Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What is going on in Hardin, Montana? Military, Civil, City, Federal?

by Maggie at Maggie's Notebook

Some black Mercedes SUV's showed up in Hardin, Montana where a new, never-used detention facility is sitting empty. The SUV's had a strange decal on them. See that photo below. That's the background.

In the video below, Al Peterson, spokesman for the Two Rivers Detention in Hardin, Montana is quoted saying: "we are excited to have a military presence in a town without a police force." What does that mean? Who is American Police Force? Why would a Two Rivers spokesman refer to them as "military?" Who will be prisoners in the Two Rivers Detention facility? What do residents of Hardin, Montana think about American Police force? See video below.

Hardin, Montana - American Police Force Mercedes Vehicle Logo

Barbara Sowell at FaultlineUSA started the search for information about the situation in Hardin, Montana and posted her findings here at Maggie's Notebook. Dean Bremkamp blogging at Do the Right Thing first brought this to our attention. This post will build on their information and will be updated as new information is available and sources are found.

There are three pertinent questions for starters:

1) Is a corporation, American Police Force locating its operation in Hardin, Montana - planning to operate a training center?

2) Is a corporation contracting with the city to use or purchase the city's jail facilities to house prisoners, and if so, who will the prisoners be?

3) Will American Police Force actually be the police force in Hardin, Montana.

To begin, Kevin Flaherty, blogging in New Zealand at blogs on private military contractors. He says he "routinely" follows stories about "mercenaries."'s [Flaherty] research about APFC is quoted in the Billings Gazette (linked below). The following will give you some food for thought:

Separate research efforts by The Billings Gazette and others turned up connections and similarities between the APF Web site and sites for other little-known defense procurement companies.

All of the Web sites share similarities in design, and some include exactly the same phrases, a red flag to Kevin Flaherty, an American blogger living in New Zealand who writes about private military contractors.

Public records show that the APF Web site,, was first registered on May 15, about two weeks after an effort by the Two Rivers Authority to pursue prisoners from Guantanamo Bay made national headlines.

A section of text on the APF site refers to the company’s “U.S. Training Center,” and matches word for word text from the Web site for Xe, formerly Blackwater. That company’s U.S. Training Center is touted as the largest facility of its kind.

APF representatives have said that their company is a subsidiary of an undisclosed parent corporation founded in 1984. Blackwater was started in 1997.

Public Internet records show that the APF Web site is one of six hosted on a single Web server, including a site for Defense Product Solutions.

Both share the same double-eagle logo, and the same company, Purepoint Design, developed both Web sites. No one answered a call to Purepoint’s office in Newport Beach, Calif.

A section of text on the Defense Product Solutions Web site matches word for word text found on Web sites for Allied Defense Systems and Defense Logistic Services, all promising a similarly exhaustive range of military products and services.

Public records for those companies and others with similar Web sites – including Defense Contracting and Consulting, and Worldwide Military Exchange – all show connections to Edward Angelino, a government contractor in Huntington Beach, Calif.

There is this from an original post from Flaherty on September 14th [snippets, not continguous]:
An attorney for American Police Force, Maziar Mafi, describes the Santa Ana, Calif., company as a fledgling spin-off of a major security firm founded in 1984. But Mafi declined to name the parent firm or provide details on how the company will finance its jail operations.

On its elaborate Web site and in interviews with company representatives, American Police Force claims to sell assault rifles and other weapons in Afghanistan on behalf of the U.S. military while providing security, investigative work and other services to clients “in all 50 states and most countries.”

However, an Associated Press search of two comprehensive federal government contractor databases turned up no record of American Police Force.

American Police Force also is promising to invest $30 million in new projects for the city, including a military and law enforcement training center with a 250-bed dormitory and an expansion of the jail to 2,000 beds. The company says it will build a homeless shelter, offer free health care for city residents and even deliver meals to the needy.
The same report adds this intriguing detail. An AP reporter visited the offices of APF in Santa Ana, CA, and found "Captain Michael behind a desk there:

The man said his boss is a retired U.S. Army colonel named Richard Culver who is currently overseas. Culver’s role with the company could not be immediately verified.

