Security Workers Introduced to Rule of Law
By Timmy Watson in News on Jan 7, 2007 5:20PM
On Wednesday it was discovered that an Orland Park firefighter was arrested for felony theft for falsely claiming he was fighting for the military in Iraq. Lawrence Masa was actually working for a private security firm in Iraq and was being paid quite well. During this time Masa made approximately $190,000 as a firefighter and $200,000 as a private security worker.
Yesterday, Steven Slawinski, a Lemont Firefighter, was accused of the same crime. Slawinski, a friend of Masa, is charged with Felony theft for falsely claiming he was fighting for the military in Iraq. Slawinski too was working at a private security firm, getting paid $27,000 from the Fire Department while in Iraq. Officials looked into Slawinksi's claims after they realized the relationship between the two and the timing of both men's return to work. Slawinski was making $63/hour as a trainer in Iraq.
Since the start of the Iraq war tens of thousands of private security workers have entered the country. With the ease these two had at falsely producing documents stating they were serving in the military, we assume this is much more of a widespread problem. This is just another addition to the slew of problems we face with private military contractors in Iraq.
The U.S. Department of State currently recognizes 28 Security Companies doing business in Iraq, it is not known which company Masa and Slawinski were working for, but our look into the companies shows two which specialize in both fire and security. Baghdad Fire and Security is described as providing the following services,"Fire protection and security equipment supply. Install, maintain and commission these systems. Physical security and demining." The second, Group 4 Falck A/S, provides, "Cashing sorting. Ambulance services (vehicles and professional staff). Firefighting services (vehicles, products and professional staff). Prisons and prison management. Global solutions. Facility management and training services." The State Department's disclaimer regarding these companies is, "The U.S. government assumes no responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms whose names appear on the list."
The other problems we mentioned above, include abuse at Abu Ghraib (following these allegations the companies involved were awarded additional Pentagon contracts) and a video of firms shooting at Iraqi citizens. Needless to say, previously these firms were acting without any regard for, and any repercussions from, the law.
With five words slipped into the most recent Pentagon Budget, however, this should change. Previously, if Congress had not declared war the Military had no jurisdiction over security contractors. Essentially leaving Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan as playgrounds for the firms. We don't discredit the risk the workers of these firms take, but it only makes sense they have some sort of moral authority guiding them. The amendment included in the budget bill simply took the word "war" and replaced it with "declared war or a contingency operation." The Defense Tech article suggests that Journalists embedded in contingency operation zones could also be subject to the change, but this will most likely not remain true as embedded journalists are unarmed and not considered contractors.