• Contractor Hired Former African Child Soldiers to Guard U.S. Forces in Iraq

    April 25, 2016 // 8 Comments »

    child merc

    A defense contractor hired mercenaries from Africa for $16 a day to guard American bases in Iraq, with one of the company’s former directors saying no checks were made on whether those hired were former child soldiers.

    The director of Aegis Defense Services between 2005 and 2015, said contractors recruited from countries such as Sierra Leone to reduce costs for the U.S. occupation in Iraq. He said none of the estimated 2,500 boys recruited from Sierra Leone were checked to see if they were former child soldiers who had been forced to fight in the country’s civil war.

    They were considered merely cheaper options to fulfill contracts to defend U.S. bases in Iraq, enabling Aegis to realize higher profits.

    Aegis had contracts from the U.S. government worth hundreds of millions of dollars to protect bases in Iraq. It originally employed UK, U.S. and Nepalese mercenaries, but broadened its recruitment in 2011 to include Africans as a cost-cutting/profit raising measure.

    I am saddened to say the use of children in this capacity in Iraq was an open secret. The guards at the forward operating base where I was located in 2009-2010 were obviously very, very young, often carrying weapons nearly their own height. They were kept isolated and segregated from the Americans so the two groups could not speak, ensuring the secret was nominally kept as everyone looked the other way.

    That child soldiers were present in this capacity was (to my knowledge, first) mentioned in my 2011 book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (in the chapter titled “Tribes.”) Our military children happened to be from Uganda, not Sierra Leone, suggesting the practice was wide spread.

    In some happy news, in 2010, the mercs guarding the U.S. embassy in Baghdad were primarily from Peru, and appeared to be all adults.

    BONUS: The recruitment of African mercenaries and, more specifically, former child soldiers, is the subject of a new documentary (video clip, below) by Mads Ellesoe, a Danish journalist who spent two years researching the subject.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    U.S. Military Contractors Return In Droves to Iraq

    March 2, 2016 // 20 Comments »


    America’s mercenaries smell the blood (and the money) and are returning to Iraq.

    Mercs are a great thing for the U.S. government, in that they aren’t counted as “troops,” or as “boots on the ground,” even while they are both. The Defense Department can disavow any mischief the contractors get up like, such as murdering civilians, and keep the headcount low and the body count low when things are going well, or bad. It only costs money, and that America has a bottomless pool of, as long as it being spent on something violent abroad instead of helping Americans at home (which is socialism, sonny.)

    So let’s look at some numbers.

    The number of private contractors working for the U.S. Defense Department in Iraq grew eight-fold over the past year, a rate that far outpaces the growing number of American troops training and advising Iraqi soldiers battling Islamic State militants.

    As of January, 2,028 military contractors were in Iraq, up from just 250 one year earlier, according to the Pentagon. There are another another 5,800 State Department contractors in Iraq, plus an unknown number of Americans working as trainers and repairpeople who are employed by the U.S. weapons manufacturers themselves.

    So that’s 7,828 known U.S. government contractors with their boots on the ground in Iraq. There are roughly 3,700 American troops there now alongside them.

    (But let’s keep it real — there are 30,455 contractors for the U.S. government in Afghanistan playing their Mad Max games)

    Many of the contractors in Iraq are from well-known warzone profiteers like KBR, DynCorp, and Fluor Corporation, the three firms hired by the Army’s Logistics Civil Augmentation Program.

    The State Department still employs personnel from whatever Blackwater is now known as. The company changes names more often than a stripper.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Book Review: Pomegranate Peace

    June 1, 2014 // 1 Comment »

    Pomegranate Peace, a new novel by Rashmee Roshan Lall, is a funny, sad and all-too-true piece of fiction about the failure of U.S. reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and about the crippling isolation America’s diplomats impose on themselves in that misguided war. The novel is also a cookbook, but we’ll get to that later.

