On March 19th, 2011 an Afghan security guard named Shir Ahmed walked onto the U.S. Army base in Afghanistan — a base he was supposed to protect — and murdered two American soldiers. Ahmed, who was killed in a firefight after the attack, didn’t work directly for the U.S. Army, but for the Toronto-based contractor Tundra Securities. Tundra, as it turned out, had fired Ahmed in 2010 because of safety concerns before later rehiring him after it decided he did not pose a threat.
Now according to a report in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the family of one of the murdered soldiers is suing Tundra, accusing the firm of “ignoring warning signs.” The incident also led the U.S. Army to rethink its policy on screening security contractors. The Post-Dispatch compared the relationship between contractors and the U.S. military to bees and their hive.
A Post-Dispatch reporter interviewed several soldiers at the base in Afghanistan where Ahmed opened fire. Some expressed a lack of trust in the reliability of Afghans, at the same time displaying a worrying ignorance of local culture.
“There’s something wrong about it. Maybe because Americans value life more than these people,” explains Staff Sgt. Gary Lewis, of the southeast Missouri town of Chaffee. “I’d feel better if it was Americans watching Americans.”
Others said that, in Afghanistan, you have to be careful no matter what.
“I don’t care who is in the [guard] tower, you have to be prepared for the unexpected,” Sgt. 1st Class James McClarney, 44, of St. Louis tells the Post-Dispatch
FBI investigates Border Patrol shooting of Mexican boy
The FBI has opened an inquiry into why Border Patrol officers fatally shot a 16-year-old boy near Nogales, Arizona on October 10. The Arizona Republic reports that a new autopsy report found 10 of the 11 bullets that struck Jose Antonio Elena Rodriguez entered through his back. Those bullets also “entered the boy’s body at a lower point on his frame than they exited,” according to the report.
“The only way I can fathom that report is that he was lying on his face when he was hit,” Luis Parra, an attorney representing the boy’s family, tells the Republic.
Border Patrol agents say Rodriguez was throwing rocks at them from the Mexican side of the border as they chased two men suspected of smuggling drugs. The Republic reports that the way the border fence is constructed would have made it nearly impossible for Rodriguez to hit the agents while they fired at him. The incident caused Mexican officials to question the Border Patrol’s official policy on the use of deadly force, which currently treats rocks as lethal weapons and allows agents to fire on those who throw them.
Since January 2010, 17 people have been killed on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, according to the Republic. The FBI declined to comment for the piece.
Duke campus in China faces delays, construction problems
Duke University’s plan for a campus in Kunshan China has been delayed once more, reports the school’s student newspaper the Duke Chronicle. The American university has pushed back the opening of its Chinese affiliate, a partnership with local Wuhan University, to the fall of 2014. None of its six planned buildings have been completed.
The Chronicle reports that “poor management and insufficient funding” were responsible for the hold up, the fifth major delay in three years. Duke gave up much of its leverage on the project to local city leaders in Kunshan, who hired a construction firm that used inexperienced workers and shoddy building techniques. Construction on the 200-acre campus made almost no progress in 2012 as Duke officials threatened to pull out of the partnership.
“It took a while to understand what we’re dealing with because they don’t tell you much,” Paul Manning, a Duke administrator, explains to the Chronicle. “You have to delve in and figure out what the real issues are behind the consequences that you’re seeing.”
After a tour of Duke’s home campus in Durham, North Carolina, Chinese construction experts agreed that Duke’s school in Kunshan needed to be of higher quality. Duke subsequently hired American architects to oversee the project and sent one of their administrators to Kunshan full time. The city of Kunshan and its construction firm also agreed to raise their budget from $200 to $260 million.
Meanwhile, Manning, the Duke official, admitted to the Chronicle that the project would have gone more smoothly if the university had partnered with a private firm from the beginning, and not the municipal government of Kunshan.