United States mercenaries murdering in Yemen

This 16 October 2018 BuzzFeed News video from the USA says about itself:

US Mercenaries Attempt Assassination In Yemen

The United Arab Emirates hired US ex-special ops soldiers to carry out targeted assassinations in war-torn Yemen. These elite US fighters were given years of specialized training by the US military to protect America. But then they worked for a different master: a private US company hired by a tiny desert monarchy to kill political rivals. Read our full investigation here.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

‘US American mercenaries committed murders for hire in Yemen

Today, 15:09

American mercenaries were commissioned by a foreign power to carry out murder missions against politicians in Yemen. That reports the US American BuzzFeed News. A research journalist of the website spoke to men who participated in the operations.

They say, among other things, that they were trying to kill a Yemeni politician on behalf of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is a member of the Arab coalition fighting against Houthi rebels in the … war in Yemen, with logistical support from the United States.

The Arab kingdom contacted an American company that supplies mercenary soldiers. The mercenaries, who are mentioned by name in the article, say that they were active for several months in Yemen and killed a number of important figures there.

Attack on politician

Experts say to BuzzFeed that it is hardly imaginable that the US government was not aware of this. The UAE is an ally and hired an American company that employs experienced American veterans. They committed murders in a war that the US follows closely.

The US Army supplies information and fuel for aircraft to the coalition that is fighting under the leadership of Saudi Arabia in Yemen ….

Photos and other evidence

American mercenaries in December 2015 did a mission against Anssaf Ali Mayo, the leader of the Islamic Islah party in Yemen. According to the UAE, this party is a terrorist organization, but many experts disagree.

A prominent Islah party member, Ms Tawakkul Karman, won the Nobel Peace prize.

They say the party poses a threat to the UAE because it speaks out against the country’s involvement in the war in Yemen.

On the Buzzfeed website there are drone images of the murder campaign against Mayo and photos and other evidence of the mercenary mission in Yemen.

The operation was not a success. Mayo survived the bomb attack, and disappeared a time from the radar. In 2016 other politicians of the Islah party were killed.

The investigative journalist writes that it is unclear whether the mercenaries have violated American law. The US army itself also uses mercenary soldiers, but they are mainly hired for the security of diplomats. It is very rare that mercenaries are used in attack actions, writes BuzzFeed.

How about mercenaries hired by the CIA and other government departments?

The website further states that it is unclear whether the mercenaries who were active in Yemen have violated American law. In the past, US mercenary soldiers were active in the Israeli and French military, without ever having been prosecuted for it.

American mercenaries’ nazi flag in Afghanistan

United States MAG Aerospace mercenary in Afghanistan with 'Kekistan' nazi flag on his helmet

This photo shows a United States MAG Aerospace corporation mercenary in Afghanistan with ‘Kekistan’ nazi flag on his helmet.

After this Australian army soldiers’ nazi flag in Afghanistan.

After this Australian neonazi mercenary in Afghanistan.

Australian neonazi Kenneth Stewart in Kandahar, Afghanistan

As if nazi infiltration in the United States armed forcesGolden Dawn Greek nazis present in the Greek armed forces … African-hating racist officers in the German armyCzech nazi officers in the NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan are not already more than enough; in 2013, this photo of British armed forces in Afghanistan doing the nazi salute.

British soldiers' nazi salutes in Afghanistan

And now, nazis in United States mercenary corporations participating in the occupation of Afghanistan.

By Christopher Mathias in the USA:

09/25/2018 04:16 pm ET

U.S. Military Contractor In Afghanistan Fired For Wearing Neo-Nazi Flag

An employee of MAG Aerospace, an aviation consulting company hired by the military, was spotted in a video wearing a “Kekistan” flag patch.

A civilian contractor working with the U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan has been fired after video footage posted online this week showed him wearing a white nationalist “Kekistan” flag patch on his helmet.

Sgt. 1st Class Debra Richardson, spokeswoman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, told HuffPost in an email Tuesday that the man worked for the Virginia-based aviation consultant company MAG Aerospace.

Richardson declined to identify the man, but said he was “immediately terminated” by MAG Aerospace “for a violation of company standards” and “is scheduled to depart Afghanistan today, Sept 25.”

Earlier this week, footage of U.S. and Afghan air crews training to fly a UH-60 helicopter in Kandahar province was posted to the website of the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service, which produces videos for the Department of Defense.

The video shows the unidentified contractor sporting a “Kekistan” flag patch on his helmet. The flag, developed in racist 4chan chat rooms, intentionally mimics the design of the German Nazi war flag, with the Iron Cross replaced by the 4chan logo, the swastika swapped out for the “KEK” symbol and the German red replaced with “Pepe the Frog” green.

A Kekistan flag at an anti-Muslim rally in New York on June 10, 2017. Photo Andrew Lichtenstein via Getty Images

This photo shows a Kekistan flag at an anti-Muslim rally in New York on June 10, 2017.

Kekistan flags, like German Reich war flags, are for sale at Jeff BezosAmazon.com corporation.

