Saturday, January 20, 2007

talkin turkey

* Fisk:
"Hrant Dink became the 1,500,001st victim of the Armenian genocide yesterday. An educated and generous journalist and academic - editor of the weekly Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos - he tried to create a dialogue between the two nations to reach a common narrative of the 20th century's first holocaust. And he paid the price: two bullets shot into his head and two into his body by an assassin in the streets of Istanbul yesterday afternoon.

It was not only a frightful blow to Turkey's surviving Armenian community but a shattering reversal to Turkey's hope of joining the European Union, a visionary proposal already endangered by the country's broken relations with Cyprus and its refusal to acknowledge the genocide for what it was: the deliberate mass killing of an entire race of Christian people - 1,500,000 in all - by the country's Ottoman Turkish government in 1915. Winston Churchill was among the first to call it a holocaust but to this day, the Turkish authorities deny such a definition, ignoring documents which Turkey's own historians have unearthed to prove the government's genocidal intent."
* AP:
"French customs officials at an English Channel ferry crossing seized 365 kilograms (804 pounds) of heroin stashed inside a truck — the second largest seizure of the drug in France, judicial officials said Thursday.

The heroin, worth an estimated €10 million (US$13 million), was seized Tuesday night in the town of Loon-Plage, near the northern French city of Dunkerque, officials said.

The Turkish-registered vehicle, headed to an unknown destination in Britain, was driven by a 54-year-old Turkish man, they added.
Authorities said it was the second largest heroin bust in French history. "
oops. someone forgot to pay the piper. it may or may not surprise yuo that this story didn't get any media coverage. According to News.Google, there are only 6 articles - 2 in China, one in Romania, one in Japan, and the IHT carried an AP article....

* Dyncorp:
"Marc Grossman resigned (from the Board) effective today. DynCorp International has engaged the Cohen Group, of which Mr. Grossman is a vice-chairman, as a consultant."
hmmmmm. a conflict of interest? or something else? Ralston has no trouble being on the board of lockheed, another Cohen Group client.


starroute said...

Following out that Grossman link, what really struck me was this part -- though I don't know how much to make of it:

DynCorp International Inc. (NYSE:DCP - News) today named Mark Ronald, former president and CEO of BAE Systems Inc., to its board of directors. Until his retirement at the end of 2006, Mr. Ronald was COO of BAE Systems plc as well as president and CEO of BAE Systems Inc., the company's wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary. . . .

Mr. Ronald remains a member of the board of directors of BAE Systems Inc., and serves on the boards of directors of Cobham plc and Alliant Tech Systems (ATK). He was awarded the title of Honorary Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of his services to promote closer transatlantic cooperation in the U.S. and U.K. defense industries. . . .

Mr. Ronald replaces Marc Grossman, who resigned effective today.

The second thing that struck me is that when I attempted to find out more, the Google Finance page for Dyncorp -- -- had a link (under "Blog Posts") to this current thread of yours. Which is interesting but not particularly helpful.

lukery said...

starroute - funny about google finance - perhaps i should learn how to game the system and bring about the collapse of the MIC.

i'm not sure what you are pointing to in yuor first point? is it just the MIC link?

btw - you'll love this from last month: "After nearly a decade of experience eradicating illicit-drug crops in Colombia for the State Department, DynCorp has won a new contract that could earn the company more than $2.1 billion over the next 10 years and will include operations in Afghanistan, the world’s biggest producer of opium.

Marc Grossman, a Clinton administration undersecretary of state who helped initiate a $4 billion counter-narcotics effort known as Plan Colombia, said DynCorp’s eradication operation was well worth the taxpayers’ money. He now serves with Gen. Barry McCaffrey on DynCorp’s board of directors."

more here:
"Short of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, few directing bodies can boast a more star-studded and influential leadership group than does the DynCorp International board of directors. Drawing from the Pentagon's top echelon, the board has expertise in virtually every modern theater of war in the world, with a broad list of contacts that include presidents, prime ministers, kings and military commanders."

starroute said...

Hmm. Seems like Dyncorp has been under a bit of pressure lately from the Dallas Morning News:

December 23, 2006

After nearly a decade of experience eradicating illicit-drug crops in Colombia for the State Department, DynCorp has won a new contract that could earn the company more than $2.1 billion over the next 10 years and will include operations in Afghanistan, the world’s biggest producer of opium.

Marc Grossman, a Clinton administration undersecretary of state who helped initiate a $4 billion counter-narcotics effort known as Plan Colombia, said DynCorp’s eradication operation was well worth the taxpayers’ money. He now serves with Gen. Barry McCaffrey on DynCorp’s board of directors. . . .

During the past decade, however, Colombian pilots have not replaced DynCorp on crop-dusting missions, as required in a training contract the company signed with the State Department in 1995. The cost savings could have been significant, according to a 1998 study by the General Accounting Office, now known as the Government Accountability Office.

Citing State Department estimates, the GAO said, “The direct costs of supporting the contractor [DynCorp] in Colombia increased from about $6.6 million in fiscal year 1996 to $36.8 million in fiscal year 1999. According to the State Inspector General, U.S.-provided contractor pilots and mechanics are paid between 2.5 and 4 times more than the Colombian contractors employed by the National Police.”

