’s attack on the Embassy, the brazen midday assault, coupled with the previous attacks, is a reminder that security of the Embassy remains paramount.
Back in 2009, POGO wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to raise concerns about the State Department’s management of Armor Group North America (AGNA), the contractor responsible for guarding the Embassy in Kabul.
The letter garnered international attention largely because of the “Lord of the Flies” environment depicted in photographs and videos released by POGO. But lost in much of the coverage was the threat to the Embassy’s security posed by State’s ineffectual oversight of AGNA.
Among the security vulnerabilities documented by POGO in 2009:
• Chronic guard turnover which, according to POGO sources, may have been as “high as 100 percent annually”;
• Nearly two-thirds of the guard force could not “adequately speak English,” which raised concerns that the guards could not communicate effectively if under attack; and
• Guard shortages resulted in “14-hour-day work cycles extending for as many as eight weeks in a row”
A subsequent report by the State Department’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) verified and expanded upon many of POGO’s findings. The report, published in September 2010, found that “AGNA has been unable to maintain the number of guards or the quality level required by the contract.” The OIG also found that “To manage staffing shortfalls, AGNA hired and put on duty Nepalese guards without verifiable experience, training, or background investi¬gations, which violates its contract” and that AGNA “firearms instructors qualified guards who did not actually meet the minimum qualification score on the firing range.”
This July, AGNA paid $7.5 million to the U.S. government to settle a qui tam lawsuit by a former employee who alleged AGNA’s performance in 2007 and 2008 put the security of the U.S. Embassy at risk.
AGNA’s parent company said the settlement was made solely “to avoid costly and disruptive litigation—and that there has been no finding or admission of liability.” The parent company, WSI, also stated, “At all times, the Embassy was secure.”
In an attempt to replace AGNA, the State Department last September selected EOD Technology (EODT) to take over security of the Embassy. But shortly following that announcement, a report by the Senate Armed Service Committee (SASC) documented both EODT and AGNA’s use of warlords with possible ties to the Taliban to staff their respective guard forces. A couple months later, EODT’s offices were raided by federal agents in connection with a separate investigation into “potential export violations.”
Following news of that raid, POGO Executive Director Danielle Brian argued that security of the Embassy should be an inherently governmental function, carried out by government employees rather than contractors. “If there’s a better argument for making this mission an inherently governmental function, this situation is it,” she said. “We’ve got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company,” she added.
Following a delay, EODT was scheduled to take over from AGNA this May, a State Department spokesperson told Mother Jones magazine. But in response to a POGO query, an AGNA spokesperson confirmed that AGNA is still responsible for Embassy security and also that the Embassy was “part of the insurgent citywide attack in Kabul today.”
There is no indication, at this point, that inadequate security contributed to yesterday’s attack. But as the Commission on Wartime Contracting (CWC) recommended in its final report, the government should evaluate the risk of using private security contractors at each static-security site. And if it’s determined that the risk is too high, the security contractors should be phased out. Yesterday’s attack presents an unwelcome reminder that it may be time to reevaluate the security situation at the Embassy in Kabul.
Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Political Watch, State Department | Tagged: AGNA, Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Kabul Embassy, Private Security Contractors, Wackenhut, WSI | 1 Comment »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 26, 2011
“If people start to recognise PTSD and do something about it, then at least some good has come out of this horrendous situation. Danny doesn’t deserve this. He has been let down by us, the Army and he has been let down by the ArmourGroup.”
A Middleton man jailed in Iraq for murdering two colleagues had been due to appear in court at home accused of assaulting an Asian man on a train.
But the family of security contractor Danny Fitzsimons said it is evidence that he is suffering form post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The 31-year-old was jailed for 20 years last month after shooting ArmorGroup colleagues Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare in Baghdad in August, 2009.
His family said the ex–paratrooper, who served eight years in the forces, was tormented by his experiences in Kosovo and Iraq and should never have been given clearance to work for the security firm.
In April the same year, Fitzsimons was convicted of a public order offence after he fired a flare gun into the air to scare off teenagers causing trouble outside his flat in Middleton.
He was due to be sentenced at Bolton Crown Court and also appear on the assault charge.
Stepmother Liz Fitzsimons said: “There were youths climbing all over the roof of the flat he lived in. He went and tried to warn them off. He just got laughed at and a lot of abuse. That’s when he went back in the flat and got this flare gun.
“Any normal person not suffering from PTSD would have just phoned the police.”
She said of the assault on the train: “That wasn’t a racist attack. He felt threatened. There were three of them.”
Mrs Fitzsimons said the offences would not have happened if Danny had received support for his condition.
She said: “I feel very strongly that we have let him down because we did not know the severity of his illness. If we had known, we would have helped him so much. He is now in an Iraqi jail not getting treatment for PTSD. There is treatment available, but not in Iraq.”
