Top Cat Marine Security Feed

I've Made "Silence of the City"


Back in March, I came close to appearing in The New Yorker's Talk of the Town. Now the article, concerning my adventures blogging Top Cat Marine Security and their $55 million contract with the transitional government of Somalia, has appeared on Silence of the City, a new website that publishes items rejected from the Talk of the Town. I'm told the piece went through 3 or 4 rounds of editing before it was ultimately rejected.

Well, I suppose it is in the end just a tale of the adventures of a suburban woman in her dining room. I'll have you know I can get in really a lot of trouble in this dining room! (Somewhere in the background someone is muttering, Well, OK. So she did Silence of the City. But can she do Silence of the Lambs?)

US Navy Battles Pirates off Somalia

Burcadbadeed01From the Associated Press:

Two U.S. Navy warships exchanged gunfire with suspected pirates Saturday off the coast of Somalia, and one suspect was killed and five others were wounded, the navy said.

Seven other suspects were taken into custody after the early-morning shootout, said Lt. Cmdr. Charlie Brown, spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet.

No sailors were wounded in the battle, which occurred at about 5:40 a.m. local time, approximately 25 nautical miles off the Somali coast in international waters.

The battle started after the USS Cape St. George and USS Gonzalez, which were patrolling as part of a Dutch-led task force, spotted a 30-foot fishing boat towing smaller skiffs and prepared to board and inspect the vessels.

The suspected pirates were holding what appeared to be rocket-propelled grenade launchers, the navy said. When the suspects began shooting, naval gunners returned fire with mounted machine guns, killing one man and igniting a fire on the vessel.

The caption to the AP photo on the right reads: Plumes of smoke rise from a suspected pirate vessel after an exchange of gunfire with U.S. Navy warships on Saturday. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Daniel Sanford).

So far, the news stories about this have been devoid of mentions of the transitional government of Somalia's pirate-fighting contract with Top Cat Marine Security. Do let me know if you find any.

UPDATE: Well, if it isn't Jim Kouri of all people who mention's Top Cat in his syndicated new story! Someone should ask Kouri if he has checked why Top Cat hasn't shown up for duty in Somalia yet. Perhaps he could ask those intelligence sources he mentions in his next paragraph:

The Somali government -- a government practically in exile because of warlords, Al-Qaeda and Wahhabi terrorists -- has signed a contract with a US security company that specializes in marine special operations. The hope is that the security firm will put an end to the proliferating piracy in that African region.

New York-based Topcat Marine Security signed a deal worth more than $50 million with the Somali Transitional Federal Government, which is temporarily based in Nairobi, to escort ships traveling through Somali waters.

According to intelligence experts . . .

Somalian TFG Cabinet minister Hassan Abshir insists Top Cat Marine Security, with which his government signed a two-year $55 million deal, is not only real, but also that TC is ready for combat

This is part of an ongoing series on the private military company Top Cat Marine Security, which is intertwined with a series on Consultants Advisory Group; both companies lack a valid street address and & refuse to disclose the identities of their management or owners.

From The Daily Nation in Kenya: Doubts over US firm in deal with Somalia

Story by KEVIN J. KELLEY in New York and STEPHEN MBURU in Nairobi
Publication Date: 2/5/2006
Mystery surrounds the operations of a US-based company, two months after it struck a controversial multi-million dollar contract with the Somali Transitional Federal Government to end piracy off the Horn of Africa's coastline.

But a TFG Cabinet minister Hassan Abshir insists Top Cat Marine Security, with which his government signed a two-year $55 million deal, is not only real, but also ready to combat persistent insecurity along the country's 2,000-kilometre-long coastline.

Mr Abshir, the Fisheries minister, sealed the deal in Naiorbi, with Top Cat's head of research and development Peter Casini.

Among those who witnessed the pact was Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi.

Telephone disconnected

But investigations by the Sunday Nation found that Top Cat's office in Manhattan is actually nothing more than a call-answering operation. There's no indication of Top Cat officials working there. The company's telephone number at its former headquarters in South Carolina has been disconnected.

A State Department official suggested that the TFG's contract with Top Cat for anti-piracy operations may well result in violation of the United Nations' arms embargo against Somalia.

While declining to comment specifically on the case of Top Cat, another State Department official said the US does not license exports of military items to countries that are under a US arms embargo. The ships that Top Cat says it will use in pirate interdiction actions would probably qualify as military items. The ships would also presumably be equipped with guns and other weapons.

A US-based company such as Top Cat would be subject to export licensing requirements regardless of where its military hardware would be imported from, the official added.

If a US company is found to be in violation of the licensing rules, it would be subjected to penalties under the US Arms Control Export Act. The official said the penalties would be financial and "of other sorts".

The Sunday Nation left four messages with Top Cat's answering centre in New York for Maryann Johnson, the company's vice president for public relations, but despite assurances that she, or another Top Cat official, would get back to us regarding the status of the Somalia contract, we never received a response.

And in Nairobi, Mr Abshir declined to discuss the deal with the Sunday Nation.

We wanted him to shed light on a number of issues including the existence of Top Cat, its capacity to carry out the contracted operations, when the work would begin, the procedure Somali government used to select the company, whether some consultants had been engaged, who would fund the deal and if it would be possible to implement the project as Somalia is under the UN and US arms embargo.

He only said: "They (Top Cat) are ready to come. When they come, I will call and give you all the details."

A Response to MINUSTAH's David Wimhurst

This is part of an ongoing series on Consultants Advisory Group.

After having been provided with the email address of David Wimhurst of MINUSTAH in Haiti yesterday morning, I sent Wimhurst a polite note asking him if I might submit to his office questions concerning Consultants Advisory Group. The response I received from him -- not befitting an employee of a "Communications and Public Information Office" -- was intended to intimidate me. I was duly intimidated. But now I've had a good night's sleep and I'm over it.

The main purpose of this post is to discuss the two slides Wimhurst submitted to me as the "originals" by way of claiming the PowerPoint presentation in my possession has been doctored. I will address that presently. [Note that Wimhust submitted only two slides, not an entire presentation that might be compared to the one in my possession.]

Part 1: Addressing WImhurst’s Questions

First, however, I will attempt to address the questions Wimhurst claims I must answer. In the course of his unprofessionally rude and threatening letter, which I will show him the mercy of not publishing for the moment, what he seems to demand is any evidence in my possession that the PowerPoint presentation downloadable from my web site was altered by anyone for the purpose of undermining the UN operations in Haiti. Let me say unequivocally, for the record, that there is no evidence whatsoever in my possession that anyone doctored the PowerPoint presentation for the purpose of undermining the UN operations in Haiti. None. Zip. Zero. Sorry to disappoint.

HOWEVER, there is an abundance of evidence in my possession, much of it unpublished, that the Consultants Advisory Group is an amateurish operation which changes its story whenever convenient; an outfit that makes the Keystone Cops look like pros.

As nearly as I can tell, CAG's Valerie Sendecki initiated communications with me last month for the purpose of finding out how I learned of CAG and their connection to Top Cat Marine Security. Despite Sendecki's claims to have had lunch with Jordan Sage and later to have had her arrested and deported, my current thinking is that access to Sage's email account was gained by keystroke logging on UN-owned computers and that Sendecki and co. never knew her identity. What they had access to was her correspondence and her address book. My suspicion is that someone found Mariely Puello's name and phone number in Jordan Sage's email account and used the name to create a gmail account under her name.

The Mariely Puello, whose phone number appears in the email I received, is not the author of the letter I was sent. How do I know this? She doesn't have the English skills. When I called her number and got her on the phone, we were unable to have a conversation. She and I have no common language. A third party has contacted me on her behalf and explained her situation, but it is frustrating because I am unable to converse or correspond with her. From what I understand, while she was visited by some police, she has nothing to do with the sending of the PowerPoint presentation. I'm told that she is a very good girl and that she is terrified. Further, Sendecki could not have had her detained in Haiti as Sendecki claimed, because Puello was not in Haiti at the time. There is no reason to expect that Puello even knows the identity of "Jordan Sage," even if she has corresponded with that person. Other than Valerie Sendecki's claim to have lunched with Sage, no one has yet come forward to say they know her. The name was not contained in the email address under which "Sage" wrote and is, I suspect, an alias.

CAG may well, as they claimed, have had a few people in Haiti arrested. But if their intel was based on keystroke logging, CAG has no way of knowing if they arrested the right ones.

So. Why do I think access to Jordan Sage's account was obtained by keystroke logging? Because otherwise CAG's whole clown circus of incompetent psyops operatives would not be after information that should already be in their possession. It is my belief that CAG's operatives have not been candid with their employer about the full extent of their attempts to do damage control on my discovery of their existence. Inasmuch as I have any evidence that a document might have been altered, this evidence suggests that it was an inside job conducted in the interests of CAG.

Interestingly absent from Wimhurst’s letter is any hint that he is aware that I provided the “Puello” letter plus the PowerPoint presentation to two other people immediately upon receipt. It is my strong impression that CAG has communicated to Wimhurst neither the identities of these two people nor the contents of CAG’s communications with them. Wimhurst would be much more uncomfortable involving the UN legal office in this affair if he had received full disclosure from CAG.

MEANWHILE, I hear through the grapevine that CAG's Jay Fullerton claims Sendecki has resigned. If Wimhurst were receiving full disclosure, Fullerton would also need to resign.

