Pentagon now paying millions to Spicer

Posted By: March 29, 2013

Irish Echo. December 1 – December 7, 2004
By Ray O’Hanlon

The Pentagon has started paying out millions of dollars to the company owned by Tim Spicer even as the controversial former British army officer has been connected in a newspaper report to a foiled coup in Africa. The U.S. Department of Defense has previously stated that it is standing behind its decision to award a $293 million security contract in Iraq to Aegis Defense Services, the company run by Spicer.

As a lieutenant colonel, Spicer commanded the Scots Guards regiment in Belfast when soldiers in the unit fatally shot a teenager, Peter McBride.

The shooting, in September 1992, remains one of the most controversial involving the British security forces during the Troubles.

The Department of the Army has written to five U.S. senators stating that the decision to award the contract to Aegis was “well founded.” And on that basis, the Pentagon has already started paying out sums to Aegis in the form of “vouchers” worth millions of dollars each.

Documentation obtained by the Echo shows that seven vouchers have been paid to date. The largest of the vouchers is for just over $13.5 million, the smallest for a little more than $1.6 million. The total Pentagon payout to Aegis listed on the document is more than $48.9 million.

The Iraq contract allows Aegis to use the money to supply “security services, anti-terrorism support and analyses, movement escort services, and close personal protection services” in Iraq.

The Aegis company board includes Frederick Forsyth, author of a number of international best-selling books including “The Dogs of War.”

Five members of the U.S. Senate — Charles Schumer, Hillary Clinton, Edward Kennedy, Chris Dodd and John Kerry — wrote Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld last August calling on him to investigate the granting of the contract to Aegis.

In the letter, the senators pointed to Spicer’s record in Northern Ireland and allegations of his involvement in illicit arms deals in Africa.

The letter to Rumsfeld stated that the U.S. government required that all contractors be “responsible bidders” with a “satisfactory record of integrity and business ethics.”

The senators asked Rumsfeld to disclose whether the government adequately considered Spicer’s human-rights-abuse allegations, or his vigorous defense of his actions, as part of Aegis’s record and past performance rating when awarding the contract.

In a response on behalf of Rumsfeld, Sandra Sieber, director of the U.S. Army Contracting Agency, stated that it was “significant” that the British Ministry of Defense was told of the decision to award the contract to Aegis and “did not object or advise” against the action.

Sieber noted that neither Aegis nor Spicer were on the U.S. General Services Administration list of parties excluded from federal contracting. She said that the contracting officer responsible for selecting Aegis had not been aware of human rights allegations against Spicer and Aegis at the time the contract decision was made in May of this year.

“However, our post-award review of the facts surrounding these matters did not establish that Mr. Spicer’s advocacy on behalf of his former soldiers had any bearing on his or Aegis’s record of integrity and business ethics,” Sieber wrote.

However, a report in the latest edition of the respected British Sunday newspaper, The Observer, states that Rumsfeld was made aware of the planned coup in Equatorial Guinea as early as December 2003, six months before the contract was awarded to Aegis.

Spicer’s name — which has been linked in recent years to a coup in Papua New Guinea and illegal gun running in Sierra Leone — separately appeared in a recent report in the Star newspaper in South Africa concerning the attempted coup in the West African nation.

The oil-rich country’s government, widely viewed as being one of the most authoritarian in the region, is seeking the extradition from South Africa of Sir Mark Thatcher, son of former British Prime Minister Margaret, to answer charges in connection with the alleged plot.

“Prosecutors have now added Thatcher and seven others to the ranks of those charged in the alleged March takeover plot,” the Observer said. The others are Simon Mann, Greg Wales, Eli Calil, Severo Moto and his government-in-exile, David Hart, Jeffrey Archer, David Tremain, Tim Spicer and Tony Buckingham, the alleged financiers of the coup attempt.

Jeffrey Archer, now Lord Archer, is a former chairman of the Conservative Party in Britain and has recently served a two-year prison term for perjury. Like Forsythe, Archer is the author of best-selling books.

The Observer reported that both the British and U.S. governments had been given “a full outline” of the coup plot several months in advance.

“But, despite Britain’s clear obligations under international law, [Foreign Secretary] Jack Straw, who was personally told of the plans at the end of January, failed to warn the government of Equatorial Guinea,” the Observer reported.

The story stated that in December 2003 and January 2004, two separate, highly-detailed reports of the planned coup were sent to senior officers in British intelligence — and to a senior advisor to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld.

The Pentagon adviser is named in the report as Michael Westphal and described in it as “one of Rumsfeld’s most trusted lieutenants.”

His formal title, according to the Observer, is “Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense in charge of special operations and combating terrorism.”

The Rev. Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus in Washington has been spearheading a campaign against the awarding of the Pentagon contract to Aegis. He has based his objection on what he has described as Spicer’s “terrorist” record in Northern Ireland.

Spicer, McManus said, had “terrorized” the McBride family when his army unit “assassinated” Peter Mc Bride. “And he continues to terrorize the McBride family by his brazen defense of the assassination.”

This story appeared in the issue of December 1-7, 2004

(c) 2004 Irish Echo Newspaper Corp.