Irish Urge Obama to Keep Promise on Spicer
IRISH URGE OBAMA TO KEEP PROMISE ON SPICER
Rescind the $293 million security contract
CAPITOL HILL. Thursday, August 28, 2008 -- Irish-Americans are urging the Democratic Presidential Candidate, Senator Barack Obama, to act on his previously expressed concern about the United States funding the infamous Tim Spicer in Iraq : “...As you know, the CEO of Aegis Defense Services Tim Spicer has been implicated in a variety of human rights abuses around the globe. Given his history, I agree that the United States should consider rescinding its contract with his company. Several of my colleagues have contacted the Pentagon expressing their concerns about this issue. I will be in touch with their offices to see how I can be of assistance in their efforts…” (Senator Obama, letter to constituent, December 2005. See below article by the London- based Irish journalist, Tom Griffin,” New questions over Iraq contract”).
“I now call on Senator Obama to give flesh to those words”, said Fr. Sean McManus, president of the Capitol Hill-based Irish National Caucus
The Irish National Caucus has lead the campaign in the United States to get the United States to rescind the Aegis contract because of Spicer’s role as commander of the Scots Guards in Belfast in 1992, when two of his men murdered 18-year-old Peter McBride.
Fr. Mc Manus reminded President Bush of his own words, “If you fund terrorism, you are a terrorist” and he successfully lobbied Senators Teddy Kennedy(D-MA),Hillary Clinton( D-NY) Chuck Schumer (D-NY), John Kerry ( D- Ma) and Chris Dodd (D-CT) to back the campaign.( See below article by Ray O’ Hanlon “Irish-American Anger over Iraq defense contract” and the Senators letter to Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld).
Fr. Mc Manus has written to Senator Obama and contacted his campaign headquarters. .
“I have to believe that Senator Obama as a lover of justice will do the right thing. If he becomes President, he must stop the United States subsidizing Tim Spicer, who has shown such cruel disregard for the murder, by his military unit, of young, unarmed and innocent Peter Mc Bride. The Aegis Contract has Irish blood on it and it must be rescinded.”
New questions over Iraq contract
by Tom Griffin. Irish World. December 15, 2005.
A leading US Senator has backed calls for the Pentagon to reconsider its contract with the company run by former Scots Guards officer Tim Spicer.
The move by Illinois Senator Barack Obama, a rising star of the Democratic Party, comes as documents obtained by the Irish World raise new questions about the decision to award the $293 million security contract in Iraq to Spicer’s firm Aegis Defence Services.
“The CEO of Aegis Defense Services Tim Spicer has been implicated in a variety of human rights abuses around the globe,” Senator Obama said in a letter to a constituent last week. “Given his history, I agree that the United States should consider rescinding its contract with his company.”
”Several of my colleagues have contacted the Pentagon expressing their concerns about this issue. I will be in touch with their offices to see how I can be of assistance in their efforts.”
The Pat Finucane Centre and the Washington-based Irish National Caucus have campaigned against the Aegis contract, because of Spicer’s role as commander of the Scots Guards in Belfast in 1992, when two of his men murdered 18-year-old Peter McBride.
The campaign won support last year, when five leading Democratic Senators, including Hilary Clinton, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, called for an investigation of the contract.
In response the head of the US Army Contracting Agency, Sandra Sieber, stated: "It is significant that the British Ministry of Defence was apprised of our intention to award the contract to Aegis, and did not object to or advise
against the action.”
However, documents obtained by the Irish World under US freedom of information laws show that the Ministry of Defence warned the Americans about the financial status of Aegis.
In a letter on 11 May last year, an official at the MOD’s Pricing and Forecasting Group wrote: “We would draw your attention to the financial strength of this company. In the year to 31 December 2003 its operating loss before tax was £170k on a turnover of £542k. It had a negative net worth. The company is wholly supported by a £1m loan repayable over five years. It is also a holding company for 3 subsidiaries, the two significant subsidiaries both traded at a loss in the year to 31 December 2003 totalling £91k, on a turnover of £438k. The trading results of the third company, whilst in profit was insignificant (turnover below £12k).”
Commenting on the document, a spokesman for the Pat Finucane Centre suggested it showed that the award to Aegis “had little to do with the perceived ability of the company to fulfill the contract, but was in fact the payback for British support for the US in the war itself.”
The contract has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks, with the emergence on the internet of a series of videos appearing to show private security contractors shooting at Iraqi civilian cars. A new video has appeared within the past few days on www.aegisiraq.co.uk, a site maintained by a former Aegis employee.
The company is expected to announce the results of an internal investigation of the footage this week.
Sources within the private security industry have defended the scenes shown. “The video (it ain't clear if it’s an Aegis video yet) certainly does raise some questions,” one industry insider told the Irish World. “The main thing it brought home rather graphically is what the level of insecurity is in Iraq - the fact that rules of engagement requires that kind of graduated use of force in such instances. Two of the incidents are clearly within ROE norms, the other two are more questionable. Hopefully we'll see the full videos at some point and be in a better position to judge if the gunners were operating appropriately considering the threat.”