    Pomegranates for Freedom

    The story is built around the arrival to Afghanistan of a fresh State Department employee, quickly tasked with one of the many reconstruction projects designed by the U.S. to gain the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, eradicate poppy production to save the drug-using American people and, not coincidentally, win the war. The project could have been any of the insane ideas tried in Afghanistan (as they were in Iraq) but in this case it was pomegranates. First step was five million dollars in U.S. taxpayer money, handed over to an Afghani-Canadian contractor resident in Vancouver. Said Canadian would then use the money to get Afghan farmers to grow pomegranates to replace the evil poppy, and then arrange for the fruit to be marketed worldwide. Afghanistan apparently grows some mighty tasty pomegranates.

    Though it would be wrong to spoil the tragic-comic details of how the project rapidly falls apart (alert readers may already be questioning how someone in Canada could affect much change on the ground in Afghanistan), it does, with the only pomegranates ever exported traveling out on a single U.S. military flight, and the protagonist fails spectacularly and semi-hilariously in her whistleblowing attempts to tell the State Department how pitifully it has again failed (“If we started to second-guess our colleagues we’ll never really get on with the task at hand,” the ambassador tells her.) It’s a good story on its own, and you keep turning the pages to watch it unfold.

    “We soldiered on proposing-– and paying for-– a philanthropic revolution at every level of Afghanistan’s life as a nation but our only measure of success was that the ‘small’ grants were big and the big were simply enormous,” says the main character. Indeed, since 2001 nearly $60 billion has poured into Afghanistan. Yet the author’s description of her city– “twenty-first-century Kabul’s story appeared to be written in the dust that overlaid a definite, if ill-defined sense of decay–” tells the tale of waste. “Be nice to America or we’ll bring democracy to your country,” one character sardonically jokes.

    Living Her Story

    The author, Rashmee Roshan Lall, worked for the U.S. State Department in Kabul as a contractor. Though she is clear that her book is fiction, and that none of the characters and events are real, her descriptions of her colleagues, their surroundings and their attitudes toward their work are scary-spot on. She reminds us that the Afghan’s referred to the flow of U.S. dollars as “irrigation,” and joked that those who worked alongside the Americans had been tamed.

    Her description of daily life inside the embassy is very accurate:

    …The odds were very good if you were an unaccompanied woman. The men– predatory or passionate or just passing through on what was called TDY or temporary duty – were decidedly odd. They were a mix-– military, diplomats, development workers, private contractors. It didn’t matter if they were married, unaccompanied and prowling, or unmarried and prowling – all of them suffered acutely from an affliction that Americans in the badlands of Afghanistan knew, dreaded and awaited with dreary expectation: an acute, aching loneliness. Being an American in Afghanistan was the loneliest you could get. The money was good; the levels of stress kept pace. It is curiously stirring in all sorts of ways to be constantly told-– and to believe-– that everyone is out to get you.

    About That Cookbook

    Paralleling the main story line is a more subtle one, as the main character comes to grips with the near-complete isolation that America’s warriors in suits live in. Referring to State’s walled compound in Kabul as “Americastan,” her quest to connect with the country she is tasked with saving fails several times, until the very few Afghans allowed inside the ramparts begin bringing her local food. The food enters her life as a respite from the cafeteria glop served to the cold warriors, but quickly becomes a window into the real world outside. Alongside the narrative, the book is filled with actual recipes, which grow in complexity as the story progresses. The inclusion of recipes is distracting at first, but they are presented in italics and thus easily skipped over if you prefer. Using food in this way is a nice tool to illustrate the problem of isolation.

    What It Is Really About

    I wrote my own book about the failure of reconstruction in Iraq, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People, and can clearly see in Pomegranate Peace that art imitates life. In Iraq we wanted to save the nation by exporting chicken, and failed, while our contractors bought condos in Dubai. We even had a failed agricultural coop venture not unlike this book’s own. And the same cast is present: bureaucrats with no knowledge tossing around millions of dollars, smart careerists pressing forward in fear of rocking the boat, a few locals making bank off us even while so many others around them slipped further behind, unable to drain the American money teat for themselves. One could retitle Pomegranate Peace as We Meant Well, Too and not be too far off the mark.

