Friday, March 20, 2009

Base Access

Color me completely baffled today. An article via Ms Sparky...

KBR Work Presents 'Security Risk' Says Pentagon Official
By David Murdock, The Huffington Post, March 19, 2009
In what appears to be a stunning lack of due diligence, the Pentagon has allowed private contractors to grant civilians access to military bases, including in highly sensitive areas like Iraq and Afghanistan, without evidence of appropriate background checks.

The revelations were detailed in a recent report that the Acting Inspector General of the Department Defense, Gordon S. Heddell, delivered to the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. The report describes how, since 2002, Common Access Cards -- the IDs that both troops and civilians use to pass through military checkpoints around the world - may have been granted to nearly 40,000 civilians without proper vetting.
Identification

Some basic information on Common Access Cards can be found here and here. Suffice it to say, access cards are not new. As time marches on and technology improves, more security features are added to the id's. Methods of displaying identification are also not new.  When on base, contractors are generally supposed to carry identification at all times, usually in one of those black neck pouches that are commonly found at an office supply store. 

Which brings us to Kirk von Ackermann's id badge. 

Von Ackermann's id badge was featured in the Daniel Halpern's Rolling Stone article, Death of a Contractor. The id shown was issued in 2003 by United States Army, V Corps, and very clearly marked: No Escort. 

Now one really odd thing about this particular photo ID is that it doesn't conform to Geneva Conventions for identification established back in 1949. Examples and more information here. For comparison, here's an example of a 'Geneva Conventions Identification Card for Civilians Accompanying Forces' in use prior to 2006 from the Department of Defense Common Access Card website.
  
So did von Ackermann have another id? And if he did, what was this id used for and what happened to the id that should have conformed to Geneva Conventions?

Anyone else getting the unpleasant feeling that base security was a bit low rent?

The military loves paper trails and back in 2003, to get an id from an organization within the Department of Defense - like the U.S. Army -contractors and civilians were expected to complete an application, DD Form 1172-2. So did von Ackermann complete a DD Form 1172-2 or did everyone in Iraq play by a completely different set of rules? 

Security

From what I understand, military installations are restricted areas with security ratings. Areas are rated Level I, Level II and Level III. Level I is the least secure and has the fewest restrictions, Level II comes with more restrictions followed by Level III the most secure with the most restrictions. The lowest level, Level I, requires an escort if a visitor to an area is not cleared for access. Von Ackermann was cleared for access, so he had a No Escort badge. But according to the news piece at The Huffington Post, so did a lot of other folks and they had much more official identification than von Ackermann. Which just makes you wonder who in the heck was free to wander around bases in Iraq back in 2003.

Assumptions

Anyone who reads this blog knows I have a serious problem with the assumption Kirk von Ackermann disappeared from where his vehicle was found. His behavior that day was so out of character, so irrational, that investigators actually floated the idea he staged his own disappearance.* But there is a much more rational explanation for the sudden and swift departure of basic common sense. Simply put, von Ackermann was abducted and killed elsewhere - likely an American base - and the most likely candidate is Camp Anaconda. All of this, of course, means an imposter placed the call to the Iraqi employee.

Now, on a fairly regular basis I try to tear down and poke holes into the above theory because quite frankly, I don't want to be right. Two of the easy to spot weak points have always been the id badge and base access - both of which tie into getting on to and off of a base.  

I had this wild and crazy assumption that military bases in Iraq actually might have tight security. Oops. Apparently no. Yet another myth shattered. 

So much for poking holes.

*Mystery surrounds US businessman missing in Iraq's 'Sunni triangle'
By Colin Freeman, UK Telegraph, November 9, 2003
The strange circumstances of the case have prevented investigators from ruling out the possibility that he has tried to fake his own disappearance. In particular, they are thought to be puzzled as to why he chose to drive alone that day, rather than taking an Iraqi colleague as he normally did.
Related

The Bridge Theory (includes decision chart) 
March 25, 2008

The ID Badge
April 14, 2007

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