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Archive for October 5th, 2009

APPF’s Dubious Story Gets Even More Dubious

TPM MUCKRAKER– Justin Elliott | October 5, 2009, 6:46PM

We’ve known since last week that the story surrounding a deal that handed an empty jail in Hardin, MT, to shadowy private security company American Private Police Force just wasn’t adding up. Today, it became still more clear that APPF has a lot of explaining to do.

Let’s review the developments:

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Golden Earring- Twilight Zone

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Hardin Official: Unnamed But ‘Highly Qualified’ APPF Director Of Ops In Afghanistan Right Now

TPM MUCKRAKER– Justin Elliott | October 5, 2009, 6:08PM

American Private Police Force has hired a director of operations for the Hardin jail project who will not be publicly named until next week but who is a “highly qualified” retired U.S. military person doing training in Afghanistan, a Hardin official tells TPMmuckraker.

“I’ve got his resume and it looks pretty nice,” says Al Peterson of the Hardin economic development agency, which brokered the jail deal with APPF.

Peterson wouldn’t say who the director of operations is, but confirmed it was not a Hardin local.

APPF official “Captain” Michael Hilton has said that his boss is a retired U.S. Army colonel named Richard Culver who is currently overseas, the AP reported last month. But the AP was not able to verify Culver’s role in the firm. And no colonel of that name has a footprint on Lexis-Nexis.

There’s been some chatter online that a former official of medical and security services firm International SOS — who is named Richard Culver — could be linked to APPF. But a member of the company’s security firm told us today that Culver, who left the company about a year ago, was not a U.S. citizen and had no affiliation with the Army.

We’ve put in a call with the Army about a Col. Culver, and we’ll let you know what we find out.

Late Update:: International SOS spokeswoman Erin Giordano tells TPMmuckraker the company has “no affiliation” with American Private Police Force. “It’s not the same Rich Culver,” she says.

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Another Blow To APPF’s Credibility: Contractor Says Web Site Material Was Lifted

TPM MUCKRAKER– Justin Elliott | October 5, 2009, 4:35PM

The head of a California defense contractor says that American Private Police Force brazenly copied information from its Web site and that it’s considering legal action against APPF.

CEO Edward Angelino of Allied Defense Systems told TPMmuckraker that APPF’s “Mike Hilton came to us for our help looking for supplies and equipment” for the mysterious project at an empty jail in Hardin, Montana.

After a bit of due diligence, Angelino deemed that Hilton and APPF were not fit to do business with — but not before referring APPF to Allied Defense Systems’ Web developer.

At that point, Hilton “copied a lot of our verbage into his web site, without our permission, without my consent,” Angelino says.

For example, check out this Allied Defense Systems page that advertises force protection equipment for “Nuclear/Biological/Chemical (WMD).” And then check out the wholesale duplicate of the Allied Defense Systems content on this APPF page (clumsily copied, it suggests that APPF is in fact selling weapons of mass destruction).

Hilton had claimed Allied Defense Systems was providing uniforms for APPF, the AP reported last week. As a result of that and the Web site plagiarism, an Allied lawyer sent APPF a cease and desist letter last week. And Angelino says there might be further legal action down the road.

He adds that Hilton described APPF’s parent company as a security firm operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, but couldn’t remember the name of the company. APPF’s ex-lawyer has said the parent company was founded in 1984.

APPF’s spokeswoman has not responded to requests for comment today.

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Devo- Whip It – (1980 Live!)

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APPF Lawyer Who Said Info Would ‘Gradually Be More Clear’ Quits

TPM MUCKRAKER– Justin Elliott | October 5, 2009, 3:35PM

Maziar Mafi, the California lawyer who had been variously identified as American Private Police Force’s legal affairs director, president, and a “major” in the company, on Friday severed his ties to the Hardin, MT, jail project until he sees “more concrete action.”

Mafi’s practice, like APPF, is based in Santa Ana, California. As a specialist in personal injury, immigration, and business law, he had seemed an odd choice of counsel for a firm that claims to play a critical role in filling the United States government’s “homeland security needs.”

Mafi told the AP: “For the time, I’m pulling out. I need to see more concrete action before I can be involved.”

And the AP observes that APPF official ‘Captain’ Michael Hilton misrepresented Mafi’s role in the organization:

Hilton, who claims an extensive military background and uses the title “captain,” initially described Mafi as a “major” in American Police Force. He later said Mafi was the company’s president–although Mafi denied the role and said he had no military or security background.

The AP quoted Mafi in the middle of September describing the company was a “as a fledgling spin-off of a major security firm founded in 1984.” Declining to name the firm in question, he said at the time: “It will gradually be more clear as things go along.”

Clearly, that did not happen to Mafi’s satisfaction.

Contacted by TPMmuckraker today, Mafi declined to comment about his relationship with APPF or about whether he’s still confident in his description of APPF’s parent company. APPF spokeswoman Becky Shay has not returned calls for comment.

The APPF project may have done more than damage merely Mafi’s reputation: he also “guaranteed the Sept. 10 purchase of two Mercedes SUVs by Hilton,” the AP reports. Those would be the SUVs that drove into town late last month bearing “City Of Hardin Police Department” decals. A payment on one of the vehicles is now late.

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E.J. Dionne | Truthdig | Oct 4, 2009

Barack_Obama_meets_with_Stanley_A__McChrystal_in_the_Oval_Office_2009-05-19

At a White House dinner with a group of historians at the beginning of the summer, Robert Dallek, a shrewd student of both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, offered a chilling comment to President Barack Obama.

“In my judgment,” he recalls saying, “war kills off great reform movements.”

The American record is pretty clear: World War I brought the Progressive Era to a close. When Franklin D. Roosevelt was waging World War II, he was candid in saying that “Dr. New Deal” had given way to “Dr. Win the War.” Korea ended Harry Truman’s Fair Deal, and Vietnam brought Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society to an abrupt halt.

Dallek is not a pacifist and he does not pretend that his observation settles the question against war in every case. Of the four he mentioned, I think the Second World War and Korea were certainly necessary fights.

But Dallek’s point helps explain why Obama is right to have grave qualms about an extended commitment of many more American troops to Afghanistan. Obama was elected not to escalate a war but to end one. The change and hope he promised did not involve a vast new campaign to transform Afghanistan.

Read more

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