Monday, October 08, 2007

Our Mercenaries in Iraq

What has been the fallout so far from the Blackwater revelations? Well the House has passed a bill to make all private contractors in Iraq and other combat zones subject to prosecution in U.S. courts. Which, if the Senate passed a similar bill and if Bush didn't veto it - would actually have some relevance in the universe. So let's put that aside and look further. Oh, and Condi Rice's new ruling that video cameras would be placed in contractors vehicles & state department agents ride along with them? Those rules only apply to Blackwater.

The Post business section has a piece today on two Virginia firms who may get a chance to pick up more contracts if Blackwater's are pulled. Triple Canopy and DynCorp both already have DoD contracts in Iraq. TC is definitely poised to reap the benefits, as it already has twice as many mercenaries (oh, I'm sorry, employees) in Iraq than Blackwater (2,000 vs. 1,000). DynaCorp, by comparison, has a mere 250.

So what do we know about Triple Canopy, other than they've been pretty good so far at not showboating the way Blackwater did. Flying under the radar is a good way to make lots of Americans' tax money and not get hauled before Congress to explain how you've been spending it. But what the hey, let's take a look under the TC hood. Triple Canopy Inc. was founded in September 2003 by Thomas Katis, Matthew Mann and John Peters. In only 2 years the trio had managed to scrape together over $90 million in government contracts. On their website, they like to brag that their rapid success was due "in part to our unparalleled operational leadership." That, or possibly their ties to the Republican party.

The business watchdog website CorpWatch has had its eye on both companies. Their review of Triple Canopy can be found here, a reprint of a 2005 NYT piece by Daniel Bergner that may be even more relevant today than it was then.

There's the lawsuit by former TC employees accusing the company of dismissing them after they reported that their supervisor had fired at Iraqi civilians. While the jury ruled against the employees, they noted that "we strongly feel that [Triple Canopy's] poor conduct, lack of standard reporting procedures, bad investigation methods and unfair double standards amongst employees should not be condoned."

There are the State Department's own reports, which note that Blackwater, TC & DynCorp were involved in at least 306 shootings between 1/1/2005-4/20/2007. Of those, Blackwater was involved in 168 and Triple Canopy just 36. And DynCorp, with a mere 250 contractors in Iraq, was involved in 102 shootings. Hmmm. Perhaps DynCorp is worth looking at after all.

CorpWatch has a rundown of DynCorp's most notable achievements here. DynCorp may not approve of the listing, but I couldn't resist sharing: "The world's premier rent-a-cop business runs the security show in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the US-Mexico border. They also run the coca crop-dusting business in Colombia, and occasional sex trafficking sorties in Bosnia." Also from CorpWatch:

DynCorp began in 1946 as a project of a small group of returning World War II pilots seeking to use their military contacts to make a living in the air cargo business. Named California Eastern Airways the original company was soon airlifting supplies to Asia used in the Korean War. By 2002 Dyncorp, headquartered in Reston, Virginia, was the nation's 13th largest military contractor with $2.3 billion in revenue until it merged with Computer Sciences Corporation, an El Segundo, California-based technology services company, in an acquisition worth nearly $1 billion. . . . Kathryn Bolkovac, a U.N. International Police Force monitor filed a lawsuit in Britain in 2001 against DynCorp for firing her after she reported that Dyncorp police trainers in Bosnia were paying for prostitutes and participating in sex trafficking. Many of the Dyncorp employees were forced to resign under suspicion of illegal activity. But none were prosecuted, since they enjoy immunity from prosecution in Bosnia.


Blogger Karlo said...

War, the great business that gave birth to all the monied families.

3:05 PM  
Blogger TomCat said...

Of one thing we can be certain, LP. If the Bush regime is willing to hire a company, ther is something wrong with it.

4:05 PM  
Blogger libhom said...

Some of the money involved in the war gets funneled into campaign contributions to both parties. That's why the Democratic Party leadership is joining the GOP in trying to prolong the war as long as possible.

12:26 PM  

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