White nationalists have waved the Kekistan flag at racist rallies across the country in recent years, including at the deadly 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

On Sunday, freelance journalist Joseph Trevithick tweeted a screenshot from the DVIDS footage that showed the contractor wearing the Kekistan flag. A short time later, DVIDS removed the video from its website. A version of the video, however, was posted to YouTube. …

Last week, a report from the Government Accountability Project, published in The Daily Beast, documented the rampant bigotry among employees of Sallyport Global, a military contracting company the U.S. government has paid $1 billion to operate the Balad Air Base in Iraq. The Sallyport Global employees in Iraq — many of them white, pro-apartheid South Africans — shared racist and anti-Semitic Facebook videos made by the white supremacist David Duke, a former grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan.

Sallyport Global in Iraq has not only racism scandals, but a sex trafficking scandal as well.

White nationalism isn’t only a problem among the ranks of private contractors hired by the U.S. military. In 2017, a survey published by the Military Times found that 25 percent of active-duty service members in the U.S. armed forces said they have encountered white nationalists in their own ranks.

Earlier this year, a ProPublica report exposed an active-duty Marine as having connections to the neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen, and as having participated in the violence at the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Lance Cpl. Vasillios Pistolis was kicked out of the Marines in July.

CIA mercenaries’ secret prison for immigrant children

This video from the USA says about itself:

CIA-Linked Military Contractor Used Arizona “Black Site” to Secretly Jail Dozens of Migrant Children

9 July 2018

A major U.S. military and CIA contractor has been detaining dozens of migrant children inside a vacant Phoenix office building with dark windows, no kitchen and only a few toilets, according to a new investigation by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting. Reveal learned about what some are calling the “black site” for migrant children after one local resident filmed children in sweatsuits being led into the building. The building was leased in March by MVM, a defense contractor that Reveal reports has received nearly $250 million in contracts to transport immigrant children since 2014. We speak with the lead reporter on this story, Aura Bogado, in Oakland, California. She is the immigration reporter for Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

As a rule, CIA ‘black sites’ are torture prisons; including sexual torture. So, one should not be surprised at all if it would turn out that the mercenaries of Donald Trump’s CIA torture toddlers at that Arizona black site.

Protesters place a large inflatable balloon in the likeness of President Donald Trump dressed in a Ku Klux Klan sheet across the street from Southwest Key Campbell, a shelter for children that have been separated from their parents, in Phoenix, Arizona, last week

Protesters place a large inflatable balloon in the likeness of President Donald Trump dressed in a Ku Klux Klan sheet across the street from Southwest Key Campbell, a shelter for children that have been separated from their parents, in Phoenix, Arizona, last week.

ICE Gave $185 Million Deal to Defense Contractor Under Investigation for Housing Kids in Office: here.

New York Times opposes war profiteers, but only Russian ones

This video says about itself:

How U.S. Companies Profit From War

29 September 2015

The United States exports more weapons than any other nation – which means American companies profit from other countries’ wars.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

New York Times voices moral outrage over profiteering military contractors … in Russia

By Bill Van Auken

11 July 2017

In an editorial published Monday, “The Spoils, and Profits, of Conflict,” the editors of the New York Times worked themselves into a moral lather over war profiteering by military contractors.

The subject is unquestionably one worth pursuing in a country that is engaged in at least seven different military conflicts, has troops stationed in nearly 150 countries and spends more on arms than the next nine largest military powers combined.

That these wars translate into massive profits for the arms industry and obscene fortunes for their stockholders, even as the American troops who do the killing and dying are drawn overwhelmingly from the working class and poor, is one of Washington’s dirty little secrets.

But the target of the Times’ umbrage is not the sprawling US military-industrial complex, but rather a little known Russian firm, Evro Polis, which, according to sources quoted by the newspaper, has made a deal with the Syrian government to provide private military contractors in return for Damascus guaranteeing it a share of the oil revenues from the areas that it retakes from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The newspaper describes the deal as “shadowy and secret” and reports that at the head of the company is a figure “close to President Vladimir Putin.” It goes on to provide what it presents as a shocking quote from an unnamed private security consultant that “War is business.”

The Times’ editors, seemingly conscious that they are treading on thin ice, acknowledge that “mercenaries have always been around” and even “played a major role with US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.” It goes on to cite the infamous 2007 Nisour Square massacre in Baghdad, in which mercenary gunmen employed by the major US military contractor Blackwater gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded another 20.

Nonetheless, the newspaper insists, there is something uniquely nefarious about the deal between Evro Polis and the Syrian government, declaring that “turning the fight into a private scramble for profit is a dangerous and ignoble gambit.”

At this stage, after some 16 years of the US “war on terror,” the decimation of entire societies in the Middle East and the destruction of more than a million lives as a result of US acts of aggression, who does the Times editorial board think it is kidding?

Whatever the role of Evro Polis, its connection to the Russian government and the semi-criminal oligarchy that it represents, the fact of the matter is that it represents less than small potatoes in relation to the vast army of mercenary military contractors deployed by Washington, and the multi-billion-dollar corporations that profit from their exploits.

In Afghanistan today, there are nearly three military contractors for every US soldier deployed on the ground. In Iraq, contractors are 42 percent of the force fielded by the Pentagon.

