US: DynCorp Disgrace
Middle-aged men having sex with 12- to 15-year-olds was too much for Ben
Johnston, a hulking 6-foot-5-inch Texan, and more than a year ago he blew
the whistle on his employer, DynCorp, a U.S. contracting company doing
business in Bosnia.
According to the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) lawsuit filed in Texas on behalf of the former DynCorp aircraft mechanic, "in the latter part of 1999 Johnston learned that employees and supervisors from DynCorpwere engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, forged passports and [participating in other immoral acts.
buying and selling women for their own personal enjoyment, and employees
would brag about the various ages and talents of the individual slaves they
Rather than acknowledge and reward
stopped, DynCorp fired him, forcing him into protective custody by the U.S.
Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID) until the investigators could get him safely out of Kosovo and returned to the
For more than 50 years DynCorp, based in
But DynCorp was nervous. For instance, an internal e-mail from DynCorp
employee Darrin Mills, who apparently was sent to
thing he told me is that 'they are tired of having smoke blown up their ass.'
They don't want anymore empty promises."
An e-mail from Dyncorp's
alleged sexual indiscretions), explains DynCorp's position in
bottom line is that DynCorp has taken what used to be a real positive program that has very high visibility with every Army unit in the world and turned it into a bag of worms. Poor quality was the major issue."
complaining about. "My main problem," he explains, "was [sexual
misbehavior] with the kids, but I wasn't too happy with them ripping off the
government, either. DynCorp is just as immoral and elite as possible, and any rule they can break they do. There was this one guy who would hide parts so we would have to wait for parts and, when the military would question why it was taking so long, he'd pull out the part and say 'Hey, you need to install this.' They'd have us replace windows in helicopters that weren't bad just to get paid. They had one kid, James Harlin, over there who was right out of high school and he didn't even know the names and purposes of the basic tools. Soldiers that are paid $18,000 a year know more than this kid, but this is the way they [DynCorp] grease their pockets. What they say in
the work habits of a DynCorp employee in
and would stick cheeseburgers in his pockets and eat them while he worked.
The problem was he would literally fall asleep every five minutes. One time he fell asleep with a torch in his hand and burned a hole through the plastic on an aircraft." This same man, according to
The mix of drunkenness and working on multimillion-dollar aircraft upon which the lives of
"At first," explains
my supervisors, including John Hirtz, although at the time I didn't realize how
deep into it he was. Later I learned that he had videotaped himself having sex with two girls and CID has that video as evidence. Hirtz is the guy who would take new employees to the brothels and set them up so he got his women free. The Serbian mafia would give Hirtz the women free and, when one of the guys was leaving the country, Hirtz would go to the mafia and make sure that the guys didn't owe them any money."
"None of the girls," continues
Werner admitted to having purchased a woman to get her out of prostitution
and named other DynCorp employees who also had paid to own women. He
further admitted to having purchased weapons (against the law in
wanted it to be because of my work performance and not because he was not happy with me."
According to Hirtz's own sworn statement to CID, there appears to be little
doubt that he did indeed rape one of the girls with whom he is shown having
sexual intercourse in his homemade video.
CID: Did you have sexual intercourse with the second woman on the tape?
CID: Did you have intercourse with the second woman after she said "no" to you?
Hirtz: I don't recall her saying that. I don't think it was her saying "no."
CID: Who do you think said "no"?
Hirtz: I don't know.
CID: According to what you witnessed on the videotape played for you in which you were having sexual intercourse with the second woman, did you have sexual intercourse with the second woman after she said "no" to you?
CID: Did you know you were being videotaped?
Hirtz: Yes. I set it up.
CID: Did you know it is wrong to force yourself upon someone without their
The CID agents did not ask any of the men involved what the ages of the
"women" were who had been purchased or used for prostitution. According to CID, which sought guidance from the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate in
However, CID took another look and, according to the investigation report,
under Paragraph 5 of the NATO Agreement Between the Republic of
personnel, contractors "were not immune from local prosecution if the acts were committed outside the scope of their official duties."
Incredibly, the CID case was closed in June 2000 and turned over to the
Bosnian authorities. DynCorp says it conducted its own investigation, and Hirtz and Werner were fired by DynCorp and returned to the
interpretation of the law.