She stressed the family’s sadness that two men had lost their lives but said: “If people start to recognise PTSD and do something about it, then at least some good has come out of this horrendous situation. Danny doesn’t deserve this. He has been let down by us, the Army and he has been let down by the ArmourGroup.”
Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, G4S, Iraq, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: Armorgroup, Assault Charges, Danny Fitzsimons, Darren Hoare, Defense Base Act Exclusive Remedy, G4S, Paul McGuigan, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, ptsd | 1 Comment »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 28, 2011
Danny Fitzsimons avoids death penalty and lawyers press for reduced sentence to be served in UK
Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve’s director, said: “If G4S had done the proper checks and risk assessments when Danny applied to work with them, they would have quickly seen that he was suffering from serious PTSD, a consequence of loyally serving his country.
People with PTSD can have “heightened levels of physiological arousal,” such as elevated heart rates even though they are not in real danger, Baldwin said.
“Because they feel unsafe, they’re more likely to be triggered into a defense state that might get them out of a traumatic experience that isn’t really happening,” he said.
“During this type of event, you think that your life or others’ lives are in danger,” Baldwin said. “You may feel afraid or feel that you have no control over what is happening.” from Learning to Live Again
A British former soldier has been jailed for 20 years by the supreme court of Iraq for the murder of two fellow security contractors, becoming the first westerner to be convicted in the country since the 2003 invasion.
The family of 31-year-old Danny Fitzsimons expressed relief that he had escaped the death penalty and asked Iraqi authorities and the UK government to ensure his safety in prison. Defence lawyers indicated they would try to get the term reduced.
Before his conviction and sentencing in a hearing lasting less than 30 minutes, there had been talks over whether he could be transferred to a British prison. Fitzsimons’s family and campaigners fear for his safety if he is moved outside Baghdad’s Green Zone to the city’s Rusafa prison.
Fitzsimons, from Middleton, Manchester, was accused of shooting fellow Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in Baghdad, colleagues with the UK security firm ArmorGroup, part of G4S, after an argument in the Green Zone in August 2009. He was also accused of wounding an Iraqi guard while fleeing. The incident happened within 36 hours of his arrival in the city. He had worked in the country before.
Fitzsimons admitted shooting the men but claimed it was in self-defence. The colleagues had been out drinking and the other two tried to kill him during an altercation, he said. Fitzsimons claimed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Please read the entire story here
Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, Iraq, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: Armorgroup, Danny Fitzsimons, Darren Hoare, G4S, Iraqi Jurisdiction, Paul McGuigan, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, ptsd | 6 Comments »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 20, 2011
Iraqi judges presiding over the trial of a British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues have adjourned proceedings once again
According to Fitzsimons’ legal team, the request for more reports is a sign the judges are taking the issue of PTSD seriously.
The adjournment in the trial of Danny Fitzsimons was called so judges could consider more evidence relating to the former paratrooper’s psychological state.
Mr Fitzsimons admits shooting former Royal Marine Paul McGuigan and Australian ex-airman Darren Hoare in August 2009 after the three private security contractors had been on a whisky-drinking binge.
But he says he did only so in self-defence after the two men attacked him.
He also maintains he suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after serving in Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.
He has pleaded guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility, but not guilty to murder.
Judges will reconvene on February 28 after ordering further reports on how traumatic experiences may have effected him.
According to Fitzsimons’ legal team, the request for more reports is a sign the judges are taking the issue of PTSD seriously.
The 30-year-old, from Rochdale, is the first Westerner to be tried in Iraq since immunity for foreign security workers was lifted in 2009.
If convicted of murder he could face the death penalty.
His legal team are likely to appeal to Iraqi authorities to allow him to serve any prison sentence back in the UK.
Fitzsimons believes “(I’m) a dead man” if he is moved from his cell inside the Green Zone to Baghdad’s Russaffa prison.
As a former British soldier turned private security contractor, he thinks he may be a target for other inmates.
Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, G4S, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: Armorgroup, Danny Fitzsimons, Darren Hoare, G4S, Paul McGuigan, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, ptsd | Leave a Comment »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 19, 2011
In only a matter of hours , barring further delays, Danny Fitzsimons will face sentencing for shooting and killing Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan in ArmorGroup’s living quarters in the Green Zone. A possible death sentence
The first Contractor to be tried in the Iraqi Courts under Iraqi Jurisdiction.
Lucky for ArmorGroup.
Under Iraqi Jurisdiction there was no formal inquiry into who armed a man with several psychiatric diagnoses, a criminal record, pending weapons charges, known drug and alcohol problems, who was fired from two other security companies and was considered to be a problem among his peers.
Under US or UK law ArmorGroup would bear some responsibility for arming a man this whacked. Maybe even be considered accessory to the murders.
Negligence of this nature occurs as a matter of rule with some Contract Companies. Like Armorgroup did, just under bid the contract so you can win it. The solution then is to under staff, over work, refuse to provide the necessary equipment that was contracted for, and put any warm body in place without vetting them to ensure that they are who and what they claim to be.
