Arms And The Man
Who's Making A Killing On Killing In Iraq?

Wednesday, June 30, 2004  



By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers

"WASHINGTON — In a few key areas — electricity, the judicial system and overall security — the Iraq that America handed back to its residents Monday is worse off than before the war began last year, according to calculations in a new General Accounting Office report released yesterday.
The 105-page report by Congress' investigative arm offers a bleak assessment of Iraq after 14 months of U.S. military occupation. Among its findings:

"• In 13 of Iraq's 18 provinces, electricity was available fewer hours per day on average last month than before the war. Nearly 20 million of Iraq's 26 million people live in those provinces.

"• Only $13.7 billion of the $58 billion pledged and allocated worldwide to rebuild Iraq has been spent, with $10 billion more about to be spent. The biggest chunk of that money has been used to run Iraq's ministry operations.

"• The country's court system is more clogged than before the war, and judges are frequent targets of assassination attempts.

"• The new Iraqi civil-defense, police and overall security units are suffering from mass desertions, are poorly trained and ill-equipped.

"• The number of what the now-disbanded Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) called significant insurgent attacks skyrocketed from 411 in February to 1,169 in May.

"The report was released the same day the CPA's inspector general issued three reports that highlighted serious management difficulties at the CPA. The reports found that the CPA wasted millions of dollars at a Hilton resort hotel in Kuwait because it didn't have guidelines for who could stay there, lost track of how many employees it had in Iraq and didn't track reconstruction projects funded by international donors to ensure they didn't duplicate U.S. projects.

"Both the GAO report and the CPA report said the CPA was seriously understaffed for the gargantuan task of rebuilding Iraq. The GAO report suggested the agency needed three times more employees than it had. The CPA report said the agency believed it had 1,196 employees, when it was authorized to have 2,117. But the inspector general said CPA's records were so disorganized that it couldn't verify its actual number of employees...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 12:24 PM


Audits by the agency's inspector general find deficient oversight of billions in aid as well as a Kuwait hotel contract involving Halliburton.

By T. Christian Miller, Times Staff Writer

"WASHINGTON — The top investigator for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which was created to run the occupation of Iraq, released three audits Tuesday criticizing the U.S.-led agency's financial and management controls.

"Stuart Bowen, the CPA's inspector general, found that the agency failed to exercise adequate control over $9 billion in international aid and a hotel contract in Kuwait to house government employees.

"The audits are the first official accounting of what has long been rumored to be a chaotic and haphazard system of overseeing billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars. The audits were made public a day after the official termination of the CPA, which transferred authority over Iraq to an interim government Monday.

"In the most damning report, Bowen found that the CPA failed to rein in the cost of housing government employees at a hotel in Kuwait under a contract with Halliburton Co. The report said the CPA had allowed unauthorized personnel to stay at a Hilton in Kuwait City that was supposed to be used only by senior officials working for the CPA.

"All told, Halliburton, which managed the contract to house government employees and contractors at the hotel, charged $2.85 million for the rooms. The employees could have stayed in tents or other hotel facilities with lower rates, the audit found.

"In one case, a senior CPA official set up living and working quarters in a hotel room for the equivalent of nearly $700 a night. In another case, the CPA allowed Halliburton to rent hotel facilities for medical checkups and other services at a cost of $342,000 per year.

"The company also charged $191,000 a year for laundry services. The CPA has since placed washers and dryers in cheaper, multi-person rental villas that are part of the hotel complex.

"The report is likely to fuel further attacks by Democrats against Halliburton, which Vice President Dick Cheney ran from 1995 to 2000 and which is being investigated in connection with its activities in Iraq. But audit officials said the focus was on CPA failures to control costs under the contract, not on possible abuse of the process by Halliburton...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 7:46 AM

Tuesday, June 29, 2004  




"BAGHDAD, Iraq, June 29 — The four big smokestacks at the Doura power plant in Baghdad have always served as subversive truth-tellers. No matter what Saddam Hussein's propagandists said about electricity supplies, people knew they could get a better idea of the coming day's power by counting how many stacks at Doura were spewing smoke.

"Mr. Hussein is vanquished and a new Iraqi government has just gained formal sovereignty, but those smokestacks remain potent markers — not only of sporadic electricity service but of the agonizingly slow pace of Iraq's promised economic renewal.

"More than a year into an aid effort that American officials likened to the Marshall Plan, occupation authorities acknowledge that fewer than 140 of 2,300 promised construction projects are under way. Only three months after L. Paul Bremer III, the American administrator who departed Monday, pledged that 50,000 Iraqis would find jobs at construction sites before the formal transfer of sovereignty, fewer than 20,000 local workers are employed.

"Inside the high-profile Doura plant, American-financed repairs, originally scheduled to be completed by June 1, have dragged into the summer even as the demand for electricity soars and residents suffer through nightly power failures.

"At the same time, an economy that is supposed to become a beacon of free enterprise remains warped by central controls and huge subsidies for energy and food, leaving politically explosive policy choices for the fledgling Iraqi government.

"While the interim government has formally taken office, the reconstruction effort — involving everything from building electric and sewage plants to training police officers and judges — is only beginning...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 9:43 PM

WaPost Online:


Phyllis Bennis
Institute for Policy Studies
Tuesday, June 29, 2004; 12:00 PM

"The U.S. officially transferred political authority to Iraqi officials in a hasty five-minute ceremony. Due to security concerns, the transfer of political authority to an interim Iraqi government was conducted two days prior to the planned June 30 handover. Also, NATO countries put aside differences and agreed to provide emergency military training for the new government.

"What has been the cost of the Iraq war?

"The Institute for Policy Studies report, "Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War," outlines the casualties and increased military spending by the U.S. and other nations in the Iraq war and occupation. Estimates include 952 coalition forces killed between the start of war to June 2004. Of that total, 693 U.S. military men were killed after President Bush declared the end of combat operations in May 2003. As of June 2004, between 9,436 and 11,317 Iraqi civilians have been killed. In terms of the domestic military budget, Congress is expected to approve $25 billion in addition to the $126.1 billion it has already approved. That leaves a total of $151.1 billion. Phyllis Bennis, author of "Paying the Price: The Mounting Costs of the Iraq War," discusses the report. She was online Tuesday, June 29, at Noon ET....

[Transcript follows:]

"...Greenbelt, Md.: So where does the missing $20 billion from Iraq reconstruction funding fit into this accounting? Will there be accountability for the (apparently) stolen money, or will the miscreants get away with stealing from the Iraqi people?

"Phyllis Bennis: We're hearing practically nothing in the U.S. press about the $20 billion -- BBC talked about it, but little here. It's part of the Iraqi money -- NOT u.s. money but iraqi money! -- that came from the pre-war oil-for-food program, and other sources. Supposedly in U.S. custody, but somehow no one can acount for it. Would be good to have a broader public demand on government officials and the media to start paying attention to this.
If the first year of the war is any indication, these war perpetrators have been given virtual immunity from any accountability. If they weren't accountable --even to the American people -- BEFORE the war, how likely is it they'll be accountable to the Iraqi people now?


"Washington, D.C.: Why were there so many miscalculations for the cost of the war in both lives and money? Why didn't the Bush Administration look at the consequences of going to War in Iraq when we were already immersed in Afghanistan? Why won't the Bush Administration listen to viewpoints that are not their own? There are a lot more 'Why's' the American public has, why aren't they being addressed?

"Phyllis Bennis: All your "whys" are crucial. I think for the Bush administration it was less a matter of "miscalculation" than of "non-caluculation." That is, the policy of preventive war (they call it pre-emptive, but it isn't even that -- there was no imminent threat in Iraq, which would be required for a pre-emptive war) was a policy driven by ideology, ignoring the realities on the ground.
So even when some Bush officials DID acknowledge the likely cost (Lawrence Lindsay, who said it would cost $100-$200 billion, got fired. The Pentagon's top army general, Eric Shinseki, said it would require hundreds of thousands of troops and was dissed by Paul Wolfowitz) they were ignored.
This wasn't about assessing realities on the ground and weighing options. This was about a decade- or more- old goal of invading Iraq, and a new potential after September 11th for doing that.... " [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 1:45 PM

Interfax Moscow:


"MOSCOW. June 29 (Interfax) - Russian companies working under the UN program Oil For Food in Iraq will have to re-conclude the contracts through tenders, Iraqi Charge d'Affaires in Russia Hisham Abdul-Razzaq Ibrahim said in an interview with Interfax on Tuesday.

