Today's Article
The lawsuit appears
to be the first filed
against a security
firm by those acting
on behalf of a slain
American soldier.
The American Spark
U.S. Soldier's Family Sues British Security Firm Protecting Iraqi Oil

By Cliff Montgomery - Oct. 31st, 2007

An American soldier's family has filed suit against a British-based security firm protecting Iraqi oil installations
for negligence leading to his death.

The Erinys security company is said to be closely tied to former Iraqi exile--and former Bush Administration
darling--Ahmed Chalabi. The lawsuit appears to be the first filed against a  security contractor in Iraq by those
acting on behalf of an American soldier.

It perhaps is one more proof of the rising public outrage over the use of private security companies in Iraq. The
suit comes after 17 Iraqi citizens were killed in a September melee by Blackwater USA guards hired to protect
a U.S. diplomatic convoy in Baghdad.

Specialist Christopher Monroe's father filed the Erinys lawsuit last week in Houston, TX. Monroe was hit by an
Erinys vehicle convoy on October 25th, 2005, while serving in southern Iraq. A speeding company vehicle killed
the American soldier, alleges the lawsuit.

"The family just didn't have the answers that they were seeking," Tobias Cole, the family's  lawyer, told
The
London Guardian
.

"For example, why did their son die on a non-combat mission? There was no reason to have extreme driving,
no reason to drive without headlights, no reason to drive at speed through a parked convoy," he added.

The 19-year-old Monroe was eager to serve as a U.S. soldier. Two generations of the Monroes had proudly
served their country in uniform; Christopher gladly became the third. He enlisted while still in high school, at the
tender age of 17.

The Erinys four-vehicle convoy was reaching speeds of up to 80 m.p.h. while traveling a badly-lit road and only
employing their parking lights, the lawsuit alleges. The vehicles weren't under attack, nor were they transporting
high-profile passengers.

Monroe was thrown 40ft off the ground by the collision. His right leg was torn off by the sheer force of the
impact.

The Erinys convoy had gone through two American checkpoints just moments before hitting Monroe. Erinys
employees had been told that more U.S. soldiers were ahead, according to the suit.

The Erinys team flatly ignored these warnings, and drove their convoy at such a high rate of speed that they
could see neither Monroe nor the five-ton truck the American soldier was guarding, states the lawsuit.

"Although extreme driving maneuvers may be appropriate for private security contractors at certain times,
driving recklessly at a high rate of speed with no headlights through a parked U.S. convoy after being
specifically warned is not," the lawsuit stated.

Erinys at that time was contracted to provide security for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The firm denies any wrongdoing, adding that it was found innocent of the U.S. soldier's death by a Bush
Administration military investigation.

"It was a very tragic accident for which Erinys and its employees have been thoroughly exonerated," a
company spokesman told the
Guardian on Monday.

Perhaps the British firm doesn't know this, but employing the Bush Administration as a character witness
doesn't exactly serve as a proof of innocence for the majority of Americans.

Regardless, this lawsuit comes just as the Bush Administration is facing growing outrage over the use of
private security firms in Iraq, and the granting of immunity to those corporations. The Iraqi cabinet yesterday
approved a new draft law which revokes prosecution immunity for security companies contracted to operate in
the country.

Erinys first became the subject of much attention in 2003, after the company won an $80 million, 18-month
contract to protect Iraq's oil pipelines and refineries. The firm soon created a subsidiary company called Erinys
Iraq.

The first guards hired to make up the 14,000-strong oil security force of Erinys Iraq also belonged to the
so-called "Iraqi Free Forces"--an American-trained militia then headed by Ahmed Chalabi, the Iraqi exile and
Bush protege whom the administration thought would rally all Iraqis to America's cause, as Charles de Gaulle
rallied Frenchmen during WWII.

But of course, WWII was a real war, based on actual evidence. Iraq is not WWII.

Many individuals belonging to Chalabi's inner circle helped found Erinys Iraq. Erinys currently has about 1,000
workers in the country, a spokesman told the
Guardian. Most are those are British nationals.



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