How many accidents, injuries, and deaths have occurred due to negligence of this nature?
We will never know. Very few incidents are publicized.
Contractors with psychiatric meltdowns are spirited away and promoted or dumped on their families. The victims of the melt downs are paid to keep them from filing a Defense Base Act Claim.
Deaths and Injuries of many foreigners are never filed on because they and their families do not know they are due benefits. Defense Base Act Claim filings are the only numbers kept.
All accidents in the warzones are the fault of no one due to the DBA’s Exclusive Remedy and dead men tell few tales when no real unbiased investigation is required.
There has been a very vocal outcry from the families and friends of Paul McGuigan and to a lesser extent Darren Hoare regarding what a bad man Danny Fitzsimons is and how they cannot wait to see him hung. We get these comments on our blogs as well as witness them in recent media coverage.
But there is an odd abscence of them laying any blame where it us undoubtedly deserved upon the negligence of ArmorGroup for arming Danny Fitzsimons and putting their loved ones in his path.
Darren Hoare and Paul McGuigan paid for this negligence with their lives.
The families of all involved have paid dearly and always will.
Danny Fitzsimons will soon pay for his actions, as well as every wrong done by every Contractor to the Iraqi people.
Danny Fitzsimons is to the Iraqi’s what Raymond Davis is the Pakistani’s.
Armorgroup continues to guard the US Embassy in Kabul despite having the low bid contract “taken away”.
Posted in Armorgroup, Blackwater, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Defense Base Act Law and Procedure, Exclusive Remedy, Iraq, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI, State Department | Tagged: Armorgroup, Blackwater, Danny Fitzsimons, Danny Fitzsimons sentencing, Darren Hoare, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, Iraqi Jurisdiction, Paul McGuigan, Raymond Davis | Leave a Comment »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on February 17, 2011
ArmorGroup caused an international scandal and lost its State Department contract. Why’s the company still protecting one of America’s most dangerous diplomatic outposts?
“We’ve got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company.”
More than a year has passed since the State Department decided to drop its contract with the security firm protecting the US embassy in Kabul, following an international scandal featuring drunken debauchery fit for a Van Wilder flick. But the company that introduced the world to vodka butt-shots is still on the job—and it doesn’t seem to have plans to stand down anytime soon. Long after the expiration of its initial contract, in fact, ArmorGroup North America is currently hiring more guards to protect the Kabul embassy.
The firm sparked controversy in September 2009, when a Washington-based watchdog group sent a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighting a list of violations by the company, from a chronic guard shortage to the hiring of personnel who couldn’t speak English and would be unable to communicate with their colleagues in an emergency. But the most shocking charges concerned what the Project on Government Oversight called a “Lord of the Flies environment”—hazing and wild partying depicted in a series of graphic photographs showing members of the Kabul embassy security force drunk, half-naked, and engaged in an array of NSFW behavior.
Embassygate tainted not just ArmorGroup North America (AGNA) and its parent company, the security conglomerate G4S, but the State Department, too, leading to investigations by Congress and State’s inspector general. In the years leading up to the scandal, it turned out, the State Department had repeatedly found fault with the company’s performance—at one point stating in an internal memo that “the security of the US Embassy in Kabul is in jeopardy” as a result—but failed to fire AGNA. A former high-level AGNA employee also came forward to say that he’d warned the State Department about “lewd, aberrant, and sexually deviant behavior” by the company’s recruits more than two years before this conduct made global headlines. Again, no action was taken.
In December 2009, deeply embarrassed by the controversy, the State Department said it planned to axe AGNA once its contract came up for renewal that summer. But when that time came, the agency ended up extending the firm’s contract for another six months while it brought in another security provider. “Because the current KESF [Kabul Embassy Security Force] contract can only be extended through December 30th, we must have the company on the ground and operating by then,” a spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security told Mother Jones last summer.
In late September, the agency selected the Tennessee-based firm EOD Technology to take over the contract. But December 30 came and went with no changing of the guards. And AGNA apparently believed it was staying put, at least for a while. In mid-January, the company posted a job ad on Careerbuilder noting that it was “recruiting Protective Security Specialists to provide security to the U.S. Embassy in, Kabul, Afghanistan.”
A spokeswoman for AGNA, Susan Pitcher, confirmed that the firm is still protecting the embassy, but declined to comment further, citing a State Department policy about contractors speaking to reporters. EODT also declined to comment. But a Diplomatic Security spokesman told Mother Jones that the transition has been delayed. Now, he said, the handover won’t happen until May. “In order to provide EODT with adequate time to make an orderly transition, it has been given 120 days from the end of AGNA’s contract,” the spokesman said.
Sources familiar with the security force contract questioned whether the delay has anything to do with the transition process; one suggested that the State Department may merely be stalling after unwittingly selecting a replacement for AGNA that also has a controversial background.