Part 2: Thinking with Bullets

TufteA few years ago, Edward Tufte published a book entitled The Cognitive Style of Power Point which I have been meaning to read some time. While I am a heavy user of both Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, until I got an enormous hard drive I used to routinely throw PowerPoint off my hard drive because I think it is a mostly useless and actively pernicious program.

Here’s a little snip of how summarizes Tufte’s objections to PowerPoint and the reactions to them:

Another reason for PowerPoint's sudden spike in notoriety is that the program finally caught the attention of Edward R. Tufte, a professor of information design at Yale University. Often referred to as the world's leading guru of information design, Tufte's books – The Visual Display of Information, Envisioning Information, and Visual Explanations – redefined the art of presenting information in visual form (charts, tables, graphs, etc.). No one knows more about effective data design, and no one in the field is more respected.

So when, in March 2003, Tufte published a 23-page denunciation of PowerPoint entitled "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint," many people who had never before taken PowerPoint seriously began paying attention. It was Tufte who brought NASA's now infamous PowerPoint slide to the public's attention. It was Tufte's work that emboldened The New York Times to suggest that information manipulation via electronic slides may have helped Secretary of State Colin Powell make his case to the United Nations for declaring war on Iraq. And it is Tufte, in his 23-page screed, who uses such words as stupid, smarmy, incoherent, witless, medieval and dementia to describe the trivializing effect of PowerPoint slides on pure, defenseless data. Tufte doesn't stop short of calling PowerPoint evil – he does call it evil, most visibly in an excerpt published in Wired last year succinctly titled "PowerPoint is evil." Indeed, the photo on the pamphlet's cover is of a 1956 Russian military parade in which a statue of Stalin is depicted saying, "Next slide, please."

If there is something right with PowerPoint, it is the program's ability to combine either images and text, or a sequence of bulleted items, in order to make an argument.

The UN-restricted PowerPoint presentation I was provided with initially seems to make several layers of argument, a couple of which I am unhappy with. Though the authoring info on the document listed the author as “pkf” and the company as “UN,” the implicit narrative voice is that of CAG; one of the document’s arguments is how useful CAG is making itself. Though perhaps composed on UN computers, my sense is that the docment's author works for CAG.

Now, let us turn to the two slides provided by Wimhurst which he claims are the “originals.”

Slide 1: What might the point of this slide be?  


It seems to be lacking a point, but I’ll have a go at it: For those of you Peace Keepers fresh off the plane, Waaf Jeremie and Cite Soleil are on the coast, not in the mountains, and the coastline between them is completely surrounded by WATER!

Click. Next slide, please!

Slide 2: This page is a little sparse, too. Um, and why bullet something that’s all alone on the page?


I’ll have a go at the voiceover: And men, remember, when creating PowerPoint presentations for military use, it’s very important to leave plenty of room to allow space for others to add their thoughts, so be sure to push the text as high up as you can. Also, the resulting expanse of blue will subliminally remind your audience that the Haitian coastline is completely surrounded by WATER!


Look. Um. Wimhust. This is embarrassing. Are these really the originals from an actual PowerPoint presentation? The best face I can put on this is that these are the materials from which a final presentation might have been made, not the final presentation itself. It is also possible that these really are slides from a real presentation. But if that is the case, the presentation’s author is incompetent to use the program and perhaps should explore some other mode of communication.

This does not prove that the presentation I was emailed was in fact presented or that its contents mean what they appear to. But the incompleteness of Wimhurst's "originals" does call into question the plausibility of the only actual information I have received from MINUSTAH.

In Wimhurst's one communication to me his prose style suggests his background is in yelling at people in uniform, not in answering questions. Who hired this Wimhurst guy, anyway?  What I find most peculiar about Wimhurst's letter to me is that he seems to take the attitude that CAGs Clown Crew had already said what he had to say to me by proxy and that he had nothing further to add. Were Sendecki-Fullerton-Reuther really speaking for Wimhurst?

(Thanks for the support, Alex!)

UPDATE 2/2/06: Rereading our exchange, I note that in my email to Wimhurst I specifically expressed concern that CAG " may be under contract to the Brazilian Peacekeeping Forces and may have been using their office computers." It occurred to me this morning that Wimhurst's reply that he had "no intention of answering any of [my] questions" was in fact Wimhurst declining comment on

  1. Whether CAG is under contract to Brazilian Peacekeeping Forces, and
  2. Whether CAG is using the office computers of the Brazilian Peackeepers.

All right then. He has no comment. I'll probably revisit that subject in a subsequent post.

Noriegaville News: "Shadowy Panama Company Illegally Runs Black-Ops in Haiti"

This is part of an ongoing series on Consultants Advisory Group.

Well. Dutch reporter Okke Ornstein, who lives in Panama and reports on business news there for the news site, Noriegaville News,  took an interest in my writings about the Consultants Advisory Group. He contacted me and asked me questions, so I answered them. He contacted CAG, and I gather from his article that they were less forthcoming than I was. The result of this research is his article, Shadowy Panama Company Illegally Runs Black-Ops in Haiti, posted to the Noriegaville News site last night.

So. One thing I learn from Ornstein's article is that CAG had a good reason for pulling its supposed Panama City address off its web site and having the site go "UNDER CONSTRUCTION." The address they listed was on the seventh floor of a three-storey building. (Guess they needed to go back and construct four more floors. That should take them a while.)

Another thing I learn from Ornstein's article is that were CAG to be an authentic Panama corporation -- which they may or may not be -- whether they are doing what I think they are or what they claim they are, it looks to be illegal under Panamanian law. (I am in touch with Rogelio Cruz Rios to sort out whether CAG, S.A. has anything to do with the Sendecki-Fullerton-Reuther ops going on in Haiti.) And also, Ornstein remarks that were any Top Cat Marine Security boats to be built in Panama, or copy-cats of TCMS boats, it would be illegal under Panama law to export such patrol boats to Haiti.

Interesting stuff.

ALSO, following the revelation that the IP address was shared by "David Reuther" trolling in my comment section,  "CAG Haiti" denouncing me in comment sections across the blogosphere, and some bored and homesick Brazilian Peace Keepers in Port au Prince, I made some direct inquiries as to whether could be an IP used by the UN Brazilian Peace Keeping Forces, and whether Valerie Sendecki, Jay Fullerton, and David Reuther of CAG were using the office computers of Brazilian Peace Keepers to post their blog comments. I do not yet have a definitive answer to that question. But stopped its relentless visits to my site yesterday afternoon.

Who exactly are Sendecki, Fullerton, and Reuther? I don't really have enough info about Sendecki, though I suspect that "Sendecki" is not her last name on her passport. Inquiries concerning her supposed military record are not back yet. Googling "Jay Fullerton" along with intelligence yields the bio of a guy with  a military intelligence Special Forces background who, if you dig deeper, seems to have lived in Fayetteville, NC, around the same time as Jonathan Keith "Jack" Idema (this last bit is probably pure coincidence). There is a "David Reuther" who has given speeches claiming to be a retired FSO; when I inquired of the David Reuther who was posting comments in my comment section whether he was the same guy, he replied:

Two of the things I learned in 32 years of government service:
"Do not look a gift horse in the mouth."
"Always have a plausible denial handy."

This oracular pronouncement sounds more like the answer of a retired CIA agent than a retired FSO. Who can tell? David Reuther, the retired government servant, has also complained in print that retired FSOs just don't make enough money. Back when I was the wife of a US Foreign Service Officer, we were not exactly rolling in dough, so I'm sure his complaint about his remuneration in retirement is legitimate. Nonetheless, it appears to me that our man Reuther was hurting for money not long ago.

I would be interested to receive pictures of any of these people.

Finally, I guess I should add that I have no opinions on the relative merits of Haitian presidential candidates, and that in general, in the grand scheme of things, I have a vaguely positive opinion of the United Nations and its efforts in the larger world as a whole. My focus is and has been on the role of private military and security companies. I believe that PMCs can have a legitimate role in international peacekeeping. But only legitimate companies can have a legitmate role, and legitimate companies have valid addresses and identifiable management teams and verifiable corporate registrations. A company which lacks all three has no place in Haiti right before the elections.

(Thanks Dan, Jonathan, Matt, and Cory!)

UPDATE: I was furnished the email address of David Wimhurst of MINUSTAH by a journalist and I wrote to him and asked to submit a list of questions. I specifically mentioned my concern that CAG was using Brazilian Forces office computers. He sent back a letter intended to intimidate me, specifically declining to answer my questions. He sent along two slide from a PowerPoint document that he claims are the "unaltered" versions of the screen shots posted on my site. I have asked whether "David Reuther" was acting on Wimhurst's behalf in any capacity when Reuther wrote to me.

Gee, I feel so naïve. I thought the purpose of press offices was to answer questions. Guess not in Haiti.

UPDATE: See A Response to MINUSTAH's David Wimhurst.

The Consultants Advisory Group™ (CAG) Web Site in History

This is part of an ongoing series on Consultants Advisory Group.

December 6, 2005: The domain name is registered.

Consutants Advisory Group page, December 13th, 2005, 9:33 PMDecember 13, 2005: The CAG web site touts the corporate security clearances and credit rating, but gives no address or phone number. I ridicule them for their lack of transparency.

CAG web page, January 20th, 2006, 10:10AMJanuary 20, 2006: The CAG web site has dropped claims of security clearances and credit ratings and has added an address in Tampa and an address in Panama plus a "message center" phone number. Under scrutiny, both street addresses seem to be some form of message center. On January 18th, I had published a post which began, "I seem to have uncovered a strange little black ops organization that's spying in Haiti and elsewhere. "

January 26, 2006: Following inquiries as to the corporation's relationship to former Panama Attorney General Rogelio Cruz Rios, the CAG web site goes "Under Construction." (For those with press credentials who would like to hear their side of things, their now-missing message center phone number, which is I think is a number in Tampa, is (813)315-6493.)