    That the story told here about Afghanistan, as in real life, is nearly exactly the story that was told in Iraq, is what this book in a larger sense is really about. Two wars that if they had any validity ever, went on too long, took too many lives and consumed too much money. Hand maidens to the failures in both cases were bureaucrats who gleefully acted on their ignorance to, almost against the odds, make a terrible situation worse.

    Pomegranate Peaceis available on Amazon.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    State Department Fixing the Facts Based on Policy

    December 7, 2011 // Comments Off on State Department Fixing the Facts Based on Policy

    State Department personnel in Iraq may be in danger as transition plans leave gaps in security and medical care

    (This article by me originally appeared in the Huffington Post)

    The State Department can often times be so inward looking that it fixes the facts based on the policy need, making reality fit the vision whether that naughty reality wants to or not. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it can be tragic.

    When I arrived at my second Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Iraq, we were told to call the area we worked in the “Sunni Triangle of Death.” The meme was “Look at us bad boys, reconstructing the nasty Sunni Triangle of Death. It proves State is not a sissy.” About six months later we were told to stop calling the place the “Sunni Triangle of Death,” because since we had been working for half a year, we needed to show some progress. “Triangle of Death” did not signify progress so the Embassy banned the term to fit the policy meme, even though nothing had really changed. No real harm done, I guess.

    Around election time, the initial plan was for PRT staffers to observe the March 2010 voting up close, mostly so the Embassy could claim the election was legitimate based on the happy-talk reports we understood we were to file. That was part of the warp, but the real kicker was that to show our faith in Iraqi security, we were told we were not to wear body armor at the polling stations. The Embassy felt that photos of us all geared up, as we believed we needed to be based on local security conditions, would not play well with their PR campaign that all was well. There was a lot of back channel grumbling, and a few threats to refuse to observe, and the Embassy quietly just changed plans and canceled most of the rural observations. Again, narrowly, no real harm done.

    Now, as the State Department rushes to replace all of the military support it needs to exist in still-dangerous Iraq without the Army, there are fears that the warping of reality may indeed endanger lives in Baghdad.

    What’s for Dinner?

    Currently every item of food for the Embassy, from sides of beef to baby carrots, is procured in “safe” Kuwait and convoyed up to Baghdad. It is an expensive system, one that occasionally even entails the loss of life protecting boxes of Raisin Bran, but it has ensured the safety and cleanliness of the food for almost nine years.

    The State Department, facing the crazy costs of this system without the nearly bottomless budget of the Defense Department, is once again swaying the facts to fit the policy. Undersecretary for Management Pat Kennedy told Congress in mid-November that seeking to cut costs in Iraq, State is looking to locally purchase some of the food its personnel will eat, breaking with the U.S. military’s practice of importing. Nothing has changed on the ground vis-a-vis food security, but to save money, State is warping that reality to fit its own needs.

    Physical Security for Contractors

    Security in general is subject to such warping, potentially at the cost of U.S. lives. In an anonymous email sent to numerous State Department official addresses this week, one contractor from State’s much-criticized police training program paints this picture (information deleted/changed for security purposes):

    There is an DOS policy that prevents contractors from using mission vehicles and personnel for leave rotations. Recently the climate in Iraq has become far more hostile to private companies, especially those not directly linked to the US State Department (such as our leave rotation crews). There is a current security threat briefed by DOS as “????? is actively seeking to capture personnel associated with the mission.”

    Meanwhile, the security taking contractors working for the State Department’s at ????? have recently stopped carrying weapons.

    My last trip took place at approximately 11pm. Armored cars traveling through the Baghdad red zone stopping at multiple checkpoints and opening doors at every checkpoint. The driver and TC were both Iraqi nationals speaking no English. Neither had any weapons. Neither wore their tactical body armor. Observing their behavior suggested they had no security experience.

    At the front of ????? outside the attached Iraqi compound, at the Iraqi checkpoint under an overpass at a four way intersection in the middle of Baghdad our convoy stopped outside a secure area. The Iraqi Police officers operating the checkpoint suggested that the absence of a dog created a situation where we could not be swept for bombs so we could not enter. Our driver and TC both exited the vehicle, leaving both doors open. Then we were ordered out of our vehicle (no weapons between all of us- in the presence of Iraqi officers known to be infiltrated with terrorists.) After a brief conversation and several tenuous minutes we were allowed to enter, however this scenario continues to repeat itself.