In October, a week after the agency chose EODT for the job, the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has conducted a years-long investigation into private security firms in Afghanistan, released a report leveling serious allegations at both EODT and AGNA. It accused the companies of relying on local warlords to staff their guard forces—strongmen with unclear allegiances and possible Taliban ties. In one case, according to the report, EODT hired a group of Afghans who had recently been fired by ArmorGroup for “providing sensitive security information to…a Taliban-affiliated warlord.” (In response, EODT claimed that “all leaders which EODT utilized were made known to the US military at every stage of mobilization.” AGNA countered that it only relied on Afghans who had been recommended by special operations troops.)
Making matters worse for EODT, federal agents raided its offices in early December in connection with an investigation into potential export violations involving the transit of weapons or other military-grade materials. The company has said it is cooperating with the investigation and has denied any wrongdoing. “We obviously would not have been selected for some of the sensitive and important projects we handle for our country around the world had we not been thoroughly investigated before and found to be trustworthy,” the firm said in a statement. A State Department official said the agency was unaware the company was the subject of a federal investigation until stories about the raid appeared in the press, and insisted the probe “has not held up the transition.”
For Danielle Brian, the executive director of the Project on Government Oversight, the fact that the State Department handed the embassy job to a company saddled with its own serious baggage illustrates the flawed logic of placing contractors in roles that she believes should be performed by US government personnel. “If there’s a better argument for making this mission an inherently governmental function, this situation is it,” she says. “We’ve got one discredited company to be replaced by another discredited company.”
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on January 23, 2011
Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare are dead because of ArmorGroup’s negligence in failing to Vet a mentally ill employee with a pending weapons charge in England, previous convictions, and known alcohol and drug problems.
And who paid the families of the dead? The Defense Base Act Exclusive Remedy relieved ArmorGroup of responsibility despite negligence but the DBA does not pay when alcohol is involved.
“Upon arrival, he was given an M4 rifle, a pistol and a bullet-proof vest which he set down in his room before meeting with an old friend he had made during a previous tour in Iraq, where he worked with three different firms before joining ArmorGroup.
Fitzsimons and his friend, another ArmorGroup security guard who was identified only as Kevin, bought two bottles of whiskey before settling in Kevin’s trailer in Baghdad’s heavily-fortified Green Zone to chat over drinks.”
British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has given his first courtroom account of the drunken night that has left him facing a possible death sentence.
Daniel Fitzsimons, a former paratrooper, told a criminal court in Baghdad today that he was not guilty of murdering Briton Paul McGuigan and Australian Darren Hoare in August 2009, but was guilty of manslaughter due to diminished responsibility, after he responded to taunts from both men.
Fitzsimons claims he was watching a DVD with a colleague from his army days, Kevin Milson, when McGuigan joined them. Fitzsimons had returned to Baghdad just over 24 hours earlier, following two previous tours with other security companies. He said he did not know McGuigan, but claimed intra-military tensions soon played out between them.
“Paul was with the marines and I was with the Parachute Regiment and as everyone knows there is rivalry between the two,” he said. “He started to insult me and insulted two friends of mine who had died in Iraq. I punched him in the nose and said ‘come on, fight me’.”
Fitzsimons’s testimony was similar to an account he gave to the Guardian in March last year. He claims to have been provoked, first in Milson’s room and then, later, in his own cabin, where he had returned to use the internet.
“I had been on the internet for an hour and then slept and then my door crashed in,” he said. “I saw Paul McGuigan and the Australian man, Darren Hoare. They kicked me in the face with their sandals. They wanted to kill me. It was shameful for a soldier.
“Paul took my M4 [assault rifle] from beside my bed and pointed it at me. He said ‘I am going to kill you’. I raised my pistol and shouted to Paul twice to put down his weapon, but he did not respond. Then I made my decision, as an old soldier, as a trained soldier, I shot him twice in the chest and a third time in his face as he fell.
“The Australian then tried to fight me for the pistol. He went for the trigger and tried to turn the pistol to my neck. He was shouting that he was going to kill me. He was much bigger than me. I pulled the trigger and put two, maybe three bullets in his chest.”
Fitzsimons had been diagnosed in Britain with post-traumatic stress disorder, but the Iraqi court is yet to decide whether that will be used in his defence. Iraqi medical experts have twice found that Fitzsimons was suffering no particular emotional disorder at the time of the killings.
The judge, Ali Yousef, questioned Fitzsimons on forensic evidence prepared for a coroner, which said powder burns were absent from Hoare’s body, not supporting Fitzsimons’s account of a close contact struggle during which fatal shots were fired from a short range.
Fitzsimons said: “I think the evidence was manipulated by the security company. The crime scene was changed.”
Salam Abdul Kareem, a lawyer for the victims’ families, urged the court to hand down the maximum sentence, which is death by hanging, or life imprisonment. “He did not stop shooting until all 14 bullets were finished,” he said.