As for “shadowy and secret” deals and close relations between military contractors and top government officials, this is hardly a Russian innovation. Has it escaped the memory of the Times editors that the largest military contractor in the Iraq war, scooping up seemingly unlimited billions of dollars worth of no-bid contracts, was Halliburton (now KBR), whose former CEO was none other than Vice President Dick Cheney?

This incestuous relationship underscoring the “war is business” model has been reprised under the current administration, with the elevation of the former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to the post of secretary of state.

And while citing Blackwater (which has since chosen the innocuous name Academi in an attempt to escape its legacy of blood and filth) as a fleeting historical reference, the Times doesn’t bother recalling for its readers that the company’s former CEO Erik Prince is the brother of current Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and that he serves as an unofficial adviser to Trump, while continuing to reap huge profits off of the “private security” racket.

As for the feigned outrage over anyone who would dare turn war into a “scramble for profit,” the truth is that this is precisely what it has been since the advent of imperialism, and never more nakedly than in the past quarter century of uninterrupted US military interventions. As the Times foreign affairs commentator Thomas Friedman infamously commented—after first trying to sell the illegal invasion of Iraq as a legitimate response to non-existent “weapons of mass destruction” and a crusade for democracy and human rights in the Middle East—“I have no problem with a war for oil.”

The feigned shock of Times editorial page editor James Bennet over Russian military contractors embracing the profit motive beggars belief. After all, didn’t the newspaper support capitalist restoration and the dissolution of the Soviet Union? The editorial is merely one more piece of war propaganda on behalf of those sections of the military and intelligence apparatus and the ruling establishment as a whole that see Russia as the foremost obstacle to US imperialism’s drive to assert global hegemony.

Bennet, the brother of right-wing Democratic Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado and son of Douglas Bennet, a former top State Department official who headed the Agency for International Development (AID), a frequent conduit for CIA operations, is closely attuned to these circles.

The problem for these factions for which the Times speaks is not that Russia is using mercenaries, but that its activities are cutting across crucial geo-strategic interests of American imperialism in Syria and the broader Middle East.

The newspaper’s hypocritical and hollow attempts to generate outrage over a military contract that is dwarfed by any number of similar deals struck by US war firms is part of an attempt to shift the Trump administration toward a more aggressive policy toward Moscow and, more decisively, counter the immense popular hostility in the US toward escalating a military confrontation with the world’s second-largest nuclear power.

Child Soldiers Reloaded: The Privatisation of War. How [United States] private companies recruit former [African] child soldiers for military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. 01 May 2017: here.

Amid escalating militarism. Poll shows 76 percent of Americans fear a major war. 19 July 2017: here.

In the closing weeks of the summer, tens of thousands of NATO and Russian soldiers are participating in dueling war games across Europe. Just over a century after the guns of August 1914 announced the outbreak of World War I in Europe, conditions are being created in multiple military flash-points for the eruption of conflict between the world’s major nuclear powers: here.

The McCarthyite witch-hunts of the 1950s are viewed, among all thinking people, as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the United States. The term “McCarthyism” is synonymous with false allegations, intimidation and character assassination to serve the most reactionary political aims. Now, seven decades later, a new period of political witch-hunting has begun, spearheaded by the Democratic Party and the media outlets principally associated with it, the New York Times and the Washington Post. Political dissent is being associated with treason. The notorious phrase of the McCarthyites, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?” is in the process of being revived and revised: “Are you now, or have you ever been, a critic of the US government?” If the answer is “yes,” that is tantamount to an admission that you are a stooge, if not an agent, of Russia and the devil-like Vladimir Putin: here.

Ecuadorean farmers against DynCorp mercenaries

This video from Britain says about itself:

More US militants to help Saudi Arabia’s massacre in Yemen

24 March 2016

The first batch of mercenaries from the private US military firm DynCorp has arrived in the Yemeni city of Aden to replace paid militants from another American company.

Under a USD-3-billion contract between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and DynCorp, mercenaries from the company are to be deployed to Yemen, where UAE forces are fighting against the Yemeni army and Popular Committees on Saudi orders, Khabar News Agency quoted an official with Yemeni Defense Ministry as saying.

DynCorp International is a USA-based private military contractor. Begun as an aviation company, the company also provides flight operations support, training and mentoring, international … Wikipedia

Headquarters: McLean, Virginia, United States, CEO: James E. Geisler, Founded: 1946, Parent organization: Cerberus Capital Management.

Subsidiaries: DYNCORP INTERNATIONAL OF NIGERIA LLC. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the first group of the mercenaries recently arrived in the port city of Aden to replace those of Blackwater, a notorious American group now renamed Academi. He added that the new militants included special naval forces, who entered the port of Ras Omran southwest of Aden. DynCorp is a rival of Blackwater, which hires mercenaries and sends them to fight in foreign countries on paid missions.