    Terrorists are not stupid. We have to assume they are actively surveilling us. We have to assume they are talking to Iraqi Police (who among other things have failed to catch two recent bombs passing through their security checkpoint).

    This policy preventing US contractors from having real security while traveling to and from ????? and ????? is the weakest link in the operation. It is reasonable to expect the US Government to value the lives of their citizens, especially those working in support of US Government operations.

    State of State’s Private Army

    Much has been made of State’s plan to hire over 5500 mercenaries as security guards for its Iraq-bound diplomats. However, while numbers do matter, the skills that those merc possess matter more. Currently in Iraq, with the US Army in place, a State Department convoy ambushed can call on a QRF, an Army quick reaction force. On standby 24/7, these soldiers are literally the cavalry that rides in to save the day.

    Needless to say, the State Department does not have such people on staff. So, State is hiring contractors, specifically an “Aviation Advisor” responsible for “Search and Rescue (SAR), medical evacuations, transporting Quick Reaction Forces (QRF) to respond to incidents, and providing air transportation for Chief of Mission personnel.”

    The problem is that the State Department put out this notice on November 4, closing a month later, only 26 days before the final withdrawal of US troops. Better hope HR is on the spot, especially given that the interviewing, vetting, hiring, travel to Iraq and initial setting up of a full SAR system will need to take place over Christmas to be in place by January 1. In other words, it won’t be there when needed.

    There remain other concerns harder to nail down in an unclassified environment — security at the Baghdad Airport once control leaves U.S. hands, availability of a blood supply (another contractor, who will have to create a logistics schema with the Armed Services Blood Program) and proper trauma care for the diplomats (yet another contractor), particularly should someone suffer the horrific burns now too common in IED attacks. Under the military system, even during an attack, an injured soldier would receive first aid from a trained buddy, be helicopter evacuated from the site within minutes, stabilized at a specialized trauma unit and on a med flight to a hospital in Germany within an hour or two. While the danger on the ground in Iraq will remain the same (if not more dangerous given the lack of American troop presence), State in no way will be able to replicate the vast resources the military can bring to bear.

    Reality – Policy = Insecurity

    The issues are not unnoticed. Some State Department officials have privately complained of becoming full-time contract managers, not practicing diplomats. One commenter lamented “Officials will be prisoners on the ridiculously large but poorly constructed compound and will be unable to leave the grounds without a security package so large and costly that being out of the Embassy will be the exception rather than the rule.” State’s own Inspector General laid out its concerns in a May 2011 report, concluding “Because of the complexity and considerable cost of construction, staffing, and logistics, there is a risk the Embassy will not have a fully operational medical system prior to the military’s departure.” Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta reminded the Hill that State will require thousands of contractors to provide security and other services that had been provided by the Pentagon. “Yes there are risks involved,” Panetta said. “Do we have any other alternatives? No.”

    State’s responses have been weak. Can’t travel safely outside the Green Zone? “The Embassy will attempt to mitigate the loss of tactical intelligence by establishing closer working relationships with the Government of Iraq.” Although Embassy medical plans do not currently include the capability for handling a mass casualty event, Embassy officials magic-wanded the problem away by stating that “even the US military’s current combat support hospital can be overwhelmed by a large enough number of casualties.” Meanwhile, State “will continue to explore possibilities for mitigating the impact of a mass casualty event.”

    In other words, again the policy seems to be warping the reality on the ground. Only this time, it’s not politics, it’s personal, or maybe, without irony, personnel, at stake.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Nasty Contractor Business from Iraq

    December 2, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    Here is a letter (not written by me) about one American that has also been faxed to Hillary Clinton, Janet Napolitano and Assistant Secretary for Consular Affairs Janice L. Jacobs.