Asked why the government is forgoing the cost savings and continuing to use DynCorp, Mr. Grossman responded, “If there’s an implication to your question that people kept the Colombians from doing this in order to keep this contract [in DynCorp’s hands], I don’t believe that. Don’t forget that DynCorp has lost people; they’ve had people taken hostage there. This is not a cost-free thing for the company, just as it’s not a cost-free thing for the United States of America.”

The State Department declined interview requests for this story. From 2005 to 2008, DynCorp will have received $643 million for eradication work, mainly in Colombia and Afghanistan. . . .

The Colombia contract quickly immersed the company in public controversy. Members of the U.S. Congress accused the government of using DynCorp to carry out combat-related missions. In 2000, Congress imposed a limit of 400 contractors who could be present in Colombia at any time to prevent the U.S. government from using DynCorp and other contractors to circumvent laws on the use of American troops.

December 24, 2006

Many Americans probably think it's the government's job to train foreign security forces, eradicate drug crops or maintain Air Force One. But these and other sensitive Pentagon and State Department tasks are in the hands of a private company with such a secretive history that even members of Congress say they have a hard time getting information about it. . . .

"Members of Congress have a hell of a time" getting information about DynCorp and other contractors, said Rep. Janice Schakowsky, an Illinois Democrat who has monitored DynCorp's activities for several years. "It's one of the biggest scandals – and least known – that we have."

Ms. Schakowsky complained that she has been repeatedly thwarted in efforts to review U.S. government audit reports of DynCorp's contracts because, according to the State Department, the need to protect DynCorp's commercial secrets supersedes the public's right to know...

The little information that has come to light about the company's performance appears to raise questions about DynCorp's effectiveness.

Last month, a joint Pentagon and State Department review found that after three years of training at a price of more than $1 billion, the Dyncorp-trained police force in Afghanistan is rife with corruption and largely incapable of assuming basic security duties. The report praised the dedication of DynCorp's staff but suggested the training program had fallen short of its goals.

In October, a U.S. government review of Iraqi police training concluded that there were no accurate means to verify the operational capabilities of more than 120,000 officers reported to have passed through DynCorp and U.S. Army classes. .. .

DynCorp lost an important diplomatic-security contract in Afghanistan last year, worth half a billion dollars, after the State Department fielded complaints about overzealous behavior and lack of discipline among DynCorp bodyguards there and in Iraq.

Witnesses described the security personnel, many recruited from the military's special-operations units, as brash and disrespectful.

"They swaggered and dressed like pirates and had all kinds of nicknames for each other. Nobody could tell them what to do," said a DynCorp official in Afghanistan.

lukery said...


starroute said...

Looks like we're thinking alike (or at least Googling alike.) ;-)

And I really don't know what to make of Grossman being replaced by Mark Ronald. Is it typical for these major defense contractors to have overlapping directors? Is it just that Ronald, having retired as BAE's CEO, is looking for other ways to cash in on his long experience dealing with the Defense Department. Or is there some sort of maneuvering for position going on? I have no idea, but I'd really like to know.

lukery said...

actually, i'd been meaning to post those Dec articles for weeks (miguel sent them through) - and then it kinda seemed somewhat superceded (not really) by the resignation.

it's interesting re ROnald - particularly given that dyncorp appear to cite conflict of interest (wrt TCG) as a reason for grossman to leave (lol)

don't forget the ROnald is still on the board of BAE. i wonder if there's any other industry where it would be possible for someone to sit on the board of two 'competitors' in an oligopoly...

damien said...

Our Aussie foreign minister, Downer, is close friend of former US defence secretary, William Cohen, founder of the Cohen Group. It's no accident, I suppose, that this powerful US PR firm with close ties to defense industries and the Bush leadership, was willing to assist the AWB (Aust. Wheat Board) before the Volker and Cole Inquiries. And then there's Frank Miller. This former Senior Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control at the National Security Council, VP of the Cohen Group, served for thirty one years at senior levels of the US government on things like nuclear deterrence, strategic arms reduction, national space policy, defense trade reform, and transforming the American and NATO militaries. This is a very senior guy. He doesn't get out of bed except to reorganize NATO. Yet we are told that he flew to Australia to handle "the day-to-day work" for the AWB before the Cole inquiry. What gives? What's a Frank Miller doing handling a wheat corruption investigation in Australia? It wouldn't be, would it, that Miller and the Cohen Group were acting as damage control agents, not for the AWB, but for Downer and the Federal government? Perhaps there was other stuff about bribes to Saddam that they didn't want to get out? It's a strange case.

Of course, the Cohen Group and the ATC has already been well covered by Sibel.

starroute said...

And Cannonfire is pointing out that the new ambassador to Afghanistan is William Wood, who had been ambassador to Colombia since 2003. There's definitely *something* going on -- you can see the pieces being moved around on the chessboard -- but, as usual, the question is just what.

lukery said...

thnx D. fp'd

starroute - thats hysterical. i wonder how long till mr wood gets a gig at dyncorp. they don't even try to hide it any more.