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N4610 Full Circle

Just when I think I won't see much new about the N4610 plot any time soon, Charlie Stross sends me a link to a Guardian/Observer story that circles around from tales of civilian contractors in Iraq right back to N4610 just as neatly as a Garrison Keillor anecdote:

Mercenaries in 'coup plot' guarded UK officials in Iraq: Shocked MP demands a rethink of the way government awards its security contracts. Special report by Antony Barnett, Solomon Hughes and Jason Burke

Mercenaries accused of planning a coup in an oil-rich African state also worked under contract for the British government providing security in Iraq, raising fears about the way highly sensitive security work is awarded, The Observer has learnt.

The Department for International Development (DfID) signed a ��250,000 deal last summer with the South-African based Meteoric Tactical Solutions (MTS) to provide 'close protection' for department staff, including bodyguards and drivers for its senior official in Iraq.

Two of the firm's owners were arrested in Zimbabwe last March with infamous British mercenary and former SAS officer Simon Mann. The men are accused of plotting an armed coup in Equatorial Guinea.

MTS is based in Pretoria and run by former members of South African special forces. Its owners are Lourens 'Hecky' Horn, Hermanus Carlse and Festus van Rooyen. Horn, the firm's Iraq contact when the contract with Britain was signed, is now in Chikurubi prison in Zimbabwe with Carlse.  . . . 

MTS director Festus van Rooyen, who is based in Iraq, confirmed his company's contract with the department and the arrest of his former partners, but denied all knowledge of alleged wrongdoing. He claimed that MTS had worked for Nelson Mandela, Tony Blair and the Queen.

His fellow directors were on leave when they were arrested. 'I was shocked when I heard of their arrest. Activity like that is totally against company policy,' he said. 

Horn was in charge of the company in Iraq, including the British contract, until last February when he returned to South Africa to 'chill out on a hunting farm'. 

MORE HOT STUFF! Phil Carter discusses a new DoD memo in the hands of The Wall Street Journal:

Normally, I would say that there is a fine line separating legal advice on how to stay within the law, and legal advice on how to avoid prosecution for breaking the law.  DoD and DoJ lawyers often provide this first kind of sensitive legal advice to top decisionmakers in the Executive Branch (regardless of administration) who want to affirm the legality of their actions.  Often times, memoranda on these topics can be seen both ways, depending on your perspective.  I tend to think that the Yoo memorandum and Gonzales memorandum leaned more heavily towards providing advice about how to stay (barely) within the bounds of the law — not how to break the law and get away with it.  But this DoD memo appears to be quite the opposite.  It is, quite literally, a cookbook approach for illegal government conduct.  This memorandum lays out the substantive law on torture and how to avoid it.  It then goes on to discuss the procedural mechanisms with which torture is normally prosecuted, and techniques for avoiding those traps.  I have not seen the text of the memo, but from this report, it does not appear that it advises American personnel to comply with international or domestic law.  It merely tells them how to avoid it.  That is dangerous legal advice.

(Via Atrios.)