Another Contracting Snafu for the Pentagon

From Holden:

The Bush Administration has awarded a $293 million Iraq security contract to Aegis Defense Services Ltd., the largest security contract awarded in the New Iraq so far.

Small problem: Aegis is run by Tim Spicer, who, as a lieutenant colonel in the Scots Guards was at the heart of a controversy in Northern Ireland when two soldiers under his command were convicted of murdering Belfast teenager Peter McBride in 1992. Despite the fact that the two solddiers were convicted and their convictions were upheld on appeal Spicer maintained that they were innocent, earning the everlasting ire of the Irish.

Spicer’s former company, Sandline International, was involved in efforts to quash rebels in Papua New Guinea in 1997 which lead to an army rebellion and a coup. Then in 1999 Parliament determined that Spicer’s Sandline had violated a U.N. embargo by shipping arms to Sierra Leone.

The Irish are not pleased:

“Just when you need to reach out to Irish Catholics, your Department of Defense does something to insult and offend them,” McManus wrote.

In an interview, [Rev. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus (INC)] said the contract had caused outrage among Irish Americans.

“This is a deeply offensive and insensitive move and represents a real kick in the teeth for Irish Americans,” McManus said. “President Bush should tear up this contract immediately out of decency and respect.”

[snip]

Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre, a human rights group in Northern Ireland, also called for the contract to be withdrawn.

“As commander in Belfast, Tim Spicer believed his soldiers were above the law and he disputed their convictions for murder,” he said. “We need to know if his background was taken into consideration when this contract was awarded.”

And there are some Texans who are unhappy with the contract as well:

DynCorp, a Texas-based security firm and one of six bidders for the contract, has filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office, contesting the grounds on which the contract was awarded to Aegis. The GAO is expected to report on the case Sept. 30.

Following DynCorp’s complaint, the Department of Defense issued a “stay” notice, putting the contract on hold. This was later lifted, according to Sara Pearson, a spokeswoman for Aegis, and the contract is proceeding as planned.

[snip]

Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) has raised concerns about Aegis’s lack of experience in Iraq in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld.

“It is inconceivable that the firm charged with the responsibility for coordinating all security of firms and individuals performing reconstruction is one which has never even been in the country,” Sessions wrote.