Category Archives: Privatization

Billionaires should be allowed to BUY up planets, claims expert


Could billionaires buy the moon? An American space expert claims that a loophole might allow investors to buy other planets

dailymail.co.uk | Apr 5, 2012

By Rob Waugh

Private companies should be able to buy land on The Moon or other planets for tourism, mining or even to sell property, a space policy expert has said.

Rand Simberg said that if governments started to provide property rights then entrepreneurs and billionaires might pile in and invest – and added that the ‘time is ripe’.

He has proposed a law that would circumvent the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which states no individual or government can have sovereignty over any body in space.

But such a move would mark a huge change in how mankind sees space and could open up the galaxy to a debacle akin to the Colonial era ‘Scramble for Africa’.

One government going alone might also incur the wrath of other nations who all remain signed up to the Outer Space Treaty.

Mr Simberg, who is based in the US, says that the law is open to challenge and does not explicitly forbid anybody from owning chunks of planets, so needs clearing up anyway.

Wired.com reported that his plan is called the Space Settlement Prize Act and was unveiled earlier this month at US conservative think tank the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

Any new law would have to work around the 1979 Moon Treaty Act which stops any nation from claiming sovereignty over The Moon, though major countries like the US and Russia have not ratified it.

Mr Simberg’s states: ‘The ratification failure of the Moon Treaty means there is no legal prohibition in force against private ownership of land on the Moon, Mars, etc., as long as the ownership is not derived from a claim of national appropriation or sovereignty (which is prohibited by the Outer Space Treaty)’

Another hurdle that would have to be overcome would be how people get to the moon – Richard Bransons’ Virgin Galactic has yet to even make its first commercial flight into orbit, let alone another planet.

But Mr Simberg said: ‘There are people who believe that rocks have rights; I’m not one of them’.

US space law lawyer Michael Listner told Wired.com that ownership of The Moon and other planets was a ‘very touchy issue’.

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Hospitals to give taxpayers 60 years of pain


Under Private Finance Initiative schemes, British taxpayers are committed to pay £229 billion for new hospitals, schools and other projects with a capital value of just £56 billion Photo: PA

Young people starting work this year will pay taxes for the Government’s Private Finance Initiative until they are nearly 70, an investigation by The Daily Telegraph has found.

Private contractors who agreed PFI deals with the Government are set to make billions of pounds in profit.

Telegraph | Jan 24, 2011

Private Finance Initiative: hospitals will bring taxpayers 60 years of pain

By Andrew Gilligan

Official figures show that, under Private Finance Initiative [PFI] schemes, British taxpayers are committed to pay £229 billion for new hospitals, schools and other projects with a capital value of just £56 billion. Several contracts are due to run for 60 years, documents released under freedom of information requests show, meaning taxpayers will be paying for the projects for generations to come.

Private contractors who agreed PFI deals with the Government are set to make billions of pounds in profit, with some due to see returns of up to 71 per cent.

In the first of a series of reports, The Daily Telegraph discloses the heavy costs and administrative burdens caused by PFIs. The deals are a way of building large public projects using private finance, which were relied upon by the Labour government. The disclosures will lend weight to MPs calling on PFI companies to refund a share of their profits to the taxpayer.

The PFI deals include:

• A hospital which charged £52,000 for a job that cost £750. Demolishing a shelter for smokers resulted in the PFI contractor charging £2,600 a year for the “extra cleaning”.

• A hospital in Bromley, south London, which will cost the NHS £1.2 billion, more than 10 times what it is worth.

• An empty school which will cost taxpayers £370,000 a year until 2027. Another school had to pay £302 for a socket, five times the cost of the equipment it wanted to plug in.

• Military dog kennels which would have ended up costing more per night than a room in the Park Lane Hilton, London. The deal to replace facilities at the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray resulted in the sacking of the contractor and the scrapping of the contract.

Under a PFI, a private contractor builds a school, hospital or other asset, then owns it for typically between 25 and 35 years, effectively renting it to the taxpayer for that time. In exchange, the contractor has responsibility for maintenance.

Treasury papers suggest that payments on PFI contracts already signed run until 2048. The Daily Telegraph has uncovered deals, signed in the late 1990s, which include special clauses meaning that they last for up to six decades.

