Child soldiers

Outsourcing Abuse III: Dyncorp, Plan Colombia and Private Armies

By M.K. Styllinski

plan-colombia

“America provides the guns, Colombia provides the dead.”

“The pretext of Al-Qaeda infesting the country was used. It was the same propaganda employed in the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria and most of Africa –  in fact,  any other country which has bountiful resources. As the US government retained control, Dyncorp was airlifted in with a fat $10 million contract in the following year for “peacekeeping” and “logistical support,” thus replacing the more costly presence of US combat forces. In other words, this was a proxy army to complete the proxy government.”


Before we return to the topic of Establishment child rape networks I want to continue with the legacy of Dyncorp and other private security firms as outposts of an emerging Pathocracy.  They are important nodes in the expansion of a bankrupt empire and their links to covert drug and the sex trade. Inevitably these companies always have links back to the original source of pathological disease. Dyncorp’s role in Latin America and in particular Colombia is instructive in this regard.

impactos-del-plan-colombia-en-ecuadorThe Free Trade agreements of the Americas walked over the remains of the dead economies of South America, hacked off at the roots by years of U.S. interventionism and later under the auspices of the IMF and World Bank. The colonization has changed but is on schedule and Dyncorp is right in the thick of it to ensure its completion.

The U.S. $1.3 billion Plan Colombia was one example. Critics said that the corporation was involved in “counter insurgency” operations in the war on drugs as well as the monopolisation of oil interests in the region. Paramilitaries and mercenaries are co-mingling in a mix of dirty interests. The corporation’s activities also extend into Bolivia and Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Brazil and Panama where it is also carries out drug interdiction, transport, reconnaissance, search and rescue missions, medical evacuation and aircraft maintenance.

The fact that President Bush had substantial ties to Harken Energy Inc., of Houston, Texas, is well known. Bush Jr. opted for a comfortable desk job with the company in 1986 and received $2 million in stock options, a $122,000 consulting job and a seat on its board of directors for his trouble. Meanwhile, in the Magdalena Valley where Harken Energy and other oil companies peddle their business, right wing paramilitary groups comprising of Colombian military officers, drug traffickers, cattle ranchers and fighting guerrillas are paid to protect oil pipelines. Civilians in Colombia have become the prime targets as rapacious parties compete for territory. The murder of peasants is common place if they do not respond to threats and intimidation to leave land targeted for mining, oil exploration and agriculture. Harken continued to rake in the cash on the backs of dead civilians in the Magdalena Valley, with help from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.

Paramilitaries protected corporate interests in the region. Death squads operated on behalf of U.S. oil companies and political parties, which were closely entwined in a network of intelligence agencies with the CIA as the guiding hand. After all, Colombia is both the leading recipient of US military aid in the hemisphere and the worst violator of human rights. Connection?

“Plan Colombia” was inflicted on the country for ill-advised reasons during President Bill Clinton’s presidency. The $1.3 billion aid package which was mostly military aid to Colombia and its neighbours, was to usher in “peace, prosperity, and the strengthening of the state” [1] by proposing a military strategy to stop illicit drug cultivation and trafficking. The plan was to be carried out by providing military assistance to the Colombian armed forces and police, and the creation of three anti-narcotics army battalions. However, aside from a slight drop in cocoa plant production, it did none of those things. What it actually did was to build on the destabilisation in the region thanks to 1990s Reaganomic policies and to “increase the dispersion and proliferation of organized crime and the expansion and intensification of political crime and guerrilla warfare.” [2] The plan served to increase politically motivated killings and where “counter-narcotics operations in Plan Colombia fail[ed] to target drugs cultivation in areas under long-standing paramilitary control.” [3]

After a whopping expenditure of $4.72 billion from 2000-2006 with $3.84 billion (81 percent) going to Colombia’s military and police forces, things have only got worse. The reason being, over 50 percent of Colombia’s land is owned by paramilitaries, the monopoly of which is drawn from the paramilitary control of members of Colombia’s Congress at around 30 percent.  It suggests that the CIA, true to its colours, wished to gain control of an important financial resource rather than to decrease its influence in any genuine way.

Dyncorp wasn’t the only one slicing into the pie. AirScan, a based in Rockledge, Florida provides High-Tec air surveillance and is responsible for patrolling the Colombian jungle in Cessna Skymaster electronic surveillance planes, spotting coca plantations and guerrilla threats to the Cano Limon oil pipeline. Military Professional Resources Inc. based in Alexandria, Virginia provides a consultancy service run by former US generals. Its mercenaries were responsible for training the Colombian Army and police officers. An Alabama company working out of the Maxwell Air-force base, Aviation Development Corporation (ADC) flies Cessna spotter planes for the CIA in Peru and Colombia to help target aircraft used by drug smugglers.

droga-panelas1

Cocaine monopolisation: Funding American interests

It was this latter company that caused a brief headache for the PR branches protecting the so called “drug war” when a small plane carrying US missionaries was shot down in Peru by a military pilot killing a young woman and her seven-month-old baby girl. The missionaries’ plane was first spotted by a US Cessna Citation surveillance plane piloted not by the US military but by private contractors hired by ADC. This echoed the shooting down of a Dyncorp helicopter and the subsequent rescue of its pilots by their own search and rescue teams which culminated in a shoot-out with the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. Nothing like a spot of Hollywood intrigue to keep the shareholders happy.