    I have no way to verify the allegations made against a single contractor—of sexual harassment, fraud, retaliation and more—but reprint this in its entirety to illustrate the complexities of our war in Iraq, in particular the use of so many contract employees subject to, essentially, no authority or system of law.

    Whether or not the specifics below are true, it was clear from my own time in Iraq that the mix of military, civilian government officials, contractors and local Iraqis subject to no single authority created exactly the type of problems you would expect with such unequal power relationships without proper supervision.

    The deletion of all the names below makes this a bit hard to read, but I encourage you to give it a try. You’ll learn more than you care to about how ugly things look when you turn over the rock and expose what’s underneath to daylight.



    Enclosed is extensive documentation detailing visa fraud, abuse of authority, retaliation against witnesses, filing and doctoring of official reports, and intimidation committed by Mr. Xxx, Junior Counter-Intelligence Officer with the Department of Defense through a contract with Xxx. I received initial information about this abuse in 2010 from U.S. Army Colonel Xxx and Major Xxx. The victim of the crimes of Mr. Xxx is an Iraqi national who worked as an interpreter from 2003 to 2009.

    We have been working on this case for more than three years, and I will not let this matter drop. The personal safety and security of an ally of the United States is at stake, and the injustice perpetrated upon her by one of my fellow American citizens is too revolting for me to ignore. Over the past year, I have sent this information to senior officials in the Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and State. In addition, I have been in frequent communication with the offices of Senators McCaskill , whose staff has filed a request for an IG/DoD investigation. As you will see, the Washington Post covered this story on the front page. I have also filed IG reports at the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, along with a case at the USCIS Ombudsman.

    The crimes committed by Mr. Xxx that are detailed in the attached documents are a serious breach of law, and the unconscionable inaction by the U.S. government to redress the situation of Xxx, while facilitating the relocation and effective absolution of Mr. Xxx, is a serious breach of even the most simplistic understanding of the legal, moral and ethical duty that the United States must have for the foreign nationals it employs, whether directly or through its subcontractors.

    Specific allegations against Mr. Xxx.

    Compiled by Colonel Xxx:

    1. Abusing his authority by pressuring local national females into having a sexual relationship as a condition to pass or avoid the security screening process;

    2. Abusing his authority by seeking revenge or retribution against local national females (e.g. by firing from employment, threats of firing, threats against family members, threats to stop SIV Immigration, threats to release confidential information to unauthorized persons to break or destroy familial relationships) who do not respond to his overtures for a personal relationship, or who try to break away from him after having a personal relationship;

    3. Having sexual relationship with local national females with whom he was charged with conducting the security screening process;

    4. Retaliating against all persons who are potential witnesses against him, who fight the process and try to retain the local national employee, or who bring Complaints of Misconduct against him.

    5. Releasing confidential and sensitive information to unauthorized third persons, outside the security reporting channels, in order to cause harm to or intimidate local nationals (primarily females) into compliance with his request for a relationship or to prevent them from having a relationship with another, or to keep them silent as witnesses against him and others in the office that may be complicit in his activities.

    6. Creating, “doctoring” and filing false reports, or placing filing reports in a way to place the local national in a “false light” to the military units with whom they were employed, of security concerns against local national employees or potential employees in order to coerce them into an improper relationship or set them up for firing and expulsion from the FOB and the International Zone in order to cover his misconduct and eliminate witnesses. (Many times this is done when one unit is leaving and a new unit comes on board because the new unit doesn’t know the history and character of the local worker and is most easily influenced by information provided).

    7. Bringing onto or making alcoholic beverages accessible to residents of FOB Prosperity and other contractor employees. Consuming alcoholic beverages at social events (some allegations he also leaves the IZ for these parties) involving foreign nationals, local nationals, and other DoD contract personnel in a manner that compromises his professionalism and sets the conditions for personal misconduct in the performance of his duties.