CAG web page 1/26/06, 4:09 PM

UPDATE, 1/27/06: Here is a screen shot from the Panama Public Registry of the listing for CAG, S.A.:

CAG,S.A. Panama registration, screen 1

Even if Rogelio Cruz Rios were the registrar of their corporation, it may mean nothing. I find it really curious that CAG would rather pull info off their web site than answer questions about their association with him. If CAG has a different registered corporate name in Panama than CAG, S.A. then presumably they could say so. And even if this is he right name, the nature of the relationship could mean little. So why go "UNDER CONSTRUCTION"?

[2/2/06: Note that the trademark sign disappears with this version of the page and does not reappear; I checked the US Patent and Trademark database and found no trademark listing for "Consultants Advisory Group," though it seems possible that they hold a trademark on the name in some other country.]

January 29, 2006: Here we go again. The only problem is, that corporate name does not seem to be present in the Panama Public Registry. Hmmm. (Why can't they back down? If the name isn't in th regsitry, it isn't in the registry.)

CAG's new page, January 29, 2006, 5:35 PM

February 1, 2006: Back to PÁGINA BAJO CONSTRUCCIÓN. This time without details.


Why are these guys so wedded to the corporate name? Have they been using it as a tax shelter on their US tax returns or something? I can't think of any other explanation.

Consultants Advisory Group™ (CAG) aka "Groupe de Consultation et Conseillers" Spying in Haiti; Whistleblowers Detained for Reporting Human Rights Violations

Tcpatrol_1I seem to have uncovered a strange little black ops organization that's spying in Haiti and elsewhere. Not long ago, they were also looking to drum up some business in the US in the Homeland Security market. I got a few tips from whistleblowers. But all of the most substantial information has come from one of their own employees who wrote me a number of long letters.

This post covers a lot of ground, ranging from a mysterious company owned by US ex-pats placing spies disguised as journalists in the audience of Haitian presidential debates, to CAG arranging for the detention of people who wrote to me to ask for information about CAG and complain about CAG's involvement in human rights violations in Haiti. So bear with me. This is my second post about CAG, and part of an ongoing series on Top Cat Marine Security. [UPDATE 1/27: The company operates in Haiti under the name "Groupe de Consultation et Conseillers." (Thanx, Reuther!)]

A while back, when I was writing about the would-be pirate hunters, Top Cat Marine Security, I got a query from someone in Haiti asking what I knew about a company called Consultants Advisory Group and if I had any idea of why they were following Top Cat Marine Security's sales leads.  I looked into the matter of CAG, resulting in the post Consultants Advisory Group™ (CAG): A Security Company Born Every Minute?  CAG had a domain name registered a week earlier (just about the time the US State Department issued Top Cat a cease and desist order) and CAG was using Melbourne IT's domain privacy service beloved of spammers and scammers. So I toasted them a bit to see what they had to say for themselves.

A CAG representative, Valerie Sendecki, obediently appeared to try to discuss matters, requesting that we settle this as "ladies." The resulting exchange was pretty strange, but the general upshot was that CAG, ostensibly staffed with ex-military and ex-"agency" personnel, wished to remain unknown and inasmuch as it was known, it wished to be known as a "management consulting" company. It was founded by US ex-patriates and is registered in Panama. And, very specifically, CAG did not wish to be seen as either a private military company or as a security company. They claimed to be management consultants.

Well. All right then. Management consulting.

So time goes by. I hear nothing further from my initial correspondent, Jordan Sage Thomas, who initially queried me about CAG. In her second and last note to me, she said that she had dropped CAG for her list of potential vendors, whatever that meant. And so I thought that was that.

Then, on January 10th, I got a note which read:

Sra Cramer,
    Dr Sage requested I send to you this MINUSTAH document concerning the use of Mercenaries by the UN in Haiti.  The TopCat Blancs are killing poor Haitians fleeing by sea from UN oppression in Cite-Soliel. The US spies called CAG are undermining the election process to prevent the popular election of Rene Preval and the return of President Aristide.
    Dr Sage is afraid that Comandante <Comander??> Sendecki of the US Navy is going to harm her for exposing this dispised behavior.  She has been reassigned to Jeremie and has no acess to internet.  This is her response to the abuse.  She advices you to be very careful as they having eyes many and wishes you the best of luck.

Mariely Puello

It came with an attachment in PowerPoint, which I will get to presently. But first, I want to be very clear that neither Valerie Sendecki nor CAG are in the employ of any aspect of the US government inasmuch as I have been able to check. I talked to some people who talked to some people and no one, I mean NO ONE, knows who the heck these people are. But to be very specific, Sendecki is not in the US Navy.

(I wonder how people got that impression. Has CAG represented themselves as having current ties to the US military?)

But, OK, is the UN using mercenaries to kill civilians in Haiti? I don't know. But there were recent news reports of civilians killed in Haiti by the UN. (Here is what Amnesty International has to say about that.) And what did Puello specifically say CAG was up to? "The US spies called CAG are undermining the election process to prevent the popular election of Rene Preval . . ." So the key claims are, then, that (a) CAG is spying (and that the company is what might be called a private intelligence company), and (b) that CAG is attempting to undermine the upcoming election.

(Both Valerie Sendecki and Mariely Puello agree that CAG is run by US citizens.)

Also, Puello claimed that "Dr. Sage" was concerned for her own personal safety. So I called the number at the bottom of Puello's letter and got a cheerful woman in the Dominican Republic who spoke only Spanish. I tried Jordan Sage's email address, writing only to ask whether Sage was able to receive email at that address.

Instead of a reply from Jordan Sage, I got a sinister message from Sendecki explaining that the phone line I'd called had been tapped (and giving the reverse look-up for my number to prove the point); that the two email addresses I had -- Jordan Sage's and Mariely Puello's -- were now under CAG's control. This sounded ominous, and so I asked Sendecki about the fate of my correspondents. She replied:

Sage and Puello were taken into custody by lawful authorities in Haiti and the DR.  Sage had diplomatic immunity so she has already been released and expelled from Haiti.  She's against democracy but of course she headed straight to the Miami from here.  Puello was detained for questioning by Dominican authorities and her status is unclear.  Both "ladies" agreed to give full access to their accounts and phones in order to fully confirm the extent of their treachery rather than be subject to further legal consequences.

On January 13th, I asked Sendecki for documentation to support her version of what had happened to these people:

Dear Val:

I would appreciate some documentation that these individuals were (a) lawfully detained, and (b) that Dr. Sage was in fact released, (c) the exact location and circumstances of Mariely Puello's detention with contact info and (d) that both of these individuals are in fact alive and in good condition.

I'm sure you will understand the reason for this.


As of today, January 18th, I still have not heard back from Sendecki, presumably because she is unwilling to provide the documentation I requested.

I spent a little while looking up the precise definitions of verbs like "arrest," "detain," "abduct," and "kidnap." The most value-neutral of these words is detain, in that the term does not address the lawfulness of the act. However the distinction between an arrest, on the one hand, and a kidnapping or abduction, on the other has to do with whether the detention takes place under lawful authority. So what I'm trying to establish is that CAG are not simply affiliated with kidnappers.

Given the evidence Ms. Sendecki has furnished me with, it's pretty clear that CAG has the skill set to do spying. The question is whether that is their core competency, or just a sideline. So let's have a look inside that PowerPoint document I mentioned earlier. It is seven screens long. It seems to document the following items of interest:

  1. There are "Topcat" patrol boats off Cite Soleil, and
  2. CAG provided "covert surveillance" in the form of operatives disguised as reporters who had color-coded press passes for "a public debate between representatives of presidential candidates  . . .  in Fort Liberte."

CAG has claimed in the past that they do not sell Top Cat boats, but only recommend their purchase. Are these "Topcat patrols" boats supplied by Top Cat Marine Security? Is so, who was the purchaser? And who was the seller? Did Top Cat Marine Security export these boats to Haiti? As discussed in a previous post on Top Cat, Top Cat Marine Security is not registered with the US Department of State to export items on the munitions list, as these boats are. And what is being done with these boats? Mariely Puello claims, "The TopCat Blancs are killing poor Haitians fleeing by sea." To the best of my ability to check, I established that CAG is not under contract to the UN. Just who is manning those boats?

And then we return to the subject of CAG, which looks more and more like a low-end private intelligence company. What are we to make of the idea of a private intelligence company stocking the crowd at a presidential debate with secret agents disguised as reporters? This would seem to support Puello's claim that their purpose is to undermine the election.

What is CAG, really, and who are they working for? I'd like to know.


Note that the PowerPoint document makes it appear that the United Nations seems to support the concept of CAG posing as press to spy on innocent people. I wonder what the UN really thinks. I doubt they are in the habit of deploying private spooks disguised as reporters.

The document user info on the original of the PowerPoint document displays Author as "pkf" (perhaps short for "Peace Keeping Forces"?) and Company as "UN."

On December 15th, Valerie Sendecki wrote to me:

I wish we could talk about this over a fine cup of Haitian coffee so
that you could enjoy the beautiful from the Hotel Montana.  It's

To the best of my knowledge, she's still registered there.