So a 21 year-old leaving university this year will pay taxes for the PFI until they are almost 70. By then, some of the facilities will have been obsolete for years. Political pressure on the PFIs, introduced by John Major but greatly expanded when Gordon Brown was chancellor, was mounting last night after The Telegraph established the scale of profit-making by some of those involved.

An almost unknown City company, Innisfree, with only 14 staff, is the largest single player in the PFI market, owning or co-owning 269 PFI schools and 28 hospitals.

According to accounts filed at Companies House, Innisfree’s profit margin was 53 per cent last year. A successful FTSE 100 company makes margins of around 6 per cent. David Metter, the founder and chief executive of Innisfree, owns almost three-quarters of the company and collected pay and dividends of £8.6  million last year.

“Innisfree have made money like it is going out of style,” said Jesse Norman, the Conservative MP for Hereford. “A tiny number of individuals have made more money for less work than any other group of people I can think of.” Innisfree said its directors were at a conference in Chamonix yesterday and unable to comment. There is no suggestion that Innisfree has done anything improper or illegal.

Mr Norman heads a new cross-party group of MPs demanding that Innisfree and other PFI beneficiaries return a portion of their profits to the taxpayer. “It’s a scandal that so many projects have been so expensive to the taxpayer,” he said yesterday. “There is a great deal of excess value in the PFI which should properly be shared with taxpayers.”

Labour’s last health secretary, Andy Burnham, who was in charge of 221 PFI projects, admitted last year: “We made mistakes. I’m not defending every pen-stroke of the PFI contracts we signed.” Innisfree co-owns the Princess Royal University Hospital in Bromley, opened in 2003, which cost an estimated £118 million to build and equip according to Treasury figures. However, Treasury calculations seen by The Daily Telegraph indicate the NHS will have paid Innisfree and its PFI partners a total of £1.21 billion for the hospital over the 35-year life of the contract, but this does include support services. The National Audit Office says the deal will produce a return for the PFI contractors of 70.6 per cent.

Jean Shaoul, a professor of public accountability at Manchester University Business School, said using the private sector as an intermediary to raise finance to build hospitals and to run them is “far more expensive than if the Government were to do it itself”. Carl Emmerson, the acting director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said: “Where you can be very confident about the service you want for the whole period of the contract, as with a road, it can work. In schools and hospitals, where needs change, it’s much harder to get value for money.”

In Belfast, a school closed after seven years but the PFI contractor must be paid £370,000 a year for the next 16 years.

Mind-reading systems could change air security

In this Dec. 30, 2009 file photo, Tanner Suttles, left, a Transportation Security Administration employee is screened by a TSA officer during a demonstration of passenger screening technology at the TSA Systems Integration Facility in Arlington, Va. Security experts have floated several new ideas to enhance airport security in the weeks since authorities say a Nigerian man on a Detroit-bound jetliner tried to ignite explosives hidden in his crotch. Some ideas are being tested, others are far from proven, some aren’t being seriously considered. Many raise questions about civil liberties and all are costly. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)

Associated Press | Jan 8, 2010

by Michael Tarm

CHICAGO – A would-be terrorist tries to board a plane, bent on mass murder. As he walks through a security checkpoint, fidgeting and glancing around, a network of high-tech machines analyzes his body language and reads his mind.

Screeners pull him aside.

Tragedy is averted.

As far-fetched as that sounds, systems that aim to get inside an evildoer’s head are among the proposals floated by security experts thinking beyond the X-ray machines and metal detectors used on millions of passengers and bags each year.

On Thursday, in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt over Detroit, President Barack Obama called on Homeland Security and the Energy Department to develop better screening technology, warning: “In the never-ending race to protect our country, we have to stay one step ahead of a nimble adversary.”

The ideas that have been offered by security experts for staying one step ahead include highly sophisticated sensors, more intensive interrogations of travelers by screeners trained in human behavior, and a lifting of the U.S. prohibitions against profiling.

Some of the more unusual ideas are already being tested. Some aren’t being given any serious consideration. Many raise troubling questions about civil liberties. All are costly.