Blackwater had decided to withdraw from Bab-el-Mandeb region after the Yemeni forces inflicted heavy losses on them. The UAE was forced to bring in the new mercenaries from DynCorp for the same reason. Yemen has been under military attack by Saudi Arabia since late March last year. At least 8,400 people have been killed so far in the aggression and 16,015 others sustained injuries. The strikes have also taken a heavy toll on the impoverished country’s facilities and infrastructure, destroying many hospitals, schools, and factories.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Ecuador small farmers’ day in US court over crop spraying comes closer

Wednesday 5th April 2017

MORE than 2,000 Ecuadorean small farmers began a joint legal action against US military contractor DynCorp on Monday, claiming that it unlawfully invaded Ecuador in 2000 and sprayed farms with toxic chemicals.

International Rights Advocates (IRA), representing the farmers before a jury at Washington District Court, hailed the trial as a positive step.

The group has been trying to take DynCorp to court since 2001 in the face of numerous attempts by the transnational to dismiss the case.

“This is an historic case — a finding against DynCorp will bring justice to the Ecuadorean farmers, who have been waiting a long time to have their day in court,” said IRA executive director Terry Collingsworth.

“A jury will finally get the chance to hear the evidence that DynCorp aerially sprayed a toxic poison that was designed to kill hardy coca plants on thousands of Ecuadorean farms and killed their crops, their animals and caused untold misery for the farmers and their families.”

For the Ecuadorean farmers and their supporters, the trial is long overdue.

Former president Bill Clinton awarded $1 billion in military aid to then Colombian president Andres Pastrana, launching Plan Colombia.

The military campaign was allegedly intended to combat drug traffickers but was directed against the Farc liberation movement and poor rural communities seen as supporting the left-wing guerillas.

DynCorp was hired as part of Plan Colombia to carry out aerial spraying of Colombian farms with glyphosate to eliminate coca crops.

The plaintiffs claim, however, that DynCorp illegally entered northern Ecuador, spraying and causing serious damage to local crops, animals and residents’ health.

Pentagon wasting US taxpayers’ money on mercenaries

This video from the USA says about itself:

How Many Taxpayer Dollars Can The Pentagon Waste In A Year?

6 December 2016

Much of the Pentagon’s waste is due to contractors, which is a nice word for mercenaries. Their salaries are much higher than normal soldiers, and the owners of these private military companies have to get their cut of your tax dollars too. Cenk Uygur and John Iadarola, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down.

“The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

Pentagon leaders had requested the study to help make their enormous back-office bureaucracy more efficient and reinvest any savings in combat power. But after the project documented far more wasteful spending than expected, senior defense officials moved swiftly to kill it by discrediting and suppressing the results.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.”

Read more here.

‘THE MARTIN SHKRELI OF DEFENSE CONTRACTING’ Here’s how monopolist TransDigm could be fleecing the Pentagon. [HuffPost]

Libya, Benghazi murders, mercenaries and oil scandal

Benghazi scandal

From the Huffington Post in the USA:

Benghazi Middleman Tied To Unaoil Bribery Scandal, Source Told FBI

This is the Benghazi investigation you should actually read.

10/11/2016 08:02 pm ET | Updated 4 hours ago

WASHINGTON ― A middleman the State Department relied on to hire unarmed guards at the U.S. facility in Benghazi, Libya, previously worked with a company that’s now at the center of a massive international bribery scandal.

The FBI and law enforcement agencies in at least four other countries are investigating allegations ― first published by The Huffington Post and Fairfax Media ― that a Monaco-based company called Unaoil bribed public officials to secure contracts for major corporations in corruption-prone regions. In Libya, Unaoil partnered with a Tripoli-based businessman named Muhannad Alamir. A former Unaoil employee who served as a confidential source for the FBI told investigators that Unaoil and Alamir bribed Libyan officials. Unaoil and Alamir deny they bribed anyone.

Alamir started working with the State Department in early 2012, less than three years after cutting ties with Unaoil. He provided Blue Mountain Group, the small British security firm that won the Benghazi guard contract, with the license it needed to legally operate in Libya.

The State Department hired Alamir and Blue Mountain to recruit the local unarmed guards who were supposed to secure the perimeter of the Benghazi compound on the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack.

The State Department’s Accountability Review Board concluded that Blue Mountain’s performance was “inadequate” and contributed to the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans ― but made no mention of Alamir or his companies, Eclipse and Xpand. The ARB acknowledged that unarmed guards couldn’t be expected to repel an attack, but nonetheless faulted them for failing to warn U.S. personnel.

“No [Blue Mountain] guards were present outside the compound immediately before the attack ensued, although perimeter security was one of their responsibilities, and there is conflicting information as to whether they sounded any alarms prior to fleeing,” the ARB found.

None of the myriad Republican-led investigations into the Benghazi attack ― and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in the aftermath ― have exposed who Blue Mountain’s local partners were or how they got the job.

Here’s what HuffPost and Fairfax Media found when we investigated: It’s not clear that the State Department knew — or cared — exactly whom Blue Mountain was working with in-country.

Clinton, who’s now the Democratic nominee for president, convinced President Barack Obama to intervene in Libya. The operation was supposed to be a low-cost triumph of what Clinton called “smart power,” in which U.S. airstrikes, diplomacy, and Libyan rebel groups would win a swift victory without the need to involve U.S. ground troops. An invasion wasn’t on the table. Instead, the U.S. led “from behind,” one of Obama’s aides told The New Yorker.