"Power in Iraq was officially relegated to the interim Iraqi government on June 28.

""As soon as the validity of this program [Oil For Food] has expired, the companies that concluded those contracts will have to rearrange them through tenders," he said.

"Speaking about the company Interenergoservis, which has long been engaged in restoring power facilities in Iraq, the diplomat said, "it is important to say that the contract with that company will not be revised. We need Interenergoservis specialists to be present in Iraq."

"Hisham A. Ibrahim said, "Russia should occupy an important place in restoring the fuel and energy sector in Iraq."

"Last week, Moscow hosted the first session of a joint technical committee on cooperation in Iraq's oil and gas sector, organized by the Russian major Lukoil and the Iraqi Petroleum Ministry.

""In the course of this meeting, new opportunities for intensifying cooperation in this area were considered," he said...." [more]

* * *


New government may revert to Saddam-like tactics to ward off pipeline sabotage.

"BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Iraq's new interim government that took power Monday may gradually be able to alleviate the sabotage attacks that have plagued the country's efforts to revive post-war oil exports.

"Repeated attacks on pipelines and wells, which have kept exports well below pre-war capacity of 2.2 million barrels daily, are expected to continue even after the U.S.-led occupation formally ended Monday.

"But in the secretive world of Iraqi oil, there is hope that former ruling Baath Party members appointed to the interim government could negotiate an end to attacks as they adopt a nationalistic line, emphasizing ownership of resources and placating millions eager to benefit from the country's wealth.

"Industry insiders are envisaging a return to Saddam-like arrangements, when army divisions backed by planes, security organizations and tribesman guarded the pipelines, shooting suspected intruders first and asking questions later.

"Installations are protected at present by oil ministry guards and staff of Erinys, a South African security company hired by the U.S.-led occupation authority.

"Operating in the open in 12-hour shifts, guards are paid around $120 a month. They are generally seen as demoralized, underpaid, lacking equipment and intelligence information to back them up. Guards in front of oil installations sometimes demand tips from visitors.

"This could change. Iyad Allawi, the intelligence-minded interim prime minister, is reorganizing the security apparatus with a focus on guarding infrastructure.

"President Ghazi al-Yawar, scion of the Shumar tribe, is seen as capable of co-opting tribesmen to guard the oil frontier, similar to the strategy of Saddam.

"Protecting oil infrastructure will also require an agreement with some of those who have been fighting the occupation.

""Sabotage is so easy now. Pay somebody $1,000. He will ride his donkey to a pipeline, wait until patrols pass then plant a bomb," said one international contractor...." [more]

* * *

SFChron via KurdishMediaNews:


26/06/2004 San Francisco Chronicle - By Robert Collier
"Kirkuk, Iraq -- Col. Mohammed Sharif sat in a nondescript trailer, surrounded by walkie-talkies and AK-47s, chain-smoking as an air conditioner blew a winter gale onto his desk.

"Sharif is a longtime commander of the Kurdish peshmerga militia, which now is bearing arms for a South African security firm, Erinys International, that guards the nation’s oil infrastructure. Hundreds of Sharif’s men now patrol the Kirkuk region, one of the largest oil fields in the world, with estimated reserves of 10 billion barrels.

""We are establishing order and protecting the oil," Sharif said. "Today, we are Erinys, but tomorrow, we hope we will be the army."

"Only two miles from Sharif’s trailer on the leafy campus of the Northern Oil Co., the state-owned firm that manages northern Iraq’s oil fields, a rival view came from the heavily fortified bunker of the provincial police force: The Kurds’ desire for autonomy -- and control of the northern oil fields -- is one of the destabilizing factors that could tear apart the entire nation.

""The situation could become a nightmare here," said Brig. Torhan Abdulrahman, an ethnic Turkmen who oversees a force composed mostly of Arabs. "Oil could cause civil war. It is our curse."

"The three autonomous Kurdish provinces of northeastern Iraq have little oil and have long cast an envious eye on neighboring Kirkuk, which has the petroleum riches necessary to fuel and finance an independent Kurdistan...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 8:05 AM

Monday, June 28, 2004  



"NEW YORK (Reuters) - CACI International Inc., which provides interrogation services to the U.S. military and has come under scrutiny for a possible link to prisoner abuses in Iraq, said again on Monday that no employee has been charged or indicted for wrongdoing.

"CACI also said in a release that it has not discovered any evidence confirming allegations of culpable behavior during its investigation into the matter.

"CACI's release came in response to reports detailing the company's work in Iraq and was intended to "clarify various aspects of its contract arrangements with the U.S. Army to provide interrogator services in Iraq."

"The company, which receives less than 1 percent of its revenues from interrogation work in Iraq -- yet has seen its shares fall 7 percent since the end of April -- also said its employees work solely under supervision of the U.S. military and its personnel have no responsibility for any non-CACI personnel.

"CACI, which also designs high-security computer networks for U.S. government agencies, said John Israel -- named as an employee in the classified report on abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison issued by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba -- had never been employed by the company.

"Steven Stefanowicz was the only CACI employee identified in the Taguba report, which alleged wrongdoing, the company said...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:12 PM


Iraqi money cannot be accounted for by occupying forces responsible for the funds, according to two new reports.

"Discrepancies are highlighted in the handling of $20bn (£11bn) generated from Iraq's oil and other sources since war ended last year.

"The Coalition Provisional Authority was given responsibility for the country's finances by the United Nations.

"The UN stressed that money in the Development Fund for Iraq must be shown to be used in Iraq's best interests.

"It was understood that all revenues would be paid into a central fund.


"But both the charity Christian Aid and the Liberal Democrats are now criticising the CPA, saying no audit of how the money was used had been carried out until April of this year - two months before the handover of power.

"Christian Aid described the information regarding the allocation of money as "woefully inadequate".

"On 29 May, the CPA revealed $19.4bn (£10.7bn) had been paid into the DFI and spent on a wheat purchase programme, electricity and oil infrastructure programmes and equipment for Iraqi security forces, among other purchases.


"The Coalition said $10bn (£5.5bn) of the total sum came from oil revenues.

"But, according to the Lib Dems, there is a shortfall of up to $3.7bn (£2.03bn) between the amount of oil revenue earned and the money paid into the DFI by the CPA.

"Iraq's oil resources generate billions of dollars each year and both studies insist it is not known how that money has been spent...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 7:04 AM

USA Today:


Tom Squitieri and Dave Moniz
USA Today

"WASHINGTON - The U.S. Army's inspector general and criminal division are investigating whether U.S. troops deliberately or negligently exposed Iraqi prisoners to extreme heat and cold in ways that contributed to deaths that have until now been attributed to natural or unknown causes.

"Depending on the findings, some of the deaths could be reclassified as homicides and charges could be brought against U.S. personnel, military officials say.

"At least 11 of the 15 Iraqi prisoner deaths currently ruled as due to natural or undetermined causes came during periods of extreme heat or cold at Abu Ghraib prison outside Baghdad or at other U.S.-run prison facilities in Iraq, according to death certificates released by the Pentagon. A 12th prisoner's death was attributed to heat.

"The re-examination of the deaths was triggered in part by a lawsuit that cites prisoners' complaints that they suffered severe heat and dehydration or were drenched with water and exposed to cold nighttime temperatures at prisons in Iraq. The lawsuit was filed June 9 by the Center for Constitutional Rights in U.S. District Court in San Diego against two private companies whose employees worked as interrogators and translators at the prisons.

"The New York City-based center was originally formed to represent civil rights workers in Mississippi and now initiates lawsuits for individuals with limited resources.

"The class-action suit charges that Titan Corp. and CACI International conspired with U.S. officials to humiliate, torture and abuse the prisoners...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:40 AM

Sunday, June 27, 2004  



By Associated Press

"LONDON (AP) Billions of dollars belonging to Iraq is not accounted for by the Coalition Provisional Authority, which was given responsibility by the United Nations for the country's finances, British lawmakers and aid activists said Monday.

