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Department of Defense increasing presence of civilian contractors in Afghanistan September 17, 2008

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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Washington Post writer Walter Pincus notes an increase in proposed contracts to civilian companies to operate in Afghanistan. It seems this will coincide with a potential “surge” in the ever-bloodier warfront in Afghanistan.

“The military is stretched very thin, and to keep low the deployments numbers, there is a tendency to go to contractors who have played a huge part in Iraq,” said Rep. David E. Price (D-N.C.)

Defense Contracts Foretell Military Buildup in Afghanistan

By Walter Pincus

Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 14, 2008; Page A23

The Defense Department is seeking private contractors to carry out a variety of tasks — such as clearing land mines, building detention facilities and providing fuel — to assist U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which are set to grow following President Bush‘s announcement last week that he will expand military operations there.



Iraq Contractor KBR Has Dodged $500 Million in U.S. taxes March 10, 2008

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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Kellogg Brown & Root (KBR) sure is a piece of work.  Lets recap a week or so of posts concerning KBR.

 1. KBR has been passing along to the American taxpayer, AIG’s inflated premiums for Defense Base Act coverage, so that KBR (and other contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan) could be insulated from liability for injuries to its employees.

2. KBR is presently being sued in Federal Court for allegedly intentionally causing the deaths of six KBR truck drivers in 2004.

3. Now we discover that the 10,000+ Americans working for KBR, were really working for a Caribean company, not an American one, saving KBR as much as $100 million a year in U.S. Medicare and Social Security Taxes. By claiming its own employees, many of which were hired in Texas and shipped directly to Iraq from there, to be employees of the Cayman Islands corporation Service Employers International Inc, KBR also avoids having to pay for unemployment insurance. That means KBR employees coming home from Iraq are ineligible to recieve unemployment. I bet that wasn’t part of the orientation movie. I also bet it wasn’t part of the pitch to the Department of Defense before they were granted a no-bid contract for work in Iraq.

Fisher v. KBR – Fifth Circuit to Consider Jurisdiction Over Contractors in Iraq March 7, 2008

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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The sad back story of this court case has come to be known as the “Good Friday Massacre.” Friday, April 9, 2004, hundreds of insurgents attacked a KBR convoy, killing 6 civilian drivers, injuring 14, and leaving another driver still missing to this day.

To make a long story short, KBR a former subsidiary of Halliburton has been accused of knowing that this particular convoy would be attacked, but sent these civilians into the firefight in a risky attempt to pad its bill to the Department of Defense. However, the factual arguments are on hold while a bitter fight ensues concerning jurisdictional questions.

The case, titled Fisher v. Halliburton, 454 F. Supp. 2d 637 (S.D. Tex. 2005), brings up a rarer situation than most Defense Base Act cases. The plaintiff(s) here allege that the Defense Base Act does not bar a traditional tort suit in federal court because the defendant, KBR, intentially harmed the injured and deceased drivers. The plaintiff is right, and though difficult to prove, this is a common exception in most workers’ compensation schemes, including the Defense Base Act and even the state laws here in Georgia.


Do Americans View Contractors in Iraq as “Expendable Profiteers?” March 7, 2008

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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In a recent Houston Chronicle article, Steven Schooner, senior associate dean of the George Washington University School of Law and apparent expert on military outsourcing, revealed this as a possible explaination of the lack of public knowledge and debate concerning American, non-military casualties, in Iraq.

“The public all too frequently perceives contractor personnel in Iraq as expendable profiteers, adventure-seekers or marginalized members of society who are not entitled to the same respect or value that they would assign to members of the military.”

I’m not sure that this is a realistic observation of Americans, but for various reason’s our level of overseas civilian presence hasn’t been highlighted in the media, certainly not by television media. Though short, this piece highlights some of the key reasons why the plight of injured contractors once they return would be far from a front burner issue.

Below is the full Feb. 28, 2008 article by David Ivanovich of the Huston Chronicle

WASHINGTON — At least 353 civilian contractors died in Iraq last year, with contractors accounting for more than one in four deaths associated with the U.S. occupation, the Labor Department reported. With those fatalities sparking new questions about the Pentagon’s privatization of military functions, Steven Schooner, senior associate dean at the George Washington University School of Law and an expert on federal procurement law and military contracting, spoke with Chronicle reporter David Ivanovich.


In outsourced U.S. wars, contractor deaths top 1,000 February 29, 2008

Posted by Aaron Walter in Uncategorized.
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In outsourced U.S. wars, contractor deaths top 1,000

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The death toll for private contractors in the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has topped 1,000, a stark reminder of the risks run by civilians working with the military in roles previously held by soldiers.

A further 13,000 contractors have been wounded in the two separate wars led by the United States against enemies who share fundamentalist Islamic beliefs and the hit-and-run tactics that drain conventional armies.

The casualty toll is based on figures the U.S. Department of Labor provided to Reuters in response to a request under the Freedom of Information Act and on locally gathered data.

The department said it had recorded 990 deaths – 917 in Iraq and 73 in Afghanistan – by the end of March. Since then, according to incident logs tallied by Reuters in Baghdad and Kabul, at least 16 contractors have died in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.