• United States



by Dave Gradijan

U.S. Homeland Security Drops British Firm

Apr 17, 20062 mins
CSO and CISOData and Information Security

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) opted not to renew its security contract with British-based Wackenhut Services to protect its buildings, instead signing a deal with Paragon Systems of Chantilly, Va., FOX News reports.

Wackenhut, which merged in 2002 with a Danish security group, still provides security for U.S. government entities, including numerous nuclear power plants, Army bases and weapons facilities, according to FOX News.

However, DHS had received a number of complaints about Wackenhut—problems that apparently were magnified by the fact that the company is foreign-owned, according to FOX News. Recently, a contract for Dubai Ports World of the United Arab Emirates to run terminals in U.S. ports fell apart amid criticism about sensitive U.S. operations being operated by foreign-owned firms, FOX News reports.

“I welcome the news that the Department of Homeland Security is finally starting to get serious about its own security,” said Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, according to FOX News.

In February, Wyden and Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, wrote DHS Inspector General Richard Skinner about Wackenhut’s reported security problems—around the same time that legislators were pleading with President Bush to stop the Dubai Ports World agreement, FOX News reports.

Others weren’t as quick to dismiss Wackenhut as a viable outfit with which to contract security for U.S. facilities, citing its long record of service to the country’s many security needs, FOX News reports.

The company’s website says there is “absolutely no foreign control or influence” over Wackenhut. When the company merged with the Danish group, U.S. law required it to remain separate from its parent company, according to FOX News.

The foreign affiliation aside, FOX News reports that a number of problems have been cited by the U.S. government where Wackenhut’s security services are employed, including nuclear facilities.

Those issues are in contrast to the testimony given to Congress last summer by Lawrence Brede, senior vice president for Department of Energy operations at Wackenhut, who said he would vouch that the company’s guards are professional and well trained, FOX News reports.

For related CSO content, read DHS: Our Planless Leader.

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