09 October, 2007

It's not just Americans who hire contractors

From the Canada Press:

OTTAWA - The Foreign Affairs Department quietly relies on a host of private security contractors to protect Canadian embassies and diplomats across the globe - a small army that needs more supervision, say opposition critics and defence experts.

The call for more oversight follows an incident last month involving the U.S. security firm Blackwater, in which 11 Iraqis died.

Canada has only employed the controversial security contractor to train members of the Canadian Forces and has not used Blackwater for embassy or dignitary protection.

However 2006 federal public account records show a handful of other U.S. and British security corporations working in Iraq have separate protection contracts with Canada for work in other countries.

Precisely what kind of service is provided by firms such as the ArmourGroup of the United Kingdom, and subsidiaries of Wackenhut Security Systems, which ran afoul of U.S. lawmakers over private prisons, isn't clear.

There are also questions about a $456,000 contract Canada's former ambassador to Kabul signed last year with Saladin Afghanistan Security Ltd.

Documents released under the Access to Information law show the agreement, which ran from June 2006 until June 2007, was to provide a quick reaction force to protect the embassy and the army's Strategic Advisor Team - both based in the Afghan capital.

Despite repeated requests for comment last week, a Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said Friday no one was available to answer questions about security arrangements.

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