But the problems that beset the State Department’s Benghazi guard contract — and contributed to the deaths of the four Americans at the mission there — highlight the limited options the U.S has when it tries to intervene in an unstable country, such as post-Gaddafi Libya, without committing many of its own personnel. They show just how little due diligence the State Department did before hiring a key element of the security force for the Benghazi facility. And they point to the flaws in a 1990 law that required the department to choose the lowest-cost guards “technically acceptable” — even in dangerous regions.

This story comes out of a broader HuffPost investigation of international bribery. In March, HuffPost and Fairfax Media, drawing on over 100,000 of Unaoil’s internal emails, revealed the company’s habit of bribing foreign officials to secure contracts for its clients.

Unaoil has denied the allegations but declined to answer specific questions for this story. Alamir wasn’t aware of Unaoil’s “alleged bribery business model” when he worked with the company, he said in a phone interview. “I never took part in any such schemes,” he added.

Unaoil and Alamir started working together in 2008, when Unaoil entered into a joint venture with Eclipse. Unaoil executives were initially attracted to Alamir because they believed he had ties to the regime of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

“The key strength of Muhannad is that he has Aisa [Basher] working for him (who takes 50% of the gross profit of all business generated) whose uncle is Abdul Rahman Kafar, a close confidant of Saif’s,” a Unaoil employee wrote in the minutes for an internal December 2008 meeting. “Saif” referred to Saif Gaddafi, the dictator’s son and heir apparent, who exercised enormous power over the disposition of Libyan oil contracts.

But Alamir downplays any ties to the ousted regime. “Mr. Basher acted as a consultant from time to time in conducting business in Libya, but he was never on my payroll,” he told HuffPost. “If Unaoil thought they were going to get big contracts because of him, they were going to be disappointed.” …

At least some of Unaoil’s clients seemed to think that the role of Unaoil and Eclipse in Libya was to pay bribes on their behalf.

“What we are curious about is to what type of Baksheesh is needed to present to these men in order to get work started,” Kelsey Kalinski, then-president of Canadian fracking firm Canuck Completions, wrote to Alamir in a December 2008 email. “I believe this is common practice in Libya, but we are not sure how to handle this. Is this something that needs to be done after work hours one on one? A added value amount to the ticket for them, or a flat fee a month, we are not sure. What are your thoughts on this?”

“I dont know what [he] means by bakhsheesh,” Saman Ahsani, Unaoil’s chief operating officer and allegedly a key figure in its bribery efforts in other countries, wrote to Alamir and two Unaoil employees the next day after seeing the email. “May I remind everybody of our Group’s code of conduct and zero tolerance of any facilitation activities. He needs a talking to.”

It’s not clear whether Ahsani ever responded to Kalinski directly, and Kalinski did not return a request for comment. But Alamir said he never responded to Kalinski’s email. “I completely ignored his baksheesh comment, because that is not the way we do business,” he said.

Unaoil ended its partnership with Eclipse in 2009. “I am pure fed up with these deceiving guys,” Ata Ahsani, Unaoil’s founder, wrote in an October 2009 email to two of his sons, who are executives at the company. “Let us get the best deal possible, noting our expenses … and say goodbye.”

“I sincerely have no idea what deception they are referring to,” Alamir told HuffPost, adding that he returned Unaoil’s initial investment money when they split up. “I don’t think business developed fast enough for them. Maybe we’re just too small for them.”

Less than three years after that split, the State Department needed local guards in Benghazi. Department officials didn’t seem bothered by — or even necessarily interested in — the history of Blue Mountain’s partners in Libya. Presented with detailed questions for this story, the department wouldn’t say whether it knew about Eclipse’s work with Unaoil or its supposed connections to Gaddafi. Nor would it say whether the contracting process included any vetting of Blue Mountain’s local partners.

Part of the problem was that the State Department had very few options. U.S. troops weren’t welcome in Libya, and America’s role in that country was designed to be low-profile and low-cost. Without the option of U.S. Marines guarding the Benghazi compound ― as is the case in some conflict zones ― the department relied on local unarmed guards to patrol the building’s perimeter and serve as a first-warning system.

“The same people providing security were the ones who import refrigerators for other clients,” said Mack, the former ambassador, describing the options for locally hired security firms.

“All the discussion that’s taken place about why didn’t we have more security there ― it’s really beside the point,” Mack said. “You either didn’t have any people there at all, or you invade and occupy Libya against their will and set yourself up for the kind of thing that happened in Iraq.”

State officials also didn’t have much time.

“This was a contract that was slapped together in a hurry,” Jan Visintainer, the State Department contracting officer who oversaw the security contract after it was awarded, testified last year to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. “So it was not in the best of shape.”

She said the full contracting process usually takes 18 months, but “this was solicited in January … and contract performance started on March 1st.” (The publicly released transcript did not include the name of the person testifying, but multiple congressional sources confirmed it was Visintainer. She did not return a request for comment.)