“Regulators need to accept that the current approach is outdated,” said Philip Baum, editor of the London-based magazine Aviation Security International. “It may have responded to the threats of the 1960s, but it doesn’t respond to the threats of the 21st century.”

Here’s a look at some of the ideas that could shape the future of airline security:

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MIND READERS

The aim of one company that blends high technology and behavioral psychology is hinted at in its name, WeCU — as in “We See You.”

The system that Israeli-based WeCU Technologies has devised and is testing in Israel projects images onto airport screens, such as symbols associated with a certain terrorist group or some other image only a would-be terrorist would recognize, said company CEO Ehud Givon.

The logic is that people can’t help reacting, even if only subtly, to familiar images that suddenly appear in unfamiliar places. If you strolled through an airport and saw a picture of your mother, Givon explained, you couldn’t help but respond.

The reaction could be a darting of the eyes, an increased heartbeat, a nervous twitch or faster breathing, he said.

The WeCU system would use humans to do some of the observing but would rely mostly on hidden cameras or sensors that can detect a slight rise in body temperature and heart rate. Far more sensitive devices under development that can take such measurements from a distance would be incorporated later.

If the sensors picked up a suspicious reaction, the traveler could be pulled out of line for further screening.

“One by one, you can screen out from the flow of people those with specific malicious intent,” Givon said.

Some critics have expressed horror at the approach, calling it Orwellian and akin to “brain fingerprinting.”

For civil libertarians, attempting to read a person’s thoughts comes uncomfortably close to the future world depicted in the movie “Minority Report,” where a policeman played by Tom Cruise targets people for “pre-crimes,” or merely thinking about breaking the law.

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LIE DETECTORS

One system being studied by Homeland Security is called the Future Attribute Screening Technology, or FAST, and works like a souped-up polygraph.

It would subject people pulled aside for additional screening to a battery of tests, including scans of facial movements and pupil dilation, for signs of deception. Small platforms similar to the balancing boards used in the Nintendo Wii would help detect fidgeting.

At a public demonstration of the system in Boston last year, project manager Robert Burns explained that people who harbor ill will display involuntary physiological reactions that others — such as those who are stressed out for ordinary reasons, such as being late for a plane — don’t.

The system could be made to work passively, scanning people as they walk through a security line, according to Burns.

Field testing of the system, which will cost around $20 million to develop, could begin in 2011, The Boston Globe said in a story about the demonstration. Addressing one concern of civil libertarians, Burns said the technology would delete data after each screening.

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THE ISRAELI MODEL

Some say the U.S. should take a page from Israel’s book on security.

At Israeli airports, widely considered the most secure in the world, travelers are subjected to probing personal questions as screeners look them straight in the eye for signs of deception. Searches are meticulous, with screeners often scrutinizing every item in a bag, unfolding socks, squeezing toothpaste and flipping through books.

“All must look to Israel and learn from them. This is not a post-911 thing for them. They’ve been doing this since 1956,” said Michael Goldberg, president of New York-based IDO Security Inc., which developed a device that can scan shoes while they are still on people’s feet.

Israel also employs profiling: At Ben-Gurion Airport, Jewish Israelis typically pass through smoothly, while others may be taken aside for closer interrogation or even strip searches. Another distinquishing feature of Israeli airports is that they rely on concentric security rings that start miles from terminal buildings.

Rafi Ron, the former security director at Israel’s famously tight Ben Gurion International Airport who now is a consultant for Boston’s Logan International Airport, says U.S. airports also need to be careful not to overcommit to securing passenger entry points at airports, forgetting about the rest of the field.

“Don’t invest all your efforts on the front door and leave the back door open,” said Ron.

While many experts agree the United States could adopt some Israeli methods, few believe the overall model would work here, in part because of the sheer number of U.S. airports — more than 400, versus half a dozen in Israel.

Also, the painstaking searches and interrogations would create delays that could bring U.S. air traffic to a standstill. And many Americans would find the often intrusive and intimidating Israeli approach repugnant.

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PROFILING

Some argue that policies against profiling undermine security.

