Fellow nyc indymedia, I have been working on a project regarding private military contractors and the "war on terror."

It seems that they are at it again in Somalia. Do not be fooled by what is happening with CIA backed Ethiopia and the brutal attack on Somalia.

Here is the info which was made public in September by the Guardian.


US accused of covert operations in Somalia

Emails suggest that the CIA knew of plans by private military companies to breach UN rules

Antony Barnett and Patrick Smith
Sunday September 10, 2006
The Observer

Dramatic evidence that America is involved in illegal mercenary operations in east Africa has emerged in a string of confidential emails seen by The Observer. The leaked communications between US private military companies suggest the CIA had knowledge of the plans to run covert military operations inside Somalia - against UN rulings - and they hint at involvement of British security firms.
The emails, dated June this year, reveal how US firms have been planning undercover missions in support of President Abdullahi Yusuf's transitional federal government - founded with UN backing in 2004 - against the Supreme Islamic Courts Council - a radical Muslim militia which took control of Mogadishu, the country's capital, also in June promising national unity under Sharia law.

Evidence of foreign involvement in the conflict would not only breach the UN arms embargo but could destabilise the entire region.
One email dated Friday, 16 June, is from Michele Ballarin, chief executive of Select Armor - a US military firm based in Virginia. Ballarin's email was sent to a number of individuals including Chris Farina of the Florida-based military company ATS Worldwide.

Ballarin said: 'Boys: Successful meeting with President Abdullay Yussef [sic] and his chief staff personnel in Nairobi, Kenya on Tuesday ... where he invited us to his private hotel suite flacked by security detail ... He has appointed is chief of presidential protocol as our go to during this phase.'

She refers to one 'closed-door meeting' with a senior UN figure and mentions there are 'a number of Brit security firms' also looking to get involved.

Ballarin claimed she has been given 'carte blanche' to use three bases in Somalia 'and the air access to reach them'.

She then suggests that the CIA have been kept informed of the plans. Ballarin states: 'My contact whom we discussed from the agency side requested an in-person meeting with me. I arrived in New York at 2340 last night and was driven to Virginia - arriving at 0200 today.'

According to the highly respected newsletter, Africa Confidential, which originally published extracts of the emails last week, Select Armor started its operation planning in Kampala, Uganda. The emails suggest that the Ugandan government were willing to help secure arms supplies for any operation although this is denied by security officials in Kampala.

In one reply to Ballarin, Farina said: 'A forced entry operation [into Mogadishu] at this point without the addition of follow-on forces who can capitalise on the momentum/initiative of the initial op will result in a replay of Dien Bien Phu'. This is a reference to the defeat of French colonial forces in Indochina in 1953.

The website of Farina's company ATS boasts it 'can execute operations in support of host national indigenous forces'. ATS claims it uses former US and British special operations personnel.

One email discussing funding of any operation sent from Farina to Ballarin states: 'We may have to re-focus our efforts in the US among the DOS [State Department] and DOD [Defence Department] to bring any forward movement to this effort.'

The Observer left several messages with both Select and ATS requesting interviews but nobody responded. Ballarin told Africa Confidential last week that the company's operations in Somalia were 'classified'.

Here is another article people


The Observer has a piece today which claims that U.S. military contractors are running “covert military operations” in Somalia and not only that, but the CIA is absolutely on board with a scheme that directly contravenes a long standing UN embargo against the troubled nation.

The companies named by the Observer include Florida and Reston, Virginia -based ATS worldwide and the Virginia based Select Armor, which can be added to the shadowy TopCat Marine Security, another firm based in Virginia which has questionable dealings in Somalia.

Drawing on work done by the newsletter Africa Confidential, the piece suggests that e-mails between the firms involved show that the private military sector “has been given ‘carte blanche’ to use three bases in Somalia ‘and the air access to reach them’” in support of the transitional government, headed by ex-warlord Abdullahi Yusuf.