McGuigan’s relatives and former fiancee in Britain have strongly challenged Fitzsimons’s version of events, claiming McGuigan was executed.
The case was adjourned until 20 February, when a verdict is expected. Please see the original here
Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, G4S, Iraq, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI, State Department | Tagged: Armorgroup, ArmorGroup Vetting Employees, Contractor Casualties, Danny Fitzsimons, Darren Hoare, G4S, Kevin Milson, Mental Health, Paul McGuigan, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, ptsd, Schizophrenia | 9 Comments »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 29, 2010
Danny Fitzsimons was hired by ArmorGroup to carry a gun despite having been diagnosed with PTSD, being in trouble with the law, and posting on Facebook about “The War Inside His Head”. ArmorGroup should be on trial here too.
The trial of a British security contractor charged with killing two of his colleagues last year opened Wednesday in Baghdad with testimony from a guard who said the contractor shot him.
Danny Fitzsimons, who attended the hearing, is the first Western contractor on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 U.S.-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreign contractors.
Iraq pressed hard for foreign contractors to be accountable for their actions after armed contractors employed by the North Carolina-based Blackwater Worldwide, now known as Xe, opened fire at a Baghdad intersection in September 2007, killing 17 civilians.
Fitzsimons is charged with two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of two contractors, a British and an Australian, during an argument last year inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone. He is also charged with an attempted murder of an Iraqi guard working for a British security firm.
Fitzsimons could receive the death penalty if convicted.
The trial opened with a testimony of the Iraqi guard who claims Fitzsimons shot him in the leg.
Arkan Mahdi Saleh, an Iraqi guard at the security firm ArmorGroup that also employed the defendant and the two slain men, told a three-judge panel that he saw Fitzsimons with a pistol before he was shot.
“I was standing at a guard post when I heard some movements behind me,” said the 33-year old Saleh. “When I turned back to check, I saw Fitzsimons with a pistol in his hand and aiming at me,” Saleh, identifying the defendant as the man who shot him.
Two other witnesses took the stand on Wednesday, confirming much of Saleh’s account of the shooting. One said he saw Saleh lying wounded on the ground.
Fitzsimons appeared in court clean shaven, wearing a beige shirt, jeans and sneakers. He stood behind a wooden fence with two security guards closely watching him.
After hearing the eyewitness testify, the defendant asked a judge for permission to speak. The request was refused.
“I got a lot to say,” Fitzsimons told his lawyer, Tariq Harb, after the court adjourned and the guards were handcuffing him for the trip to prison.
One of the judges, presiding over the 45-minute hearing, read written testimonies of three foreign security contractors who have left Iraq since the fatal incident.
None of the three testified to witnessing Fitzsimons shoot his two colleagues and the Iraqi guard. They wrote in their statement they saw the group of three foreign contractors drinking and quarreling inside one of the caravans where they lived. Please see the original here
From the Huffington PostMurder Trial for British Contractor Opens in Iraq
BAGHDAD — The trial of a British security contractor charged with killing two of his colleagues in Iraq last year has opened in Baghdad.
Danny Fitzsimons is the first Westerner to go on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 U.S.-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreign contractors. Fitzsimons attended Wednesday’s hearing.
He has been charged with shooting and killing two contractors – a British and an Australian national – during a June 2009 argument inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone and then wounding an Iraqi while fleeing.
All three men were working for the British security firm ArmorGroup Iraq.
The trail was adjourned until Jan. 23.
The trial of a security contractor from Manchester charged with killing two of his colleagues in Iraq last year has opened in Baghdad.
Danny Fitzsimons, from Middleton, Manchester, is the first Westerner to go on trial in an Iraqi court since a 2009 US-Iraqi security agreement lifted immunity for foreign contractors.
He was at Wednesday’s hearing which adjourned the trial until January 23.
He has been charged with shooting and killing two contractors — a British and an Australian — during an argument inside Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in June last year and then wounding an Iraqi while fleeing.
All three men were working for the British security firm ArmorGroup Iraq.
Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, G4S, Iraq, Melt Down, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: Armorgroup, Baghdad, Danny Fitzsimons, G4S, Iraq, Murder Trial, ptsd | Leave a Comment »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on December 15, 2010
All of us at Defense Base Act Comp would like to Thank MsSparky for her tireless efforts and her support of injured contractors. We look forward to the next thousand posts!!
Oh my! 1000 published blog posts! Who would have figured after 30 months of investigative blogging I would still be at it. 1000 published posts is a huge accomplishment for any blogger. I’m very proud of this milestone!
One would think I would have run out of things to write about regarding Defense contracting fraud and Pentagon incompetence, but it just keeps spewing forth. It’s like the Defense Departments very own “Old Faithful” geyser of crap! It just keeps blowing! I have to thank companies like Fluor, Dyncorp, CSA, SBH, Blackwater, ArmorGroup, Agility and mostly….(tearing up) KBR for making stupid management decisions that always give me something to write about. I will be forever grateful (sniff sniff).