"There are glaring gaps in the handling of $20 billion generated by Iraq's oil and other sources since the U.S.-led war to oust Saddam Hussein ended last year, according to reports from the Liberal Democrats, Britain's third-largest political party, and Christian Aid.

"The Christian Aid report also said the majority of Iraq's reconstruction projects have been awarded to U.S. companies, which charge up to 10 times more than Iraqi firms.

"There was no immediate reaction from coalition officials to the reports.

"The United Nations gave the U.S.-led coalition responsibility for the Development Fund for Iraq after the fall of Saddam in May 2003. It stipulated that expenditures must be shown to be in Iraq's best interest and that all revenue should be paid into a simple fund. But Christian Aid and the Liberal Democrats said no audit on the money was carried out until April.

"''For the entire year that the CPA has been in power in Iraq, it has been impossible to tell with any accuracy what the CPA has been doing with Iraq's money,'' said Helen Collison from Christian Aid...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 11:35 PM


Memo on Methods Of Interrogation Had Wide Review

By Dana Priest
Washington Post Staff Writer

"The CIA has suspended the use of extraordinary interrogation techniques approved by the White House pending a review by Justice Department and other administration lawyers, intelligence officials said.

"The "enhanced interrogation techniques," as the CIA calls them, include feigned drowning and refusal of pain medication for injuries. The tactics have been used to elicit intelligence from al Qaeda leaders such as Abu Zubaida and Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

"Current and former CIA officers aware of the recent decision said the suspension reflects the CIA's fears of being accused of unsanctioned and illegal activities, as it was in the 1970s. The decision applies to CIA detention facilities, such as those around the world where the agency is interrogating al Qaeda leaders and their supporters, but not military prisons at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and elsewhere.

""Everything's on hold," said a former senior CIA official aware of the agency's decision. "The whole thing has been stopped until we sort out whether we are sure we're on legal ground." A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the issue.

"CIA interrogations will continue but without the suspended techniques, which include feigning suffocation, "stress positions," light and noise bombardment, sleep deprivation, and making captives think they are being interrogated by another government...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 10:46 AM

Saturday, June 26, 2004  

Nation via Guardian:

The shameless corporate feeding frenzy in Iraq is fuelling the resistance

Naomi Klein
The Guardian

"Good news out of Baghdad: the Program Management Office, which oversees the $18.4bn in US reconstruction funds, has finally set a goal it can meet. Sure, electricity is below pre-war levels, the streets are rivers of sewage and more Iraqis have been fired than hired. But now the PMO has contracted the British mercenary firm Aegis to protect its employees from "assassination, kidnapping, injury and" - get this - "embarrassment". I don't know if Aegis will succeed in protecting PMO employees from violent attack, but embarrassment? I'd say mission already accomplished. The people in charge of rebuilding Iraq can't be embarrassed, because, clearly, they have no shame.

"In the run-up to the June 30 underhand (sorry, I can't bring myself to call it a "handover"), US occupation powers have been unabashed in their efforts to steal money that is supposed to aid a war-ravaged people. The state department has taken $184m earmarked for drinking water projects and moved it to the budget for the lavish new US embassy in Saddam Hussein's former palace. Short of $1bn for the embassy, Richard Armitage, the deputy secretary of state, said he might have to "rob from Peter in my fiefdom to pay Paul". In fact, he is robbing Iraq's people, who, according to a recent study by the consumer group Public Citizen, are facing "massive outbreaks of cholera, diarrhoea, nausea and kidney stones" from drinking contaminated water.

"If the occupation chief Paul Bremer and his staff were capable of embarrassment, they might be a little sheepish about having spent only $3.2bn of the $18.4bn Congress allotted - the reason the reconstruction is so disastrously behind schedule. At first, Bremer said the money would be spent by the time Iraq was sovereign, but apparently someone had a better idea: parcel it out over five years so Ambassador John Negroponte can use it as leverage. With $15bn outstanding, how likely are Iraq's politicians to refuse US demands for military bases and economic "reforms"?

"Unwilling to let go of their own money, the shameless ones have had no qualms about dipping into funds belonging to Iraqis. After losing the fight to keep control of Iraq's oil money after the underhand, occupation authorities grabbed $2.5bn of those revenues and are now spending the money on projects that are supposedly already covered by American tax dollars...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 7:50 AM

Friday, June 25, 2004  


Your tax dollars continue funding mercenary boondoggle in 51st state

by Pratap Chatterjee

"A fortnight before Iraq is to be handed over to a new government, the world's largest private army is being set up by Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer, a former British commando who has been investigated for illegally smuggling arms and planning military offensives to support mining, oil, and gas operations around the world.

"United States taxpayers will pay up to $293 million for a contract to Aegis Defence Services of London, a new company created by Spicer, to create an "integrator" or coordination hub for the security operation for every single reconstruction contractor and sub-contractor throughout Iraq, effectively creating a private military that can attack Iraqi protestors at any time anywhere in the country.

"There are currently several dozen groups in Iraq that provide private security to both the military and the private sector, with more than 20,000 employees altogether. The companies include Erinys, a South African business, that has more than 15,000 local employees charged with guarding the oil pipelines; Armor Group, a British company that provides security to Bechtel and Halliburton; and North Carolina-based Blackwater Consulting, which provides everything from back-up helicopters to bodyguards for Paul Bremer, the American ambassador in charge of the occupation.

"The military will pay all of Aegis' expenses, plus a pre-determined percentage of whatever they spend, which critics say is a license to over-bill. The company has also been asked to provide 75 close protection teams -- comprised of eight men each -- for the high-level staff of companies that are running the oil and gas fields, electricity, and water services in Iraq...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 8:57 AM

Thursday, June 24, 2004  



From Steve Turnham
CNN Washington Bureau

"WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Typically a break from partisan warfare, this year's Senate class photo turned smiles into snarls as Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly used a profanity toward one senior Democrat, sources said.

"Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, who was on the receiving end of Cheney's ire, confirmed that the Vice President used profanity during Tuesday's class photo.

"A spokesman for Cheney confirmed there was a "frank exchange of views."

"Using profanity on the Senate floor while the Senate is session is against the rules. But the Senate was technically not in session at the time and the normal rules did not apply, a Senate official said.

"The story, which was recounted by several sources, goes like this:

"Cheney, who as president of the Senate was present for the picture day, turned to Leahy and scolded the senator over his recent criticism of the vice president for Halliburton's alleged war profiteering.

"Cheney is the former CEO of Halliburton, and Democrats have suggested that while serving in the Bush administration he helped win lucrative contracts for his former firm, including a no-bid contract to rebuild Iraq.

"Cheney's office has said repeatedly that the vice president has no role in government contracting and has severed all financial ties with the Texas-based oil services conglomerate.

"Cheney was chief executive officer of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. He resigned when he became George Bush's running mate.

"Responding to Cheney's comment, Leahy reminded him of an earlier statement the vice president had made about him. Cheney then replied with profanity.

"Leahy would not comment on the specifics of the story Thursday, but did confirm that Cheney used profanity.

""I think he was just having a bad day," said Leahy, "and I was kind of shocked to hear that kind of language on the floor."..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 3:26 PM

Boston Globe:

Contractor's diary cites CIA conflict, praise from Rice

By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff

"WASHINGTON -- The diary of a civilian interrogator says the head of US intelligence in Iraq barred officials from the Central Intelligence Agency from freely entering the Abu Ghraib prison at one point because of misconduct.

"The diary also states that national security adviser Condoleezza Rice sent a message in March praising interrogators' work and informing them that the information they were eliciting from prisoners was reaching President Bush.

"The assertions were made by Joe Ryan, a civilian contractor working at Abu Ghraib for CACI International, in messages he sent daily to friends and that were published for a time in diary format on the website of a radio station in Minneapolis. The diary was removed when the prison scandal broke, but some of Ryan's e-mailed entries were obtained by the Globe. The radio station, KSTP, confirmed it is authentic.

"These newly available entries provide new insight into the attitudes of interrogators at Abu Ghraib as the military investigates the conduct of civilian contractors and CIA agents working at the prison and as the White House faces scrutiny for its policies toward prisoners.

