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The GAO Transcripts, Part 11: Back in The Iraqi PMC Gold Rush Days

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This is the eleventh installment of the Government Accountability Office interview transcripts that were prepared pursuant to the July 2005 GAO report "Rebuilding Iraq: Actions Needed To Improve Use of Private Security Providers."

This transcript is noteworthy for its reference to the letter from the old Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) to Congressman Ike Skelton (D-MO). Back in 2004 in response to his request for a count of private military contractors in Iraq the CPA did compile a report listing 60 PMCs with an aggregate total of 20,000 personnel. That number included U.S. citizens, third-country nationals and Iraqis. But even back then the CPA list was obviously incomplete, missing, for example, CACI and Titan personnel, both implicated in the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal.

Remember that these were the gold rush days for PMCS. As the transcript says, "Many companies get into Iraq whichever way they can and then register later."

As the transcript makes clear it is no wonder that the CPA was so ill-prepared to answer questions on PMCS .

Until _______________ assumed his position in Iraq, _______________ stated that there wasn't anyone dealing with PSC issues or tracking their presence in Iraq. No regulations existed which required PSC to meet with him or coordinate with the CPA. Essentially, _______________ as at the mercy of the PSCs and could only meet with those companies that volunteered to meet with him.

Standard disclaimer: I have put in ( _____ ) to reflect those words of phrases which have been blacked out in the transcript. I have also put in the underlining as it appeared in the original transcript. As in the transcript, I have left out letters from various words, even when it seems obvious what the word is.

Prepared by: Kate Walker Index: Type bundle index here
Date Prepared: August 17, 2004 DOC Number: Type document number here
Reviewed bye Type, reviewer name here DOC Library: Type library name here
Job Code: 350544

Record of Interview
Title Regulation of PSC in Iraq
Purpose To learn more about CPA regulation of PSC
Contact Method Face to face
Contact Place Pentagon
Contact Date August 10, 2004
Participants
_______________
_______________

Steve Sternlieb, Director, DCM, GAO
Carole Coffey, AIC, DCM, GAO
Kate Walker, Analyst, GAO

Comments/Remarks:

_______________ et with us to discuss their knowledge of CPA provisions for private security contractors (PSCs), orks for the _______________ PCO), formerly known as the Project Management Office (1 MO). The PCO is a Department of the Army that serves as an operations intelligence center for military based in Iraq. The PCO is responsible for executing the $1.4B Iraqi reconstruction fund. Prior to working for the PCC _______________ was in the intelligence community for a number of years and later moved into the private sector working in international corporate finance accounting or the past fourteen months, he has been working on Iraq issues. He is currently the _______________ PCO. _______________wrote the _______________ He worked with _______________CPA employee that attempted to address PSC issues in Iraq, on this letter.

_______________ no longer on the CPA staff or working for the PCO. She explained that she was not a contracting officer; rather she was a _______________ ocusing specifically on timelines. _______________ orked fo: _______________ fore coming to the CPA. When she left the CPA, she went to work for the Army.

Tracking PSCs in Iraq
_______________ stated that the list of companies providing private security in Iraq in the response letter from the CPA to Congressman Skelton was a guess because there is no database that holds PSC information in Iraq. The companies listed where drawn from _______________ experience with contractors in Iraq. _______________ thinks that the State Department (DOS) might have some records, but believes their information to be very limited. In addition, he finds the embassy headcounts of PSC personnel to be inefficient because many PSC personnel only in the country for a short time fail to report their presence. _______________believes that Army counts on PSCs are inaccurate. Many companies get into Iraq whichever way they can and then register later. _______________ holds that it would be difficult to report on the number of PSC in Iraq because no one source holds the entire universe of contractors in the CENTCOM AOR. In addition, of the data that could be collected, we still wouldn't know what kind of error existed in the data and could not separate security contractors from other contractors.

Page 1 Record of Interview

Until _______________ assumed his position in Iraq, _______________ stated that there wasn't anyone dealing with PSC issues or tracking their presence in Iraq. No regulations existed which required PSC to meet with him or coordinate with the CPA. Essentially, _______________ as at the mercy of the PSCs and could only meet with those companies that volunteered to meet with him. By default, _______________ became the hub of information for PSC. From _______________ erspective, PSCs were not a part of CJTF7's purview; PSCs were shut out. _______________was the first to implement registration for PSCs and their weapons; he issued weapons cards in accordance with CPA Order 3. Under ism, command, PSCs also had to register with the PMO or sector PMO (he PMO is now the PCO per _______________ PSC did not have to register information on home country nationals (HCN).