Although Eclipse was Alamir’s main company, he created a new entity, which he called Blue Mountain Libya, to partner with Blue Mountain Group on the Benghazi contract, he told HuffPost. He said he started another company, Xpand, with investors he knew in Jordan and used it to fund Blue Mountain Libya. There’s no publicly available evidence that the State Department ever vetted Alamir or his companies.

U.S. officials didn’t have to pick Blue Mountain Group and Alamir. The State Department’s effort to hire local guards started in January 2012, according to documents obtained by HuffPost, and initially yielded only one bidder: Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, a Virginia firm owned and operated by Jerry Torres, a Special Forces veteran. The Torres firm had its own local partner, a Libyan group called Atlas.

In an effort to create a competitive process, State asked for more bids. Torres applied again. But this time, Blue Mountain — which had partnered with Alamir and Eclipse in late 2011 to seek contracts guarding Libyan oil fields — jumped in.

Torres had recruited, trained and managed thousands of armed and unarmed local guards worldwide, including in conflict zones like Iraq and Afghanistan. When it bid on the Benghazi contract, it was also providing local guard services to U.S. embassies in Slovakia, Burundi, Paraguay and Zambia, according to its technical proposal.

Blue Mountain, headed by former Special Forces member and Tough Mudder enthusiast Nigel Thomas, was comparatively unknown. “Prior to taking over that contract, I had not heard of Blue Mountain Group,” Visintainer testified.

“Nobody had ever heard of them. It was headquartered in Wales. It was tiny,” said Charles Tiefer, a law professor at the University of Baltimore who served on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting, which investigated government procurement practices in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As part of the bidding process, Blue Mountain, Torres and Atlas were scheduled to visit the Benghazi mission on Feb. 1, 2012. The State Department pushed the visit back half an hour to accommodate one participant’s flight delay, an internal department email shows. Blue Mountain never showed up, said Brad Owens, who oversaw Torres’ work in Libya.

A State Department spokeswoman declined to comment on the site visit. Blue Mountain did not respond to a list of questions, including one about the site visit.

But Blue Mountain’s inability to show up didn’t appear to hurt its pitch. What mattered ― apparently far more than Blue Mountain’s credentials or connections — was that the company was the lowest bidder.

At the time, a 1990 law required the State Department to award the contract to the bidder with the “lowest-priced technically acceptable” proposal. Blue Mountain bid around $30,000 less than Torres — about 4.5 percent ― according to contracting documents obtained by HuffPost. So Blue Mountain got the contract. (There’s no evidence that State’s contracting officials at the time thought Torres would do better work.)

Two weeks after the bungled site visit, the department began finalizing a yearlong contract with Blue Mountain to provide unarmed guards, whose main responsibility was to limit access to the Benghazi facility and provide early warning of an attack. (The State Department relied on diplomatic security agents and a small contingent of the February 17 Martyrs Brigade, a poorly trained Libyan militia, for armed protection.) Taxpayers ended up shelling out nearly $800,000 to Blue Mountain for some 50,000 guard hours.

All the while, Blue Mountain was partnered with Alamir, the same man with whom the now-notorious Unaoil had cut ties two years earlier. Alamir was “not the type” to get a contract like the Benghazi arrangement, one former business associate told HuffPost. “I was shocked.”

Several months after the State Department awarded the contract to Blue Mountain, a U.S. official raised his own concerns about the firm. “The company has lost several security contracts here in Tripoli, including the Corinthian Hotel and Palm City Complex,” Tripoli Acting Regional Security Officer Jairo Saravia wrote to colleagues in June 2012. (Saravia declined to comment.)

The relationship between Alamir and Blue Mountain deteriorated rapidly. By the end of June, Xpand informed the State Department that it wanted to cut Blue Mountain out of the contract and replace it with a Washington-based firm called Cohort International. State officials responded that Blue Mountain and Xpand should resolve the conflict on their own.

On Aug. 20, Blue Mountain told the department it had dissolved the relationship with Xpand. A lawyer claiming to represent Alamir’s firm informed the State Department on Sept. 9 ― two days before the Benghazi attack ― that Blue Mountain was prohibited from using Xpand’s Libyan license going forward.

“We kindly inform you that any use of such license by [Blue Mountain] in Libya shall be illegal and a clear violation of Libyan laws,” wrote the lawyer, whose name was redacted from the State Department email. “We therefore request that the U.S. mission ceases any dealings with [Blue Mountain] if such dealings are based on any form of reliance on such security license.”

Despite the lawyer’s claims, the dissolution agreement between the two firms allowed Blue Mountain to continue relying on Xpand’s license, State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told HuffPost.

Nonetheless, it appears that State officials were considering other options. On Aug. 31, Visintainer, the contracting officer, pulled a Torres employee out of an unrelated meeting and asked if his company was prepared to work in Libya.

“She would not state the reason,” the Torres employee told co-workers in an email obtained by HuffPost. He suspected that either there were problems with the Benghazi contract or a new opportunity had arisen in Tripoli. “I said we could and I would ensure that our arrangements with Atlas remain in effect,” the email continued.

On the day of the Benghazi attack, State officials wrote in internal emails that they felt they had to terminate Blue Mountain’s contract. They planned to hire approximately 20 guards as mission employees “in case [Blue Mountain] was unable to perform the contract services,” Trudeau said.