"Ryan had written in an entry on March 30 that the ''big news at work" was a message from Rice ''thanking us for the intelligence that has come out of our shop and noting that our work is being briefed to President Bush on a regular basis."..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 7:14 AM

Wednesday, June 23, 2004  

Scripps Howard:


Scripps Howard News Service

"Democrats are taking aim at Vice President Dick Cheney, the former corporate chieftain and staunch Iraq-war advocate they maintain is developing into a drag on the Republican ticket.
Critics say Cheney's close ties to Halliburton, the petroleum-services giant that has benefited from no-bid federal contracts for repairs to Iraq's oil fields, and his seemingly contradictory statements about the war have raised questions among voters about his continued fitness for office.

"And Democrats are hopping on the vice president's potential difficulties with both feet.

""I think the vice president is a real political problem," said Mark Mellman, the pollster for John Kerry, President Bush's Democratic rival in the race for the White House. "He is a lightning rod and a symbol of corporate malfeasance, deal-making, Halliburton and all kinds of issues that wind up in his lap. It's a real problem and the president needs to figure out how to deal with that."..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 7:26 AM

Tuesday, June 22, 2004  

Financial Times:


By Sheila McNulty in Houston

"When a Texas court entered a final judgment for $106m against Halliburton of the US and Ramco of the UK this year for failure to comply with a confidentiality agreement, few took notice.

"Halliburton is the world's largest diversified energy services, engineering and construction company, and, against its billions of dollars in quarterly revenues, the court payout amounted to no more than a blip on its balance sheet.

"But at a time when Halliburton is being charged with immoral and even illegal business practices in countries ranging from Iraq to Nigeria, a close reading of the court documents, obtained by the FT, provides a disturbing backdrop.

"Much of the questionable business practices, for which the jury found against Halliburton, took place when Dick Cheney, US vice-president, was chief executive of the company. Emails provided to the court show that he and Dave Lesar, then president and chief operating officer and now chief executive, were aware of the Tenge project in Kazakhstan around which the plaintiffs built their case of Halliburton intrigue...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 12:14 PM

Washington Technology:


By Gail Repsher Emery
Staff Writer

"The General Services Administration has proposed a rule that would require it to notify contractors that are being considered for suspension or debarment from federal contracting before such action is taken.

"The proposed rule was published in the June 18 Federal Register. GSA is accepting public comments on the rule until Aug. 17 at www.regulations.govor via e-mail. GSAR case 2004-G502 should be cited in the comments.

"According to the proposed rule, GSA would give contractors what it calls a show-cause notice. GSA is not required to tell a contractor that the agency is considering suspension or debarment; it’s only required to send a notice after the action has been taken....

"GSA has issued its first show-cause notice, to CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., although it is not yet required to do so, Johnson said. The letter, from GSA suspension and debarment official Joseph Neurauter, was sent to the company May 26. In it, Neurauter told CACI Chief Executive Officer J.P. “Jack” London that it appeared a GSA schedule was misused in issuing task orders for interrogation services in Iraq “with the knowledge and consent of CACI.”..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 9:27 AM

Monday, June 21, 2004  

Financial Times:


By Gareth Smyth in Baghdad and Thomas Catan in Washington

"United Nations-mandated auditors have sharply criticised the US occupation authority for the way it has spent more than $11bn in Iraqi oil revenues and say they have faced "resistance" from coalition officials.

"In an interim report, obtained by the Financial Times, KPMG says the Development Fund for Iraq, which is managed by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority and channels oil revenue into reconstruction projects, is "open to fraudulent acts".

"The auditors criticise the CPA's bookkeeping and warn: "The CPA does not have effective controls over the ministries' spending of their individually allocated budgets, whether the funds are direct from the CPA or via the ministry of finance."

"The findings come after US complaints about the UN's administration of the oil-for-food programme under Saddam Hussein.

"According to the CPA, the Development Fund for Iraq has taken in $20.2bn since last May and has disbursed $11.3bn, with $4.6bn left in outstanding commitments.

"One adviser to a member of the recently disbanded Iraqi Governing Council said the report raised the fear that no audit of the CPA's work would ever be completed. "If the auditors don't finish by June 30, they never will, because the CPA staff are going home," he said. "I lament the lack of transparency and lack of involvement by Iraqis."..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 8:35 PM



By Toby Harnden in Baghdad

"The scope of the Abu Ghraib prisoner-abuse scandal widened dramatically yesterday when a military judge ordered senior United States commanders to be interviewed by lawyers defending soldiers facing courts martial.

"Col James Pohl, presiding over pre-trial hearings in Baghdad, also ruled that the notorious jail outside the Iraqi capital should be preserved as a "crime scene" despite President George W Bush's promise last month to demolish it.

"He accepted defence arguments that Gen John Abizaid, commander of US forces in the Middle East, and Lt Gen Ricardo Sanchez, his deputy in Iraq, should answer questions about the allegations.

"The Bush administration has consistently sought to portray the alleged torture in the prison as the misdeeds of a few individuals. But Col Pohl's ruling could undermine the claims. The court also ordered that confidential documents about the Abu Ghraib investigation should be made public.

"Paul Bergrin, a civilian lawyer representing Sgt Javal Davis, who is accused of maltreating detainees by stamping on their hands and feet, said his client was acting on orders from his superiors.

"Mr Bergrin said: "He was instructed on a daily basis by military intelligence and civilian contractors to soften up detainees so he could save American soldiers from getting slaughtered."..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 5:44 PM

Federal Times:



"Contractors in Iraq have yet to clean up shoddy billing practices that have led auditors to withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in payments, said William Reed, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

"Testifying before the House Government Reform Committee on June 15, Reed said contractors such as Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root continue to have billing problems months after they were first uncovered, including estimating the costs of providing dining facilities for military personnel.

"At one point, DCAA and KBR agreed $176.5 million in payments would be withheld until KBR provided additional supporting data to prove it had served the meals it was billing for. KBR’s contract has since been re-negotiated to establish a “boots through the door billing methodology.” But after reviewing its original billing methods, KBR determined that billing for excess meals was allowable because task orders under its contract do not specify a billing methodology.

"KBR is now resubmitting its original bills for the original subcontracts, Reed said, but DCAA isn’t budging. In fact, the agency has upped the amount of suspended payments to $186 million, he said.

"In a related matter, Halliburton fired the chairman of its KBR subisidiary, Jack Stanley. The company said in a June 18 statement that Stanley was fired for receiving “improper personal benefits” related to a natural gas project in Nigeria.

"Other contractors in Iraq with similar billing problems include Washington Group International, CACI and Titan, Reed said...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 1:07 PM

Washington Technology:



"Congress, OMB, GSA to tighten procurement rules
Federal agencies may soon get new restrictions on how they buy products and services as part of a crackdown against out-of-scope contracting.

"The issue got national attention last month when it became known that the Army purchased interrogation services from CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., through a General Services Administration information technology contract.

"The company has not been charged with any wrongdoing but has been under scrutiny following allegations that Army guards, and possibly CACI contractors, abused Iraqi prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison.

"GSA has launched an investigation into CACI's contract and, depending on the outcome, could suspend or debar the company from federal contracting...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 12:53 PM


Employers such as Halliburton don't sugarcoat the danger

By Matthew Barakat
Of The Associated Press

"ARLINGTON, Va. | The risks are as obvious as the morning headlines. But for entrepreneurs pondering work in Iraq, the potential financial rewards seem just as clear.

"A small-business conference here last week encouraged business owners to look past the instability in Iraq and land subcontracting opportunities with major multinational corporations.

"Many hope to line up work with groups such as Halliburton Corp. and Bechtel Corp., which have locked up billions of dollars in government contracts to restore Iraqi infrastructure and modernize the economy.

"''We still see a lot of business people who are very interested in working in Iraq and Afghanistan,'' said George Sigalos, director of government relations for Halliburton-KBR. ''Are they concerned about security? Yes. Should they be concerned? Yes.''

"The dangers of civilians working in Iraq have been known for months. No case was more shocking than that of Nicholas Berg, 26, the West Chester man beheaded last month in Iraq. Berg, owner of a communications tower company, had attended a similar conference in December in Arlington before going to Iraq.

"Basel Hijjawi, an Alexandria resident who speaks 30 dialects of Arabic and has experience in engineering and finance, has no illusions about the potential dangers.