On January 7th, The Globe and Mail reported: UN commander kills himself in Haiti

The Brazilian commander of UN peacekeepers in Haiti was found dead on the balcony of his hotel room Saturday after shooting himself in the head, authorities said, in a blow to the 9,000-strong force and efforts to restore democracy in Haiti.

UN officials and Haitian police swarmed the upscale Hotel Montana where Lt.-Gen. Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar was slumped on a tile floor against the balcony, blood staining his white T-shirt.



Anyone know if this room -- the Presidential Suite -- was his room? [1/20 Update: I'm told by someone who stayed in the hotel during this general time period that the Presidential Suite was occupied by someone else, and so presumably Gen. Bacellar stayed in a different suite; apparently the hotel has a number of fine suites.]

UPDATE, January 19th: I have published an edition of the collected letters of Valerie Sendecki in pdf. Click HERE to download.

UPDATE: CAG's website's got a new look and an address in Panama: Sun Tower, 7th Floor, Panama City, Republic of Panama.

Now, they don't give a suite number for the Tampa location, but Suite 101 at that address has an awful lot of other businesses using it, suggesting that there may be a message center at that address. The Sun Tower in Panama City just happens to be the location of Panama Offshore Services, Inc., "Best source for Panama Corporation, Foundations & Offshore Accounts"! But it is actually possible that CAG has real offices at these locations. Can one of my Panama City readers take a stroll over to the Sun Tower and have a look?

So. Is this Panama office a place? Or just a state of mind?

For a Google Earth view of the image of the harbor at the top, click here HERE for the KMZ file.

UPDATE 1/25/06: I have an unconfirmed report that one of the two people Sendecki claimed had been "arrested" is OK. More later.

UPDATE 1/28/06: I received an email from a email address last night reiterating their refusal to answer any of my question or answer question from anyone associated with me (and if you're reading this, that probably means you, too), and requesting that I never contact them again. The signature on the email reads:

J Fullerton
Program Manager
Groupe de Consultation et Conseillers

I gather that its author's full name is Jay Fullerton. There exists a Jay Fullerton who published an article entitled "TTP for the Special Forces Battalion S2 at JRTC and NTC - tips for Joint Readiness Training Center and National Training Center" in 2001 in the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin whose bio reads:

Major Jay Fullerton is the S2 and Senior Special Operations Forces (SOF) Intelligence Observer/Controller at the Special Operations Training Detachment, Joint Readiness Training Center, Fort Polk, Louisiana. His previous assignments include Platoon Leader and Company XO, 102d Military Intelligence Battalion, 2d Infantry Division; Assistant S2, 3-327th Infantry and S1, 311th MI Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); and S2 and MI Detachment Commander, 3d Battalion, 3d Special Forces Group (Airborne), Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

(See also my two more recent posts: Consultants Advisory Group™ (CAG): Was the Company Registered in Panama by Rogelio Cruz Rios? and The Consultants Advisory Group™ (CAG) Web Site in History.)

UPDATE 1/28/06: I'm told by two different people that UN officials in Haiti claim that the PowerPoint document I received was "doctored." I had to change the file name to upload it to the Internet, since Typepad would not upload a document with spaces in the file name. The original file name was U2 -29  DEC 05 PM.ppt. (Copies available for inspection via email.) Other than changing the file name, I did nothing to it.

So. What, specifically, is doctored about it? (That part hasn't made it through the grape vine yet.) Can I please see an official statement in writing about the document? Anyone? MINUSTAH never answered my email. [UPDATE: see A Response to MINUSTAH's David Wimhurst.]

UPDATE 1/30/06: It appears a representative from CAG was all over the blogosphere this morning disavowing the contents of the Collected Letters of Valerie Sendecki. I stand by their authenticity.

Top Cat Marine Security in a "Mobilisation Phase" After All?

Panamacity_1There is an interesting new wrinkle in the Top Cat Marine Security situation. On January 5th, the BBC reported that the fifty million dollar contract signed with the Transitional Government of Somalia was in a "mobilisation phase." I checked with domestic sources and was told that, no, Top Cat's  cease and desist order was still in places, and no, they weren't in a "mobilisation phase" on the Somalia contract. So I blogged this as a mistake on the part of the BBC.

Well. We get to Friday the 13th, and what I hear from a military intelligence source is that a company that builds boats identical to Top Cat's seems to have set up shop in Panama -- home of the impenetrable corporate veil! Could this be Top Cat Marine Security under a new name, circumventing a cease and desist order from the US Department of State?!? It looks like the BBC may not have been so far off base.

Stay tuned as the situation develops!

Photo: Google Earth's view of Panama City.

Top Cat Marine Security in a "mobilisation phase"? Nope. The BBC is confused.

A couple of people have asked me about the following passage from the BBC story, Somali piracy is worst in world:

The fractious authorities in Somalia, keen to be seen to be doing something about piracy, signed a $50m contract late last year with a private company based in the United States which said it would begin coastal patrols.

When the contract was announced, some Somalis wondered how it would be paid for, since the authorities are severely short of resources. Somali government officials said "foreign friends" would finance the deal.

The Somali minister for Planning and International Cooperation, Abdi Rizak, told the BBC News website the contract was "in the mobilisation phase".

The minister said it would take time to move resources and equipment to Somalia.

I checked it out. The BBC is incorrect. The anti-piracy effort mobilizing is a NATO effort which is unconnected with the deal the BBC reported on previously. To the best of my knowledge, Top Cat Marine Security, the company that signed the deal previously reported by the BBC, remains under a cease and desist order from the US State Department.

Top Cat Marine Security Has an Executive Level

I just received a really interesting piece of email (posted as a comment in my comment section) from Jerry Parnin, who was briefly associated with Top Cat Marine Security. He identifies Top Cat's super-secretive executive level as follows.

Dear Kathryn,
My name is Jerry Parnin. I'm refered to as Bachelor #3 in one of last months blogs about Top Cat Marine Security. I would like to inform you and the world that I was only associated with TCMS for a short time over a year ago. We had our differences and I'm no longer associated with Peter Casini, TCMS, Cobra Boats, Topcat Design or any other Casini enterprise. As for the names of the people in the photo you are correct about Maryann Johnson being the brunette. Her son is the boy, his name and the name of her husband escape me but the blond is Susan Procopio, wife of Rocco Procopio (Bachelor #1). Maryann was introduced to me as Casini's sister. Colonel Bernie McCabe, Maryann, Rocco and Susan Procopio are all officers of one sort or another in TCMS.

Through an intermediary, McCabe has previously denied involvement with management or operations of Top Cat Marine Security.

Here is the photo to which Parnin refers, originating from the Top Cat web site:


Consultants Advisory Group™ (CAG): A Security Company Born Every Minute?

Following the New Orleans disaster, a lot of us were wondering where all that money for "homeland security" went, since not much securing of the homeland seems to have taken place. I think I'm beginning to understand.

Consutants Advisory Group pageHave a look at this:

Consultants Advisory Group (CAG) specializes in:

  • Anti-Terrorism & Terrorism Incident Response;
  • Special Agency Services and Representation;
  • Strategic Intelligence Management;
  • High Risk Operations Management;
  • Risk & Crisis Management;
  • Business Continuity Management (BCM);
  • Emergency & Disaster Management;
  • NFPA 1600 2004 Compliance Audits.

CAG provides services under North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) classifications:

541611    General Management Consulting Services
541618    Other Management Consulting Services
561210    Facilities Support Services

CAG consistently delivers creative and enduring total business solutions.  CAG enjoys the highest possible credit rating and is capable of servicing classified contracts.

So how long has this venerable company, boasting of the highest possible credit rating and the capability of servicing classified contracts been around?  I'll have you know, its been around an entire week!

Though they don't give their address on their web site, a whois lookup provides some interesting information: Whois lookup

So are these guys with the great credit rating and the security clearances really sharing a P O Box with any number of phishing schemes and other dubious businesses in EmeryVille, California? Or do they just have really bad taste in domain registration privacy services? (For you Panix customers, the registering ISP is Melbourne IT, the company that approved the Panix domain hijacking. As a Panix customer who lost a couple of days of email over that, I have to wonder why Melbourne IT is still in business.)

EmeryvilleSo, is CAG really located in glamorous EmeryVille? Or not? (I suppose it would be wretched excess to mention that the site graphics are clip art.)

How many more of these dubious security companies are there, anyway?

UPDATE: I have had a correspondence with a representative from CAG who has the affect of someone with a background in sales. CAG Internacional, S.A. is a Panama City, Republic of Panama registered corporation and is staffed exclusively with former military and "agency" personnel. It has no public address ostensibly because it is "a virtual company, a model developed by the Harvard Business School." CAG wishes to be perceived as a "management consulting" company, not a security or private military company. They claim to be receiving no moneys from US government sources:

CAG is not a recipient of any US public funds so we are entitled to privacy as anyone else is.  How could our work be against the best interest of the United States?

Though I had made no mention of Top Cat in our exchange, my CAG correspondent volunteered that CAG is not selling Top Cat Marine Security's predator style Cobra boats to Haiti, but only recommending their purchase.

As far as I know, neither Top Cat nor CAG are registered with or licensed by the Department of State to export items covered the US Munitions list, as the boats in question are. I was not informed who the intended export broker was to be.

The subject of Top Cat having been raised, I asked two of my unanswered questions to which I thought my correspondent might know the answer: Who are the executives of Top Cat? Who owns it? My CAG correspondent replied:

That is not public information.

