McBride’s mother, Jean, and his sister, Kelly, were accompanied by Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Center for Human Rights when they questioned the role of the U.S. government in funding a company operated by the former British army officer.
The Pentagon recently awarded a lucrative security contract in Iraq to Aegis Defense Services whose chief executive is former Lieutenant Colonel Tim Spicer. He was the commander of the Scots Guards regiment in 1992 when two soldiers, James Fisher and Mark Wright, killed McBride.
Despite being found guilty of murder, both Wright and Fisher have been allowed to stay in the British army. Campaigners have demanded that both men be dismissed pointing out that soldiers guilty of far lesser offences are routinely expelled from the ranks.
Spicer defended his men, both at the time of their various trials and in a book he published later. Although McBride had been body-searched minutes before the shooting, the soldiers persisted in saying they believed he posed a risk.
The court threw out their version of events and convicted both men of murder. Despite appeals, the convictions were upheld at the highest court in Britain, the House of Lords.
Jean McBride described the meeting with Pittman as useful. “The consul has promised to get back to us after consulting with the State Department and U.S. Department of Defense,” she said.
“He also talked to [U.S. special envoy to Ireland] Mitchell Reiss and the State Department about the Aegis contract,” she said. McBride said members of her family had been in direct contact with legislators in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate about the case.
She pressed Pittman to ensure that a complete review of the Pentagon’s dealings with Aegis takes place. O’Connor said the U.S. administration “cannot simply ignore this case because there are fairly serious legal issues at stake.
“Just last week, Senator Pat Leahy asked, if a private contractor is responsible for a death in Iraq, what is the legal responsibility of the U.S. government? In the case of Aegis, we have advised the U.S. government of our strong concerns about a company and person to whom they have given their contract.
“The question we are asking is: where do those documented and long-standing concerns leave the U.S. government in the event of legal proceedings with respect to civilian contractors in Iraq?” he asked.
“In our view, it puts them in a very tenuous legal predicament,” he said.
The decision to award the Iraq security contract to Spicer’s company has already provoked controversy in the U.S. where a number of senators wrote to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld raising their concerns.