I couldn’t have met this milestone without the support of my friends and family, my regular readers, guest writers, other collaborating bloggers, published authors, investigative reporters, super sleuths, whistle blowers, attorneys, concerned citizens, former and current defense contractor employees, widows, spouses, parents and most importantly………
I have to say, this has been a most amazing journey with the most interesting twists and turns along the way. Blogging at MsSparky.com is not like any 9-5 job I’ve ever had. I can’t really plan my day. I may THINK I know what I’m going to be doing after I get that first cup of coffee, but then reality sets in when I open my email and there’s some little (or big) gem of information. I just get all excited like a kid on Christmas morning! 2010 has been an interesting year because the majority of my work has been unpublished and behind the scenes. It doesn’t pay much in dollars, but I think this is the most rewarding and satisfying job I have every had!
One of the hardest, but most rewarding parts of this job is watching victims prevail as they doggedly pursue justice not only for themselves but for others. I’ve watched victims overcome tragedy and turn their pain and grief into something positive for those still suffering. I’m in constant awe of the strength and determination of the human spirit.
Without a doubt, the very best part of this job are the friends I’ve made along way. Some, I’ve never met in person. Some, I never will, but friends just the same. I am truly blessed!
Posted in Afghanistan, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Iraq, KBR, Political Watch | Tagged: AGNA, Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Corruption, Contractor Oversight, Dyncorp, injured contractors, KBR, MsSparky | 2 Comments »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 29, 2010
According to Debra S. Katz, counsel for Mr. Gordon, “this is an important victory for conscientious employees, like Mr. Gordon, who blow the whistle on fraudulent practices by defense contractors and wind up then paying the ultimate price. The court’s decision today makes clear that such employees can bring federal claims under the False Claims Act to obtain redress.”
Debra S. Katz and Lisa Banks, attorneys at Katz, Marshall & Banks, LLP, along with Janet Goldstein and Robert Vogel at Vogel, Slade & Goldstein, LLP, represent James Gordon.
Judge Cacheris’ opinion is available at http://www.kmblegal.com/2010/08/27/court-denies-summary-judgment-in-false-claims-act-whistleblower-retaliation-suit-by-kmb-client-james-gordon-against-afghanistan-defense-contractor-armorgroup/.
ALEXANDRIA, Va., Aug. 27 /PRNewswire/ — Judge James Cacheris of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia has denied Defendants ArmorGroup North America (“AGNA”), ArmorGroup International, Wackenhut Services, Inc., and Cornelius Medley’s motions to dismiss whistleblower James Gordon’s lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act.
On September 9, 2009, Mr. Gordon, former Director of Operations of AGNA, filed a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit under the False Claims Act in United States District Court for the District of Columbia, charging that ArmorGroup management retaliated against him for whistleblowing, internally and to the United States Department of State (“DoS”), about illegalities committed by ArmorGroup in the performance of AGNA’s contracts with the United States to provide security services at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan and at the U.S. Naval base in Bahrain.
The Complaint charges that during Mr. Gordon’s seven-month tenure as Director of Operations, he investigated, attempted to stop, and reported to DoS a myriad of serious violations committed by ArmorGroup, including:
In his Memorandum Opinion (August 27, 2010), Judge Cacheris noted that “Plaintiff alleges and Defendants offer no facts to dispute that Defendants … began to try to constructively discharge [Mr. Gordon] by ‘making [his] working conditions intolerable.'” Judge Cacheris further noted that “Plaintiff alleges, and Defendants have not offered any evidence refuting the fact, that [Defendant] Medley excluded Plaintiff from management meetings, shunned him, and relegated him to a position of persona non grata in the office” and that “Medley made clear to Plaintiff by his behavior, and to other staff members by his direct boasts, that his priority was to force Gordon to quit.” In denying Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, Judge Cacheris concluded that “there is a genuine issue of material fact regarding the continued nature and duration of the allegedly illegal acts Plaintiff was requested and required to participate in.” The parties will now proceed into the discovery phase of the litigation.
Posted in Afghanistan, Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, False Claims Act, G4S, State Department, Wackenut, Whistleblower | Tagged: AGNA, Armorgroup, ArmorGroup North American, Debra Katz, Dept of State, False Claims Act, G4S, Michael O'Connell, US Embassy in Kabul, Wackenhut, Whistleblower | Leave a Comment »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on August 1, 2010
UPDATE: His murder trial was scheduled to begin at Baghdad’s Central Criminal Court on Wednesday (Aug 4) but was adjourned again while psychiatric tests are carried out on the defendant. A new trial date is expected in mid-September, a spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said.
Danny Fitzsimons, once a member of the Parachute Regiment – a hero. Now he sits in a cell on Iraq’s Death Row facing death by hanging.