I find it extremely interesting that there seems to be a whole emergent little industry of companies like Top Cat and CAG for whom the very concept of transparency is an abomination.

A relevant quote from another topic:

At the least, a dummy company ought to create the appearance of activity, with an office and a valid mailing address, he said. "A cover that falls apart on first inspection isn't very good. What you want is a cover that actually holds up . . . and this one certainly doesn't."

Is the Underwriting Industry Lobbying for a New War on Pirates?

I received via email from Carlos Ortiz an interesting December 8th article on marine security, "Counting the costs of seaborne security" by  Alex Pinto, director of CTC Marine and Risk Consultancy, Singapore. The article was distributed via Lloyds List. It has one really fascinating bit:

As one final observation, it is worth pointing out that the move by underwriters to make piracy a war rather than marine peril may have some unintended consequences. When a vessel is missing, there will probably be uncertainty as to which policy and which underwriter is liable. If this causes any delay, it will make recovery that much more difficult. It might also complicate matters when a vessel goes missing in relatively calm waters.

Do tell. Is the underwriting industry pushing for a War on Pirates? Really? What is the proposed Theater for this war? Somalia, maybe?

And if there is a War on Pirates, who is going to show up to fight it? Who are the guys in the White Hats supposed to be? Surely not the US Marine Corps? That would be stupid and seems highly unlikely because it is the habit of the US military to hunt the insurgents back to their bases and that would involve the US military going into Somalia. And in the background of the Top Cat investigation, the possiblity of a planned Black Hawk Down reenactment has been pretty thoroughly debunked. So it's not the Marines.

Then who? It wouldn't be . . . no, it couldn't be . . .  not Top Cat?

If that weren't so dangerous an improbability, it would be really funny.

But then again, Maryann Johnson, Top Cat VP, claims that Peter Casini is not the President of his company and no longer owns the company and that the company is owned by "investors" and that there are "over 50" of them.  But the underwriting industry and the shipping industry wouldn't be credulous enough to have bought Top Cat, would they? Underwriters are supposed to be able to do math and assess risks.

Perhaps someone has been told Top Cat's really a CIA front company? It ain't so.

So, tell us. Are we going to have a real war? Or a faux one?

(Um, did some underwriters association answer their Nigerian spam?)

UPDATE 12/13: Where did the idea for conceiving of the current pirate situation as a war come from? It seems to originate with a report written by Aegis Defense Services:

On August 1, 2005, the foreign ministers of the three littoral states of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore met to discuss maritime safety and security in the Malacca Straits. They concluded their talks with a stronger commitment to addressing comprehensively the issue of maritime security, including the threats of piracy, armed robbery and terrorism. The meeting marked the recognition by the littoral states that much remains to be done in terms of improving the safety and security of the Malacca Straits.

The situation became all the more urgent following the recent decision by Lloyd's Market Association's Joint War Committee to declare the Malacca Straits an area that is in jeopardy of "war, strikes, terrorism and related perils." The decision to add the Straits of Malacca to the Committee's list of high-risk areas was taken following recommendations by the private defense consultants, Aegis Defence Services, who are said to have carried out risk assessments on the area. Others on the list are countries such as Iraq, Somalia and Lebanon. Although the Committee has a purely advisory role, the result of this declaration could be dramatically higher insurance costs for the many thousands of ships that transit the Straits on an annual basis.

The Aegis report stated that due to the fact that there had been an intensification of the weaponry and techniques used by the pirates in the Straits, they are now largely indistinguishable from terrorists. In addition, it stated that the Straits are a target for terrorism. The report cited a statement by al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in which he spoke about hitting enemy countries through their economies. It also highlighted Jemaah Islamiyah's (J.I.) past interest in the traffic passing through the Straits.

Ship owners seem to have had some objections to the higher premiums they had to pay resulting from the labelling of some areas as "war risk areas." In any case, the world seems smaller every day.  (See also the statement by the The Joint War Committee (JWC), representing the London marine insurance community; and Eaglespeak's commentary last August.)

Top Cat Marine Security Ordered to Cease & Desist

I am told on good authority that the US Department of States Bureau of Arms Control has issued a Cease and Desist order to Top Cat Marine Security on their pirate-fighting contract with Somalia. I have called the Somalia Desk Officer (i. e. Officer for the East African Desk) at the Department of State to ask for confirmation.

I'll let you know when I hear back with confirmation. UPDATE: I'm told I might have to wait a bit for that. FURTHER UPDATE: The Uncooperative Blogger reports he has confirmed the Cease and Desist order.

(See previous posts: Top Cat Has Security Personnel After All . . . or Do They? and Topcat Marine Security: A Very Crowded Office Space, a Shell Corporation, or Just a Scam?)


(So is the New York Post now going to run the headline Pirate Busters Busted?)

EPILOGUE: I suppose it's time I got 'round to sharing Maryann Johnson's letter to me, responding to my intial post. At the time I received it, I was not aware that she is alleged to work for Fox News. Now I read it in a different light. I quote it in its entirely:

Dear Kathryn,

My goodness, what a nasty, angry piece you did on us.  I can only wonder your motivation.  This is a very positive move for the international community and your desire to defame and smear topcat must be motivated by some desire for your own personal gain... I just can't imagine what.

This contract benefits the international community at large.  It is worldwide and will help a country like Somalia regain control of its people and assets.

The articles you quote were written by a reporter who's sole source of information is a convicted felon and disgruntled employee.  Those other businesses you mention, well quite frankly, I don't know who they are or what you were driving at. I understand the media, and I guess you just need a story and if you can't get the facts, well, just make it up.

Maryann Johnson

The places I worked, we did things a little differently. [UPDATE 12/7: I have written to Fox News's attorney to ask for confirmation of her employment there.]

12/13: Anyone know what to make of this? Is it an attempt to use Google AdSense for damage control? Or is it an automated blog aggregator surviving on Google AdSense revenue? I don't know what it is. But it is interesting that the lead lumps together both of Casini's Top Cat companies, implying that some human agency went int the creation of this page.

MEANWHILE: Quiet diplomacy.

Top Cat Has Security Personnel After All . . . or Do They?

Peter Casini of Top Cat Marine Security which signed a deal last week with the transitional government of Somalia to help them out with their pirate problem, has continually claimed he has competent security people to back him up, but had thus far refrained from naming them publicly. Mr. Casini's a little inarticulate, so I'll help him out.  All the quoted text is from a Top Cat brochure from last August. So who are these mystery men with the great reputations that got him the Somalia contract?

Here they are (html; pdf):

  • Bachelor Number 1:

    Rocco Procopio is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Army's Special Forces and has more than 16 years concentrated counterterrorism experience with the Army's Special Forces Operational Detachment Delta. He assisted with writing government standards for conducting Criticality, Threat and Security Vulnerability Assessments with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. He is recognized as an expert in the field of Critical Infrastructure Protection and has personally conducted more than 100 SVAs on and off shore during his tenure with the government. Procopio directs the international security efforts for a major U.S. oil company and is a member of the Overseas Security Advisory Council. He holds a master's degree in international relations.

  • Bachelor Number 2:

    Col. Bernard J. McCabe (Ret.) has 30 years experience in the U.S. Army. He served in the 82nd Airborne Division as an artilleryman, commanded the Howitzer Battery in the 2nd Squadron, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. He served 19 years in the Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta assuming command in June 1994. He relinquished command of 1st SFOD-D in June 1996 and ended his career at the Army Special Warfare Center in 1996. Since his retirement, McCabe has been a security consultant to three major U.S. petroleum corporations and has been retained as a security consultant by several aviation and maritime companies in the United States. He is currently manager of Global Security for the Marathon Oil Corporation. McCabe holds a master's degree from Harvard University at the Naval War College and has taught military history at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C.

  • Bachelor Number 3: [See 12/31/05 post.]

    Master Chief Thomas J. Parnin has more than 20 years experience with the U.S. Navy. He completed Hull Maintenance Technician "A" school and then reported to Basic Underwater Demolition/Seal Class 114 graduating in 1981. He completed three six-month deployments to the Western Pacific with Underwater Demolition Team 11 and Seal Team Five. Parnin returned to the tactical mobility team where his primary duties included the operation and navigation of high performance open ocean assault boats, combat rubber raiding craft, riverine assault boats, tactical ground mobility vehicles and the conduct of the full spectrum of unconventional warfare operations. Since 2000, he has been serving as Tactical Mobility Advanced Training Department Head specializing in the selection and implementation of the latest technological developments in maritime and land based navigation systems including radar, GPS, electronic chart plotting and visual augmentation systems.

Bernie McCabe, Bachelor Number 2, is the head of Global Security for Marathon Oil and was formerly the US representative for Sandline. I've written a fair amount about Sandline over time, but I've also had correspondence with their attorney Richard Slowe who takes exception to my use of verbs, and I don't have time to take the trouble to watch my language, so here is it's Wikipedia entry:

Sandline International was a private security ('military') company based in London, established in the early 1990s. It was involved in conflicts in Papua New Guinea in 1997 (having a contract with the government under Julius Chan), in 1998 in Sierra Leone (having a contract with illegally ousted President Kabbah) causing the Sandline affair and in Liberia in 2003 (in a rebel attempt to evict the then-president Charles Taylor near the end of the civil war).

Sandline was managed by former British Army Lt Col Tim Spicer. Sandline billed itself as a "Private Military Company" (PMC) and offered military training, "operational support" (equipment and arms procurement and limited direct military activity), intelligence gathering, and public relations services to governments and corporations. While the mass media often referred to Sandline as a mercenary company, the company's founders disputed that characterization.