"He was born in Saudi Arabia, grew up in Jordan, and has traveled throughout the Middle East. He said he is familiar with the sounds of mortar shells.

"''I speak the language, but I don't look like them, so right away I know I'm a target,'' said Hijjawi, who inherited his fair skin from his Russian mother. ''But I grew up in an area where you did not know what might happen to you from one day to the next.''

"The opportunities that exist for somebody with strong technical and language skills are phenomenal, he said: ''The rewards are very, very high. You land one small contract, you might walk away with $500,000, $600,000.''

"Less technical skills also are in demand. A truck driver who earns $30,000 to $40,000 a year in the United States might make nearly $100,000 doing the same work in Iraq...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:53 AM

Sunday, June 20, 2004  

Sunday Herald:

British companies with links to Abu Ghraib contractor under attack for supporting ‘state terror’

By Neil Mackay Investigations Editor and Aideen McLaughlin

"BRITISH Muslims are calling for a boycott of more than 40 UK firms, including Scottish Widows, which are involved with the US-owned corporation accused of directing the torture of Iraqi detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad.
Among the firms which use CACI in the UK are Honda, Renault, Barclays, AXA Direct, Friends Provident, House of Fraser, The Woolwich, Cadbury, Unilever, Danone, The Co-op, WH Smith, the Royal Mail, Peugeot, O2 and British Gas. CACI also works for a number of local authorities including Greater London, and British Telecom.

"The Department of Health also has three short-term contracts with CACI. Plaid Cymru MP Adam Price has asked Health Secretary John Reid to suspend the contracts, saying taxpayers’ money should not go “to a company linked to one accused of the torture of prisoners of war in Iraq”.

"CACI Ltd in the UK is a wholly owned subsidiary of its US parent company CACI International. It has offices in London and Edinburgh. CACI International was hired in America to work with US intelligence services, such as the CIA, and co-ordinated interrogations at Abu Ghraib...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 8:03 AM

Friday, June 18, 2004  




"WASHINGTON, June 18 — Paul M. Johnson Jr., the American engineer kidnapped last weekend by militants in Saudi Arabia, has been beheaded by his captors, an Al Qaeda group announced today. There were conflicting reports from the Saudi capital, Riyadh, that Mr. Johnson's body had been found there.

""The infidel got his fair treatment," said a statement posted by the group on the Internet, according to a dispatch from Riyadh by The Associated Press. The dispatch said the statement, posted on a Web site where the Qaeda group often makes announcements, was accompanied by three photographs showing a headless body.

""Let him taste something from what Muslims tasted who were long reached by Apache helicopter fire and missiles," the statement said, according to the A.P.

"Mr. Johnson, 49, worked in Saudi Arabia for the past decade in cooperation with Lockheed Martin on the Apache helicopter...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 1:08 PM



Associated Press Writer

"RALEIGH, N.C. - A CIA contractor charged with fatally assaulting an Afghan detainee had been fired from a Connecticut police department after an assault 14 years ago and a history of run-ins with wives and neighbors, authorities and acquaintances said.

"The contractor, 38-year-old David A. Passaro of Lillington, was charged Thursday with two counts each of assault and assault with a dangerous weapon _ a flashlight.

"Passaro was charged in connection with the June 21, 2003, death of Abdul Wali. Wali had gone to a U.S. base in Afghanistan on his own accord that month and surrendered to authorities. They suspected him of participating in rocket attacks against the base and wanted to talk to him.

"Three days after he surrendered, he was dead, and authorities accuse Passaro of beating him. Passaro was not charged with murder because no autopsy was performed to establish a cause of death, Justice Department officials said.

"It was the first time civilian charges have been brought in the investigation of prisoner abuse in Iraq and Afghanistan...." [more]

* * *


WHERE OCCUPATION WORKERS TAKE A BREAK FROM ALL THEIR WORRIESThe budding bar scene of Baghdad's Green Zone offers a place to get away and go where everybody knows your name

By Jim Krane and Lourdes Navarro
Associated Press

"BAGHDAD -- The job of occupying Iraq means hardship and long hours, and sometimes a game of Risk over a hookah and a few beers.

"In a city where few people drink, Baghdad's sealed-off Green Zone has at least seven bars, including a Thursday night disco, a sports bar, a British pub, a rooftop bar run by General Electric and a bare-bones trailer tavern operated by the contractor Bechtel.

"Only occupation employees are welcome in most of them. U.S. troops ejected a reporter from the basement sports bar a few months ago at the insistence of Coalition Provisional Authority employees drinking inside.

"The plushest tavern is the CIA's rattan-furnished watering hole, known as the "OGA bar." OGA stands for "Other Government Agency," the CIA's low-key moniker.

"The OGA bar has a dance floor with a revolving mirrored disco ball and a game room. It is open to outsiders by invitation only. Disgruntled CPA employees who haven't wangled invitations complain that the CIA favors women as guests...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 8:09 AM

Thursday, June 17, 2004  



By The Associated Press

"A contractor working for the CIA has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges stemming from the abuse of a prisoner in Afghanistan, the first civilian to face criminal charges in the case, officials said Thursday.

"Two federal law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the indictment was returned by a grand jury in Raleigh, N.C. They identified the defendant as David Passaro and said the case involved the death of a prisoner in U.S. custody.

"The prisoner who died in June 2003, identified as Abdul Wali, was being held at a U.S. detention facility in Asadabad, Afghanistan.

"The exact nature of the charges could not be immediately be determined. The officials said Passaro was arrested Thursday morning in Fayetteville, N.C., and would appear in federal court later in the day in Raleigh, N.C.

"Attorney General John Ashcroft scheduled an afternoon news conference in Washington to provide further details. The case was among three referred by the CIA inspector general to the Justice Department for prosecution.

"A CIA spokesman declined to comment on the case.

"The charges come amid multiple ongoing investigations by the Defense Department and other agencies into allegations of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. No civilians have been charged yet in those investigations. Seven soldiers face military charges in that scandal.

"Democratic lawmakers and other critics say the Bush administration set the legal stage for the abuse by circulating a series of memos that appear to justify use of torture and argue that the president's wartime powers trump laws meant to protect prisoners.

"President Bush and Ashcroft have repeatedly insisted that no orders were given to the military or CIA that would violate U.S. antitorture laws or the protections of the Geneva Conventions.

"There have been three confirmed deaths of detainees at prisons in Afghanistan, where allegations of abuse include reports from former prisoners of hoodings, beatings and sexual abuse...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 10:41 AM



By Judy Sarasohn

"CACI International Inc. has turned to a high-powered group of Washington lobbyists to help it deal with an investigation by the General Services Administration into whether the company violated federal contracting rules and should be banned from future government work.

"The GSA could be a serious problem, since most of CACI's work is with the federal government.

"CACI chief executive J.P. "Jack" London told analysts late last month that the GSA is looking into how the company used an information technology contract to supply the Army with civilian interrogators in Iraq. One of CACI's interrogators has been implicated in an Army investigation into abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison.

"Other inquiries into CACI's involvement at the prison are being conducted by the Army inspector general, the Defense Contract Audit Agency and the Interior Department inspector general.

"London said that if there were any contracting mistakes, they were inadvertent and the company will correct them.

"The Clark & Weinstock lobby shop recently registered to lobby on behalf of CACI on "General Services Administration contract issues" and "House and Senate issues." One of the lobbyists said their job is to "help them work through this."

"The lobbyists on the bipartisan team include former representatives Vin Weber (R-Minn.) and Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) ; David Berteau, director of national security studies at Syracuse University; Edward Kutler, an aide to then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.); and Sandra K. Stuart, assistant secretary of defense for legislative affairs in the Clinton administration...."

posted by Major Barbara | 10:34 AM



By Sumana Chatterjee
Knight Ridder Newspapers

"WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans on Wednesday defeated Democratic attempts to limit the role of private contractors in Iraq in a pair of votes that broke largely along partisan lines.

"But a series of other controversial amendments covering a wide range of issues, from prohibitions against torture to abortion access at military facilities, has yet to be debated and will likely delay passage of the $447 billion defense spending bill until next week. Included in the bill is $25 billion to fund combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan after Oct. 1, when the Pentagon expects to be running short of money.