Editor’s note: G4S and Armorgroup have accepted no responsibility, nor will they be prosecuted for so negligently arming a man as mentally ill as Mr. Fitzsimons. Negligence that resulted in the deaths of two men, one seriously injured, children orphaned, women widowed, and families bereft. Negligence that doomed Mr Fitzsimons to this hell as well as he did by his own hand.
Soldier-turned-mercenary Danny Fitzsimons is awaiting trial in Baghdad for shooting dead two men and wounding a third.
But speaking exclusively to the Sunday Mirror, he insists he is the victim of a terrible injustice and begs the Government to secure his release and bring him home.
He says he killed his victims in self-defence as he battled terrible mental trauma from the nine years he spent serving in Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Afghanistan.
Fitzsimons, 30, from Middleton, Manchester, says: “I know my actions that night have caused a lot of pain to the relatives of the dead men. To their families and children I am truly sorry. I believe I need to be in a mental hospital in Britain and not in an inhumane dungeon in Baghdad. Many ex-soldiers like me are left to fight our demons alone.
“I stand little chance of a fair trial in Iraq and the psychiatric assessment here was a joke. Bring me home and let me get the help I so desperately need. I chose my life and stand by it but I don’t believe I deserve to be left to rot. Please don’t let me hang in Iraq.”
Fitzsimons shares his cockroachand rat-infested cell at Karadat Maryam police station with 17 other prisoners.
He says: “I’m being fed by some of my jail mates. Without them I would not have proper food or be able to take water.
“They don’t let us in the yard for air or sun and it’s like living in an oven in the cell. It is overrun with cockroaches and rats and filth.”
Fitzsimons was in Iraq as a military contractor working for British private security firm ArmorGroup, who he says took him on without carrying out a full medical assessment. Had the truth emerged, they would have found out he was discharged from 2nd Battalion, the Parachute Regiment after being diagnosed with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.
He also had alcohol problems and was facing criminal charges for brandishing a flare gun at children outside his flat in Middleton. On his third visit to Iraq, last August, he was drinking with two fellow mercenaries when a row started. Fitzsimons says he punched Scottish ex-Royal Marine Paul McGuigan, 37, before the two made up. But he says later that night Paul and the second man, Australian father-ofthree Darren Hoare, also 37, attacked him. He says: “The two men came into my room with clear intention of doing me harm and attacked me in my bed in a drunken rage.” He says they threatened to kill him with an M4 assault rifle and he shot them three times with a Glock pistol. As he fled he shot an Iraqi security guard in the leg. He says: “I did exactly what I’ve been trained to do since 1996. I acted in self-defence to save my life.”
Paul’s fiancée Nicola Prestage disagrees, saying it was “an unprovoked attack”. Fitzsimons, who has been locked up for a year, is due to go before a judge on Wednesday for a trial date to be set. Iraqi doctors are assessing his mental health.
Clive Stafford Smith, of Human rights charity Reprieve, said: “It is unfathomable ArmorGroup would dispatch him and arm him in a war zone without proper screening.”
A spokesman for ArmorGroup admitted Fitzsimons’ screening was not completed in line with their procedures but added: “We received two separate medical documents which certified that Mr Fitzsimons was fit to work in Iraq. It has subsequently come to light that the most recent of those documents was forged – we have reason to believe it was forged by Mr Fitzsimons.”
Posted in Armorgroup, Civilian Contractors, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, Follow the Money, Interviews with Injured War Zone Contractors, Melt Down, Political Watch, PTSD and TBI | Tagged: Armorgroup, Civilian Casualties, Danny Fitzsimons, Darren Hoare, G4S, Paul McGuigan, ptsd | 3 Comments »
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 21, 2010
A MASSIVE roadside bomb that killed an ex-soldier in Iraq was big enough to destroy a tank.
David Hughes, 31, died instantly alongside two Iraqi colleagues when their armoured vehicle was targeted by insurgents in the Al Hillah region, south of Baghdad, last May.
The former Queen’s Dragoon Guards was working for a civilian company providing protective security to American construction workers in the war-torn country when the incident happened.
Recording a verdict of unlawful killing at an inquest yesterday, North west Wales coroner Dewi Pritchard Jones said someone hiding alongside the dirt road had triggered the bomb.
He said: “In effect David Hughes was murdered by someone hiding in the fields or drainage ditches. By whom we cannot say.
“We are hearing more about deaths of this sort on a daily basis and dozens of similar inquests will be held throughout the country for the foreseeable future. It is probably something politicians might like to look at.”
Mr Jones added he considered the equipment issued to David and his colleagues was probably of a higher standard than similar equipment issued to British soldiers. “But this bomb caused a huge explosion and was capable of penetrating the armour plating of a battle tank,” he said.
David, from Cae Mur, Caernarfon, spent more than 12 years in the Army but left in 2007. He worked for private security company G4S Secure Solutions in Afghanistan before transferring to the company’s Armorgroup business in Iraq.