Another minor glitch in its operations was discovered in late 2001 when online news journal The Nation managed to obtain a document of a monthly DEA intelligence report from May 2000 in which officers of Colombia’s National Police force intercepted a US-bound Federal Express package at Bogota’s El Dorado International Airport with a parcel containing two small bottles of a “thick liquid” with the same consistency as “motor oil”. The communiqué reported that: “… the liquid substance ‘tested positive for heroin’ and that the ‘alleged heroin laced liquid weighed approximately 250 grams.’” DynCorp spokeswoman Janet Wineriter stated:  “… the viscous liquid that the Colombians tested was not, in fact, laced with heroin; it was simply “oil samples of major aircraft components’ that DynCorp technicians are required to take and send to the US ‘on a periodic basis.’ ” [4]

While the package was traced back to an unnamed employee of Dyncorp who was sending it on to the Andean operations headquarters at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, the government and Dyncorp were tight-lipped regarding details as to why this was entirely innocent and the result of faulty testing equipment. After a slippery tossing of the hot potato between the US Embassy, the Colombian National Police Force (CNP) the DEA and the Colombian State Department (and of course Dyncorp) the problem was shoved under a decidedly rank carpet courtesy of the CNP whose forensic unit decided it prudent not to pursue the matter.

The testing equipment called NARCOTEX was to all intents and purposes, also found to be bogus by the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Drug Recognition Experts. They could find no evidence of drug technology with that name. A token military doffing of its hat towards those that were intent on its eradication, was all that was needed. (Like the “War on Terror,” the “War on Drugs” is also largely bogus, a topic we will return to much later).

Dyncorp’s presence in Latin America has stuck like mud against the aspirations of its inhabitants since the early 1990s. It was during one of its contracts for helicopter maintenance that some of the long held suspicions about the multinational were further confirmed when one of those helicopters crashed in the Peruvian jungle in 1992. On board were three DynCorp employees, including Robert Hitchman, a covert-ops specialist, who had worked for the CIA in a number of operations ranging from the CIA front, “Air America,” to Libyan black-ops for Colonel Kaddafi. Hitchman was in fact, flying DEA agents and the Peruvian military on missions into guerrilla territory to destroy cocaine labs and coordinate the herbicide spraying program. True to Dyncorp services, he was also training Peruvian pilots to fly combat missions.[5] Colombia was to be a much more extensive capturing of a country’s destiny where Colombian army, paramilitary groups and toxic spraying and fumigation would be stepped up to a degree that would pay big money to ex-military veterans and black ops personnel.

 fumigaciones

Toxic spraying and fumigation

As part of this propaganda the corporation dutifully and profitably went about its $200 million[6] contract to spray 2,550 Square miles of Colombia with Monsanto’s “Round-Up Ultra” herbicide from 2000-2005, under the pretext of eliminating the illegal cocoa crops. An environmental disaster loaded on yet more suffering for the Colombian peoples already being squeezed by Bogota and the U.S. government. With 82 percent of the population living under the poverty line, growing their own food would have been one possibility to feed their families, when they often have no option but to grow cocoa for the insatiable demand in the States.

While a class-action lawsuit was filed in Washington, DC, on behalf of 10,000 farmers in Ecuador and the AFL-CIO-related International Labour Rights Fund, (ILRF) it may not save the thousands of children already suffering the effects of fumigation and spraying. After the initial veiled threats from Dyncorp CEO Paul V. Lombardi, towards Bishop Jesse DeWitt president of ILRF, the lawsuit for indigenous Quiches and farmers from the state of Sucumbío, Dyncorp subsequently used its State Department leverage to ask “…the judge to dismiss the case because it involves national security interests of the United States.” Luckily the Judge after consulting material derived from an investigation by Ecuador’s Acción Ecológica came to the conclusion that Dyncorp had “committed crimes against humanity, torture and cultural genocide.” [7] This ruling finally led to the 2003 court rulings ordering the suspension of aerial fumigation of coca and poppy crops until environmental and human impact studies can be carried out.

However, in clear violation of Colombian law, President Alvare Uribe, a U.S. puppet, continues to do the State Department’s bidding and the spraying has continued. According to Narco News, a Latin American journal that reports on the drug war and (the lack of) democracy in Latin America: “Food crops have been destroyed, rainforest ravaged, tens of thousands of peasants have been displaced because their crops, livestock and water sources have been poisoned.” [8]

Colombia’s armed conflict is the longest-running guerrilla war in the Americas, and with U.S. involvement, shows no signs of decreasing in intensity. According to the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, in 2002 alone “an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 civilians were killed in fighting; were targeted in political assassinations or were ‘disappeared.’ By comparison, the death toll was 3,000 to 3,500 in the previous year and where 4,077 children suffered violent deaths, including political violence and common crime, according to the Colombian Ombudsman’s Office (Ombudsman, Defensoría del Pueblo).” [9]

The crux of the problem in the declining fortunes of the Colombian people and the next generation of children being born into such chaos is U.S. sponsorship and support of guerrilla groups, paramilitaries, government armed forces and national police that have consistently perpetrated violence and abuses against civilians, particularly children and adolescents. There is widespread grievous bodily harm (GPH) and instances of rape in conflict and in domestic life.

Human Rights Watch place the incidences of rape of adolescent girls as 2.5 per every 1,000 young women. “Rape, sexual torture and other forms of sexual violence against women and girls are used as tactics to destabilize the population.” Despite a 2006, $20 million budget to help fund Colombia’s paramilitary demobilization process; the commercial sex trade is gaining ground, with estimates ranging from 20,000 to 35,000 children forced into commercial sexual work. [10] A steady unchecked business in arms trafficking and an equally plentiful supply of child soldiers parallels the figure of over 3 million children who do not attend school. A high percentage of indigenous and Afro-Colombian child soldiers of Between 11,000 and 14,000 are often targeted for recruitment. The U.S. State Department becomes uncharacteristically silent on the subject of support for Uribe and government armed forces that are known to use children as informants and “counter-insurgency” propaganda activities. [11]