"One of the amendments defeated Wednesday would have imposed criminal penalties for companies that intentionally and significantly overcharge the government in providing services. The amendment was aimed at Halliburton and its subsidiaries, which won lucrative no-bid Defense Department contracts to feed and house soldiers and fuel and repair their equipment. Halliburton has acknowledged that it overcharged the U.S. government by at least $136 million. The amendment was defeated 52 to 46.

"The other measure would have prohibited the government from allowing private contractors to conduct interrogations of prisoners - a reflection of the concern that private contractors implicated in abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq can't be prosecuted because neither U.S. military nor civilian law applies to them. That amendment was defeated 54 to 43...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:51 AM

Wednesday, June 16, 2004  



By Leigh Strope, Associated Press, 6/16/2004 13:43

"WASHINGTON (AP) The mounting deaths and injuries to civilian contractors in Iraq could cost the federal government millions of dollars for hundreds of workers' compensation claims.

"Federal law requires all U.S. government contractors and subcontractors to obtain workers' compensation insurance for civilian employees who work overseas. If an injury or death claim is related to a ''war-risk hazard,'' the War Hazards Compensation Act provides for government reimbursement to insurance carriers.

"Nearly half the 771 injury claims filed by U.S. contractors so far this year occurred in Iraq 345. Of the 66 deaths reported as of last week, all but nine occurred in Iraq, according to the Labor Department, which handles the reporting of claims and reimbursements.

"Since January 2003, there have been claims for 476 injuries and 80 deaths in Iraq.

"Casualties are rising. A convoy of contractors was ambushed Tuesday in Baghdad. Two people were killed and three were injured when shots were fired from a highway overpass. Among the most gruesome deaths were four civilian security personnel who were killed March 31 in Fallujah, their bodies mutilated and burned. The remains of two were hung from a bridge.

"''The security situation is virtually unprecedented,'' said Bob Hartwig, chief economist with the Insurance Information Institute, an industry group. ''You've got the potential to be kidnapped, to be killed, to be tortured, shot at, blown up.''

"Labor Department officials said they had no cost estimate for reimbursements of Iraq-related claims, but given the maximum payment of $1,030.78 per week and the number of injuries and deaths, it could well climb into the multimillions. In past years, annual reimbursement costs under the War Hazards Act have ranged from $1 million to $2 million...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 3:58 PM



"WASHINGTON (AP) -- Army guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq kept some prisoners awake for as much as 20 hours a day at the direction of private contractors and military intelligence soldiers, a private interrogator told investigators.

"The statement from Steven A. Stefanowicz conflicts with accounts by some top generals, who contend prison guards were barred from such active participation in interrogations.

"Stefanowicz also said he may have heard, but did not see, some military police physically abusing a prisoner. Otherwise, he said, he did not see any abuses inside Abu Ghraib like those documented in photos that became public this spring.

"Stefanowicz, whose own veracity has been questioned in the official prison investigation, told Army investigators in a sworn statement that Col. Thomas Pappas, the military intelligence chief at Abu Ghraib, personally approved of the sleep deprivation tactics.

"Prison guards were given copies of written interrogation plans for each inmate, which were prepared by three-person teams comprised of contractors or military intelligence soldiers, Stefanowicz said in the sworn statement obtained by The Associated Press.

"Those plans specifically placed one detainee on a "sleep/meal management program" that involved letting the prisoner sleep only in small blocks of time totaling no more than four hours out of every 24, up to a total of three days. The prisoner then would be allowed 12 hours of sleep, Stefanowicz told investigators.

""The MPs are allowed to do what is necessary to keep the detainee awake in the allotted period of time as long as it adheres to approved rules of engagement and proper treatment of the detainee," Stefanowicz said, adding he never ordered MPs to assault a prisoner.

"Stefanowicz's statement conflicts with congressional testimony by some top generals and statements by Stefanowicz' employer, CACI International Inc., that private contractors and military intelligence operatives never gave guards orders to take actions that would assist interrogations."

posted by Major Barbara | 3:52 PM

Washington Technology:


By Gail Repsher Emery
Staff Writer

"Numerous orders for Iraqi reconstruction tasks fall outside the scope of the contracts under which the task orders were awarded, according to a General Accounting Office report published Tuesday.

"The GAO reviewed 11 task orders and found that seven were wholly or partly out of scope. The out-of-scope task orders included two awarded to Science Applications International Corp. of San Diego.

"The SAIC task orders, awarded by the Defense Contracting Command-Washington, are for developing a news media capability and for recruiting subject matter experts and providing them with travel and logistical support. Together the task orders are worth more than $107 million, according to GAO.

"SAIC declined to answer questions about the contracts...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 3:49 PM



By Joshua Chaffin in Washington

"Titan Corp, the San Diego- based defence contractor, has decided to withhold $178,000 (?146,000, £97,000) in billings to the Pentagon for translators working at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad, where Iraqi detainees were tortured by US forces.

"A former Titan employee was implicated in the abuses in a report filed by General Antonio Taguba. The company, along with a competitor - CACI International, which supplied contract interrogators - is being investigated by the army and Department of the Interior in connection with the scandal.

""The reason we did this is we don't know what the investigation entails, so we took the initiative to be conservative," a Titan spokesman said.

"The company has repeatedly said that its employees served only as translators and did not manage or oversee Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

"The payment in question is a fraction of a $402m contract the company was awarded to supply linguists for the US military, under which it employs more than 4,000 workers in Iraq...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 3:47 PM

Tuesday, June 15, 2004  


Parties in the House split on whether payments should be made public

Knight Ridder Newspapers

"WASHINGTON - Halliburton Inc. paid high-priced bills for common items, such as soda, laundry and hotels, in Iraq and Kuwait and then passed the inflated costs along to taxpayers, according to several former Halliburton employees and a Pentagon internal audit.

"Democrats in the House of Representatives, who are feuding with House Republicans over whether the spending should be publicly aired at a hearing today, released signed statements Monday by five ex-Halliburton employees recounting the lavish spending.

"Those former employees contend that the politically connected firm:

• Lodged 100 workers at a five-star hotel in Kuwait for a total of $10,000 a day while the Pentagon wanted them to stay in tents, like soldiers, at $139 a night.

• Abandoned $85,000 trucks because of flat tires and minor problems.

• Paid $100 to have a 15-pound bag of laundry cleaned as part of a million-dollar laundry contract in peaceful Kuwait. The price for cleaning the same amount of laundry in war-torn Iraq was $28.

• Spent $1.50 a can to buy 37,200 cans of soda in Kuwait, about 24 times higher than the contract price.

• Knowingly paid subcontractors twice for the same bill...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:41 AM



Associated Press Writer

"WASHINGTON (AP) - Army guards at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq kept some prisoners awake for as much as 20 hours a day at the direction of private contractors and military intelligence soldiers, a private interrogator told investigators.

"The statement from Steven A. Stefanowicz conflicts with accounts by some top generals, who contend prison guards were barred from such active participation in interrogations.

"Stefanowicz also said he may have heard, but did not see, some military police physically abusing a prisoner. Otherwise, he said, he did not see any abuses inside Abu Ghraib like those documented in photos that became public this spring.

"Stefanowicz, whose own veracity has been questioned in the official prison investigation, told Army investigators in a sworn statement that Col. Thomas Pappas, the military intelligence chief at Abu Ghraib, personally approved of the sleep deprivation tactics.

"Prison guards were given copies of written interrogation plans for each inmate, which were prepared by three-person teams comprised of contractors or military intelligence soldiers, Stefanowicz said in the sworn statement obtained by The Associated Press.

"Those plans specifically placed one detainee on a ``sleep/meal management program'' that involved letting the prisoner sleep only in small blocks of time totaling no more than four hours out of every 24, up to a total of three days. The prisoner then would be allowed 12 hours of sleep, Stefanowicz told investigators.

"``The MPs are allowed to do what is necessary to keep the detainee awake in the allotted period of time as long as it adheres to approved rules of engagement and proper treatment of the detainee,'' Stefanowicz said, adding he never ordered MPs to assault a prisoner.

