Falls Church, Va.
In “Blackwater Down” [Oct. 10] Jeremy Scahill wrote that “mercenaries from companies like DynCorp, Intercon, American Security Group, Blackhawk, Wackenhut and an Israeli company called Instinctive Shooting International (ISI) are fanning out to guard private businesses and homes, as well as government projects and institutions.”
For the record, employees of DynCorp International did not “fan out” in New Orleans or any other area affected by Hurricane Katrina. DynCorp International (DI) did not send anyone to the area to provide security services until we had made specific arrangements with clients and knew exactly what our responsibilities would be.
In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, Tenet Health Organization Group engaged DI to help protect its facilities, patients and employees. In the course of our work with Tenet, we have evacuated scores of employees and dozens of animals who had taken refuge in at least two of its hospitals, escorted company officials while they assessed damages, and even transported Tenet officials to a local bank to arrange payroll for their employees.
The people who are performing this security work are all fully certified police officers–either retired or on leave from their jobs–who were deputized by and work under the supervision of the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department. They are not mercenaries, as Scahill disparagingly described them.
Security is only one of many service areas in which DynCorp International works. In the area affected by Katrina and Rita, DI helicopters are providing transportation, DI aviation technicians at several military bases are servicing aircraft that have been deployed for the relief effort, Marine Spill Response Corporation ships with DI crews are repairing oil platforms and cleaning spills, and DI logistics experts are installing temporary housing and office facilities for local officials and relief in St. Bernard Parish.
STEPHEN J. CANNON
President and CEO, DynCorp International
Away From New Orleans
“Blackwater Down” by Jeremy Scahill and the mug shot of the greedy slimeball on your cover make me all the more reluctant to return to New Orleans. Much to my extreme disappointment and my feelings of absolute helplessness, I realize that the city has been invaded and will be permanently altered.
About private security forces being in New Orleans right after Katrina: The beating of a 64-year-old retired black schoolteacher there showed not only the white police officers but two guys identified as “FBI.” Were these “FBI” guys really private security contractors? Why didn’t they intervene to stop the beating? Why was the bloodied victim of police brutality taken to an army medical facility for treatment? This episode was sickening. It sure sent the message “they” probably want to send: “If you’re black, don’t come back!”