In an exclusive four part series published today on CorpWatch's award-winning website, managing editor Pratap Chatterjee reveals the details behind a $293 million "cost-plus" contract to Aegis Defence Services of London, to create an "integrator" or coordination hub for the security operation for every single reconstruction contractor and sub-contractor throughout Iraq.
There are currently several dozen groups Iraq that provide private security to both the military and the private sector, with more than 20,000 employees altogether. The companies include Erinys, a South African business, that has more than 15,000 local employees charged with guarding the oil pipelines; Control Risks Group, a British company that provides security to Bechtel and Halliburton; and North Carolina-based Blackwater Consulting, which provides everything from back-up helicopters to bodyguards for Paul Bremer, the American ambassador in charge of the occupation
The military will pay all of Aegis' expenses, plus a pre-determined percentage of whatever they spend, which critics say is a license to over-bill. The company has also been asked to provide 75 close protection teams--comprised of eight men each--for the high-level staff of companies that are running the oil and gas fields, electricity, and water services in Iraq.
Analysts like Peter Singer, author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry and a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank in Washington, D.C., say that the news took them by surprise. " It's like a blast from the past, like I took a leap back into the time-machine to the late '90s," said Singer. "To be honest, though, I am doubtful that the folks awarding the contract had any sense of Spicer's spicier history."
Spicer was the chief executive officer for Sandline, which first made the headlines in the British media when Spicer was jailed in Papua New Guinea in 1997 for attempting to mount an invasion of the island of Bougainville and later for this role in smuggling arms to Sierra Leone in 1998 in violation of a United Nations embargo.
The CorpWatch series includes the story behind the creation of Aegis, Tim Spicer's new company, and three background stories including one on Spicer's life, one on how a number of companies run by ex-British commandos control the most lucrative security contracts in Iraq and a look at one of the commandos: Major General Jeremy Phipps and his fall from grace from an embassy hero to a racing disgrace.
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