"Stefanowicz's statement conflicts with congressional testimony by some top generals and statements by Stefanowicz' employer, CACI International Inc., that private contractors and military intelligence operatives never gave guards orders to take actions that would assist interrogations...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:36 AM

Monday, June 14, 2004  



By Sue Pleming

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Pentagon auditors have found "deficiencies" with Halliburton's billing system for billions of dollars of work in Iraq, according to a military audit released by a Democratic lawmaker on Monday.

"The audit on Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg Brown and Root (KBR), the U.S. military's biggest contractor in Iraq, was released by California Rep. Henry Waxman to back up claims of misuse of U.S. taxpayer funds in Iraq by the Texas firm, which was run by Vice President Dick Cheney from 1995-2000.

"The May 13 Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) report said it found "system deficiencies" resulting in material invoicing misstatements and said a follow-up audit would be done in six months to see if corrective action had been taken..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 4:33 PM



By Sue Pleming

"WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft should appoint a special counsel to investigate whether Vice President Dick Cheney helped his old firm Halliburton get lucrative deals in Iraq, a senior Democratic senator said on Monday.

"The demand by New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg follows questions over the weekend on whether Cheney and his staff played any role in Pentagon decisions to give billions of dollars of work in Iraq to Halliburton, run by Cheney from 1995-2000.

""This, in my view, could be a major government scandal," Lautenberg told reporters in a conference call...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 4:29 PM




In the fall of 2002, in the preparations for possible war with Iraq, the Pentagon sought and received the assent of senior Bush administration officials, including the vice president's chief of staff, before hiring the Halliburton Company to develop secret plans for restoring Iraq's oil facilities, Pentagon officials have told Congressional investigators.

The newly disclosed details about Pentagon contracting do not suggest improper political pressures to direct business to Halliburton, the Houston-based company that Vice President Dick Cheney once led.

But they raise questions about assertions by Mr. Cheney and other administration officials that he knew nothing in advance of the Halliburton contracts and that the decisions were made by career procurement specialists, without involvement by senior political appointees.... [more]

* * *



By Robert O'Harrow Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer

"As the government prepared for war in Iraq in the fall of 2002, a senior political appointee in the Defense Department chose oil services giant Halliburton Co. to secretly plan how to repair Iraqi oil fields, and then briefed Vice President Cheney's chief of staff and other White House officials about the sole-source contract before it was granted.

"Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) said the new details about the $1.8 million contract, disclosed last week in a Pentagon briefing for congressional staff members, raise new questions about whether the vice president or his office played any role in decisions to give what became billions of dollars worth of government business to Halliburton, where Cheney was chief executive from 1995 to 2000.

"Cheney has said neither he nor his office influenced decisions to give contracts to Halliburton.

"In a letter to Cheney yesterday, Waxman said the circumstances "appear to contradict your assertions that you were not informed about the Halliburton contracts."

""They also seem to contradict the Administration's repeated assertions that political appointees were not involved in the award of contracts to Halliburton," wrote Waxman, senior Democrat on the House Government Reform Committee and one of the sharpest critics of the government's ties to Halliburton...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 7:08 AM



Weekend Edition - Sunday audio
June 13, 2004

"Some officials say an Army policy barring the significant use of civilians for intelligence work has been circumvented, to the military's detriment. Civilian contractors interrogated prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq, some of whom are now considered responsible for abuses at the prison. NPR's Libby Lewis reports."

posted by Major Barbara | 6:54 AM




"FRANKFURT, June 13 — Beginning in November, a small unit of interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison began reporting allegations of prisoner abuse, including the beatings of five blindfolded Iraqi generals, in internal documents sent to senior officers, according to interviews with military personnel who worked in the prison.

"The disclosure of the documents raises new questions about whether senior officers in Iraq were alerted about serious abuses at the prison before January. Top military officials have said they only learned about abuses then, after a soldier came forward with photographs of the abuse.

""We were reporting it long before this mess came out," said one of several military intelligence soldiers interviewed in Germany and the United States who asked not to be identified for fear they would jeopardize their careers...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:50 AM


Interim Government Resists U.S. Proposal to Exempt Foreigners From Iraqi Law

By Edward Cody
Washington Post Foreign Service

"BAGHDAD, June 13 -- In an early test of its imminent sovereignty, Iraq's new government has been resisting a U.S. demand that thousands of foreign contractors here be granted immunity from Iraqi law, in the same way as U.S. military forces are now immune, according to Iraqi sources.

"The U.S. proposal, although not widely known, has touched a nerve with some nationalist-minded Iraqis already chafing under the 14-month-old U.S.-led occupation. If accepted by Prime Minister Ayad Allawi, it would put the highly visible U.S. foreign contractors into a special legal category, not subject to military justice and beyond the reach of Iraq's justice system.

"The U.S. request, confirmed Sunday by Allawi's office, is one of a number of delicate issues revolving around government authority that will confront the incoming U.S. ambassador, John D. Negroponte, when Allawi's interim government assumes formal sovereignty June 30...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:41 AM

Saturday, June 12, 2004  




"WASHINGTON - The Army hired private interrogators to work in Iraq and Afghanistan despite the service's policy of barring contractors from military intelligence jobs such as interrogating prisoners.

"A policy memo from December 2000 says letting private workers gather military intelligence would jeopardize national security.

"An Army spokeswoman said senior commanders have the authority to override the contractor ban.

"Some of the dozens of private contractors hired to interrogate prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan are under investigation in connection with abuses at the Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad and other prisons. Army investigators are looking into whether the contracts were awarded properly.

"The Abu Ghraib case also stirred criticism from some Democrats that the Pentagon was relying too heavily on private contractors, even for military functions such as collecting intelligence.

"Thomas White, who quit as Army secretary last year after clashing with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said he opposed hiring contractors to question prisoners...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 9:20 PM




"WASHINGTON, June 11 - The use of private contractors as interrogators at Abu Ghraib and other prisons in Iraq violates an Army policy that requires such jobs to be filled by government employees because of the "risk to national security," among other concerns, the Army acknowledged Friday.

"An Army policy directive published in 2000 and still in effect today, the military said, classifies any job that involves "the gathering and analysis" of tactical intelligence as "an inherently governmental function barred from private sector performance."

"Lt. Col. Pamela Hart, an Army public affairs officer, acknowledged after consulting with senior Army officials that the service was in violation of that rule, but added that military commanders in Iraq, "retain the right to make exceptions." Another senior Army officer, in Baghdad, explained that using contract interrogators was a solution to shortages of suitable Army personnel.

"The rule does not authorize exceptions for jobs involving the collection or analysis of tactical intelligence, which is perishable information the military can use for planning operations. A related White House policy directive insists that agencies "perform inherently governmental activities with government personnel."

""Who in the world says they have authority to change the rules like that?" asked Representative Ike Skelton of Missouri, who is the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, referring to the policy directive. "I want to find out how and why these contractors got there."..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 5:28 AM

Friday, June 11, 2004  

Jim Hightower COMMENTARY:


"Sometimes it takes the unspeakable horror of war to unveil ugly truths about national policies that our so-called leaders don't want us to notice, much less discuss.

"Take, for example, the horrible news coming out of Iraq about contract workers for Halliburton and other war corporations being brutally killed and their bodies barbarically desecrated. Naturally, the first reaction is shock and outrage –– but then obvious questions come to mind: Why has so much of our military been corporatized, and who are the Halliburtons getting to take these dangerous jobs?

"The first question reveals the ugly fact that the military itself has become a for-profit enterprise. Corporations not only provide the weaponry, but increasingly they also provide the war personnel –– everyone from armed troops to essential supply squadrons. This is rationalized on the basis that a Halliburton can do it cheaper. But do they? To get people to go to Iraq, Halliburton pays $80,000 to $100,000 a year for a truck driver or mess cook, plus health care and life insurance. Not to mention the overhead and guaranteed profit that Halliburton tacks onto each of the pay stubs it submits to us taxpayers. A soldier doing comparable work is paid a fourth of that.

"The second question speaks volumes about America's ugly economic policies. By deliberately pushing outsourcing, union-busting, and low-wage Wal-Mart jobs, our corporate and political leaders have created a huge pool of the working poor. These are the people who, out of necessity, will take Halliburton's pay check, even though it means separation from family, 14-hour days seven days a week, and exposure to kidnapping, torture, and death. Unlike soldiers, these contract workers are poorly prepared –– they get only one week of training.