    Potential Evidence/Witnesses to Support the Allegations:

    Because these allegations were so serious, and because a common theme began to emerge with most of the affected local nationals, I decided to ask some questions myself of persons who may be in the “know” about the reports of misconduct before deciding to file a formal request for an inquiry. Here is what I found:

    * I personally spoke with one of the local national translators alleged to have had a sexual relationship with Mr. Xxx because I have known her for a long time. She admitted to me that she and Mr. Xxx had a sexual relationship that arose either during the time he was supposed to be responsible for conducting her security screening, or he met her during that time and it developed as a result thereof. She said he then helped her get her SIV to the States, paid her way and either traveled with her or met her there. After a short time, she tried to break away from him and she returned to Iraq (where she currently resides) and she said he is giving her and her family a very hard time with threats to bar her and them from coming or returning to America. Although she is nervous, I think she is available to talk about this and, in fact, she may have already met with folks from your organization before these complaints surfaced to report the situation.

    * I corresponded via email with Xxx, a former supervisor for Mr. Xxx, and, as you can see from the attached email excerpts, he confirmed that the above allegations were true against Mr. Xxx. He also made reference to a Regional Manager that may be able to confirm the allegations as well.

    * I was contacted by local national translator nicknamed Xxx who was recently terminated abruptly because of an adverse screening result from Mr. Xxx that resulted from an argument she had with one of Xxx’ co-workers (DoD Iraqi-American Xxx female named Xxx). Xxx had reported her fear that she would be fired because of this incident to me and to her POC almost two months before her firing and right after the incident occurred for which she filed a complaint with Xxx against Mr. Xxx. She reported that Xxx confronted her in one of the female latrines on the FOB and made disparaging and discriminatory remarks about Xxx and other Muslim women (an allegation other translators have also made against Xxx) and their personal hygiene practices. Later, Xxx was joined by Xxx who made it clear he was Xxx’s friend and co-worker and that Xxx might have a problem the next time she was screened. She also noted Xxx had made a comment to her with words to the effect, “You should have spoken to me in the DFAC when I was trying to be “friendly” with you—now you will see”, which made her believe he was threatening to fail her in her screening because she refused to have a personal relationship with him and as revenge to protect his friend.

    * Another recent firing involved a local national female translator named Xxx. Xxx was supposedly fired because she was found to have a “fake” Jinsiya during the screening process. I have known Xxx since 2007 and have always known her to be honest, loyal, and a hard worker for the CF. Apparently during the time in recent months when she had continuous and regular duty at one of our JSS’s in Baghdad, she asked someone to renew her Jinsiya. The Jinsiya had all the correct information about her and there was no attempt on her part to deceive anyone, but apparently it was not an official Jinsiya (although that question remains) and she was fired for this reason after all those years of loyal service. So, what is her connection to Xxx issue. Well, she is good friends with Xxx (above referenced translator who had the run-in with Xxx and Xxx) and she, like Xxx were eyewitnesses to Xxx’s personal relationship with Xxx and another local national translator named Xxx because of proximity to their CHUs. So, it is not unthinkable, given what Xxx’s former supervisor said of him, that Xxx is one of the potential witnesses against Xxx that needed to be eliminated from the FOB and IZ.

    * I know you are familiar with the situation with respect to Xxx and her situation regarding the Iraqi Wide badge and being requested to take a polygraph test (which I understand she took and failed today). As you can see from Xxx’s email, much of Xxx’s problem stems from Xxx’s personal bias against her and it is likely he would go to any length to make her fail her security screening. I think Xxx has also related to you, or through her current employer or previous POC, that Xxx tried to press her for a personal relationship and she refused to respond and that is when her trouble started (specifically Xxx’s bias) painting her in a false light.

    * Just today the BMET (co-located with us) was told that one of its local national translators (Xxx —whom I have known for about three years and have never seen anything untoward from or with respect to him from a security standpoint) failed the security screening and they were told he must leave the FOB immediately, however, they didn’t specify any reason for the firing. But, apparently there was a question to him about knowing another translator that was recently fired (that I think worked for your organization—his nickname is Xxx) as a possible basis for his firing. It is my understanding that Xxx was having personal trouble with Xxx and the yet unverified allegation was Xxx was pressuring Xxx to give false evidence against other local nationals or others on the FOB—so again a possible connection to Xxx that goes beyond the fact that Xxx works for office that does the screenings.