Before they could act, more than 100 gunmen armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades breached the wall surrounding the Benghazi compound and set fire to the facility. Ambassador Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone S. Woods and Glen Doherty were ultimately killed in the attack.

Blue Mountain was “the wrong contractor in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Tiefer said.

Owens, the Torres employee who oversaw its Libya work, is convinced events would have turned out differently if his company had been in charge of security that day. “Had we won that bid, Ambassador Stevens would be alive today,” he said.

It’s impossible to know whether Owens’ assessment is true.

But Blue Mountain’s poor performance and the small price margin by which it won the job exposes the fatal flaw in “lowest-priced technically acceptable” contracting. “The truth of the matter is you get what you pay for. We’ve seen this over and over again,” said Dov Zakheim, a former undersecretary of defense who served with Tiefer on the U.S. Commission on Wartime Contracting.

“When life and limb are at risk, such as when buying body armor for our troops overseas or barriers for our embassies, I don’t know that ‘lowest-priced technically acceptable’ is the right vehicle,” said Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) during an 11-hour congressional hearing on Benghazi last October.

Former Secretary of State Clinton, the hearing’s star witness, suggested that a working group, including members of key congressional committees, could “look to see whether we couldn’t get a little more flexibility into this decision making.”

So far, for all the congressional outrage over the security situation in Benghazi, the 1990 law remains on the books.

Partially in response to the 2012 attack, Congress included language in the past two annual spending bills that temporarily authorized the State Department to award local-guard contracts based on “best value” rather than lowest price. Duckworth supports permanently lifting the lowest-price requirement for such contracts.

But the spending deal with the temporary language expires at the end of December, and there’s no guarantee the exception will make it into next year’s bill. The latest State Department authorization bill includes a permanent lifting of the lowest-price requirement ― but the department can operate without a new authorization and Congress often neglects to pass one.

State Department officials declined to comment on how much the department had known about Eclipse and Xpand. But if staffers had been aware of Alamir’s past ties to Unaoil, a company that relied on bribery to get work, it’s unlikely that Blue Mountain would have received the contract.

There is now widespread agreement, including at the State Department, that security arrangements at the Benghazi facility were insufficient. The department’s reliance on unarmed Blue Mountain guards and “poorly skilled” February 17 Martyrs Brigade members for protection “was misplaced,” the Accountability Review Board found.

Despite the damning internal review and seven prior congressional probes, House Republicans voted overwhelmingly in 2014 to establish a special committee to further investigate the 2012 attack. Two years and $7 million later, the committee released an 800-page report. Democrats dismissed it as a partisan attack on Clinton, by then their expected presidential nominee.

The report echoed earlier criticisms of security lapses, but revealed little substantive information about the contracting process that contributed to the problem. The Benghazi committee report mentioned Blue Mountain 12 times. Alamir, Eclipse and Xpand weren’t mentioned once.

Laura Barron-Lopez contributed reporting.

See also here.

I Paid A Bribe, Former Unaoil Employee Told FBI. The inside story of a global bribery scandal, from one remorseful player. 10/30/2016 06:20 pm ET: here.

Serco mercenary corporation’s revolving door with governments

This video from Britain says about itself:

UK Charity Calls For Government Ban For G4S And Serco

12 May 2014

British outsourcing firms G4S and Serco should be barred from bidding for government work until a fraud investigation into their failed criminal-tagging contracts is complete, a penal reform charity said on Monday. The two firms were found in July to have charged for monitoring criminals who were dead, in prison or had not been tagged at all. The Howard League for Penal Reform, a British charity, criticized that move and said on Tuesday it would hand a dossier outlining failures in recent years by both firms in delivering justice contracts to police in order to assist the SFO inquiry.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

A brief history of Serco and its revolving door with ministers

Friday 9th September 2016

SERCO grew from a little-known firm to one the biggest privatisation contractors.

Serco now has a £3 billion turnover, largely thanks to public-sector contracts.

The firm has grown despite scandals — and with close relations to officials and politicians.

Movement through the “revolving door” between government and business has always gone along with the firm’s growth.

In 1998, Serco was around a 10th of its current size.

One of its first breakthroughs was a contract to run the Canadian Air Force’s Goose Bay base in the cold north of Newfoundland.

The privatisation was widely criticised as Serco slashed staff and wages, provoking a strike.

Serco was forced to negotiate with the angry workers when hungry bears overran the base, attracted by the rubbish that hadn’t been cleaned up thanks to the strike.

Goose Bay might have been a rocky start, but it got Serco a big purchase in the privatisation game.

And it came with one key appointment.

Questions in Canada’s parliament revealed that Mac Campbell, a former director general for Canada’s Department of Defence at Goose Bay had become a Serco manager.

Over the following 18 years Serco grew massively.

The firm now runs prisons, immigration detention centres, military bases and PFI hospitals among many other public services.

It has also run into scandals, like the prisoner tagging fake figures, the Cornish NHS failures and the grim state of Yarl’s Wood detention centre.

Serco made other key appointments on the way to success.

