The mother of a murdered Belfast teenager has
met U.S. diplomats to express her concerns about a Pentagon security contract
Jean McBride's son Peter
was shot dead in 1992 by two soldiers from the Scots Guards. Their commanding
Col. Tim Spicer, is now the head of Aegis
Specialist Risk Management, one of the largest private security companies
operating in Iraq.
Mrs. McBride met earlier this month with the U.S. Special Envoy on the Irish
Peace Process Mitchell Reiss and U.S. Consul Howard
"I told the ambassador that his government would not take kindly to the
Irish or British governments doing business with someone who justified the murder
of a U.S. citizen, and that I don't take kindly to the U.S. government doing
business with someone who has accused my son of carrying a bomb and who has
justified the shooting, in the back, of my unarmed 18-year-old son," she
During the meeting, Mrs. McBride also raised the issue of a number of so-called
videos circulating on the Internet, which appear to show Aegis personnel
shooting at Iraqi civilians.
A spokesman for the Pat Finucane
Center said that Ambassador Reiss had agreed to keep the McBride family
informed of the progress of the investigation, and had denied claims that Aegis
was involved in carrying out the inquiry.
The Pat Finucane Center presented Mr. Reiss with material from a now-defunct
Web site run by Rod Stoner, the former Aegis employee who released the trophy
videos on the Internet.
Aegis threatened Mr. Stoner with legal action after he was interviewed
on Britain's Channel Four News in March. Although Aegis has denied
there is any evidence [.pdf] to connect it with the videos, it reportedly
accused Mr. Stoner of breach of copyright over their release.
However, Aegis' subsequent application to the High Court in London instead
focused on the discussion of company procedures on the message board of Mr.
Stoner's site. As a result of the interim injunction awarded to Aegis, the site
has been taken down.
videos remain online at the Channel Four News Web site, while a copy
of the site's message board has been posted by the Pat Finucane Center.
The long-running controversy over Aegis' contract with the U.S. government
may be fueled next month, when a new documentary on private military companies
(PMCs) is screened on Capitol Hill.
Although the film, Shadow
Company, offers a largely impartial survey of the PMC phenomenon, it
includes severe criticisms of the Aegis deal.
The film's director Nick Bicanic said in an interview
earlier this year:
"[E]very individual that I spoke to was appalled that this was happening.
Even the guys who just carry the guns, and are obviously not going to be in
touch with somebody at the level of Tim Spicer, had heard of him and how much
he screwed up before. To this day, it's still not clear as to why that contract
Among those interviewed in the film is Canadian journalist Madelaine
Drohan, who has followed Spicer's career in Africa, as well as that of Tony
Buckingham, the man who introduced Spicer to the mercenary industry.
Drohan describes Buckingham's business methods in her book, Making
"Tony Buckingham had been making a practice of introducing Executive
Outcomes to weak and unstable governments in need of armed support. These governments
often hired the mercenaries to retake prime resource areas in their countries
– diamond mines in particular – from rebel forces. Once these areas were back
in a government's control, mineral concessions were awarded to multinational
corporations. When it was revealed that some of these corporations were associated
with Buckingham, he was accused of employing armed force to acquire mineral
riches, much as the imperial chartered companies had done a century before."
Buckingham is today a director of Heritage
Oil, which holds an oil
concession in Iraqi Kurdistan, certainly a prime resource area. This contract
is one of a
number of deals that are currently the subject
of a dispute between the Kurdish regional government and the central authorities
Significantly, Spicer has pointed to an increased role for private military
companies in protecting the oil industry.
"I don't subscribe to the view that there is a civil war going on, but
if the coalition left it could very easily disintegrate into one," he told
Guardian recently. "The Iraqi security forces are not ready to
take control. And therefore there would be a very significant increased role
for private security – protecting critical infrastructure like oil, power station
and water supplies, otherwise the insurgents will blow them up."
Spicer's record suggests that there is a real danger that U.S. sponsorship
of his company may bring the methods of African resource wars to the new Iraq.