Tim Spicer recounted his experiences with Sandline in the book An Unorthodox Soldier.

As of April 16, 2004 Sandline International has officially ceased operations.

McCabe has also worked or works for Lifeguard, another security company that is heir to the Executive Outcomes reputation. I don't know whether to phrase that relationship in the past or the present tense. I'm really curious about when McCabe took the job as head of Global Security for Marathon Oil. Why didn't I notice him when looking into the N4610 farce? I certainly would have written about him then if I had.

And regarding Marathon Oil, there is this bit from last night's post on Mountain Runner, Marathon, PETRONAS, and PexCo Oil and Somalia:

Reporting from Oil and Gas Investor indicates Marathon Oil, of Texas, and possibly other firms have taken over the Conoco claims, or at least is moving in on them, and bumping yet another company to boot.

Oh, by the way, can anyone fill in the photo captions for these pictures of what I gather is the celebrator dinner following the signing of the contract for Top Cat's Somalia deal?


Who is the guy on the far right in the tie who looks like Robert Redford? Who are the women standing? Anyone know? HERE is a better view of the group shot. [UPDATE: I'm told that the Redford-look-alike is Maryann Johnson's husband who works for Fox News; I'm told that the brunette is Top Cat VP Maryann Johnson who also works for Fox. I'd really like a name for the husband, since Fox is so high on Top Cat and outraged about Somali piracy, and cut-and-run Democrats, for that matter.]

Now, I don't want to demonize Sandline. It is a particular kind of company in a particular kind of industry and its people behave in specific ways. And so I think I should tell you a little more about my Sandline adventure.

Michael Grunberg of Sandline tried to get me to change something I'd written about the company, and I didn't cooperate, and so he had Sandline's attorney's get in touch with me. And they threatened to sue and so I negotiated. We arrived at a mutually acceptable wording, and everyone went away happy.

I thought Grunberg was an extremely vain pedant until I found out later why he cared what some woman in Pleasantville said about him on her blog. A guy named Pasquale John DiPofi, who had been trying to claim money owed Executive Outcomes, was trying to blackmail Grunberg into backing down on Sandline collecting on millions of dollars. DiPofi was at the time a Vice President at the private military firm Northbridge. Judging from the newspaper accounts, DiPofi's tactics were straight out of The Godfather.

I thought, how interesting, the mafia is trying to muscle out f*ing Sandline! Amazing. So what did Grunberg do about DiPofi? Did he have him bumped off? Kneecapped? No. Grunberg called the cops and had DiPofi arrested. Just what I would have done.

Returning to the subject of Top Cat, in the comment section of my previous Top Cat Post, someone calling himself "Subject Matter Expert" wrote the following:

I have a feeling your report could stir up quite a commotion in the private military sector; therefore, unless you've worked for such private firms and as to not endanger yourself (or your family), do not make such accusations or reports on such a private sector company.

Now, this guy wrote in from his desk at work from a small company in the Homeland Security Industry. He might as well have left me a business card. I'm not sure what his area of expertise is, but it certainly isn't Internet Security. Several very heavy dudes from real private military firms wrote in to reassure me that people in their industry don't behave like that. And in fact I know that. And so I infer that someone from DiPofi's industry has penetrated the Homeland Security market.

Then there's that person who wrote to me under the alias "patricia kennedy" whose letter I quoted in my previous Top Cat post. I didn't quote the whole thing. "She" expressed concern for my family and also suggested that I might wish to consider moving out of Pleasantville. Also number of people formerly associated with Casini have written to me to support my efforts, and there is a continuing theme to these letters: that they can't come forward  to tell their stories in public because they are concerned for their personal safety and the wellbeing of their families.

So why is it that when I write about Blackwater going into New Orleans, I get some outraged and insulting letters as well as intelligent correspondence from people in Blackwater's employ. And when I write about a washed up boat company masquerading as a private military firm, I get this? Just what does Mr. Casini bring to the table that the highly qualified gentlemen listed above don't have for themselves?

Perhaps Top Cat is having a little trouble adjusting to the corporate culture of its new industry.
Or perhaps it doesn't have an industry.

The brochure is real enough. But it is awfully hard to understand why a man like McCabe would have anything to do with a man like Casini.

UPDATE: I'm becoming increasingly convinced that Top Cat is a fraud from top to bottom. I have emailed a copy of the seminar brochure to Richard Slowe. I have also emailed media relations at Marathon Oil.

UPDATE, December 6th: I heard back from Richard Slowe this morning. It appears that the "Bernie McCabe" associated with Casini and Top Cat may not be who he claims. I'm also told that this "McCabe" is very insistent that he not be photographed.

Previously, I had suggested that Jim Kouri, who called Top Cat "one of the world's foremost private security agencies offering clients law enforcement, counterterrorism and marine combat specialists" was either a shill or an idiot. Now I understand that there is a third possibility: that Koui paid good money for Top Cat's security seminars; that he is a satisfied customer, i. e. a mark. Jim, boy, you've been had.

(Nor does he have guys from the original Black Hawk Down ready to go into Somalia and restore order to its seas. I checked.)

A QUESTION FOR CARNIVAL: Does you cruise lines have any contracts with Top Cat Marine Security?

UPDATE 12/6: See my new post Top Cat Marine Security Ordered to Cease & Desist.

UPDATE 12/9: I have made further inquiries into the matter of McCabe's connection with Top Cat. Despite rumours which seemed to emanate from Top Cat's camp that McCabe was in some way centrally involved with some portions of Top Cat's operations, it seems that McCabe has had no involvement with the management or actual operation of Top Cat Marine Security.

I'm told that information about Top Cat's actual management team would be available via the Freedom of Information Act by obtaining the paperwork they would be required to file with the US Government before signing an agreement with the transitional governemnt of Somalia. But I am also under the impression, perhaps mistaken, that no paperwork was filed. Filing for copies of non-existant paperwork would not be especially illuminating.

Someone who isn't me and has some actual financial stake in all this might want to blow $129 on this report from "Manta - Your Business Intelligence Authority."

UPDATE 12/21/05: Jarry Parnin explains he was only briefly involved with Top Cat, but identifies their management team, including naming McCabe.

Topcat Marine Security: A Very Crowded Office Space, a Shell Corporation, or Just a Scam?

545_8th_2Who could resist the tale, not long ago, of a cruise ship fending off Somalian pirates with its handy sonic blaster? Well, someone somewhere just had to do something about those blasted pirates!

Today the BBC announced that the American firm Topcat Marine Security, of 545 8th Ave. Suite 401, New York, NY 10018, had gotten the job! Now you might think that chasing pirates would be too scary, but these guys at Topcat (or Top Cat, depending on which bit of their web site you look at) have strong motivation: a VERY crowded Manhattan office! Wouldn't you rather go chase pirates if you had to share an office with The Center for Risk Communication, a magazine called "Animal Fair", and a bank, Liechetensteinische-Amerikanische Union Bank Corp. (which apparently conducted unauthorized banking activities in the state of NY in 1999), a "home income" business called Maychic, a web site called NY Club,, an online video store (not PTA safe, so I won't post a link), The Law Office of Gary Ruff “Defending Consumers Against Electronic Piracy Claims”TM, and much more! What a racket they must make! If I shared that office, I'd go to sea to fight pirates, too!

Topcat seems to share a web designer, and probably a few boats, with Cobra Boats. Compare the following screen shots from each site's "Reviews" page:
Cobra_reviews Topcat_reviews

I wonder who's providing the guys with the guns.

In all seriousness, it seems obvious that [if this isn't just a scam] a boat company has found a private military partner who wishes to remain anonymous, and that the boat company has perhaps just made half of fifty million dollars for providing a front. I don't think the Topcat execs have ever set foot in that office any more than I believe that the babe on the site would answer if I went there and knocked. Also, it appears that Peter Casini, the executive quoted in the BBC story, has been involved with a number of corporate bankruptcies.

Who is going to provide these security services in Somali waters? Employees of these other dotcoms? Very experienced boaters? Who can tell? Why are they hiding behind a fake address? Manhattan rents are expensive, but you can rent a lot of office space for that kind of money.

Would you give fifty million to someone who can't be bothered to rent a real office and misrepresents their street address? If there's no office, how can anyone be sure actual security services will be provided?

UPDATE, 11/26: It gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective. In April, 2004, Topcat moved to Berekely County, SC. Six months later, they left:

The apparent failure of Top Cat is "very disappointing. We're in an economically depressed area when you look at the job losses balanced with what's created. It's like having the rug pulled out from under you," Mayor Hoffman said.

Rozier and Berkeley County Economic Development Director John Scarborough said it appears the finances didn't work out for Top Cat. Hoffman said he didn't know what happened to the company after its promising debut.

"I went to investigate myself a couple of times, just to drop in and see what was going on, and I haven't been able to find anybody there," Hoffman said.

He's not the only person who's been interested in Top Cat.

"A lot of law enforcement people are looking for them, and I don't think it's about buying a boat," Crosby said.

Vendors and others who find the Top Cat door padlocked often stop at the Onyx office to ask if the boat company still is in business or when its employees will be there, she said.

Nobody from Top Cat showed up Monday in small claims court in Moncks Corner to contest a complaint Onyx filed against the company for nonpayment of services, including providing electricity. Judge David Brown entered a default judgment of $5,960.45 against Top Cat.

