From the Pat Finucane Centre:
US Congressional hearings are being held this week into private contractors in Iraq. The hearings were announced after audits conducted by the special inspector general uncovered billions of dollars in Iraq reconstruction funds that have been misspent or are simply unaccounted for. Concerns about the use of private security companies in Iraq have flourished in recent years. One private security contractor in particular, warrants intense scrutiny. Please contact your local Representatives and ask the following questions about the award of a $293 million contract to Aegis Defense Services as well as questions about the use of private security contractors in general.
Contact the US Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and ask the Committee to consider the TEN Questions outlined below in relation to Aegis and ex British Army LT Col Tim Spicer
U.S. House of Representatives
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Tel (202) 225-5051
fax to 202-225-4784.
send the email through http://oversight.house.gov/contact.asp
10 Questions about the Aegis contract.
- How was a company with no prior experience in Iraq awarded a $293 million dollar contract? Why was the contract renewed after receiving poor performance ratings from the GAO?
- Has former British Army General James Ellery’s involvement in the award of the Aegis contract been investigated? At the time the contract was awarded he was a senior advisor to the Provisional Coalition Authority (CPA). Soon after the contract was awarded Mr. Ellery left this post and took up a position with Aegis managing the RSSS contract in Iraq. Mr. Ellery currently serves on the board of directors of Aegis.
- What information about the background of Aegis CEO Tim Spicer was evaluated when the $293 million contract was awarded?
- At the time the contract was awarded, was the CPA aware that Spicer had justified a human rights abuse, the murder of 18 year old Peter McBride by soldiers under his command in Belfast in 1992. In justifying the murder, Spicer portrayed a version of the events in his sworn affidavit and later in his autobiography that was dismissed by the trial court as fictional.
- Was the CPA aware that Spicer’s statement in his autobiography that his soldiers should not have been convicted showed a blatant disregard for British and International law? Do the CPA and the U.S. Military consider it important for the head of a private security company conducting military operations in Iraq to be able to demonstrate that he understands under what circumstances those under his command could use lethal force ?
- Was the CPA aware that Spicer, as the head of his previous company, Sandline International, had been investigated for Sandline’s activities in Sierra Leone and in Papua New Guinea?
- Was the CPA aware that Sandline’s activities in Papua New Guinea led to Spicer’s arrest and a coup against the government ?
- Was the allegation investigated that Spicer requested and received blank end user certificates for small arms ?
- Did the Pentagon investigation into the March 2006 Aegis shoot-to-kill “trophy video” include evidence from all of those present in the SUV from where the shootings occurred?
- Did those who conducted the Pentagon investigation take evidence from any of those fired upon or indeed from any Iraqi civilians?
Last week US Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur –> made some interesting comments on the Pentagon’s contract with Tim Spicer at a House Committee hearing on Friday:
I will say this, both in closed door meetings and in public, I have yet to find a person other than the auditor, who is able to shed any light on how it was that Aegis, a foreign corporation, was given a contract where now we have the second-largest force in Iraq, larger than the Brits, headed by someone named Tim Spicer.
Who signed that contract, and what are those 20,000 people doing, many of whom are foreign mercenaries? What are they doing? Why can’t I get any answers out of our Government? What is happening inside the Department of Defence? What are those people doing over there?
The last answer I got was, “well Congresswoman, you’ll have to go over to Central Command over in Baghdad.” OK, I’ll go, but why can’t I get answers on that as a member of this committee?