Friday :: Feb 29, 2008

The Mercenary War


by eriposte

Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. He has a piece in The Nation ("Obama's Mercenary Position") which says (bold text is my emphasis):

A senior foreign policy adviser to leading Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told The Nation that if elected Obama will not "rule out" using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq. The adviser also said that Obama does not plan to sign on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of these forces in US war zones by January 2009, when a new President will be sworn in. Obama's campaign says that instead he will focus on bringing accountability to these forces while increasing funding for the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security, the agency that employs Blackwater and other private security contractors. (Hillary Clinton's staff did not respond to repeated requests for an interview or a statement on this issue.)

Obama's broader Iraq withdrawal plan provides for some US troops to remain in Iraq--how many his advisers won't say. But it's clear that Obama's "follow-on force" will include a robust security force to protect US personnel in Iraq, US trainers (who would also require security) for Iraqi forces and military units to "strike at Al Qaeda"--all very broad swaths of the occupation.

"If Barack Obama comes into office next January and our diplomatic security service is in the state it's in and the situation on the ground in Iraq is in the state it's in, I think we will be forced to rely on a host of security measures," said the senior adviser. "I can't rule out, I won't rule out, private security contractors." He added, "I will rule out private security contractors that are not accountable to US law." [....]

For some time now, Sen. Obama's position has been that he will hold private security contractors accountable to US law - as Scahill explains. What this anonymous advisor of his is not ruling out is Obama's continued use of such contractors in Iraq. I do find it rather strange that the name of the advisor was withheld. In any case, here's Sen. Clinton yesterday:

Senator Clinton Cosponsors Legislation to Ban Use of Private Security Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan

Washington, DC – Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton announced today that she has cosponsored legislation to ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq. 
 
"From this war's very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable.  These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq.  The time to show these contractors the door is long past due.  We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command," said Senator Clinton.
 
The legislation requires that all personnel at any U.S. diplomatic or consular mission in Iraq be provided security services only by Federal Government Personnel.  It also includes a whistleblower clause to protect contract personnel who uncover contract violations, criminal actions, or human rights abuses.

That's progress.

eriposte :: 6:07 AM :: Comments (23) :: Digg It!