403px-Álvaro_Uribe_Vélez

Former president Álvaro Uribe Vélez

Paramilitary leaders unilaterally declared a cease-fire in late 2002, with much trumpeting of the U.S. negotiations which were heralded as more evidence of the US bending over backwards to “assist.” If we look deeper, this “assistance” represents more attempts to find ways to circumvent the maze of interests that continue to carve up Colombia. Most paramilitary leaders at the negotiating table are there due to the possibility of extradition to the U.S. under the demobilisation laws and are haggling away their wealth that was illegally-acquired. Paramilitaries and drug barons are putting themselves forward as human bargaining chips to avoid imprisonment should the need arise. In truth, before 2005, demobilization had not been enforced due to the absence of a legal framework and served to act as yet another sop for Congress. Human Rights Watch reported in 2004: “…the government has been holding ceremonies in which thousands of purported paramilitaries turn over their weapons and become eligible to receive stipends and other benefits. As a result, there is a real risk that the current demobilization process will leave the underlying structures of these violent groups intact, their illegally acquired assets untouched, and their abuses unpunished.” [12]

The U.S. and the European Union actively encouraged the tragically misplaced naming of “Ley de Justicia y Paz” (Justice and Peace Law) while the United Nations Security Council sheepishly turned a blind eye. The Colombian Congress dutifully passed in June 2005 the legal framework for the demobilization of the paramilitary United Self-Defence Forces of Colombia (AUC), the worst Human rights offender responsible for 80 percent of the most appalling abuses country-wide. They have been a dominant factor in the drug trade with various AUC leaders being extradited to the United States for prosecution on drug trafficking charges. Prison sentences are limited to a maximum of eight years and prosecutors are given a very limited leeway in which to present their charges. Big-wig criminals including drug barons are often blurring the lines between paramilitary groups. It means that they are protected from extradition to the United States by legal semantics and loopholes. Furthermore, safe in the assurance that they will be protected from the harsh realities of their crimes, the turning in of arms amounts to window dressing for Congress and NGO’s because they will not be required to reveal information about the paramilitary financing and methods. On top of this, they will not be detained for any undue length of time.

The CIA and its corporate covers in the monopolisation of the drug wars wish to hold onto and protect their assets while expanding and mopping up drug operations. Drug lords are bought off and given immunity in exchange for their illegal wealth while ex-paramilitaries are “re-integrated” back into the community. The latter means, of course, that these psychopaths have been hired back into the national police and army with a ridiculous assurance that no arms will be given to these men. Given Colombia’s record, this is nonsense. It is also an interesting example of the U.S. predilection for recycling military and special ops personnel back into its cover corporations abroad. We may well have the same practice happening in Colombia, with the priority going to private security firms, replicating the standards that Dyncorp is now so famous for. It seems everyone is a winner, except that is, the citizens of Colombia and its lost children. After all, mechanics, trainers, maintenance and administrative workers, logistics experts, rescuers and pilots and CIA agents with fat pay packets are all busy helping to fleece what is left of the country on a variety of support operations. For Dyncorp and CSC, exploitation ratios are its primary measure of success.

In an article by Journalist Uri Dowbenko he includes an explication of the financial mechanics behind Dyncorp’s free reign in the “War on Drugs” propaganda. Catherine Austin Fitts, former FHA Commissioner in the Bush Sr. Administration and former CEO of Hamilton Securities outlines how they do it where she refers to the creation of Stock Value or Capital Gains as “Pop” in Wall Street jargon:

If DynCorp has a $60 million per year contract supporting knowledge management for asset seizures in the United States,” she says. “The current proxy shows that they value their stock, which they buy and sell internally, at approximately 30 times earnings. So, if a contract has a 5-10percent profit, then per $100 million of contracts, DynCorp makes about $5-$10 million, which translates into $150 million to $300 million of stock value. That means that for a $200 million contract, with average earnings of 5-10percent ($10 million to $20 million), DynCorp is generating $300 million to $600 million of stock value.

Pug Winokur of Capricorn Holdings appears to have about 5 percent ownership, which means that his partnerships’ stock value increase $15-$30 million from the War in Colombia. If the DynCorp team kills 100 people, as an example, then that means they make $1.5 – $3 million per death. That way the Pop per Dead Colombian can be estimated, or, how much capital gains can be made from killing one Colombian. Since DynCorp was also in the Gulf and in Kosovo, we should be able to calculate the relative value of killing people in various cultures and nationalities. Pug Winokur’s partnership, under these assumptions, makes $75,000 to $250,000 of Pop per Dead Colombian. [13]

Of course, Bush’s anti-terror bill injected more financial aid to President Alvare Uribe’s right-wing government and managed to destroy much of the progress on human rights of the last few decades. It also smoothed the way for a doubling of the number of US troops and US contractors allowed in Colombia such as Dyncorp and Textron (the military helicopter firm) which continued from 2005 to 2009. The displacement of an already acutely oppressed people has reached 3 million and is worsening as a direct result of U.S. policy and the outsourcing of its global agenda.

Dyncorp is nothing more than the extension of the Pentagon’s foreign policy strategies from Bosnia to Colombia, Somalia to Haiti. Regime change required? Then call in a private security firm to sow the seeds of discontent by arming and training the waiting oppositions. This is exactly what happened when Somalia had the briefest window of opportunity for a democratic peace. After warlords had controlled the country for over fifteen years the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) had managed to wrest control from these chaotic and bloody factions during the summer of 2006. Despite the very real chance of a respite from war and carnage the US was in the region busily training Ethiopian troops who then invaded Somalia in December of that year backed up by US air raids.