To help bridge the information gap that PSC faced, _______________ ranged an informal weekly social event at the Palace for PSCs to gather and share any intelligence they had gathered. _______________ also utilized email newsletters to update and inform participating PSCs of any intelligence he received from either other PSCs or his contacts in the military. Any intelligence that he received was not attributed to its contributor. Since _______________ taken on the onus of information sharing for PSC _______________ indicated that some PSCs garnered information informally through their contacts in the military. Official contacts in the military for PSCs, however, were few, and far between. In addition to _______________ previous and ______________________________ current efforts, _______________ is running a fusion center for PSCs. The PCO also recently awarded a contract to _______________ create and implement a defense communication system for sharing operational and intelligence information between the military and PSCs. _______________ eports that, as it stands now, the military does not know what is happening on the ground with regard to the movement of PSCs.

Memorandum 17
Memorandum 17 was created by _______________ a member of the MOI staff in order to address the lack of licensing or registration required for private security contractors. Memorandum 17 also addressed concerns that insurgents might use PSCs as a cover that would allow them to commit subversive acts. _______________ esigned Memorandum 17 to include a number of hurdles that he believed legitimate PSCs could overcome easily. Under Memorandum 17, PSC are required to 1) submit information to sector PMOs, 2) obtain a business license from the MOT and 3) get an operating license from the MOI. Memorandum 17 also increases the training requirement for PSC personnel. _______________ eports that these standards will be tougher for mid- and lower-tier companies to obtain. Upper-tier companies should have no problems meeting these requirements. The point of these hurdles was not to overly burden PSCs, but rather to keep out illegitimate PSC. While Mr. _______________ cknowledges that Memorandum 17's requirements are slightly burdensome, he does not think that they are overly stringent. Rather, he believes the regulations reflect the typical type of hurdles that companies face in 3rd world countries, given his background in international business. Memorandum 17 was also created to better address the fact that Iraq is becoming an individual nation and serves as a baseline for Iraq. Memorandum 17 also gives PSC personnel immunity while they are on duty in Iraq. If they are off-duty and commit a crime, however, they will be held liable to Iraqi law. In conjunction with Memorandum 17, a guidebook for PSC has been put together, but has not yet been released. _______________ sure that MOMVIOT is at the point to address Memorandum 17 now, but said that _______________ uld know better. _______________inks that they probably do not have the capability.

Page 2 Record of Interview

Communication
In the past, communication has been a definite problem for PSCs. _______________ eports that a more robust system for dedicating frequencies is now in place, making it easier for PSC to get their own frequency band. _______________ eported that PSCs have contact information for military officials and that the military is accessible via telephone and cellular modes. _______________ d not, however, know how often and under what circumstances PSCs call and request military aid.

What the Military Provides
_______________ found that the military helped PSCs to the extent to which they could afford. He also believes that the military would be more inclined to help higher profile contracts. The general sentiment among military officials is that most contractors have their own security or subcontracted for security, so military aid was not necessary. _______________ssumes that military approaches to PSCs are partially personality driven. Convoy security and aid from the military are few and far between. _______________ said that more experienced PSCs will sometimes put convoys
together with other PSC. _______________ lso reported that PSCs that met with him were coming up with their own escape plans because DOS was wrapped up in itself. He suggested that we talk to people on the ground in Iraq to get a clearer picture of how the military operates with PSCs.

CPA Usage of PSC
The CPA used contract security extensively at its 8-10 compounds around Iraq. As the CPA facility is going away, the organization no longer needs PSC contracts. All but four former contractors with the CPA have lost their jobs; DOS overtook the contracts of those that are still employed.

Incident Reporting
When PSCs come under attack, they can file situation reports (sitreps) on the SIPRnet. These reports typically cover rocket attacks, mortar rounds, convoy attacks, etc. These sitreps are not comprehensive, however, as _______________ elieves there to be a large degree of underreporting.

_______________ ontract

There are a lot of concerns among PSCs about the leadership of the _______________ and their background. _______________ recalls tha _______________ a strong proposal.
(Analyst note: We requested a copy of the contract from _______________

_______________ uggested that we contact:

o _______________ works with contractors accompanying the force.
o _______________MOI employee that wrote Memorandum 17.
o _______________ DOS contact that deals with PSCs in Iraq, etc.

Page 3 Record of Interview