Baum, who is also managing director of Green Light Limited, a London-based aviation security company, agrees profiling based on race and religion is counterproductive and should be avoided. But he argues that a reluctance to distinguish travelers on other grounds — such as their general appearance or their mannerisms — is not only foolhardy but dangerous.

“When you see a typical family — dressed like a family, acts like a family, interacts with each other like a family … when their passport details match — then let’s get them through,” he said. “Stop wasting time that would be much better spent screening the people that we’ve get more concerns about.”

U.S. authorities prohibit profiling of passengers based on ethnicity, religion or national origin. Current procedures call for travelers to be randomly pulled out of line for further screening.

Scrutinizing 80-year-old grandmothers or students because they might be carrying school scissors can defy common sense, Baum said.

“We need to use the human brain — which is the best technology of them all,” he said.

But any move to relax prohibitions against profiling in the U.S. would surely trigger fierce resistance, including legal challenges by privacy advocates.

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PRIVATIZATION

What if security were left to somebody other than the federal government?

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the Washington-based Cato Institute, a free-market-oriented think tank, says airlines should be allowed take charge of security at airports.

Especially since 9/11, the trend has been toward standardizing security procedures to ensure all airports follow the best practices. But Harper argues that decentralizing the responsibility would result in a mix of approaches — thereby making it harder for terrorists to use a single template in planning attacks.

“Passengers, too, prefer a uniform experience,” he said. “But that’s not necessarily the best security. It’s better if sometimes we take your laptop out, sometimes we’ll pat you down. Those are things that will really drive a terrorist batty — as if they’re not batty already.”

Harper concedes that privatizing airport security is probably wishful thinking, and the idea has not gotten any traction. He acknowledges it would be difficult to allay fears of gaping security holes if it were left to each airline or airport owner to decide its own approach.

___

AP writers Glen Johnson in Boston and Josef Federman in Jerusalem also contributed to this report.

Erik Prince: Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy for the CIA

Erik Prince, founder of the Blackwater security firm (recently renamed Xe), at the company’s Virginia offices. Photograph by Nigel Parry.

Erik Prince, recently outed as a participant in a C.I.A. assassination program, has gained notoriety as head of the military-contracting juggernaut Blackwater, a company dogged by a grand-jury investigation, bribery accusations, and the voluntary-manslaughter trial of five ex-employees, set for next month. Lashing back at his critics, the wealthy former navy seal takes the author inside his operation in the U.S. and Afghanistan, revealing the role he’s been playing in America’s war on terror.

Vanity Fair | January 2010

Tycoon, Contractor, Soldier, Spy

By Adam Ciralsky

“I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions,” says Erik Prince as he surveys his heavily fortified, 7,000-acre compound in rural Moyock, North Carolina. “But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus.” Prince—the founder of Blackwater, the world’s most notorious private military contractor—is royally steamed. He wants to vent. And he wants you to hear him vent.

Erik Prince has an image problem—the kind that’s impervious to a Madison Avenue makeover. The 40-year-old heir to a Michigan auto-parts fortune, and a former navy seal, he has had the distinction of being vilified recently both in life and in art. In Washington, Prince has become a scapegoat for some of the Bush administration’s misadventures in Iraq—though Blackwater’s own deeds have also come in for withering criticism. Congressmen and lawyers, human-rights groups and pundits, have described Prince as a war profiteer, one who has assembled a rogue fighting force capable of toppling governments. His employees have been repeatedly accused of using excessive, even deadly force in Iraq; many Iraqis, in fact, have died during encounters with Blackwater. And in November, as a North Carolina grand jury was considering a raft of charges against the company, as a half-dozen civil suits were brewing in Virginia, and as five former Blackwater staffers were preparing for trial for their roles in the deaths of 17 Iraqis, The New York Times reported in a page-one story that Prince’s firm, in the aftermath of the tragedy, had sought to bribe Iraqi officials for their compliance, charges which Prince calls “lies … undocumented, unsubstantiated [and] anonymous.” (So infamous is the Blackwater brand that even the Taliban have floated far-fetched conspiracy theories, accusing the company of engaging in suicide bombings in Pakistan.)

