• Proud to be an American

    September 19, 2011 // Comments Off on Proud to be an American

    Ms. Sparky, who always has the best stories about la vida contractor in our wars of terror first, scores again with notice that a former American employee of the US Army Corps of Engineers stationed in Baghdad, Iraq, pleaded guilty to conspiring to receive bribes from Iraqi contractors involved in the US-funded reconstruction efforts.

    According to court documents, Thomas Manok admitted to using his official position to conspire with Iraqi contractors to accept cash bribes in exchange for recommending that the Army Corps of Engineers approve contracts and other requests for payment submitted by the contractors to the US government. In March and April 2010, Manok agreed to receive a $10,000 payment from one such contractor who had been involved in constructing a kindergarten and girls’ school in the Abu Ghraib neighborhood of Baghdad. Manok was to receive an additional bribe payment from the contractor once the contractor’s claim had been approved. Manok also admitted that he intended to conceal the payments from authorities by transferring them, via associates, from Iraq to Armenia.

    I may need to do some rewriting for the second edition of my book. I took the title, We Meant Well, in part from my belief that it was our incompetence that screwed things up, despite good intentions. As more and more information comes out on corruption in the reconstruction era, I may need to revise that– perhaps Some Meant Well, Some Stole Money.



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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 Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military

    KBR Requests Rape Claimant Pay Company’s Legal Fees

    August 24, 2011 // 1 Comment »

    KBR A case we wrote about in a previous “Contractors Gone Wild in Iraq” post returns to the news. The case 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 allowed Jones to pursue 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.

    Ms. Jones recently lost her civil case. Now, KBR wants Jones to pay for its legal fees and court costs.

    In its motion seeking to recover more than $2 million in fees, KBR alleged that Jones’ rape and hostile work environment claims were fabricated and frivolous. The company has also requested that she cover its court costs of $145,000. Everything is back in the hands of lawyers again. Ms. Jones brought her claims under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which apparently allows prevailing parties to seek attorneys fees from the losing party. “Anyone who brings a claim under Title VII knows that there is a likelihood that if they lose the other side will seek attorneys fees,” said one attorney.

    The facts of the case are complex, but we can all agree that nothing good seems to come of things from the Iraq experience.

    We have another piece on KBR’s legal issues in Iraq if you are not yet depressed enough.



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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 Democracy, 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.




    Torture

    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.

    Rape

    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.

    Murder

    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 Democracy, Embassy/State, Iraq, Military