As I was watching MSNBC’s live coverage of the withdrawal of American combat troops from Iraq Wednesday night, I kept thinking about our troops left behind. We left 50,000 non-combat troops in Iraq to provide security for our Embassy and “other” interests.
MSNBC had some vague mention of private (for profit) contractors in their coverage last night. Mentions of private contractors are always vague. I want a policy-wonk journalist to go after this story, find out what they do and for whom and at what cost. What are we paying them to do? What have they done?
We know so little about these private contractors with huge no-bid contracts for…whom? the CIA? the State Department? the Pentagon? the Defense Department of the United States Government?
We know that the State Department uses private security forces to guard diplomats and politicians traveling in foreign countries. We know that they work for the CIA. We pay their salaries.
One of the private contractors is Xe Services LLC; that is their official name now. They used to be called Blackwater, and then Blackwater Worldwide until that name became too associated with lethal lawless cowboys, unrestrained, unregulated, uncounted, murdering civilians in Iraq.
When Blackwater became an embarrassment for the United States, Eric Prince changed the name of his private army. But Blackwater by any another name is still a lethal and uncontrolled threat.
To me, they represent the most lethal form of cancer a body politic could have. No one in our government controls them. They are not part of the government, we do not control them but we pay for them.
Wikipedia tells us that “Blackwater USA was formed in 1990 to provide training support to military and law enforcement organizations.” The part of that simple statement that takes my breath away is the “…law enforcement organizations”. I imagine by now they are everywhere.
A private army embedded in our body politic is a dangerous thing.
In a time of economic difficulties where corporations are bigger than countries and authoritarianism is on the rise, a private army training 40,000 people a year to embed our law enforcement agencies (but not playing by the same rules) is insanely dangerous to the security of our country.
Fascism with a private army is a time bomb within and it’’s ticking.