"What we have here is an immoral system of war profiteering at the expense of taxpayers, the working poor... and America's democratic values...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 6:17 AM

Thursday, June 10, 2004  



By Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writer

"CACI International Inc. is facing growing pressure from California pension funds that own large stakes in the company over its role in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, prodded by the California state treasurer who says the company owes its shareholders a full explanation.

"Directors of one of the funds, the California Public Employees' Retirement System, or Calpers, plan to meet Monday to discuss concerns about management controls, training and legal procedures at the Arlington-based government contractor.

"CACI employs Steven Stefanowicz, an interrogator in Iraq who has been implicated in an Army report on prisoner abuses at the U.S.-run prison near Baghdad. Calpers said the company needs to explain what it did to train and supervise interrogators and to protect shareholders from the risk associated with that work.

""It's not only bad practice from a social perspective, but it's bad practice from a company perspective," said Sean Harrigan, Calpers president of administration. "We would be remiss in our responsibility as trustees and fiduciaries if we didn't take a look at [this]. We think it would be appropriate for us to enter into a dialogue with the CEO."..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 10:10 PM

Wednesday, June 09, 2004  


Legal Center Alleges Abuse of Prisoners

By Renae Merle
Washington Post Staff Writer

"The Center for Constitutional Rights yesterday sued CACI International Inc. and Titan Corp. on behalf of several Iraqi prisoners, accusing the government contractors of conspiring with U.S. officials to abuse Iraqi detainees and failing to properly supervise their own employees.

"The New York-based nonprofit legal center, which has also filed lawsuits asking that detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba be given access to counsel, accused Arlington-based CACI and San Diego-based Titan of failing to properly screen employees and not supervising them adequately. The lawsuit seeks an injunction preventing the contractors from obtaining new government contracts and monetary damages.

"Titan and CACI officials denied the allegations. "We believe this lawsuit to be frivolous and we will vigorously defend against it," said Wil Williams, a spokesman for Titan. "We have never had control over prisoners or how they were handled."

""CACI summarily rejects and denies the ill-informed, slanderous and malicious allegations of the lawsuit that attempts to malign the work that we do on behalf of the U.S. government around the world and in Iraq," the company said in a statement.

"The government contractors were named in an Army report about the physical abuse and sexual humiliation of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad, where CACI provided interrogators and Titan supplied linguists...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 9:10 PM

Washington Business Journal:


Jeff Clabaugh
Staff Reporter

"Arlington-based CACI International, along with San Diego defense contractor Titan Corp., are named in a class action lawsuit filed by a human rights organization, which accuses employees from those companies of involvement in Iraqi prisoner abuse.

"New York-based The Center for Constitutional Rights filed its suit in San Diego accusing the companies of violating the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and says the companies engaged in illegal acts to demonstrate their abilities to obtain intelligence from detainees, and thereby obtain more government contracts.

"The suit also names three individual employees, claiming they directed and participated in illegal conduct at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"Calls to CACI's Arlington headquarters seeking comment weren't immediately returned.

"CACI, whose contractors include interrogators used by the U.S. military in Iraq, is cooperating with a General Services Administration investigation into how it won some Iraqi contracts.

"CACI, largely an IT contractor, inherited the interrogation contracting work as part of its acquisition of Fairfax-based Premier Technology Group last year."

posted by Major Barbara | 12:26 PM



By Dan Froomkin
Special to

"As more high-level memos about torture come to light -- along with news of an incendiary allegation pointing directly from Abu Ghraib to the White House -- the pressure is increasing for President Bush to explain what role he played in setting interrogation rules.

"Mike Allen and Dana Priest write in The Washington Post: "The disclosure that the Justice Department advised the White House in 2002 that the torture of al Qaeda terrorist suspects might be legally defensible has focused new attention on the role President Bush played in setting the rules for interrogations in the war on terrorism. . . .

""A former senior administration official involved in discussions about CIA interrogation techniques said Bush's aides knew he wanted them to take an aggressive approach...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 8:41 AM



By Robert O'Harrow Jr. and Ellen McCarthy
Washington Post Staff Writers

"The Defense Department is paying a firm called AECOM Technology Corp. to do work in Iraq once reserved mostly for military managers and other public employees, an arrangement that shows how far the government has gone in its decade-long effort to turn over much of its work to private contractors.

"Under the $22 million contract, awarded in March, the Los Angeles-based engineering firm's subsidiaries will help the Pentagon buy goods and services, plan projects and administer contracts in Iraq related to reconstruction work. The firm will also monitor other contractors who are overseeing billions of dollars worth of electrical, water and communications projects. And the firm will assist on audits of projects, according to company documents.

"The AECOM contract is the latest example of a transformation of the military acquisition system that started more than a decade ago and has contractors making decisions once made by government staffers. From 1990 to 2000, the Defense Department cut its procurement and acquisition staff from about 461,000 to 231,000, according to a 2000 report by the Defense Department's inspector general. Many duties that had been handled by the government were gradually shifted to the private sector...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 8:35 AM

Tuesday, June 08, 2004



"The possible involvement of contractors in the abuse and torture of Iraqi prisoners is triggering a change in the way the Defense Department will do business in the future, the leading policy-maker for Pentagon contracts said.

"Deidre Lee said she is preparing a new rule that will fundamentally change the Defense Department’s use of governmentwide contracts through the General Services Administration and agencies that charge fees for services they provide other agencies.

"Without naming names, she made a veiled reference to an Army contract that originally had been issued by the Interior Department as a technology contract against a GSA schedule. The Army wrote such a contract with CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Va., and it was used to hire civilian translators and interrogators who worked at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"“I don’t know how this happened,” Lee said June 3. But she cautioned that the CACI contract and “others that circle around it are going to forever change the way we use these [contract] vehicles.”..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 9:49 AM




"WASHINGTON, June 7 — A team of administration lawyers concluded in a March 2003 legal memorandum that President Bush was not bound by either an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation's security.

"The memo, prepared for Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, also said that any executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons.

"One reason, the lawyers said, would be if military personnel believed that they were acting on orders from superiors "except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful."

""In order to respect the president's inherent constitutional authority to manage a military campaign," the lawyers wrote in the 56-page confidential memorandum, the prohibition against torture "must be construed as inapplicable to interrogation undertaken pursuant to his commander-in-chief authority."..." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 7:59 AM



Knight Ridder Newspapers

"WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - (KRT) - Thomas RoseHaley brought a souvenir home from work last week: an armor plate with a deep gouge carved by a bullet fired at him during an ambush in the desert.

"A few weeks earlier, his close friend and co-worker, Michael Price of Concord, Calif., was killed on the job. RoseHaley's wife, caring for their new baby, wanted him home. The ambush cinched it.

""This was just too hard on my family," he said on his first day back after four months in Iraq. "Mike going down was what did most of the damage."

"RoseHaley, 28, called it quits for reasons he can touch. He took the job for reasons he can spend.

"The former Navy Seal was among thousands of private security contractors pulling in well over $10,000 a month, often tax free, for jobs in Iraq that until recently went largely unnoticed amid daily reports of insurgent attacks and G.I. deaths.

"But lately, their work in Iraq with the military, government agencies or private contractors has drawn intense scrutiny, both for the peril they face and what critics call a troubling lack of clear, enforceable rules or hiring standards.

"The deaths of four American security contractors in a March ambush, Price's death in a roadside bomb attack and others, have brought home the dangers for an estimated 20,000 private security workers now spread across a country beset by violence.

"Meanwhile, the role of contractors in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal, and the legal obstacles to prosecuting them for reported abuses - military laws don't apply - have raised sharp concerns over an unequaled reliance on private security in a war zone.

"The parallel work of battle and reconstruction has swelled demand for former military personnel and law enforcement officers to fill roles that a downsized military no longer can or wants to do.

"Contractors are protecting key leaders, escorting convoys, guarding military installations or oil pipelines, training Iraqi forces, interrogating prisoners. Far from simple guard duty, some have become entangled in firefights, pressed into the work of war.

"Critics say the pendulum has swung too far...." [more]

posted by Major Barbara | 7:56 AM