Merchant of Death
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Tim Spicer, Aegis and Iraq--What as Surprise!
Well, it looks like Aegis, the company run by British mercenary and profiteer Tim Spicer, who managed to get a $293 million U.S. government contract in Iraq, has run into a spot of trouble. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. military has opened an investigation into whether Aegis employees, responsible for providing close personal protection for diplomats in Iraq, opened fire on civilian vehicles. Videos of the shootings first surfaced on a website maintained by former employees of Agis, and contained a message from Spicer reminding his collegues that their livelihood depends on them maintaining their contract.

Spicer is not an unknown commodity and has a long history of involvement with rogue armed groups. Here is what I have written about him before, along with links to other stories, but here is a brief recap:

One of Spicer's main business partners in the 1990s was Anthony Buckingham, and oil entrepreur with interests in Africa. Together they founded Executive Outcomes, a forerunner of Sandline (see above). One of Buckingham's interests in Africa was Branch Energy in Kenya. On the board of directors of Branch Energy was Sanjivan Ruprah, international arms dealer and frequent partner of Viktor Bout. As Ray O'Hanlon wrote in the the Sept. 29, 2004 issue of Irish Echo, "there is only one degree of separation between Ruprah and Tim Spicer, Buckingham being the connecting dot. This is not to suggest a direct link between Ruprah and Spicer, but suffice it to say, all these individuals have been swimming in the same opaque sea."

Spicer formed Aegis to operate in Iraq. Somehow, despite his open affiliation with a failed, illegal military expedition for which he was to be $36 million (Papua New Guinea) and various mercenary operations in Africa that offered military services in exchange for the right to diamond fields (Sandline, Branch Energy), he not only passed muster, he got a three-year contract at almost $100 million, cost-plus, a year to do his work.

His reviews have not been good. The GAO has consistently found his company to be doing a poor job, but that appears not to matter. It was renewed recently for another year.

If there were ever a perfect case to demonstrate a bit of serious Congressional oversight, it seems to me this would be a fine place to start. Whether one agrees with the invasion of Iraq or not, it is clear that there must be oversight of how U.S. taxpayer dollars are spent. I don't know whether Spicer and/or Aegis did anything wrong in this case. But providing a living for people like Tim Spicer is not, in my book, one of the best ways to spend our money.
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