Michele Ballarin, a listed contact at Select Armor also writes, ”’My contact whom we discussed from the agency side requested an in-person meeting with me. I arrived in New York at 2340 last night and was driven to Virginia – arriving at 0200 today.’” – which the Observer takes to refer to the CIA.

Although I can’t get access to the Africa Confidential article ($38 anyone?) – its precis does give a flavor of the e-mails they have obtained. “The documents refer to Uganda’s willingness to secure arms supplies using its own end-user certificates (in contravention of the UN arms embargo) and makes disparaging remarks about ‘the fucks’ in the United Nations who have been ‘snooping around’ Select Armor’s personnel.”

These operations appear to have been centered around the DoD, rather than the CIA (the DoD controls 85% of the U.S. intelligence budget). An e-mail from a Chris Farina at ATS states that “We may have to re-focus our efforts in the US among the DOS [State Department] and DOD [Defence Department] to bring any forward movement to this effort.”

This implies strongly that rather than a basic CIA operation, this “effort” is a Rumsfeld product, emerging from the murky soup of agencies and offices around the Pentagon and the ghoulish military/neocon shills that populate them.

Let’s see if we can find out something about the dramatis personae.

At its website, ATS displays an array of courses dealing with the many ways to kill a person. One, for example is “intended to provide each student the cutting edge skills in the tactical world of rural sniping.” Another, dealing with “urban sniping” promises that in four days, “The student will gain the knowledge and confidence to be an effective Designated Marksman (DM)” which seems like a bold claim to me, unless there is a very low threshold of experience needed to be sent off to Iraq as a designated marksman.

Like any innovative modern military contractor, ATS has also branched off into disaster relief, scrabbling as well as anyone for the pork which has flowed since hurricane Katrina. Claiming to be “a company uniquely qualified to assist with disaster recovery” the serives provided by ATS relief only really extend to immediate concerns like securing property from looters and airlifting wealthy victims (in the lingo, “damage assessment”, “security teams” and “intelligence support services.”)

Here they are helping a senile old goat to safety (notice the ghastly inappropriate smiles).

ATS claims to have a recommendation from NBC, quoting them as saying that “There’s a unique new business here in the Panhandle of Florida that’s doing its part to help the hurricane relief effort” which is, surprisingly, ATS – yet NBC has no record on its website of saying such a thing. It may actually come from a distant NBC affiliate, KSTP (Minnesota) and even then I can’t find any evidence that KSTP anchor Jason Davis actually praised ATS.

Ahah, found it, cached on google at a Florida affiliate, WJHG (Panama City, FL). Davis visited the military training range run by ATS in the small town of Altha, Calhoun county, Florida. What he found there is interesting, including the testimony of ATS employee (“Chief of Staff” no less) John Schaper that,

“We’ve ramped up and prepared to support follow-on missions in support of the U.S. military and governmental agencies…We’ve executed our operation in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, Central and South America. We work primarily for the U.S. government in conjunction with the private sector or companies.”

Consisting of ex-military personnel, Schaper says that the purpose of ATS is to “make it easier on the military to contract out and train these forces in order to deploy them in hot spots throughout the world” including, perhaps, “denied areas” like Somalia, or even Darfur, where it is not politically acceptable for U.S. regular forces to operate, until that is, a crisis of suitable proportions can be engineered to allow some form of military intervention.

According to its own site, ATS is closely linked to WVC3 group (another military contractor) which is owned by Fox News analyst Bill Cowan and Kenneth R. Curley (via his company Raymond Associates LLC) who himself served as an official under the CPA in Baghdad and before that in the U.S. Naval administration [bio here]. This document suggests to me that Curley is a part of the ATS “team” –  curleyk@atstactical.com being a giveaway.

The other names at the bottom of the document are Bill Cowan, the Fox analyst and Chris Farina, whose e-mails with Select Armor and references to the CIA are apparently exposed in today’s Observer article.

Ken’s on the left, in Baghdad, 2003 – taken from here

Cowan himself claims to be non-partisan, but his ex-business partner in WVC3 certainly isn’t. Carlton Sherwood, after leaving the company in 2004, produced Stolen Honor – a documentary purporting to unmask the “real John Kerry.”