Colleague Chris Powell, from Burton-on-Trent, told the hearing at Caernarfon they were escorting three Americans from Al Hillah to Baghdad.
Former Paratrooper Mr Powell said: “There were five Toyota Landcruisers in the convoy. These are armour plated and we were all armed. David was travelling as lead scout in the first vehicle. His job was to report anything he thought suspicious.
“There was no target indicator, just two schoolgirls walking about 150 yards ahead of us. As we came to a bend the vehicles slowed and then there was a massive explosion.”
Fearing an ambush Mr Powell called for help from his colleagues and US military forces. He escorted the Americans to a safer area before returning to the scene.
He said the vehicle had been blown off the road into a field. One of the Iraqis was found on the road and another near the vehicle. David was found inside the vehicle.
“The explosion hit the right hand side of the vehicle and David, sitting on that side, took the full force of the blast,” he added.
They saw no one who could have activated the bomb and they did not stay in the area after the bodies had been airlifted to a Baghdad hospital.
Christopher Beese, of G4S Risk Management Ltd, said the bomb had penetrated the armour plating and exploded inside the vehicle.
He suggested the high explosive used may have been from unexploded bombs or shells fired by American forces during the war in Iraq. “These devices are relatively easy to make, but while rudimentary are highly effective,” he said.
Hundreds of David’s former Army colleagues and friends attended his funeral in Caernarfon. His heartbroken girlfriend Mim Bradshaw, a 23-year-old nurse, described David as her “mister perfect”.
His brother Andrew said: “We’ll never forget him. My wife Karon and I had our first child last summer just a few days before his birthday. We have named him David Sean in his honour.”
Another brother, Darren, added: “He joined up in 1996. Since then he’s been everywhere on exercises and operations. He was in the peacekeeping force in Bosnia and with Nato in Kosovo.”
Posted by defensebaseactcomp on April 7, 2010
The trial of a British security guard accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has been adjourned for two months for psychiatric assessments.
The trial of a British security contractor accused of murdering two colleagues in Iraq has been adjourned for two months so he can undergo psychiatric tests.
Former paratrooper Danny Fitzsimons, 29, is charged with shooting dead fellow ArmorGroup employees Paul McGuigan and Darren Hoare, both 37, in Baghdad’s green zone in August last year.
Fitzsimons, who could face the death penalty if he is convicted, appeared at the central criminal court in Baghdad for a pre-trial hearing today.
Reprieve, a legal charity supporting Fitzsimons, said his case was adjourned until 13 June, apparently so he could be examined by a psychiatric team at Baghdad’s Al Rashad psychiatric hospital.
In a detailed account of the killings given to the Guardian earlier this month, Fitzsimons admitted shooting both men dead but insisted he acted in self-defence.
Fitzsimons said he shot McGuigan, a former Royal Marine from Innerleithen in Scotland, three times when McGuigan allegedly pointed an assault rifle at him.
He said Hoare, from Australia, was killed during a fight that followed. All three men had been contracted to work as guards for ArmorGroup, a British security company.
Fitzsimons – who faces two counts of murder and one of the attempted murder of an Iraqi guard – and his lawyers claim he acted in self-defence and was suffering from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder after a previous tour of Iraq and service in the military in the former Yugoslavia.
His lawyers, who are aware of his admission to the Guardian, claim he should never have been allowed to work for a security company given his condition and record. This defence is disputed by relatives of McGuigan, who say Fitzsimons is trying to escape justice by concocting a story of a drunken fight when none occurred.
Fitzsimons has admitted his recollection was at points “blotchy” because of heavy drinking and claimed McGuigan and Hoare had been harassing him throughout the evening.
Fitzsimons said in a statement issued through Reprieve: “I miss my family very much but I’m grateful for the support I have been getting from home, particularly from my former comrades who know a bit about what we all went through. I know that this has been a tragedy and hurt a lot of people besides myself.”
He is understood to be the first westerner facing trial on murder charges in Iraq since an agreement giving foreign workers immunity was lifted.
The shootings took place in the early hours of 9 August last year, within 36 hours of Fitzsimons’s arrival in Baghdad to work for ArmorGroup.
It emerged after the killings that Fitzsimons had a conviction for firearms offences and was facing a possible jail term in Britain for firing a flare gun to scare off children on 1 April last year.
His family said he had suffered from alcoholism and depression and was a damaged individual who should never have been given a job as an armed security guard in Iraq.
They fear his mental state has deteriorated while awaiting trial, and are appealing for him to be allowed to serve any sentence he is given in Britain. Original here
Posted in Armorgroup, Contractor Casualties and Missing, Exclusive Remedy, Melt Down | Tagged: Armorgroup, Civilian Contractor, Danny Fitzsimons, Darren Hoare, Defense Base Act, Exclusive Remedy, Iraq, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, ptsd | Leave a Comment »