In Hollywood, meanwhile, a town that loves nothing so much as a good villain, Prince, with his blond crop and Daniel Craig mien, has become the screenwriters’ darling. In the film State of Play, a Blackwater clone (PointCorp.) uses its network of mercenaries for illegal surveillance and murder. On the Fox series 24, Jon Voight has played Jonas Hodges, a thinly veiled version of Prince, whose company (Starkwood) helps an African warlord procure nerve gas for use against U.S. targets.

But the truth about Prince may be orders of magnitude stranger than fiction. For the past six years, he appears to have led an astonishing double life. Publicly, he has served as Blackwater’s C.E.O. and chairman. Privately, and secretly, he has been doing the C.I.A.’s bidding, helping to craft, fund, and execute operations ranging from inserting personnel into “denied areas”—places U.S. intelligence has trouble penetrating—to assembling hit teams targeting al-Qaeda members and their allies. Prince, according to sources with knowledge of his activities, has been working as a C.I.A. asset: in a word, as a spy. While his company was busy gleaning more than $1.5 billion in government contracts between 2001 and 2009—by acting, among other things, as an overseas Praetorian guard for C.I.A. and State Department officials—Prince became a Mr. Fix-It in the war on terror. His access to paramilitary forces, weapons, and aircraft, and his indefatigable ambition—the very attributes that have galvanized his critics—also made him extremely valuable, some say, to U.S. intelligence. (Full disclosure: In the 1990s, before becoming a journalist for CBS and then NBC News, I was a C.I.A. attorney. My contract was not renewed, under contentious circumstances.)

But Prince, with a new administration in power, and foes closing in, is finally coming in from the cold. This past fall, though he infrequently grants interviews, he decided it was time to tell his side of the story—to respond to the array of accusations, to reveal exactly what he has been doing in the shadows of the U.S. government, and to present his rationale. He also hoped to convey why he’s going to walk away from it all.

To that end, he invited Vanity Fair to his training camp in North Carolina, to his Virginia offices, and to his Afghan outposts. It seemed like a propitious time to tag along.

Split Personality

Erik Prince can be a difficult man to wrap your mind around—an amalgam of contradictory caricatures. He has been branded a “Christian supremacist” who sanctions the murder of Iraqi civilians, yet he has built mosques at his overseas bases and supports a Muslim orphanage in Afghanistan. He and his family have long backed conservative causes, funded right-wing political candidates, and befriended evangelicals, but he calls himself a libertarian and is a practicing Roman Catholic. Sometimes considered arrogant and reclusive—Howard Hughes without the O.C.D.—he nonetheless enters competitions that combine mountain-biking, beach running, ocean kayaking, and rappelling.

The common denominator is a relentless intensity that seems to have no Off switch. Seated in the back of a Boeing 777 en route to Afghanistan, Prince leafs through Defense News while the film Taken beams from the in-flight entertainment system. In the movie, Liam Neeson plays a retired C.I.A. officer who mounts an aggressive rescue effort after his daughter is kidnapped in Paris. Neeson’s character warns his daughter’s captors:

If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills … skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you [don’t] let my daughter go now … I will look for you, I will find you, and I will kill you.

Prince comments, “I used that movie as a teaching tool for my girls.” (The father of seven, Prince remarried after his first wife died of cancer in 2003.) “I wanted them to understand the dangers out there. And I wanted them to know how I would respond.”

You can’t escape the impression that Prince sees himself as somehow destined, his mission anointed. It comes out even in the most personal of stories. During the flight, he tells of being in Kabul in September 2008 and receiving a two a.m. call from his wife, Joanna. Prince’s son Charlie, one year old at the time, had fallen into the family swimming pool. Charlie’s brother Christian, then 12, pulled him out of the water, purple and motionless, and successfully performed CPR. Christian and three siblings, it turns out, had recently received Red Cross certification at the Blackwater training camp.

But there are intimations of a higher power at work as the story continues. Desperate to get home, Prince scrapped one itinerary, which called for a stay-over at the Marriott in Islamabad, and found a direct flight. That night, at the time Prince would have been checking in, terrorists struck the hotel with a truck bomb, killing more than 50. Prince says simply, “Christian saved Charlie’s life and Charlie saved mine.” At times, his sense of his own place in history can border on the evangelical. When pressed about suggestions that he’s a mercenary—a term he loathes—he rattles off the names of other freelance military figures, even citing Lafayette, the colonists’ ally during the Revolutionary War.

