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Disgraced International Mercenaries Wanted to Help US in Iraq. Please apply to Deparment of Defense.

Andrew Ackerman has a piece in the December 29th issue of “The Nation”, titled “Tim Spicer’s World”. My three readers may remember that I posted about Spicer – a notorious international mercenary – six months ago, when his new firm – Aegis – was being considered for a major Department of Defense contract.

Well, Aegis got the contract – $293 million to protect US diplomats in Iraq – despite a formal protest by five Democratic senators, led by Ted Kennedy. Despite Spicer’s involvement running small arms to Sierra Leone, violating UN mandates and UK law, and the notorious “Sandline Affair”, where Spicer was hired to put down an indigenous rebellion in Papua New Guinea, the DoD seems to have no problem awarding Spicer’s firm a contract where his firm has coordinating authority over private security forces in Iraq:

“It is significant that the British Ministry of Defense was apprised of our intention…and did not object or advise against the action. Moreover, neither Aegis nor Mr. Spicer are on the…list of parties excluded from Federal contracting,” wrote Sandra Sieber, director of the Army Contracting Agency. “We therefore had no legal basis to deny the award to Aegis, which won the competition fairly based on the rules and criteria established by our solicitation.”

The decision to award the contract to Spicer has inspired a great deal of anger in some sectors of the Irish and Irish American community. In 1992, Spicer was in command of a unit of the Scots Guards in Belfast when soldiers in his unit fatally shot unarmed teenager Peter McBride in the back and head. Spicer allowed the soliders who shot McBride to return to duty, counter to all Scots Guard procedures. The Pat Finucane Center for Human Rights sent an open letter to the Comptroller General of the US Government Accountability Office, protesting the award of the contract to Aegis on the grounds that Spicer could not be considered a “responsible bidder”. The general counsel to the US GAO responded, not by addressing the substance of the complaints against Spicer, but by arguing that the protest lodged wasn’t admissible within DoD contracting procedures.

When I posted about this story last year, I ended with the question, “What were they [the Bush administration] thinking?” Now there’s more good reasons to raise that question.

According to The Guardian, CACI International and Titan, two contractors accused of substantial human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib have been awarded new, large DoD contacts. CACI International’s contract was renewed for $16 million; Titan was awarded a new contract for $164m. (I assume that Titan has taken Adel Nakhla – accused of raping an Iraqi boy while he was under custody – off their staff.) And, as I noted in a post late last year, DoD supported – through a subcontract through from KBR – two firms run by notorious Russian arms smuggler Viktor Bout.

What is the Bush administration thinking? They’re thinking that we don’t know and we don’t care. And they’re probably right.