Saturday, April 14, 2007

The ID Badge

Dan Halpern wrote a wonderful piece for the Rolling Stone. His writing style appealed to the avid reader in me, capturing a bravado and adventurism I've always imagined must be present in Iraq.

On a more serious note though, Halpern's reporting of circumstances surrounding von Ackermann's ID badge raises some questions.

Death of a Contractor
By Dan Halpern, Rolling Stone, March 8, 2007, Issue 1021

Then, while [Egeman] Cakmak was traveling with [John] Dawkins in Afghanistan that fall, trying to drum up new contracts, he stumbled across something that stopped him in his tracks. There, among Dawkins' possessions, was the Ultra Services badge that had belonged to Kirk von Ackermann, the official Defense Department identification that allowed him to be in Iraq. For Cakmak, it was a stunning discovery: Dawkins had previously said that the badge had never been recovered.

Cakmak confronted Dawkins. "Nobody found his passport or his badge?" Cakmak asked. Dawkins said no -- they hadn't ever found Kirk's passport, badge or gun.

Cakmak turned to [Bora] Tuncay. "He's lying," he said in Turkish. "Because I have the badge." Then, turning to Dawkins: "I found Kirk's Ultra Services badge in the office, while we were moving."

"Ah, the badge!" Dawkins said. "It wasn't missing. It came with the stuff CID gave me."

Cakmak didn't believe him. Dawkins had told him that CID had not returned von Ackermann's possessions until months after his disappearance. But Cakmak had discovered a scan of Kirk's badge on a laptop computer belonging to Dawkins. The scan was dated October 10th, 2003 -- the day after Kirk had disappeared.

"How does he have the badge that was around Kirk's neck to scan onto his computer the day after Kirk disappeared?" Cakmak says. "He has it because the men he hired to kill Kirk brought it to him as proof."
Let's address the "badge" first. Colin Freeman reported a "photo ID" in November 2003.
Bay Area civilian vanishes in Iraq
By Colin Freeman, San Francisco Chronicle, November 11, 2003

At a U.S. Army checkpoint a few miles along the road from where von Ackermann disappeared, soldiers were issued with a photocopy of his photo ID several weeks ago. But during troop rotations, no information was passed on about the case, leaving the incoming troops unaware of who he was or why they even had his photo.
We know from Freeman's second article that Ryan Manelick was a significant source for the above first on Kirk von Ackermann's disappearance. It's possible Manelick knew about the photocopies of the photo ID and told/showed Freeman. It shouldn't be too hard to find out.

Çakmak's insinuations also raise questions about what appears to be a deliberate and on-going effort to pin the disappearance of von Ackermann on Dawkins even though CID has supposedly determined it was a botched kidnapping attempt by Iraqis (ref). Any way...

Back to that short sentence about the laptop:
But Cakmak had discovered a scan of Kirk's badge on a laptop computer belonging to Dawkins.
That one sentence contains a very small but intriguing detail. What was Egeman Çakmak doing with John Dawkins' laptop?

In June 2004, the domain name server listed on the registration for Dawkin's company mesopotamiagroup.com was changed. The domain name server was switched to a co-located server in Turkey. A year later, in the summer of 2005, mesopotamiagroup.com was "hijacked." In order to accomplish this, access was needed to send an email from one very particular address: john@ultra-services.com

It's been a while since I've thought about who hijacked mesopotamiagroup.com?

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