Top Cat's vice president of sales and contracts, Marianne Gillard, 36, is due in magistrate's court in St. Stephen today following her arrest last week. Gillard is accused of writing a $650 bad check drawn on a New Jersey bank. Gillard said the day after her arrest that she didn't want to comment and referred questions to company attorneys, who couldn't be reached for comment.

It does occur to me to wonder if any actual setting up of bases or training or pirate fighting will take place even if Somalia pays out all this money. I hope Somalia hasn't cut any actual checks yet.

MEANWHILE, the EU has pledged to help foot the bill.

Queries on Somali dealFURTHER 11/26 UPDATE. The Nation in Kenya has picked up on Top Cat's financial problems, and their reporters called both Casini and his publicist:

On whether the company had failed to meet its payroll, he said: "No. You may be talking about the wrong company. Our company is Top Cat Design.''

However, contacted via e-mail for comment, Maryann Johnson, Top Cat's vice president for public relations, said the story "was written years ago, by a small town reporter whose sole source of information was a convicted felon. Topcat was never contacted directly for comment on this article".

Ms Johnson said: "Topcat remains financially secure and stable, with contracts around the world with some of the largest defence contractors."

(The Nation has a tortuously difficult registration procedure. Here is a screen shot of the article.)

2TopCatsAccording to court papers I linked to earlier today, Casini actually has two corporations called Top Cat: Top Cat Design, incorporated in 2000, and Top Cat Marine Security, incorporated in 2002. (UPDATE 12/2/05: Karl E. Meyer, of Egg Harbor, the attorney that represented Casini in that case and through who Casini registered the copyrights of a number of his boats, was on on the New Jersey State list of attorneys ineligible to practice law until two weeks ago.)

CharlestonThe unfavorable news stories in South Carolina date from 13 months ago. These folks really have a way with words, don't they?

UPDATE, 11/28: It does occur to me to wonder how they plan to work around both a US and a UN arms embargo when providing these services. Even if all they brought to the table was really fast boats designed for security use, this looks to me like it runs afoul State Department regulations, since there is a subsection covering boats on the United States Munitions List.

FROM THE MAIL BAG: A number of people have written to me with questions that they would like to see answered.

One of the biggies is, who is paying for this? Several people have raised this point, as does Reuters. I had speculated earlier that the EU funds mentioned in the news earlier this week might go towards paying Top Cat, but I am told that is not the case. So if not the EU, then who?

Given the scope of the project Top Cat is taking on, is fifty million too much? Or is it too little? (This also gets into the question of exactly what the contract specifies that they will do, an issue about which there appears to be some confusion. Are they going to fight pirates or not? Most of the headlines about the deal take the form "American company to fight pirates off Somalia," but the guy in the comments who claims to be in the know claims there will be no guns and that Casini will provide no training.)

What ports does Top Cat plan on operating out of? (Note that this is a country in which the transition government declines to locate in Mogadishu because of security concerns.) So what will they use for ports? (Who is going to keep Top Cat's fine boats from being stolen, for that matter? I'd think an ultra-fast boat would be really useful to the pirates!)

Also, I'm told that usually when a contract of this nature is awarded, there is recruiting of ex-special forces from various countries, and that no recruiting is going on. (This is not something I'd know about one way or another.) Anyone flowing in from Defensetech know about this?

And finally, has Top Cat registered with the Dept. of State's Office of Defense Trade Control, as required? (Dotmil & PMF folks: Is there a public registry that one could check?)


While no one is saying it, the United States is basically taking over coastal security duties for Somalia. The Transitional Government there has no money for this sort of thing, so it appears that the U.S. is picking up the tab. This could get interesting, for the Somali warlords who operate along the coast are not going to take kindly to some foreigners trying to interfere. The first priority of the new coast guard is to put the pirate gangs, and especially the two larger "mother ships", that are supporting attacks far out at sea, out of action.

See also The Bow Ramp and its discussion of using privateers to fight pirates; and also Eaglespeak, which remarks of the Top Cat-Somalia contract, Must be an interesting contract to read. I'll just bet.

AND FURTHER: Untravel also has a good post:

There are several reasons I think this little story is important:

First, a private military company (PMC) is engaging in independent military action. In the controversy over PMCs a few years ago, the claim was that they served a support role and did not wage war on their own. In this instance, this is clearly not the case. Topcat Marine Security is not helping the Somali coast guard. They were hired to be the Somali coast guard.

Second, American mercenaries (Topcat) have been hired to wage war at the behest of a foreign government (Somalia), independent of the foreign policy of the US government. As the practice of hiring PMCs for independent action becomes more commonplace, at what point has the nation-state lost it's monopoly on the legitimate use of force? What happens when an independent PMC and their government have conflicting objectives? If the interests of the PMC are taken ahead of that of the government, who is in charge?

Third, the Somali Transitional National Government is hardly a government in the strictest sense. They are set up in Kenya and are still debating over when and how to return to Mogadishu. Where did they get 50 million dollars? Or any money at all, really? I don't know enough about world politics to know how these sort of 'governments in exile' operate, but that 50 million has to come from somewhere. I'd like a journalist to ask who. A concerned alliance of rival warlords? One of Somali's neighboring countries, simply trying to protect itself? A country or countries concerned with keeping the link between the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean free and safe for shipping? Or a government interested in fighting terrorism without necessarily going through all the legal steps necessary to engage in military action?

This last question is not meant as a conspiracy theory, but something, from a journalistic point of view, that might be worth investigating as a possibility.

UPDATE 11/30/05: I came across a brand new blog started yesterday, consisting only of an interview with Somalia's Prime Minister. It discusses the piracy issue but does not seem to address this deal specifically.

Mountain Runner is also interested in Top Cat's profile:

Top Cat Marine Security is registered under Laura Casini, Esq. at what seems like a residential location. I mention the location because there are some interesting circumstances surrounding this company. It had moved its operations to St Stephen, South Carolina, to the great expectations of the locals. But, then in Oct 2004, things changed . . .

(According to court documents linked to earlier, Laura Casini is Peter Casini's cousin. She is registered with the New York Bar at a different [probably residential] address in Queens.)

FURTHER UPDATE, 11/30: Mountain Runner has a long, thoughtful follow-up post that I won't attempt to summarize, and suggest instead you go read.

After considering many less elaborate alternatives, he ends on a speculative note:

Or, has TopCat become a necessary cover for regional operations of the US armed forces or intelligence services? This would mean the anti-piracy line is either a cover or a secondary mission. The public diplomatic efforts of the US are meaningless in the region without virtually zero contact or interest with outside media. With media coverage nearly nil, even the humanitarian orgs are mostly gone, sightings of "US military-style" personnel would be adequately covered by this story.

If this were to be true, it would mark the end of the Bremer-style use of PMFs, out-sourcing -- perhaps excessive outsourcing, as I have argued previously -- things that are essentially government functions to private enterprise, with the (perhaps unexpected) benefit of increased secrecy and deniability. This would be a recognition that, no, using PMFs didn't really save that much money, no, re-hired contract Special Forces people were not somehow better qualified for the job that Special Forces folks already on the government payroll, that private enterprise didn't really have the bucks to have an infrastructure ready for whenever Big Government felt it needed something. But boy oh boy, was the secrecy and deniablity nice! Can you just imagine the genius, who in a different life would have been a studio executive in Hollywood, saying something like "Can't we just have a PMF that's staffed with our own guys and uses our own equipment?" Much as I dislike Bremmer's grand vision, this would mark its end.

UPDATE, 12/1: There's an interesting news story this morning that I'm sure ties into this whole subject. Another agreement signed by the Transitional Government: Ethiopia, Somalia pledge to fight terrorism in Horn of Africa

Addis Ababa - Ethiopia signed a comprehensive agreement with the transitional government of Somalia, covering security cooperation, trade and investment, transport and port services, the official Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) reported Thursday.

It was the first agreement to be signed with a neighbouring country for the transitional government of Somalia, which operates from Johar, some 90 kilometres north of the capital Mogadishu as it was unable to operate from the capital for security reasons.

The agreement was signed Wednesday between Ethiopian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Tekeda Alemu and Somalia's Foreign Minister Abdulahi Ismael on the sidelines of a council of ministers meeting of member states of the Inter-Governmental Authority for Cooperation and Development (IGAD) in the Horn of Africa.

And then there's this bit of damage control from Top Cat's backers, posted at the Conservative Voice, austensibly authored by Jim Kouri but with material mostly from Top Cat's press releases. (Or is it merely a late entry to the field? It also appears at Voices Magazine, and in three other venues.) The prose that is new is interesting:

In response to this latest attack, the Somali government -- a government practically in exile because of warlords, Al-Qaeda and Wahhabi terrorists -- has signed a contract with an United States-based security company that specializes in marine special operations. The hope is that the security firm will put an end to the proliferating piracy in that African region.

New York-based Topcat Marine Security signed a deal worth more than $50 million with the Somali Transitional Federal Government, which is temporarily based in Nairobi, to escort ships traveling through Somali waters.

Topcat is one of the world's foremost private security agencies offering clients law enforcement, counterterrorism and marine combat specialists. Topcat's client list includes the US Department of Homeland Security. They use state-of-the-art weaponry and equipment in order to mount offensive operations against pirates or terrorists who use the high seas for their acts of terrorism and piracy.

