PMC “Hostages” in Colombia

Like a VH1 show, we’ve got to ask where are the three PMC hostages, held since Feb 2003, now? These guys — Tom Howes, Marc Gonsalves, and Keith Stansell — have been neglected by the USG under the "theory" they are private citizens. The GWOT in the Colombian sphere falls under the sub-heading "War on Drugs" and is nearly completely outsourced. The financial aid to Colombia to target drug production etc is largely done through private military contracts. Information on these three guys is sparse, to say the least. A Dec 2005 item on CNN disappeared and had to be retrieved via GoogleCache.

The State department has not "forgotten" about these guys. Just recently in Feb 2005 they reiterated a commitment to demanding their release. On 27 June 2005 the State Department spokesman was asked about these three men. Here’s the entirety of the Q&A on it:

QUESTION: On Colombia, please. Colombian FARC Commander Raul Reyes has announced his willingness for peace talks with the U.S. Government, including prisoner exchange. As you maybe know, FARC are holding three U.S. contractors whom they will exchange for — will extradite to U.S. as Sonia and Simon Trinidad.

My question is: Is the U.S. Government going to talk with the FARC?

MR. MCCORMACK: With respect to the three individuals that you mentioned, our view is that we hold the FARC responsible for the welfare and the safety of all the hostages, that they hold the safe recovery of these three men — Keith Stansell, Thomas Howes, Marc Gonsalves — as a top priority of the United States. And I say the names so that it’s important that we not forget. I mean, we are focused on their safe recovery.

And with respect to — with respect to our policy about making concessions to terrorists, that policy remains unchanged. We do not.

Information is hard to find on these poor guys. After being shot down, there was a short flurry of news activity. Then gone. Then every now and again there’s a snippet of news. Their relationship to CIAO (the current PMC they "work"), possibly the first PMC IPO (admitedly, I may try to get in on that action… PMCs are profitable, for now), is largely ignored.

If anybody has more information on their status, please forward. Hell, they could be free by now, but I doubt it. There is a website apparently dedicated to them, but has not been updated in a while.

This case is not about UCMJ or MEJA, it is about not leaving anybody behind. The military service as an occupation may be exemplified by this. Fortunately, the occupation vs institution theory of Professor Moskos has not been played to its extreme. Not yet but this may be an outlying demonstration.

When considering their plight and how they fit into the big scheme of state vs private war, these guys are referred to as "hostages". Is this because of their theatre of operations? Because of their private status? Because of media attention (lack of)?

Oddly enough, while I had looked into the hostages over a year ago for some research then, nothing other than what I wrote above cropped up. However, a movie about them found its way into my email.

Held Hostage in Colombia

From deep within the Colombian jungle, the exclusive story of three American contractors held hostage since February 2003, and the U.S. Government’s refusal to find a diplomatic way to free them….

Technorati Tags: DynCorp, Columbia, War on Drugs