The pretext of Al-Qaeda infesting the country was used. It was the same propganda employed in the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria and most of Africa –  in fact,  any other country which has bountiful resources. As the US proxy government was placed back into power Dyncorp was airlifted in with a fat $10 million contract in the following year for “peacekeeping” and “logistical support,” thus replacing the more costly presence of US combat forces. In other words, this was a proxy army to complete the proxy government. [14]

After the CIA-backed coup in Haiti and the toppling of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, Dyncorp was drafted in by the U.S. State Department to protect Boniface Alexandre, yet another US puppet wheeled into to their bidding.  Dyncorp is now busy training police in the country. [15]

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The U.N. General Assembly adopted the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries in 1989 where around nineteen states ratified the Convention and nine states have signed but have yet to ratify. This followed with a further amendment to the convention in 1992 which was similarly ignored. It was also declared that “the use of mercenaries is a threat to international peace and security,” and that all were “Deeply concerned about the menace that the activities of mercenaries represent for all States, particularly African and other developing States” as well as “Profoundly alarmed at the continued international criminal activities of mercenaries in collusion with drug traffickers…” [16] At least three of the countries are officially known to have flouted the Convention. [17] The twenty-two States that have completed the constitutional procedures that bind them to the Convention are: Azerbaijan, Barbados, Belarus, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Italy, Libya, Maldives, Mauritania, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Seychelles, Suriname, Togo, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Uruguay and Uzbekistan. The nine other States that have signed but not ratified it are: Angola, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Morocco, Nigeria, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia and … The United States. [18]

The extent of this indignation and concern was shown in the 1997 report by the UN Special Rapporteur on mercenaries regarding the growth market in mercenary activity: “In what appears to be a new international trend, legally registered companies are providing security, advisory and military training to the armed forces and police of legitimate Governments. There have been complaints that some of these companies recruit mercenaries and go beyond advisory and instruction work to become involved in military combat and taking over political, economic and financial matters in the country served.” [19] With the United States maintaining a military presence in 148 of the 192 United Nations countries, it is set to remain both a lucrative and controversial field of activity well into the future. [20]0921-indep

While Dyncorp’s associations with the UN already reek of hypocrisy, these naïve protestations are further laid bare when we realize that Lifeguard Security, a company linked to Executive Outcomes, a U.K. mercenary company, was responsible for guarding U.N. offices and residences in Sierra Leone’s capital of Freetown in 2004. The refusal of the U.K. a major manufacturer of weapons and source of mercenaries to sign the Convention was given an embarrassing exercise in exposition with the Equatorial Guinea Mercenaries Coup affair. Sir Mark Thatcher and Simon Mann’s forays into the arms business were highlighted in spectacular fashion, revealing an industry that rarely gets a mention yet is so instrumental in the destinies of government coups everywhere. [21]

Let’s have a brief look at some of these companies.

The Vinnell Corporation, part of the Northrop-Grumman merger in 2000, employs ex-military and CIA personnel as well as having close connections with concurrent U.S. administrations. It has had a contractual relationship to train the Saudi Arabian National Guard since 1975. This led to Bush condemning an attack in Riyadh in May 2003 that killed at least 30 people. it was blamed, of course, on Al-Qaeda.

True to the infantile propaganda that is circulating so effectively via the U.S. media every violent event and atrocity is traced back to the insidious tentacles of Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda network. This is very often the role of security companies such as Vinnell that act as foreign policy enforcers. They are there to prop up the regime and to keep dissidents at bay, hence they become targets. This is not dissimilar to the “insurgents” in Iraq who attack those intent on planting bombs and creating the seeds of a civil war. Under cover of chaos it is far easier to go about your business of fleecing the countries resources and laying plans for future geo-political monopolies. The terror wars are fuelling the security business growth and in turn, it is ensuring that terrorism remains a global menace, much to the delight of arms dealers everywhere. Companies such as Vance International specialize in American corporate executives travelling overseas, wealthy foreigners visiting the United States and the extravagance of Hollywood stars. It is renowned for using mostly ex-military men for “asset protection.”

Global Options which provides high-end security, intelligence and investigative services, billing itself as a “private CIA, FBI, State Department and Justice Department wrapped up into one.” Not forgetting its emphasis on “defending corporate America” which should fill us all with confidence. [22] Control Risk Grp.,  and MPRI  specialise in providing training mercenaries for armies worldwide. Although many corporations would feign incredulity at such heinous accusations, security corporations all provide services of “risk mitigation” and “executive or asset protection;” hired by governments, intelligence agencies and the 1% elite to do their dirty work outside of Congressional or Parliamentary oversight. Which makes Sandline International CEO Tim Spicer’s attempt to take the moral high ground particularly ridiculous. With the winding up of his company’s operations he left a petulant message on his now defunct website bemoaning lack of “government support”:

“On 16 April 2004 Sandline International announced the closure of the company’s operations. The general lack of governmental support for Private Military Companies willing to help end armed conflicts in places like Africa, in the absence of effective international intervention, is the reason for this decision. Without such support the ability of Sandline to make a positive difference in countries where there is widespread brutality and genocidal behaviour is materially diminished.”

The reality was that Sandline got caught red-handed doing what it shouldn’t and the government pulled up the ladders and claimed no knowledge which is what they do. The fact that an historical Western corporatism and its pathocratic enablers are the original cause of endemic corruption and destablisation within those countries also seems to have escaped the colonel’s worldview.

Other security contractors making mega-bucks in 2014 include:

  • Erinys – guarded most of Iraq’s vital oil assets
  • Academi – (formerly Blackwater and Xe) owns and runs one of the most advanced private military training facilities in the world.
  • Unity Resources Group – active in the Middle East, Africa, the Americas and Asia
  • Triple Canopy – won a security contract in Iraq worth up to $1.5 billion
  • Aegis Defense Service – works with the UN, US, and oil companies
  • Defion Internacional – recruits thousands of fighters from developing countries
  • G4S (orginaly known as the Wackenhut Corp.) –  the largest security contractor in the world that has it’s dirty fingers in most of the globes conflicts.  (more on Wackenhut’s history in the next post)

Ethics are not going to be top of the list in any of these businesses that would clearly kill the local nursery teacher if the contract fee was high enough.  What is more, the nature of the US Army and Navy means that they are chock full of the kinds of psychological profiles most attracted to such work which would include psychopaths, sociopaths, jackals and skirtoids which are then used as the pool from which private security firms draw their personnel. Former FBI agents, intelligence directors, Delta-Force, Air-Force, SWAT, Army Intelligence operatives, Secret Service agents, CIA veterans, Navy Seals and ex-Marines – you name it, the demand is there for such men and women. Security services and mercenaries for hire act as funnels to the US military and secret service in order to save money, resources and to actualise foreign policy moves beyond the radar of independent media and the public. Remember of course at a certain level, there is no such thing as a former FBI or CIA agent or any government intelligence operative.

