Stories written by Pratap Chatterjee
Pratap Chatterjee is an investigative journalist who has written extensively about U.S. defence contractors employed in the “war on terror”. He has written two books on the subject: ‘Iraq, Inc’ (2004) and ‘Halliburton's Army’ (2009). Pratap is managing editor of CorpWatch and formerly a senior fellow at the Washington, D.C.-based Centre for American Progress.
What was Mostapha Maanna of Hacking Team, an Italian surveillance company, doing on his three trips to Saudi Arabia in the last year? A new data trove from WikiLeaks reveals travel details for salesmen like Maanna who hawk electronic technology to track communications by individuals without their knowledge.
James Bimen Associates of Virginia and Harris Corporation of Florida have contracts with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to hack into computers and phones of surveillance targets, according to Chris Soghoian, principal technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.
How do U.S. intelligence agencies eavesdrop on the whole world? The ideal place to tap trans-border telecommunications is undersea cables that carry an estimated 90 percent of international voice traffic.
Spy equipment from the Surveillance Group Limited, a British private detective agency based in Worcester, England, has been found in the Ecuadorean embassy in London where Julian Assange, editor of Wikileaks, has taken refuge.
Late on Monday night, Sarah Harrison, a Wikileaks activist, hand-delivered 21 letters to Kim Shevchenko, the duty officer at the Russian consulate office in Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, on behalf of Edward Snowden, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower.
Edward Snowden, a low-level employee of Booz Allen Hamilton who blew the whistle on the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA), unexpectedly exposed a powerful and seamless segment of the military-industrial complex - the world of contractors that consumes some 70 percent of this country's 52-billion-dollar intelligence budget.
In Hollywood Westerns, the sheriff engages in a shootout with bad guys and wins. Such was the story of Wyatt Earp, who killed rustlers in the "Gunfight at OK Corral". Then there is the American cowboy, represented by John Wayne - tall, handsome, Anglo-Saxon – who rides into town whistling before he dispatches the "bad guys" sometimes represented by "Indians" like Geronimo, the Apache, who supposedly terrorised innocent settlers.
Was Adel Hamlily an agent for MI6, the British secret services, and simultaneously a "facilitator, courier, kidnapper, and assassin for al-Qaida"? Was there a secret al Qaeda cell in Bremen that even the German government knew nothing about? And could it be possible that an 11-year-old Saudi villager was leading a terrorist cell in London?
When Major General Mohamed Said Elassar, assistant to Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the Egyptian minister of defence, came to the U.S. capital last April, he was given the equivalent of a red carpet welcome. The delegation of high-ranking Egyptian military officials that he was leading was ushered from one Congressional office to the next, from the Pentagon to the State Department.
One billion dollars and just over four years after Boeing won a contract to build a "virtual fence" on the Arizona-Mexico border, the high-tech project was canceled last week by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amid widespread recognition that it has been a failure.
When the price of salt in Ohio skyrocketed 236 percent in the winter of 2008, Ted Strickland, the governor of the state, asked the state inspector general to figure out why. Investigators quickly found that two government contractors – Cargill and Morton Salt – were responsible for this sudden price increase.
Mordechai Orian, president of Global Horizons, a Los Angeles- based labour recruiter, has been indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice for "engaging in a conspiracy to commit forced labour and document servitude" of approximately 400 Thai citizens who were brought to work on farms in the U.S. between May 2004 and September 2005.
Military auditors failed to complete an audit of the business systems of an Ohio- based company - Mission Essential Personnel - even though it had billed for one billion dollars worth of work largely in Afghanistan over the last four years.
When Wikileaks, a whistleblower website, released 76,000 incident reports from the U.S. war in Afghanistan, the exploits of a secret military "capture/kill" team called Task Force 373 was revealed for the first time.
When Danny Hall and Gordon Phillips, the civilian and military directors of the U.S. provincial reconstruction team in Nangahar Province, Afghanistan arrived for a meeting with Gul Agha Sherzai, the local governor, in mid-June 2007, they knew that they had a lot of apologising to do.
"Find, fix, finish, and follow-up" - also known as F4 - is the way the Pentagon describes the mission of secret military teams in Afghanistan which have been given a mandate to pursue alleged members of the Taliban or al Qaeda wherever they may be found. Some call these "manhunting" operations and the units assigned to them "capture/kill" teams.
Jerry Torres, CEO of Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions, has a motto: "For Torres, failure is not an option." A former member of the Green Berets, one of the elite U.S. Army Special Forces, he was awarded "Executive of the Year" at the seventh annual "Greater Washington Government Contractor Awards" in November 2009.
Should private contractors like Blackwater be allowed to continue to provide armed security for convoys, diplomatic and other personnel, and military bases and other facilities in Afghanistan and Iraq? A bipartisan U.S. Congressional commission will spend two days cross-examining 14 witnesses from academia, government and the companies themselves to come up with an answer.