Prince’s default mode is one of readiness. He is clenched-jawed and tightly wound. He cannot stand down. Waiting in the security line at Dulles airport just hours before, Prince had delivered a little homily: “Every time an American goes through security, I want them to pause for a moment and think, What is my government doing to inconvenience the terrorists? Rendition teams, Predator drones, assassination squads. That’s all part of it.”

Such brazenness is not lost on a listener, nor is the fact that Prince himself is quite familiar with some of these tactics. In fact Prince, like other contractors, has drawn fire for running a company that some call a “body shop”—many of its staffers having departed military or intelligence posts to take similar jobs at much higher salaries, paid mainly by Uncle Sam. And to get those jobs done—protecting, defending, and killing, if required—Prince has had to employ the services of some decorated vets as well as some ruthless types, snipers and spies among them.

Erik Prince flies coach internationally. It’s not just economical (“Why should I pay for business? Fly coach, you arrive at the same time”) but also less likely to draw undue attention. He considers himself a marked man. Prince describes the diplomats and dignitaries Blackwater protects as “Al Jazeera–worthy,” meaning that, in his view, “bin Laden and his acolytes would love to kill them in a spectacular fashion and have it broadcast on televisions worldwide.”

Stepping off the plane at Kabul’s international airport, Prince is treated as if he, too, were Al Jazeera–worthy. He is immediately shuffled into a waiting car and driven 50 yards to a second vehicle, a beat-up minivan that is native to the core: animal pelts on the dashboard, prayer card dangling from the rearview mirror. Blackwater’s special-projects team is responsible for Prince’s security in-country, and except for their language its men appear indistinguishable from Afghans. They have full beards, headscarves, and traditional knee-length shirts over baggy trousers. They remove Prince’s sunglasses, fit him out with body armor, and have him change into Afghan garb. Prince is issued a homing beacon that will track his movements, and a cell phone with its speed dial programmed for Blackwater’s tactical-operations center.

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American Police Force modifies name, changes logo to “ease tensions”

American Private Police Force new logo

montanasnewsstation.com | Oct 5, 2009

In the latest twist of events, the American Police Force has modified its name on its website.

Formerly seen as “American Police Force,” visitors to the website will now read, “American Private Police Force.”

According to the company’s spokeswoman, Becky Shay, the company’s official name has always been “American Private Police Force Organization.”

“That’s how it’s incorporated in California,” explains Shay.

Shay also says “APF” has become the common acronym for the company because it’s shorter and easier.

But, the modified name isn’t the only change on the site’s homepage.  The site now boasts a new crest in blue with a touch of red and features a double-headed eagle.

APPF has received criticism for displaying a similar crest, which was yellow and red.  Critics say the old crest looked like the Serbian Coat of Arms.

Shay says Captain Michael Hilton, the face of the California-based company, redesigned the website because there are many positive and negative political affiliations to the old crest.

“It was the quickest way to ease tensions they’re under right now,” Shay explains.

Official documents say that Hilton is a naturalized citizen from Montenegro and that’s where he drew his inspiration for APPF’s crest.

APPF is in negotiation to take over the empty Two Rivers Detention Center in Hardin.

Two Rivers Authority is meeting Monday afternoon to finalize the contract.

Montana attorney general probes secretive American Police Force

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USA Today | Oct 2, 2009

by Doug Stanglin

We posted an item yesterday about a secretive California security company called American Police Force that was set to take over operation of a never-used jail in Hardin, Mont.

APF raised eyebrows in town after Mercedes SUVs belonging to the company arrived bearing decals that read, “City of Hardin Police Department.”

The company, and the city’s economic development arm that has negotiated a deal with APF, refused to give details about its plans, including where it expects to get prisoners to put in the jail.

Today comes word from The Billings Gazette, which has been following the story closely, that Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock has launched an investigation into APF to find out what’s going on.

That came after the newspaper and the Associated Press published stories saying that Michael Hilton, the apparent founder of APF who claims to be a military veteran, has a lengthy criminal record and has served time in prison in California.