Widney Brown, an advocate for Human Rights Watch, tells INSIGHT "our
government has an obligation to tell these companies that this behavior is
wrong and they will be held accountable. They should be sending a clear
message that it won't be tolerated. One would hope that these people wouldn't need to be told that they can't buy women, but you have to start off by laying the ground rules. Rape is a crime in any jurisdiction and there should not be impunity for anyone. Firing someone is not sufficient punishment. This is a very distressing story - especially when you think that these people and organizations are going into these countries to try and make it better, to restore a rule of law and some civility."
Christine Dolan, founder of the International Humanitarian Campaign Against
the Exploitation of Children, a Washington-based nonprofit organization, tells
Insight: "What is surprising to me is that Dyncorp has kept this contract. The
in the State Department for this purpose, and yet neither State nor the
government-contracting authorities have stepped in and done an investigation of this matter."
Dolan says, "It's not just Americans who are participating in these illegal acts.
But what makes this more egregious for the
regions is to restore some sense of civility. Now you've got employees of
contractors in bed with the local mafia and buying kids for sex! That these
guys have some kind of immunity from prosecution is morally outrageous. How can men be allowed to get away with rape simply because of location? Rape is a crime no matter where it occurs and it's important to remember that even prostitution is against the law in
Charlene Wheeless, a spokeswoman for DynCorp, vehemently denies any
culpability on the part of the company, According to Wheeless, "The notion that a company such as DynCorp would turn a blind eye to illegal behavior by our employees is incomprehensible. DynCorp adheres to a core set of values that has served as the backbone of our corporation for the last 55 years, helping us become one of the largest and most respected professional-services and outsourcing companies in the world. We can't stress strongly enough that, as an employee-owned corporation, we take ethics very seriously. DynCorp stands by its decision to terminate [whistle-blower] Ben Johnston, who was terminated for cause."
What was the "cause" for which
reprimand from DynCorp one day prior to the sting on the DynCorp hangar
discharge for bringing "discredit to the company and the U.S. Army while
It soon developed conveniently, according to
young high-school graduate Johnston complained had no experience in aircraft maintenance and didn't even know the purposes of the basic tools, provided a sworn statement to CID about Johnston. Asked if anyone ever had offered to sell him a weapon, Harlin fingered Johnston and DynCorp employee Tom Oliver, who also had disapproved of the behavior of DynCorp employees.
Harlin even alleged that
Although Werner had no problem revealing the names and illegal activities of
other DynCorp employees, Werner did not mention
to undermine Ben's credibility. But I think once the jury hears this case, that
accusation is only going to make them more angry at DynCorp. In order to
make our claim, we have to show that DynCorp was retaliating against Ben,
and that fits under racketeering. There is a lot of evidence that shows this was what they were doing and that it went all the way up the management chain."
According to Glasheen, "DynCorp says that whatever these guys were doing
isn't corporate activity and they're not responsible for it. But this problem
permeated their business and management and they made business decisions to further the scheme and to cover it up. We have to show that there was a causal connection between Ben's whistle-blowing about the sex trade and his being fired. We can do that. We're here to prove a retaliation case, not convict DynCorp of participating in the sex-slave trade.
"What you have here is a Lord of the Flies mentality. Basically you've got a
bunch of strong men who are raping and manipulating young girls who have
been kidnapped from their homes. Who's the bad guy? Is it the guy who buys
the girl to give her freedom, the one who kidnaps her and sells her or the one who liberates her and ends up having sex with her? And what does it mean when the
The outraged attorney pauses for breath. "This is more than one twisted mind. There was a real corporate culture with a deep commitment to a cover-up. And it's outrageous that DynCorp still is being paid by the government on this contract. The worst thing I've seen is a DynCorp e-mail after this first came up where they're saying how they have turned this thing into a marketing success, that they have convinced the government that they could handle something like this."
billion-dollar government contractor. Kathryn Bolkovac, a U.N. International
Police Force monitor hired by the
contract, has filed a lawsuit in
termination. DynCorp had a $15 million contract to hire and train police officers for duty in
DynCorp has admitted it fired five employees for similar illegal activities prior