    * I was also informed that another local national female translator Xxx has a similar situation with Xxx. I also believe she was recently fired or left her employment under adverse conditions and is living in the red zone afraid of Xxx. As I understand her story, she had a sexual relationship with Xxx for sometime after which she left him and married a U.S. soldier with whom she had a child. During the time she was still on the FOB, Xxx was seen at her room having heated arguments with her. Sometime during the process her room was subject to inspection and information was found on her computer showing she had the relationship with the US soldier and apparently had pictures of their wedding and honeymoon in Turkey. Xxx was angry and jealous (so the allegation goes) and threatened and continues to threaten to release information to her husband about his relationship with her in order to break their relationship and cause her husband to stop her and her child’s visa process for immigration to the states. She is laying low in the red zone waiting for the immigration process and trying to appease Xxx from releasing the information to her husband. (Note: I know Xxx but have not spoken directly to her about this story and I don’t know where she is currently located, however, I heard the same story from people close to Xxx and who know the situation. They say Xxx is afraid of Xxx and afraid to come forward to tell the full story).

    A security check was done on Ms. Xxx in 2009 and no derogatory information was found. Mr. Xxx was dating a local translator who did not like Xxx and, along with his rejected advances, he was able to insert derogatory information into her file. He was known as manipulative, devious, and a womanizer amongst fellow employees and allied Iraqis.

    This harassment also happened to a number of other female employees, in addition to men whom Mr. Xxx did not like.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Got What it Takes to Join State Department Army?

    October 17, 2011 // Comments Off on Got What it Takes to Join State Department Army?

    With the State Department seeking to field its own army in Iraq, some 5100 mercenaries with their own armor and air wings, recruiting might be a problem. Yes, true, America has an abundance of armed nuts, but to join State in occupying Iraq after the US military pulls out, you have to be the best of the bestest.

    The plan calls for 3,650 mercenaries to guard the World’s Largest Embassy (c), with the remaining hired guns stationed throughout free Iraq: 600 in Irbil, 575 in Basra, 335 in Mosul, and 335 in Kirkuk.

    There is some irony here (actually this war is in irony-overload). The reason the US Army is hightailing/withdrawing/retreating out of Iraq by year’s end is that free Iraqi won’t give them immunity, meaning when a soldier kills, rapes or robs an Iraqi, s/he could be prosecuted in Iraqi courts. And after eight years of capacity building in the Iraqi justice system, we all know how fair the courts are– fair and balanced for certain.

    Now why won’t Iraq give American troops immunity?

    Many people believe the refusal dates back to State’s previous orc army, Blackwater. Past attempts by the State Department to control the mercenaries in its pay have proved to be disastrous. For example, a Blackwater USA convoy of State Department officials murdered 17 Iraqis in Baghdad’s Nisoor Square in an unprovoked massacre on September 16, 2007. The use of mercenaries by the State Department undermines stability in Iraq and creates a conflict of interest when those being protected oversee their guards. This cozy relationship led to State Department officials blocking any “serious investigation” of the massacre. That really torqued the Iraqis off.

    We always like to end with some good news, so here it is. Think YOU have what it takes to be a mercenary killer for the State Department? Well, Fresh Meat, let’ see what you got.

    Blackwater is now endorsing its own X-Box game, sold under the slogan of “Have You Got What It Takes?” You buy the game with your Mom’s money, test yourself and if you make the cut, sign up with the State Department.

    They are hiring! Send an email to DSRecruitment@state.gov and tell ’em “We Meant Well” sent you.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Blackwater Faces Another Suit for Cheating State Department

    July 15, 2011 // Comments Off on Blackwater Faces Another Suit for Cheating State Department

    It is beginning to become more and more clear why these wars are so darn expensive: the State Department keeps tossing away money on things they never receive.

