by David Phinney
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US Embassy Contractor Missing Laptop?

by David Phinney

Oct. 6, 2007 — A laptop belonging to a high-level executive supervising construction of the new US embassy in Baghdad went missing in May 2006 at the Kuwait office of the contractor hired to build the new US embassy in Baghdad, according to multiple sources.

These sources, who formerly worked with the contractor, have detailed the theft of the computer, but my questions to the State Department and the contractor, First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting, have been met with silence.

A missing laptop from May 2006 may be of concern if it contained information about any US government projects in Iraq — or elsewhere. The company has collected nearly $2 billion in US-funded contracts since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

It may be of even greater concern since the laptop is said to have belonged First Kuwaiti’s construction director, Samir Ida.

(Remember the furor or the internet posting of architectural renderings of the embassy by the American subcontractor Berger Devine Yaeger Inc.? They are now all over the web.)

This interview from more than a year ago discusses the missing laptop with one former First Kuwaiti employee:

Q: Sounds like you have a professional job?
A: This company does not have proper procedures to be professional.
Q: What do you think happened to the laptop?
A: Well, there is a big chance that someone stole it just to get some data out of it.
Q: Hmmmmm
A: They left a wallet with money and a mobile phone lying next to it. Those things weren’t stolen.
Q: Could be evidence for a fraud case?
A: I think this is what freaked out the general manager so much. Whoever did it must have known a lot about this company.
Q: Do you remember when it happened?
A: It was May 27 (2006)

Following the laptop theft, word is that First Kuwaiti’s general manager, Wadih al-Absi then ordered a virtual lockdown of his Kuwait office where more than 100 employees work. He is said to have wanted the building as “secure as the Pentagon.”

Al -Absi immediately installed video security cameras throughout the building, curtailed all internet access, forbid most employees from using floppy disk drives and thumb drives and ordered that all telephone calls be monitored and recorded, according to sources who worked for the company at the time.

This July 23, 2007, email is one of many I sent to State Department officials and First Kuwaiti. They have all been ignored.

Ms. French,

I am a journalist writing for Iraqslogger.

I have it on good sources that a laptop was stolen from a high level embassy contractor building the US embassy, First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting. The computer disappeared at the end of May 2006 from the offices of FKTC and possibly belonged to Samir Ida, a top executive with the company.

I am also told that you have personal knowledge that this laptop was missing.

How important was this theft to the security of the embassy?

Was a formal report ever filed?

Was the missing computer ever located?

What corrective measures were taken after the theft of the computer?

Thanks, I am on deadline and a response at your earliest opportunity would be appreciated.

What a joke.

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One Response to “US Embassy Contractor Missing Laptop?”

  1. Nell says:

    This is jaw-dropping.
    As you say, it could give an enormous capacity to someone to bribe FKTI (based on the evidence of fraud found on the machine).
    It also almost certainly means that someone has the ability to sell detailed information about the embassy layout and innards to one of the several organizations that might wish to use that knowledge in, um, unfriendly ways.
    No way should U.S. foreign service personnel accept a posting to that death trap.

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