In 1998, when chasing defence contracts, it gave Air Marshal Sir Roger Austin, a former deputy chief of defence procurement, a job on its “Strategic Forum.”

Lord Filkin, a Labour junior minister in Education and the Home Office left government in 2005.

He became a Serco director in January 2006. Austin and Filkin have moved on, but the firm continued making key appointments.

Alan Cave was the “delivery director” of the Department for Work and Pensions in charge of the massive Work Programme for the unemployed.

In 2013 he left to join Serco — which had hundreds of millions of Work Programme contracts — as its “account director to the central government.”

Serco has also appointed other politically linked directors: Labour’s Baroness Ford, regarded as a friend of John Prescott, served as a Serco director from 2002-7.

Rupert Soames, a grandson of Churchill and brother of senior Tory MP Nicholas Soames, was made chairman and helped the firm get out from under the tagging scandal.

SOLOMON HUGHES asks why [British] government ministers are keeping their talks with disreputable outsourcing firm Serco a secret: here.

Private police industry messes up Rio Olympics security

This video from Britain says about itself:

Welcome to the Private Police Force – A Bit of Fry and LaurieBBC

19 December 2008

A man returns from holiday to find his local police station has undergone some serious renovations!

In 2012, the Olympic games were in London, England. The British Conservative government then outsourced security to the big mercenary corporation G4S. G4S made a total mess of that. So, at the last minute the government provided army soldiers.

In 2016, Friday 5 August, the Olympic games will start in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Recently, a coup against democratically elected President Dilma Rousseff brought a right-wing government to power. On July 1 2016, according to the Wall Street Journal, the Brazilian coup government outsourced security at the Olympics to privatized police mercenary colleagues of G4S, Artel.

Like four years ago, it now turns out the privateers have made a total mess of security. So, at the last minute, the Brazilian government announces now that they will bring in thousands of extra military police.

THESE PHOTOS OF RIO’S OLYMPIC VENUES, SIX MONTHS LATER Are worse than you thought. [The Guardian]

Filthy private prison for refugees in England

This video from Britain says about itself:

Inside Harmondsworth: ‘I don’t want to die in here’ | Channel 4 News

4 March 2015

Channel 4 News goes inside Europe’s biggest immigration centre with secret footage shot by a detainee which exposes poor conditions, the desperation of those trapped in the system and the fears of those who work there.

From daily News Line in Britain:

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

‘Shut down Harmondsworth

‘SHUT down Harmondsworth immigration centre!’ demanded the Movement for Justice yesterday, in response to a damning report which exposed the centre as being filthy and insect-ridden with a ‘desolate’ atmosphere.

The privately-run detention facility is situated in West Drayton, west London where as many as 661 male refugees are being incarcerated. The centre is run by private contractor MITIE Care and Custody on behalf of the Home Office.

The report by Chief Inspector of Prisons Peter Clarke states that detainees are being held in cockroach-infested rooms for long periods of time, with mattresses crawling with bedbugs. The report describes the detention centre as having dirty, overcrowded and poorly ventilated residential units with a ‘desolate air’, and unsanitary toilets and showers.

Nearly half of detainees said they had felt depressed or suicidal on arrival. Some detainees were held for over a year, with one man held for five years. Asylum seekers who are being held at the centre have committed no crime. They are only trying to get a better life for themselves and their families in the UK.

The chief inspector said: ‘It is unacceptable that conditions were allowed to decline so much. The Home Office and its contractors have a responsibility to ensure this does not happen again.’

The report found some men were held at Harmondsworth for an ‘unreasonably long’ time, including 18 men who had been detained for more than a year and one man who had been held on separate occasions for a total of five years.

Movement for Justice said: ‘We have had nine demonstrations to shut down Harmondsworth centre, the largest detention centre complex in Europe – the main centre holding detainees on Fast-Track, a system designed to deport as many people as possible as quickly as possible, a system that has been found thoroughly unlawful in the High Court. Movement for Justice is committed to building the movement to end detention both inside and outside of the detention centres and we know we can win!’

Meanwhile asylum seekers in Scotland have allegedly been locked out of their homes by a private company Orchard & Shipman (O&S) in order to clear out ‘overstayers’ by certain dates.

An ex-employee of O&S, Shafiq Mohammed alleged that staff would sometimes ‘look at a time to catch them, the asylum seekers, when they’re out to just change the locks. It’s as simple as and as brutal as that’.

Shafiq Mohammed said the changing of locks could mean a ‘person will be literally out on the street’. He said: ‘They want to have that flat cleared, so they can move that next paying customer in.’

O&S has managed the £221m Home Office contract for asylum seeker accommodation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, on behalf of international service company Serco, since September 2012. Emails have surfaced to back up the claims.

One email written by an operations manager in July 2013, informs staff that notice has been served to the occupants of ten properties. The manager then informs staff to first ‘advise’ the asylum seeker in advance of the date listed beside each address, but ‘if they do not move, perform a lock change at the first available opportunity. . . please ensure this is given absolute priority’.

Another email reads: ‘Please ensure that we bag/tag belongings at the same time as performing the lock change.’

Macedonian police tear-gas refugees trying to cross Greek border: here.