As controversy about rendition and torture continues to bubble, private security firms are merging with the free-market to produce a boom in private finance deals both in Europe as well as the US Private-sector firms are even sponsoring academics and researchers and helping to formulate government penal and criminal justice policy, no doubt tailored towards an increasing reliance on profit over public interest. Stephen Nathan, editor of Prison Privatisation Report International said, regarding then Denmark-based Group 4 and its services: “The increasing influence of the private sector in the criminal justice system means shareholders’ interests come first. Who shapes criminal justice policy? Is it professionals, politicians and the public? Or is it Group 4 shareholders?” [23]

Though the tired suggestion that it is simply market forces and intense competition that has led to the prison services adopting more aggressively commercial approaches, this does not address the issue of rising crime rates of young offenders. For those ready to provide the means to sweep problems out of sight and out of mind it promises to remains an unending money-spinner.

 


End Note: This particular piece was written almost a decade ago. Since that time, Dyncorp International has certainly smartened up its PR and marketing. It has a slick website and a special “Social Responsibility” section and even an “A” rating on the Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index. Unfortunately, a predator is a predator. While it may do its best to change it’s spots – even extinguish internal corruption and crime about which you will read below –  it is still a corporation which outsources “guns for hire,” complete with logistical and technological know-how. As such, it continues to act as a de-facto arm of the American Empire and fans the flames of conflict simply by doing its job.

The whole idea of US policing the world and is thus an “interference” is a view offered by the progressive left and it is missing the point. It is far worse than this. Companies like Dyncorp are a hugely lucrative part of Corporate America. As the Empire becomes over-stretched, their remit is to facilitate long-term presence in countries through private means. This is not a misguided policy of over-protection and policing, as though this is somehow about good intentions gone awry. It is about the maintenance of a sprawling corporate-security complex offering further geopolitical leverage without committing further troops on the ground. It has the added advantage for military-corporate partnerships to remain a little deeper under the radar when comes to the mainstream media.

The presence of men “addicted to adrenalin” adds to the probability of civil conflict and abuse. Sure enough, this still proves to be the case, despite Dyncorp’s probably genuine attempts at instilling ethics and values training for its office workers. It even supports a children’s charity in the region which, from an historical perspective is truly ironic. Corporate philanthropy and conflict has always gone hand in hand because it’s good PR. But all this is a drop in the ocean when the overarching directive of such companies is destabilisation.  When you have ex-veterans walking around with automatic weapons, hearts pumping and looking for action; roaming around a country that has been destroyed by the very same forces – it’s hardly likely to end well. Corporations working for military, intelligence and US defence attending a children’s charity gala while acting as a stay-behind occupying force won’t work.

What Afghanistan and Iraq really need is ZERO American military presence and CIVILIAN personnel from genuine NGOs who have no political and military affiliations.

Reports in from 2011-2014 suggest that initiatives like Village Stability Operations (ALP) are a euphemism for creating a network of staging posts which maintain a massive presence in regions across Afghanistan, Iraq and other countries formerly trashed by the Anglo-American-Israeli invaders. The only reason these private armies are there is to maintain presence. Re-building infrastructure and assisting the population in recovering from Western aggression only occurs as an incidental practice. The primary objective is to create a country contoured toward Western strategies as they play out in the regions.

Mint Press News reported on the studies by the Congressional Research Service, titled “Afghanistan: Post-Taliban Governance, Security and U.S. Policy”, a report which drew attention to the negative effects private security forces have in regions suffering from civil war, tribal conflict and geopolitical sensitivity. Although, it seems to me that is precisely why such companies are there in the first place …

The report stated:

“An outgrowth of the Village Stability Operations is the Afghan Local Police (ALP) program in which the U.S. Special Operations Forces conducting the Village Stability Operations set up and train local security organs of about 300 members each. These local units are under the control of district police chiefs and each fighter is vetted by a local shura as well as Afghan intelligence. There are about 23,000 ALP operating in nearly 100 districts. A total of 169 districts have been approved for the program, and there are expected to be 30,000 ALP on duty by December 2015. However, the ALP program, and associated and preceding such programs discussed below, were heavily criticized in a September 12, 2011, Human Rights Watch report citing wide-scale human rights abuses (killings, rapes, arbitrary detentions, and land grabs) committed by the recruits. The report triggered a U.S. military investigation that substantiated many of those findings, although not the most serious of the allegations. … In May 2012, Karzai ordered one ALP unit in Konduz disbanded because of its alleged involvement in a rape there. ALP personnel reportedly were responsible for some of the insider attacks in 2012.” [24]

But you won’t hear about that on Dyncorp’s website because outsourcing the empire is unlikely to fade away any time soon. But keep pushing those values and training programs. Who knows? Perhaps that will deliver enough rationalisations for those working within a corporation which actively profits from extending America’s security and logistical reach into resource-rich countries.

We help destroy your country and make money.

Then we help rebuild it and make money.

That way the banksters are also happy. And that, as we know, is all that matters.