I've highlighted the interesting bits in bold. Kouri's remarks, which probably originate with Casini or his backers, support the notion I've heard floated that our story starts with the pirate attack on the cruise ship. Also, Kouri provides a new and different account of what exactly Top Cat is going to do for this fifty million. Escort? So now they're and escort service? But if they escort, they are actually going to fight pirates, right? With, like, weapons? Right? That's what the viewing audience really wants. So, back to the subject of arms embargos, are they importing these weapons?

I believe that the third paragraph I quoted originates with Top Cat's online brochure which I can't seem to get at this morning. Interesting is how the rationale for the contract is slipping from fighting pirates to fighting terrorism. While these activities may be intertwined, the first big PR bang on this story focued exclusively on piracy.

Also, it is interesting how Kouri describes the way the pirate attack on the cruise she was repelled. The ocean liner was able to escape the attack using security countermeasures. Why doesn't he say it was an LRAD that was used? Does he have a security clearance that prevents him? And if the LRAD belonged to the cruise lines, why would its use be classified? Elsewhere, he throws a few more words at the subject, but is similarly evasive:

They assailants were repelled by the ships crew who implemented their security measures which included setting off electronic simulators which created the illusion the ship was firing back at the terrorists.

Spit it out man: Can you say sonic blaster?

And then there's this bit of entertaing reading, Somalia: National government or kids in a candy store? which begins:

Somalis all over the world celebrated wholeheartedly when the new Somali interim government was established in nearby Nairobi, Kenya last year. Likewise, it was another historic moment when it finally relocated to Somali soil. Now, the honeymoon is over and Somalia’s elected president and prime minister are at the helm without any opposition of any kind. There’s no authority above the duo to oversee and scrutinize their actions. The international community gave them a blank check with no strings attached.

Spending other people’s money is very sweet. Confined in Jowhar town limits with its members unable to visit next door towns and villages like Balcad, the interim government is signing multimillion contacts silently. No advertised tenders, biddings, and of course no independent watchdogs. There's no National Supreme Court or any other independent court for that matter.

And Mountain Runner has a meaty new post which gets into such issues as Somalia's oil resources, competition in the region with China, and much more.

Of course TopCat will be providing more than boats in this contract. Where they will base, if its in country, and remain littoral? Then won't TC be just like the pirates USED to be before they acquired their "mother ship"? Will TC acquire an expensive but highly suitable ship (probably not that expensive) for blue water operations?

If security was really a big deal, the Yemeni arms market might gain greater attention. Still, some problems continue to linger over this deal:

  1. Transparency. There is none. This provider has a checkered history. Purpose and design of this contract ($50m+ barrier for example) makes this opaque if anything.
  2. Fair play. Was TC really the best candidate for the job? Did the "local" "government" really come to the finding that this provider was superior or were there other contributing factors?
  3. Money and Morals. $50m+ is a lot of spending money for some boats. There is something else here.

One last comment. If active duty will be deployed, then again, it should and could have been done more discretely. If however, this is a completely private operation, then further "foreign policy by proxy" is not going to help when the our chief for Public Diplomacy is amazed that countries are larger than her state. The world is looking and so is our own military. Trust in the Executive branch is waning from abuse. Intelligence and military services are direct reports to the Executive branch. In effect, they serve at the whim, the intelligence services especially, of the President. The buck stops there, except in this Administration.

He also has a good Pirate Primer.

UPDATE 12/2: From The Strategy Page:

December 2, 2005: Somali pirates are raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars in ransoms for hijacked ships. This is big money for poverty stricken Somalia, and the warlords are not going to readily give it up because of some foreign mercenaries. There is likely to be some sharp fighting before the Topcat organized coast guard gains control of the coast with its naval and air patrols. Six ships are still being held for ransom.

And Matt Armstrong ar Mountain Runner has a good, long meditatio, Accountability of Non-State Force, which begins:

The issue of private military companies, private security companies, or private military firms brings up the question of accountability. This question can be asked in different dimensions: moral, legal, ethical, and command and control. This is a brief draft on the legal accountability of private military forces, divorced from any profit motives. It is my belief that private military forces fall into the same "loophole" (really a misnomer, it is an intentional gap) in regulation in which non-governmental forces "approved" by the international community, namely Blue Helmets, are also found.

And, in the context of the more speculative aspects of this story, I found this post from Josh Marshall interesting:

In recent days we've being seeing a lot of stories about various top-secret or 'black' programs being run out of the Pentagon. The reports about fake stories being planted in the Iraqi press are just a single example. I'm told that this matter of top secret Pentagon spending -- stuff free of almost all oversight -- may connect up with the Duke [Cunningham] investigation and may reach up higher than we might imagine in the Pentagon.

Also, Casini was on FOX News on the 27th talking about the contract. There's a little info in the TV interview, but not much. Casini is not very articulate.


FROM THE MAILBAG, someone writes in from Herndon, Virginia, IP #

If any checking of facts should come to be - it should be checking on kathryn cramer 's totally weird interest in destroying a boat company. So many questions about you kathryn- but a simple one is this- pictures of your family?  Thou dost protest too much!   Who and what are you really? A coast guard? If one sells a police car to a town's police force does the seller become the police?

Oh, no. My cover is blown. Since my picture shows a thin white blonde with kids, I must be none of the above. ;-)  (Also, blogging about this has brought about an increase in the Nigerian Spam making its way to my inbox.)

Also, I should say that there seem to be a fair number of people to whom Casini and his operation owe a lot of money and they are very interested in having his current address. Somewhere in Virginia is my best guess at present.

AND from the Voice of America:

Energy experts say by the year 2020, about one-fourth of the oil the United States consumes could come from Africa.  With this anticipation, African and U.S leaders are joining forces to help Africa reach its potential as a world energy leader.

Africa currently supplies the United States with 12 percent of all the oil it needs, but energy experts say that could jump by 25 percent over the next two decades.  The Corporate Council on Africa, headed by Steven Hayes, organized an international oil and gas conference this week on exploring Africa.

Mr. Hayes says one of the goals of the forum was to give U.S. companies an opportunity to better understand a very rapidly-changing environment in Africa.

"We don't quite realize -- the broad population -- how strategically important Africa is to us, not simply on energy, but clearly more and more of our needs are going to come from Africa," said Mr. Hayes.

Mr. Hayes says he is urging the United States to recognize the importance of the U.S.-African energy partnership, especially as competition from China grows.

Regarding Somalis oil reserves, a geologist from Marathon Oil in and interview in 1993, fills us in:

Presenting their results during a three-day conference in London in September, 1991, two of those geologists, an American and an Egyptian, reported that an analysis of nine exploratory wells drilled in Somalia indicated that the region is "situated within the oil window, and thus (is) highly prospective for gas and oil." A report by a third geologist, Z. R. Beydoun, said offshore sites possess "the geological parameters conducive to the generation, expulsion and trapping of significant amounts of oil and gas."

Beydoun, who now works for Marathon Oil in London, cautioned in a recent interview that on the basis of his findings alone, "you cannot say there definitely is oil," but he added: "The different ingredients for generation of oil are there. The question is whether the oil generated there has been trapped or whether it dispersed or evaporated."

Interestingly, Somalia is emerging at the moment as an organizing issue for Republicans, trying to distinguish themelves from those "cut and run" Democrats. Whatever could the authors of Republican talking points have in mind? To send in the Marines to show that Bush is Man enough? Surely they can't think that Bush has the public support to start a third war? On the other hand, those generous folks at Marathon did give over fifty-eight thousand dollars to the Republicans in the last contribution year, and campaign contributions do make this administration frisky! 

And, um, isn't the Manager of Global Security for Marathon Oil, the very same Bernie McCabe who was Bernie McCabe, U.S. Representative, Sandline International a while back? Maybe the folks in the comment section suggesting a connection with the remnants of Sandline aren't as far off the mark as I thought. It can't be. Can it? Somalia isn't supposed to be the New Iraq?

UPDATE 12/3: Matt at Mountain Runner has an interesting new post, which begins:

More information on the Somalia, Oil, and possibly TopCat continue. Reporting from Oil and Gas Investor indicates Marathon Oil, of Texas, and possibly other firms have taken over the Conoco claims, or at least is moving in on them, and bumping yet another company to boot.

SEE ALSO MY POST: Top Cat Has Security Personnel After All . . . or Do They?

UPDATE 12/6: New govt's move to tackle piracy hits a snag  from In gneral, the article covers some of the same information covers here about Top Cat's financial problems. But here is Maryann Johnson's fallback position when cornered on Casini's bankruptcies:

ut the company's vice president for public relations, Maryann Johnson, said the article was written years ago, by a small town reporter whose sole source of information was a convicted felon. "Top Cat was never contacted directly for comment on this article, but rather the reporter chose to undertake a smear campaign to camouflage small-town corruption."

She said Top Cat remains financially secure and stable with contracts around the world with some of the largest defence contractors and that an employee's personal information has no bearing on the stability and structure of the company. "Mr Casini is head of research and development and has been awarded the notable honour of being named one of the top three boat designers in the world. He is an employee of and not the owner of the company. There are over 50 major stockholders," she said.

In signing the deal with Somalia, Mr Casini said his company would target a mother ship off the Somali coast that is launching smaller craft to attack commercial vessels.

Several questions come to mind:

  1. If Casini is not the President or CEO of the company, who is?
  2. If he is neither president or CEO, what authorization does he have to enter into such a contract on Top Cat's behalf?
  3. If Casini doesn't own Top Cat, who does? Who are its "investors"?
  4. How are Top Cat's investors distinct from its creditors?

UPDATE 12/6: See my new post Top Cat Marine Security Ordered to Cease & Desist. Busted.