    Employees of the security contractor previously known as Blackwater filed a whistleblower lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit in US District Court alleges that Blackwater (now known as “Mr. John Smith”) overbilled for protecting State Department employees in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Specifically, the lawsuit alleges that Blackwater billed the State Department for sniper services from one individual who sat behind a desk, probably without a rifle. In at least one other case, the company allegedly billed for services provided by a marksman who had failed a required drug test. A spokesman for Moyock, N.C.-based mercenary company declined comment, citing the pending legal action.

    In addition to the ongoing hilarity involving anything “contracty” that the State Department touches in Iraq and Afghanistan, the steady drumbeat of these kinds of lawsuits and investigations drives home the point that after ten years of wars of terror, State still has not figured out how to supervise the thuggish contractors they employ. It is equally clear that those contractors sure as hell have figured out the game, and feel free to shoot people, double bill or just outright steal money, knowing the consequences of getting caught are few.

    Kinda like working for the White House, consequence-free no matter what happens. Viva!

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    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    Contractors in Iraq Never Held Responsible

    July 8, 2011 // 2 Comments »

    If my child does something wrong, as a parent I’m responsible for interceding. If an employee does something wrong, the employer steps in to fix things. If a US Government contractor in Iraq does something wrong, anything from torture to sexual harassment to murder, nobody is held responsible. By law, it seems.


    The latest get out of jail free card was issued by the Supreme Court last week, when they let stand the dismissal of a lawsuit claiming that employees of two defense contractors took part in the torture and abuse of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib. The justices rejected an appeal by a group of 250 Iraqis seeking to reinstate their lawsuit against CACI International Inc, which provided interrogators at Abu Ghraib, and L-3 Communications Holdings Inc’s Titan unit, which provided interpreters to the U.S. military.

    The lawsuit was filed in 2004 on behalf of the Iraqis who said they or their relatives had been tortured or mistreated while detained by the US military at Abu Ghraib. They said contractor employees participated in the abuse. The justices declined to review a federal appeals court ruling that dismissed the lawsuit because the companies had immunity as government contractors. The Obama administration supported the companies and said the appeal should be denied. Free at last, I guess.


    Another case to make the news concerns the alleged rape in Iraq of KBR employee Jamie Leigh Jones by another KBR employee (Ms. Jones’ name and picture have been prominently featured around the web, so we are not “outing” anyone here). The criminal case got lost in immunities, and KBR’s insistence that the allegations be dealt with through the employee arbitration proceedings spelled out in Jones’ employment contract.

    After six years of legal fussing and fighting, the courts eventually sided with Jones, who is pursuing the matter as a civil complaint. Details are complex, and what really happened seems unclear—a good break down of the evidence is on Mother Jones. The claimed attack took place in 2005; ultimate source of all contractor legal matters Ms. Sparky has pages of details on the legal events since then.

    Sexual Harassment

    The problem of contractor liability is not new, nor is it going away. As a reminder, we’ve written previously about the problem women interpreters claiming sexual harassment at the hands of their contractor employment face– it is almost impossible to successfully sue any of America’s finest contractors for things that may have happened in Iraq.


    We also wrote about KBR, the contractor who runs the backstage portion of our wars, setting up the chow halls, building the offices, running the power lines and maintaining the plumbing. It is the latter task that resulted in a slip and fall lawsuit just settled after a federal judge ruled that KBR cannot be sued by someone who slipped in a toilet it maintained at Camp Shield. KBR argued against their having any liability for anything they ever did, citing cases as significant as the Supremes’ 1803 hit Marbury v. Freaking Madison in their defense.

    Ironic Comparison to the UK

    No blog post here is complete without an ironic comparison, this time to the way the UK has treated human rights abuses by its soldiers (Ok, yeah, not exactly the same as contractors, but…).

    The European court of human rights on July 7 issued two landmark rulings on UK abuses in Iraq. In the first (al-Skeini and others) it found that Britain had violated the rights of the families of four Iraqis killed by British forces (and one other case in which responsibility for the killing is disputed) by failing to ensure independent investigations into their deaths. In the second (al-Jedda) it ruled the UK had violated the rights of a man it had interned for three years without trial or any real opportunity to challenge his detention, on vague grounds of security.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

    Posted in Embassy/State, Iraq, Military