As for Kenneth Curley, he’s a bona fide Republican benefactor (Sweeney for Congress, $1,000 – dated 11/09/2001). A small investment in Sweeney has surely gone a long way, with Sweeney now a member of the House Homeland Security Appropriations Committee. Sweeney and Curley go way back via the Irish American Republicans, working on the frontline to secure the election of Bush in 2000.

As their own hype puts it, “Dubbed the “Wild Geese of Miami,” the Irish Republicans successfully fought-off the attempted theft of the Presidency. Grant Lally served as the GOP Floor Manager of the Miami Recount, battling to protect the integrity of the ballots…Congessman John Sweeney served as overall Bush political director for the south Florida recounts, a role for which President Bush awarded him the knickname “Congessman Kick-Ass.”

In 2004, they boast “The IAR trained over 2000 GOP poll watchers, the front line of Republican anti-fraud efforts in Ohio” – while one of the IAR heavy hitters jetting off to Ohio “to make the crucial difference” was, Colonel Kenneth Curley.

Curley sits on the board of directors of IAR, an organization with a fantastic level of access to Congress and the Federal government (with members ranging from John McCain, to George Pataki, John Sweeney and Tom Feeney).

Anyhow, now that we’ve established the links between Curley, Sweeney, the Homeland Security committee in Congress and the Bush election theft machine, back to the underlings.

Chris Farina, an ATS employee quoted by the Observer is on a Conservative talk show called “Danger Zone” tonight, so don’t miss it. The (right-wing) Foundation for the Defence of Democracies describes him as a “former Special Forces operative” in its intro, and he’ll be chatting alongside FDD hack Andrew McCarthy, show host Richard Carlson and, one of his bosses – Bill Cowan.

It’s an incestuous business. Could be interesting to see what they come up with regarding Somalia.

As for Select Armor, the other company named, according to its own website, it is “a woman-owned enterprise HQ in The Plains, VA” but with offices “Santa Fe Springs, CA, Jebel Ali, United Arab Emirates, Salzburg, Austria, and Baghdad, Iraq” – a true multinational.

Oddly, despite championing woman ownership, it also lists the company founder and chairman of the board as a Canadian ex-Special Ops guy, Douglas Eaton.

The company provides CBRN (basically the gamut of WMD perils) to other firms and governments – it’s site is full of ghoulish pictures of rubber and gas mask clad “first responders” while it’s proudly displayed motto is “Select Armor – For a Brutal World” (are they for a brutal world, or just providing ‘solutions’ for it?).

To protect its clients against global terrorism, Select Armor offers tactical training in conjunction with a prestigious partner, ATS worldwide services. If the Observer is right, then this tactical training has extended to fighting a civil war in a far off African nation, at the behest of the Pentagon or the CIA.

The current President and CEO of Select Armor is certainly a woman, Michele Ballarin, whom the Observer flags in its article as linked to the “agency” – either DHS or the CIA.

Her name comes up as a contact in the horse breeding business in Virginia, via a company called Cambridge Asset Management (and her e-mail address –  mgb@cambridgeltd.com, if you’re after an elegant Wolf Crag Lipizanner). Weird training for counter-terrorism though, but no weirder than Browny’s training for FEMA management as a specialist in Arab horses.

Investment information portals describe CAM as a “Boutique investment bank specializing in mergers, acquisitions, and financings of technology companies in the middle market” (whatever that means) while CAM is seeking “Sound strategies, offerings committed to leadership in market segments targeted. Companies who have first mover advantage and are targeting rapid growth markets. Companies whose offerings are compelling, differentiated, and who are building sustainable offerings which enable rapid market penetration through intellectual property, patents, and trade secrets” with its capital stock of $250 million.

Presumably Select Armor qualified admirably, with a genuine ‘rapid growth market’ in stoking public fearsof WMD attacks and there seems to be nothing more ‘sustainable’ than gobal instability to keep the profits rolling in.

More later.