 


Notes

[1] The Center for International Policy’s Colombia Project http://www.ciponline.org/ The Plan Colombia (Copy obtained from the Colombian Embassy to the United States, October 1999.) ‘Plan Colombia:  Plan For Peace, Prosperity, and  the  Strengthening of the State.’
[2] Drug Trafficking, Political Violence and US Policy in Colombia in the 1990s Dr. Bruce Michael Bagley, Professor of International Studies, School of International Studies, University of Miami, CIDE ciencias socials, http://www.cide.edu/
[3] ‘Colombia: Stoking the fires of conflict’ Amnesty International, Terror Trade Times, 2001.
[4] ‘DynCorp’s Drug Problem’ by Jason Vest, The Nation, July 3, 2001.
[5] Private Warriors by Ken Silverstein, published by Verso July 2000.
[6] ‘A Plane is Shot Down and the US Proxy War on Drugs Unravels’by Julian Borger, The Guardian, June 2, 2001.
[7] ‘DynCorp Charged with Terrorism Lawsuit Unites U.S. Workers & Ecuador Farmers vs. FumigationPart I of a Series By Al Giordano ‘Lawsuit in U.S. vs. Fumigation on Ecuador Border’ Narco News narco.com.
[8] ‘Fumigations Continue in Colombia Despite Court Ordered Suspensions’ Uribe and Bush Administrations in Clear Violation of Colombian Law By Peter Gorman The Narco News Bulletin April 29, 2004. http://www.narco.com
[9] ‘Colombia’s War on Children’ February 2004, Womens’ Commission http://www.watchlist.org/
[10] ‘The Effects of Armed Conflict on Colombian Children’ October 2004, U.S. Office on Colombia http://www.usofficeoncolombia.org.
[11] Ombudsman’s Office, Human Rights Watch, Coalition to Stop the Use of  Child Soldiers, 2003,www.hrw.org/
[12] Human Rights Watch Colombia: ‘Human Rights Concerns for the 61st Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights,’ March 2005.
[13] Catherine Austin Fitts quoted in Dirty Tricks, Inc: The DynCorp-Government Connection 2002, by Uri Dowbenko.
[14] ‘DynCorp International’ Company profile by Phil Mattera | http://www.crocodyl.org May 19, 2010
[15] Ibid.
[16] United Nations Resolution A/RES/47/84, 89th plenary meeting, 16 December 1992. Use of mercenaries as a means to violate human rights and to impede the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination. http://www.un.org/
[17] International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries, Resolution 44/34,72nd plenary meeting 4 December 1989. United Nations General Assembly, http://www.un.org/
[18] ‘International Convention Against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries’ http://www.sourcewatch.org
[19] The Debate on Private Military companies 1997 report by the UN Special Rapporteur.
[20] ‘Ron Paul says U.S. has military personnel in 130 nations and 900 overseas bases’ Politi Fact.com Tampa Bay Times:http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2011/sep/14/ron-paul/ron-paul-says-us-has-military-personnel-130-nation
[21] ‘Straw: We did know of Africa coup’ By Antony Barnett and Martin Bright, The Observer, November 14, 2004
[22] http://www.globaloptions.com1047 ‘Crime pays handsomely for Britain’s private jails’ By Nick Mathiason, The Observer, March 11 2001.
[23] Ibid.
[24] Exclusive: Private Security Contractors, Fanning The Flames In Afghanistan? (AUDIO) Presence of US-backed private security in Afghanistan seems only to contribute to the ongoing violence. By Jo Erickson | October 16, 2013.

Outsourcing Abuse I

By M.K. Styllinski

[NATO soldiers, UN police, and Western aid workers] “operated with near impunity in exploiting the victims of the sex traffickers.”

– Amnesty International


un

In 2003, Kenneth Cain joined forces with former UN officials Heidi Postlewaite and Andrew Thomson, to write a book called Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Matters [1] which hit the shops in June of 2004. The book detailed widespread sexual abuse within the UN and its peace missions. It received significant exposure on many a Neo-Conservative website and newspaper and was gleefully pounced on by ardent anti-UN detractors. Mr. Cain, a Harvard law-school graduate and full time writer paints an unrelenting picture of decadence and corruption where drugs, alcohol and sex are the mainstay of some nations’ peace keeping forces. Dr. Thomson, a U.N. physician was equally unflattering about the world organization describing his missions in Haiti and the Dominican Republic as a “frustrating exercise in futility.”

An uncharacteristically vehement Kofi Annan tried to have the publication banned and then heavily censored, threatening the employees with redundancy if they did not reconsider. According to the UN they “violated staff rules” though in truth, the book is merely a distillation of widespread reports which began to gather pace long before the controversial book went to print. In 2001, about a half-dozen investigators from the U.N. Office of Internal Oversight Services in New York and investigators from the Office of the Inspector-General of the U.N. High Commissioner of Refugees finally examined the allegations. Despite the deluge of referrals and submitted cases surrounding the inquiry the book gave substantial weight to the criticism levelled at the organisation for being far too slow in its general investigations. Dileep Nair, U.N. Undersecretary General and Chief of OIOS said: “We can barely cope with the cases that are being referred to us” with over 400 cases were demanding attention. [2]

Bearing in mind that these are only the recorded cases, the findings that the UN consistently ignored claims of abuse and refused to take action, dating back as far as the late eighties parallels the same methods of denial of the Catholic Church and other institutions. Aid workers for Non-Governmental Organisations such as Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders) and Save the Children UK were also implicated. A full copy of the joint study sponsored by the UNHCR and SC-UK noted the following: “Agency workers from the international and local NGOs as well as U.N. agencies were ranked as among the worst sex exploiters of children, often using the very humanitarian aid and services intended to benefit the refugee population as a tool of exploitation.” The findings further revealed: “In order for a refugee to make a report, they would have to go through the same persons who themselves are perpetrators of sexual exploitation. Most staff appear to connive to hide the actions of other staff.” [3]

Note the ponerisation of not only UN staff but affiliated NGO agencies. This made it easy for UN officials to keep it  quiet, narrow down the scope of investigations and cover-up the abuse. Interestingly enough, the investigator himself, Dileep Nair was investigated after the UN Staff Council, the equivalent of a union, alerted Secretary-General Kofi Annan about alleged “violations of appointments and promotions rules in OIOS, as well as allegations of corrupt practices in the Office and “other misconduct” by Mr. Nair.”[4] However, no “credible” evidence of wrongdoing was found. Whether a smear campaign was enacted against Nair in order to deflect further investigations by discrediting his probe or that the allegations had some grain of truth was never established.

