Report On Iraq Security Lists 310 Contractors

Report On Iraq Security Lists 310 Contractors
October 29th, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Report On Iraq Security Lists 310 Contractors

Report On Iraq Security Lists 310 Contractors
New York Times
October 29, 2008
Pg. 5

By James Glanz
At least 310 private security companies from around the world have received contracts from United States agencies to protect American and Iraqi officials, installations, convoys and other entities in Iraq since 2003, according to the most comprehensive accounting yet of the secretive and weakly regulated role that private firms have played in the conflict.
A report by a federal oversight agency detailing the roster of security companies has been circulated among members of Congress and some federal agencies, and was obtained last week by The New York Times. The list, more extensive than any that had previously been disclosed, contains some familiar American companies, like Blackwater and DynCorp, but also hundreds of obscure firms from places as far-flung as Uganda, the Philippines, Cyprus, Romania and the Czech Republic.
The roster includes an American company, Agility Logistics, whose name has surfaced in a federal inquiry into improper pricing in Iraq. The company has denied wrongdoing.
Another firm, Custer Battles, was eventually barred from receiving Defense Department contracts after allegations of malfeasance.
Also on the list is a German firm, Toifor, that is better known for providing bases in Iraq with portable latrines than with security.
The Web site of another American firm on the list, Paratus Worldwide Protection, includes a blog by one of its security officers in Iraq that has entries that appear to be insensitive and potentially offensive to Muslims, as well as highly explicit photos of maimed Iraqi security contractors who apparently worked for the company.
The report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent federal agency, illustrates the complexities likely to be faced by the United States if, as expected under a security agreement being negotiated with the Iraqi government, private security contractors lose their immunity to prosecution under Iraqi law.
Even with that immunity, actions by private security firms have repeatedly had an impact on the American military and diplomatic enterprise in Iraq. Both were complicated, for example, when a Blackwater security convoy opened fire on Iraqi civilians in a central Baghdad square in September 2007. Seventeen Iraqis died in the shooting, which the company said was a lawful use of force but the Iraqi government called “deliberate murder.”
The Blackwater shooting sowed deep distrust for Western security firms among Iraqi civilians and the Iraqi government, which declared that it would make them accountable under the nation’s laws. That distrust seriously compromised the ability of United States diplomats and aid agencies, which rely heavily on private security, to move about the country and perform their jobs.
The new report shows that there are far more companies to track than previously known, with backgrounds that are far more varied than earlier disclosures had suggested. And research by the federal investigators indicates that more than five years into the conflict, there is still no central database to account for all the security companies in Iraq financed by American money.
The investigators pieced together information from individual rosters at the Pentagon, the State Department and the United States Agency for International Development, as well as several independent federal databases that track procurement and contractors. The agencies alerted investigators that none of their repositories of information were believed to be 100 percent accurate.
Indeed, the Pentagon disputed some of the inspector general’s findings, saying it could confirm only 77 of the entries, involving about $5.3 billion in contracts. But by using the overlapping if incomplete databases, the investigators say they have determined that at least another 233 companies shared $662 million in additional work for guards, escorts and possibly less dangerous work like computer security.
Because all of the databases are incomplete, estimates of the number of security companies and the money spent on their contracts are likely to grow, the report indicates.
None of the handful of companies contacted by The Times denied having received security contracts in Iraq.
David Westrate, a senior vice president at MVM Inc., an American security company ranked 16th in terms of the amount of money it had been paid to provide security in Iraq — about $38 million on 21 separate Pentagon contracts — said, “We cannot confirm the numbers as you’ve given them to us, but I’m not surprised that we’re in the top 20.”
Perhaps the most eye-opening aspect of the list is the variety in the types of companies listed. Agility Logistics, formerly called Public Warehousing Company, is widely known as a colossus in the business of delivering food and other supplies to troops in Iraq.
As reported in December by The Wall Street Journal, the company is at the center of an investigation into improper pricing and other issues involving several companies and contracting offices in Iraq and Kuwait. The company strenuously denies that it has done anything wrong.
Surprisingly, though, the new report lists Agility as having received $183 million in 23 security contracts from the Defense Department. On Tuesday, a spokesman for the company said that he could not confirm the figures, but that the contracts had probably been won by a wholly owned subsidiary, Threat Management Group, that specializes in security, rather than by Agility.
An official at Paratus referred an e-mail request for comment to other company officials, apparently located in the Middle East, who did not immediately respond.
It was unclear from the Web site of Toifor, the German firm, where to send requests for comment on security contracts. The company’s portable latrines are commonly seen at American military bases in Iraq.
Erik Eckholm contributed reporting.

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