The company claim of a headquarters address is just up the street from the White House.

The K Street building houses “virtual offices,” where clients pay to use the prestigious Pennsylvania Avenue address and gain access to onsite conference rooms but have no permanent presence. [APFC has an application pending]

Follow the developing story at We all need to get into Flaherty's reporting on this.


Research about The American Police Force (APF):

*) This is their website. The url reads They do not refer to themselves as a corporation, but an "organization." Apparently, the website, since this hit the news, is not always available. AFC says this:
As part of our mission, APF plays a critical role in helping the U.S. government meet vital homeland security and national defense needs. Within the last 5 years the United States has been far and away our #1 client.
*) The American Police Force was incorporated in California in March 2009
Says they specialize in "training military and security forces oversees. Michael Hilton seems to be the spokesman for the company.

*) APF has black SUV's with a never-used Hardin logo which says "City of Hardin Police Force."

APF's Michael Hilton says they are looking for ground for "a planned tactical military training ground." They need 5000-10,000 acres.

*) Some APF representatives are staying at a bed-and-breakfast in Hardin.

*) APF plans to hire 200 locally. They have hired the company's first local employee:
On Friday, American Police Force announced its first local hire: a reporter for the Billings Gazette, Becky Shay, who has covered events surrounding the jail since its construction. She will be the company's spokeswoman for $60,000 a year.

Shay said she intended to bring new transparency to the process, but declined to directly answer the first question posed to her: Where is American Police Force getting the money to operate the jail and build the training center?

“I know enough about where the money is coming from to be confident signing on with them,” she said.
*) CBS Crimesider reports "significant obstacles" for APFC, including no signed contracts to bring in prisoners from outside Montana.

*) Hilton is reported to say that the company will begin payments to Hardin on February 1, 2010, and said their agreement with the city is worth at least $2.6 million annually.

Information about Hardin, Montana and the city's interaction with APFC:

**) Hardin, Montana has a never used "detention" facility known as Two Rivers. Two Rivers Detention Center cost $27 million and the bonds have been in default since May 2008. It has never been used - no prisoners ever. Two Rivers can accommodate 464 prisoners.

**) Hardin has not had a police force in the last 30 years. The Sheriff of Big Horn Countyserves the town.

**) The city of Hardin offered the facility to house prisoners from Guantanamo Bay. Montana Governor, Brian Schweitzer, has opposed bringing in prisoners from outside the state. In 2007, the Montana Attorney General said it was illegal to bring in prisoners from outside Montana. Hardin sued the State and won.

**) The city announced an agreement with APF two weeks ago, but there appears to be no signed agreement.

Information on the "logo" or decal depicted above: It appears the decals have now been removed from the Mercedes SUV's. Here are some thoughts from PrisonPlanet. Follow PrisonPlanet here:

An image on KULR’s Web site shows the insignia on the APF vehicles, which has caused some concern on the Internet as being of conspiratorial origin.

APF’s coat of arms, a clearer version of which appeared on the group’s Web site (which had been taken down at time of this writing but is viewable here), shows a double-headed eagle with a red shield and white cross borne on its breast.

The coat appears very similar to the insignia attributed to one Prince Aleksandar Karageorgevich, based on RAW STORY’s analysis of images hosted by Burke’s Peerage & Gentry International Register of Arms. The site notes the coat as hailing from the Royal crown of Serbia.

However, the significance or implied nationality of the insignia’s crown could not immediately be identified.

The double-headed eagle itself has been used repeatedly throughout history by many cultures as a symbol of empire, dominance and power.

Ending thought: Can we follow the money? Updates when available.

Hardin Montana Military presence? (video)

Logo image courtesy

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