No place to HideNo Place to Hide (2013)

“They took us to a small house. Then they tore the clothes from our bodies and raped us. I was just 17 and still a virgin!” Joari and her friend were raped by men thought to be their saviours: UN peacekeepers. Since 1999, the United Nations has maintained a peace keeping mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It aims to bring stability to the region and protect the civilian population from attacks and sexual violence of the warring parties. But many of the 20,000 peacekeepers become perpetrators, exploiting the extreme distress and poverty of women and girls.In addition to showing victims of UN soldiers’ sexual attacks for the first time, the film also proves that the issue of sexual violence by peacekeepers has long been known at UN headquarters in New York. For years, the UN has been trying to combat the abuse by increasing staff training and introducing a zero-tolerance policy. Officials claim that the number of incidents has been drastically reduced. At local level however, UN insiders tell us, these measures have no effect at all.”

Over four million people have been killed by war and preventable diseases in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the past eight years, or as one UN humanitarian chief mentioned: “…the equivalent of six Rwandan genocides”, where the ‘Military and civilian authorities are still virtually unaccountable for crimes against civilians…’” [5] The institutionalised abuse by UN personnel is a large part of that desperate picture. Didier Bourguet, a U.N. senior logistics officer was charged with running an internet paedophile ring in the region, where he established a sophisticated porn studio for the procurement of young boys and girls in a multi-media operation. Videos were freely available to buy. According to Human Rights Watch, some of the female victims were as young as eleven years old.

While Bourguet had engaged in similar activity in a previous UN posting in the Central African Republic, he was not alone in his endeavours. Claude Deboosere-Lepidi, Bourguet’s lawyer, said his client admitted he assaulted minors and that his sex crime spree included other U.N. officials. He was insistent in his belief that the UN as a whole was partly to blame for tolerating the continued attacks on Congolese women and young girls. The UN has since confirmed this belief admitting that its peacekeepers regularly raped, abused and prostituted children in their care. A range of sexual abuses from UN troops and aid workers were catalogued including: “Reported rapes of young Congolese girls by blue-helmeted U.N. troops as well as aid workers; a colonel from South Africa accused of molesting his teenage male translators; hundreds of under-age girls having babies fathered by U.N. soldiers who have been able to simply leave their children and their crimes behind. Despite the UN’s official policy of “zero-tolerance” there were 68 allegations of misconduct in the town of Bunia alone. Another case included a 14-year-old girl who had told UN investigators that “she had sex with a UN peacekeeper in exchange for two eggs. Her family was starving.” [6]

A sex trade flourished in Monuc where scores of local women and girls had been made pregnant by Moroccan and Uruguayan peace keeping soldiers as well as two UN officials. One Ukrainian and a Canadian were obliged to leave the country after getting local women pregnant and two Russian pilots based in Mbandaka paid young girls with jars of mayonnaise and jam in order to have sex with them. [7] It appears that a virtual industry has grown up, including the production and selling of pornography and bartering goods for sex.

The lack of screening of UN peace keeping soldiers provided a new opportunity for rebuilding more than just infrastructure and aid. It can hardly be surprising if sexual exploitation infiltrates institutions on the ground, regardless of their humanitarian intentions. It is the proverbial honey-pot for those who have no conscience, or as a Times report so aptly quoted: ‘Never forget this is Heart of Darkness country. People do things here just because they can,” one female UN employee said, in a reference to Joseph Conrad’s novel about the abuses of the former Belgian Congo.” [8]

With UN officials accused and suspended after scores of abuses, one would have thought that it may have dawned on Kofi Annan that these crimes had been occurring for a number of years. Annan was previously head of the UN’s peacekeeping force and acknowledged that “acts of gross misconduct have taken place”. Asked whether he could have, given his experience, done more to prevent abuse in Congo, he said: “You never know when you send that many people out. There may be one or two bad apples.” [9]

Annan is being a little disingenuous to say the least. There is no question that this was a systematic manifestation of variable abuse which the UN consistently hushed up for many years. As such, he is ultimately responsible and should have resigned. Instead, after 150 reported claims of abuse, many of them involving minors, he continued the tradition of secrecy and suppression further damaging what remains of the UN’s standing. A hotline set up to receive complaints about past and future abuse was a case of too little too late.

th_kofi_annan

Kofi Annan

In March of 2006 another report, this time on the military arm of the UN, concluded: “deeply flawed and recommends withholding salaries of the guilty and requiring nations to pursue legal action against perpetrators.” It also included a host of other recommendations to be fully implemented by 2007. However, as a recent report in May from the Associated Press shows, far from coming down hard on such crimes, the activities actually doubled in 2004. Though this may in part, be due to the heightened awareness of such activities, the vast majority of allegations were still levelled at UN peace keepers. In 2002, the UN was beginning to form its defence against shocking abuse allegations in the Congo. It would finally send an investigation team in 2004 after a seemingly “outraged” Annan decided enough was enough. Whether this was due to media pressure or concerns about his own image, is far from clear.