The attorney general has sent a nine-page demand letter to Becky Shay, a former Gazette reporter who is now spokesman for APF. The paper says Shay did not respond immediately to its inquiries.

According to the document, Bullock is launching a civil investigation to determine if APF is violating the Montana Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act.

Bullock is demanding that the company provide proof for some of the claims on its website, such as having contracts with the U.S. government and operations in all 50 states.

The newspaper says it has turned up no record of APF contracting with the federal government.

Bullock also requested a copy of the agreement between APF and Two Rivers Authority, the Hardin economic development arm that built the white elephant jail two years ago.

The Gazette also reports that the state’s three-man congressional delegation and the governor have raised concerns about APF project.

American Police Force Leader’s Long Criminal Record

american police force

TPMMuckraker | Oct 1, 2009

by Zachary Roth

The American Police Force, that mysterious security company that just took over an empty jail in Hardin, Montana, is looking shadier than ever.

Since yesterday, details have been emerging about the background of the man behind APF — a California-based grifter, who has said he’s a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Montenegro, and uses the name Michael Hilton.

Related

APF Offers Fugitive Tracking, ‘Covert Pregnancy Testing’ and More!

Over the years, Hilton has served jail time for fraud, and had a string of arrests and other run-ins with the law. Based on reports from the AP, the Billings Gazette, and Prison Legal News, here’s a quick rundown:

• 1988: Hilton arrested in Santa Ana, Calif. for writing bad checks.

• April 1990: Hilton is again arrested in Santa Ana for writing bad checks and for grand theft.

• 1992: A civil judgment of $83,000 is entered against Hilton and Ilia Dokovich.

• March 1993: Hilton pleads guilty in Orange County court to 14 felonies, including 10 counts of grand theft. One charge involves a $20,000 real estate scam, in which Hilton persuaded an associate to give him a deed on property in Long Beach, Calif., saying it was to be used as collateral on a loan, then sold the property to someone else. According to the AP, he spends six years in prison in California.

• 1999: A small claims judgment is entered against Hilton for $3,979.

• 2000: the same plaintiff obtans another small claims judgment against Hilton in Los Angeles County, this one for $1,852.

• March 2000: Hilton is accused of fraud, larceny, and breach of contract, in connection to a venture in which Hilton and others recruited the plaintiff to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to create collectible Super Bowl commemorative coins. According to the complaint, Hilton and the others said the money would be used for the design and manufacture of the coins and for a license to produce them from the National Football League — but the NFL never issued a license. Hilton is ultimately ordered to pay the plaintiff $200,000.

• Around the same period: Hilton also faces two similar fraud suits: In one, he’s accused of posing as a fine arts dealer to deceive a Utah couple into giving him a $100,000 silver statue. In the other, he is said to have teamed with a doctor to recruit investors for a southern California assisted-living facility that was never built.

• November 2002: Hilton files for bankruptcy, in order to avoid eviction by his landlord.

• March 2003: Hilton is arrested for DUI in Huntington Beach.

• February 2004: Hilton files for bankruptcy once more, again to avoid eviction.

• January 2006: A $5,052 judgment lien is entered against Hilton in Orange County, CA.

A Lexis search conducted by Prison Legal News turned up the following aliases used by Hilton: Miodrag Dokovich, Miodrag Djokich, Miodrag Djokovich, Michael Hamilton, Anthony M. Hilton, Michael A. Hilton, Michael Milton and Hristian Djokich, plus related variants.

_________

Related

American Police Force’s Serbian Flag Similarity

American_Police_Force Serbia flag

What is the American Police Force and what is it doing in Montana?

A secretive California outfit called the American Police Force is taking over the 2-year-old, never-used prison in Hardin, Mont., that was briefly considered a possible spot for Guantanamo prisoners.

The story has many twists and turns. We recommend you read The Billings Gazette article for a primer on the story. KULR TV of Billings, Mont., The Missoulian, and Talking Points Memo are also on the case.

APF’s website, which has been periodically unavailable, says it “leverages the talent and expertise of their extensive global network to provide local, regional, and national security solutions to the United States Government and other clients who are in need of customized private investigative services.”