Irish-American Anger over Iraq defense contract
Irish Echo. August 4-10, 2004
By Ray O'Hanlon
President Bush is being urged to cancel an Iraq security contract that involves a onetime British army officer linked to the death of a man in northern Ireland.
The death of Peter McBride, shot dead by two members of the Scots Guards regiment, remains one of the most controversial during the troubles.
The regiment was commanded at the time by Lt. Col. Tim Spicer.
Spicer, since retired from the military, now heads a private security company, Aegis Defense Services, which was recently awarded a $293 million contract in Iraq.
Fr. Sean McManus, president of the Washington D.C.-based Irish National Caucus, wants President Bush to scrap the deal.
"It has Irish blood on it," McManus said of the contract in a statement.
"This (contract) could undo any credit you gained from Irish-Americans for your support of the Irish peace-process," McManus said in a letter to Bush.
"U.S. dollars should not subsidize such a person as Lt. Col. Spicer. And long-suffering Iraq needs him no more than Northern Ireland needed him," McManus added.
McManus said that the INC was "determined" not to accept what he described as a "terrible insult" to the McBride family and Irish Americans.
"I cannot believe that President Bush would have approved such an outrageous contract. He has got to undo this great wrong. This is going to be an election issue.
McBride, who was 18, was shot twice in the back by Scots Guards soldiers as he ran from a checkpoint in Belfast on September 4, 1992. McBride was unarmed. Two soldiers were jailed for McBride's murder in early 1995 but were released in August, 1998.
In a letter to the Times newspaper of London, Spicer defended the actions of his men stating that they had been involved in a terrorist incident and had acted in accordance with the law and their military.
Irish National Caucus News Release
More Trouble for Spicer Contract
U.S. Senators Join Caucus Campaign to Block Deal
CAPITOL HILL. August 30, 2004 --- Presidential Candidate John Kerry, Senators Teddy Kennedy, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd and Charles Schumer have lent their support to a campaign launched by the Irish National Caucus to have the U.S Department of Defence cancel a contract it, incredibly, gave to Timothy Spicer, former commander of the British Army unit that murdered unarmed and innocent Peter Mc Bride in Northern Ireland in 1992.
The five powerful Senators have written to Secretary of Defence, Donald Rumsfeld, urging him direct the Inspector General to investigate how the contract came to be awarded.( See their letter at the end).
"I am very grateful to these five Senators", said Fr. Sean Mc Manus, President of the Irish National Caucus, who had written to all of them asking for their support." They are showing sensitivity to the family of Peter Mc Bride, and a concern for basic human rights and decency. President Bush must do likewise . He must cancel this contract. President Bush must decide if he wants the respect of Irish-Americans or the gratitude of Timothy Spicer for the fat contract. He cannot have both."
August 25, 2004
Honorable Donald Rumsfeld
Secretary of Defense
Washington, D.C. 20301
Dear Secretary Rumsfeld:
We are writing to request you to ask the Inspector General to investigate a $293 million Iraq security contract given troubling concerns that recently have come to light.
The contract, which we understand is the largest yet awarded for security in postwar Iraq, was granted to a British company, Aegis Defense Services Ltd., in May to provide security teams for the Project and Contracting Office, the body responsible for overseeing $18.4 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds for Iraq.
The company is led by Tim Spicer, a former lieutenant colonel in the Scots Guards. The Boston Globe has reported that Mr. Spicer has “a reputation for illicit arms deals in Africa and for commanding a murderous military unit in Northern Ireland.” Two soldiers in the unit shot and killed Peter McBride, a Catholic teenager in Belfast in 1992 while under Mr. Spicer’s command. The two soldiers were convicted of murder. Even after he retired from the military, Mr. Spicer defended the two soldiers, who shot Mr. McBride in the back. He argued for their release, which occurred in 1998, and the soldiers were inexplicably reinstated in the British Army.
The United States Government requires all contractors to be "responsible bidders". Contractors have to "have a satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics" (48 CFR 9.104-1(d)). We would like to know whether the government considered human rights abuses – or an individual who vigorously defends them – as part of this record.
Additionally, the United States Government requires consideration of the contractor's "past performance" (48 CFR 15.304(c)(3)). We would like to know whether the contracting team adequately reviewed the contractor's record, identified past human rights abuses or defense of abuses, and whether the contractor received a poor past performance rating on that basis.
We would also like to know the extent to which these factors were evaluated in awarding this contract to Aegis. If they were evaluated, we would like to know the rationale for awarding the contract.
In light of the recent revelations of abuses of detainees in Iraq, it is important that U.S. actions, whether by military personnel or contractors, have respect for the law. It is troubling that the Government would award a contract to an individual with a history of supporting excessive use of force against a civilian population.
Certainly we understand the urgent need to establish a secure environment, but the United States Government is also working to create a democracy in Iraq in which respect for fundamental human rights is guaranteed.
We appreciate your consideration of this request, and we look forward to the results of the Inspector General’s review.
Edward M. Kennedy
Christopher J. Dodd
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Charles E. Schumer
John F. Kerry