In any event, within the same year, an exact same pattern of abuse surfaced in Sierra Leone where the UN and NGOs were running programmes to reintegrate former child soldiers from the bloody civil war between the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels and the Civil Defence Force (CDF) a pro-government militia known as the Kamajors. Both committed atrocities that are astonishing for their ferocity. Child protection agencies estimated that the warlords abducted as many as 6,000 children, out of which about 3,500 actually fought in the war. The rest were used for sex and for carrying weapons. Sierra Leone was plagued by the slow deployment of UN troops and the apathetic defence of civilians habitually caught in the cross-fire between the warring sides. One NGO chief executive described the reality: “These atrocities are taking place practically under the noses of government and international troops …Innocent civilians are suffering, and it’s the responsibility of these troops to protect them. They should do their job.”[10]

These atrocities included systematic rape of women and girls, some as young as ten, and the murder of whole families. Infants and children were thrown into burning houses, the hands of toddlers as young as two were severed with machetes and girls as young as eight were sexually assaulted. A newspaper reporter in Sierra Leone told Human Rights Watch: “There was rampant raping. I saw a fifteen-year-old girl raped right before me. They left her, but they captured others, and among them was a seven-year-old girl.” [11]

Amputation of limbs came to be the most prominent horror of the ten year old war but sexual abuse was actually more common. As discussed in Rape: Corporate Camouflage and Across the Gender Divide  the practice of rape as a strategic weapon is no longer rare. By forcing members of families to rape each other and to watch the atrocity, the belief was that this would reduce the likelihood of support for military operations. Even worse was the evidence of sexual atrocities being committed by troops from the regional intervention force, Ecomog, and the UN peacekeeping mission: “Women were used by all sides as chattels, kidnapped from their homes often in rural areas and forced to act as sex slaves for the troops as well as domestic maids responsible for cooking and household chores.” [12]

In 2004 The UN’s UNICEF reported that Sierra Leone, led the world in child mortality with one in four children dying before the age 5, while in Iraq, one in 10 do not make it to their fifth birthday. The UN has within its ranks those that were willing and able to mop up what was left of the shells that were once children. Yet despite the UN “Personnel Conduct Officers” representing system-wide focal points designed to deal with charges of gender-based violence and abuse, the United Nations is facing new allegations of sexual misconduct by U.N. personnel in Burundi, Haiti, and Liberia. This is probably due to the familiar buffering of the fact that such measures alert patterns of abuse but do not address the key issues as to why they arise. Even if this is known, it represents a flow that is hard to stem.

This is exacerbated by the rhetoric of Annan’s earnest bulletin setting out directives for UN personnel yet excluding military troops who are only answerable to their own national military authorities. This amounts to more tinkering at the edges of the cause. With sex workers appearing en masse at the borders needing to feed their families and with thousands of peace keeping soldiers present, the market and so will extensive forms of abuse. Reports of these abuses continued to surface though this was not limited to UN military deployments and operations.

One case in many includes the presence of a weapons inspector who led several sado-masochistic sex rings. “Harvey ‘Jack’ McGeorge, a former US Marine and Secret Service agent, [was] a founding officer of ‘Leather Leadership Conference Inc.’” and recommended by the US State Department.[13] Another report showed UN personnel who were involved in bringing girls from Thailand to East Timor as prostitutes. As abuse allegations have increased, so too the variable unsuitability of those employed by the UN. [14]

NATO forces, UN peace-keepers and the local mafia have all been implicated in sex slavery in Kosovo. UN personnel exploited the victims of sex traffickers for their own ends, adding to the already dire situation in the Balkans since NATO troops and UN administrators took over the province in 1999. The question of why patients at United Nations mental institutions in Kosovo were raped and physically attacked under the eyes of UN staff, also suggests that this was more than an isolated incident but part of a well formed network. [15]

And what of the progress being made to stem this tide? Well, UN soldiers forcing young women and minors to have sex in exchange for material aid still appears to be occurring more than ten years after these initial reports. A UN report interviewed over 200 Haitian women—a third of whom were minors and collated enough data to suggest this was systematic and organised. [16]

While the spectre of sexual abuse is being tackled by UN officials, disturbing questions still remain about the overall functioning of an institution that is seen by many to be dangerously flawed, contributing to chaos rather than the betterment of nations and their peoples. What are we to make of the United Nations that cries out to be a beacon for the world’s poor and oppressed when the reality sees it failing those who are most need of its protection and support? Is this rot from within a mere blip or a peek behind the curtain?

 


Notes


[1] Emergency Sex and Other Desperate Matters – A true Story from Hell on Earth’ By Kenneth Cain, Heidi Postlewait, Andrew Thomson 2004 published by Miramax books/Hyperion ISBN 140135201-4
[2] ‘U.N. Finally Forced to Probe Its Paedophilia Scandal’ NewsMax.com Wires and NewsMax.com, Tuesday, May 7, 2002.
[3] Ibid.
[4] ‘Thorough probe finds no evidence of wrongdoing by UN official’ 16 UN News Centre, November 2004, http://www.un.org/
[5] UN calls rape ‘a cancer’ in DRC, BBC News, 15 September 2006.
[6] Ibid.
[7] ‘UN moves to answer child sex allegations’ Sydney Morning Herald, February 18 2005.
[8] ‘Sex scandal in Congo threatens to engulf UN’s peacekeepers’ The Times, December 23, 2004
[9] ‘Secretary-General ‘absolutely outraged’ by gross misconduct by peacekeeping personnel in Democratic Republic of Congo UN Press Release, 19/11/2004. http://www.un.org/
[10] Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch, quoted from Focus on Human Rights: ‘Civil War in Sierra Leone Rebel Abuses Near Sierra Leone Capital’ United Nations Should Act, Says Rights Group, (New York, March 3, 2000.www.hrw.org/
[11] Human Rights Watch, ‘Getting Away with Murder, Mutilation, and Rape: New Testimony from Sierra Leone’ (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1999), p. 50.
[12] ‘UN troops accused of ‘systematic’ rape in Sierra Leone’ by Tim Butcher, The Daily Telegraph, January 17, 2003.
[13] ‘UN weapons inspector is leader of S&M sex ring’, The Washington Post, November 30, 2002.
[14] ‘UN ship ‘carried child prostitutes’ August 21, 2003 http://www.news.com.au.
[15] ‘UN ‘ignored’ abuse at Kosovo mental homes,’ The Guardian, August 8, 2002.
[16] ‘UN peacekeepers sexually abused hundreds of Haitian women & girls – report’. RT, June 10, 2015.