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So-called Military Contractors Lean More Towards 'Military' than 'Contractor'

A lot has been written about the increasing role of “military contractors” in Iraq. Blackwater, CACI, and others have made headlines. So many contractors are being used by both the U.S. military and intelligence branches that Amnesty USA (5/23/06) claimed that the U.S. was “outsourcing the war on terror.”

According to an article at The Strategy Page, Blackwater is purchasing five Super Tucano fighter planes from Brazil. The planes can be are used for fighting and bombing. Colombia uses them for "counter-insurgency" missions. According to the article, Blackwater already has armed helicopters in Iraq.

One has to wonder where (and if there is a) line between "contractors" and troops in Iraq (and Afghanistan and elsewhere) any more. It has been clear from the beginning that contractors were being used to "free up" US troops. It allowed the U.S. to shift its troops from such things as strategic communications and supply to infantry. Of course, many of those troops had only the most basic of infantry training as they were specialized in other areas. Then we heard that the contractors were being used for "security." I would say that attack helicopters and planes capable of mounting 1.5 tons of weaponry move them from "security" to offensive operations.

There is every reason to be concerned about the amount and significance of contracting being done by the U.S. government. According to a presentation done by Terri Everett - Senior Procurement Executive in the DNI (Office of the Director of National Intelligence), 70 percent of the U.S. intelligence budget is now going to private contractors.

I recently read R. J. Hillhouse's new novel Outsourced. In an interview with DemocracyNow, Hillhouse had talked about national intelligence, the CIA, and the use of private contractors. She said that she wrote the novel because some things can only be said (at this point) fictionally. In "Outsourced," Hillhouse paints a picture of military and intelligence contractors intimately involved and entwined with Pentagon intelligence, the military and special ops, and the CIA. In the book (and this is reinforced by other reports) these "contractors" are doing far more than security and "support." They are actively engaged ion operations. The purchase of fighter planes by Blackwater is only another indication of the types of "activities" in which "contractors" are involved.

I believe this is a direction that not only makes us less secure, but damages the U.S. image around the planet. From the constantly increasing costs for intelligence and the "war on terror," it is also incredibly expensive. Contractors in intelligence and military operations are not accountable in the same way as government entities. The oversight is lacking or missing entirely. It put highly sensitive material (purportedly the most protected information critical to U.S. security) in the hands of private corporations and operators. This seems criminally stupid to me. While such an "arrangement" also allows the executive branch and the military to effectively engage in activities that are illegal on both a national and international level, that very "benefit" undermines the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.

The other "threat" posed by the "contracting" spree is that an infrastructure of control is being put in place that can be pointed anywhere including -and particularly - the United States.

Thanks to Bill for forwarding the article on Blackwater's fighter plane purchase.

Of Interest
Warriors for Hire: Blackwater USA and the rise of private military contractors. Mark Hemingway. Weekly Standard. 12/18/2006, Volume 012, Issue 14

Outsourced. R. J. Hillhouse. 2007.

Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. Jeremy Scahill. 2007.

The corporate takeover of U.S. intelligence. Tim Shorrock. Salon. 6/01/07.

US Intel Budget May Reach 60 Billion Dollars. Shaun Waterman. UPI. 6/11/07.

Posted by Rowan Wolf at August 29, 2007 11:17 PM
Comment #231046

Funny story. I happened to be hanging out with my ex-Navy big brother when the story about those contractors getting strung from that bridge broke back in March of 04. He busted out laughing in the middle of the report. When I asked him why, he said “they called them ‘contractors’, like they build bridges or something. They aren’t contractors, they’re mercenaries.”

Don’t you just love sterile euphamisms?


Posted by: leatherankh at August 30, 2007 12:59 AM
Comment #231047

Neat, I got a first post! :^D


Posted by: leatherankh at August 30, 2007 1:00 AM
Comment #231049


Good article as usual, but no surprise. I’ve known this for some time.

Please also read this Rolling Stone article:

Some of it is old news but it’s still worth reading.

No big surprise that seriously injured contractors are treated like most American workers ………. once you’re worn out you’re replaced like a broken down piece of equipment. If not for Social Security Disability and Medicare these “contractors” would be just hung out to dry once they’re blown to hell!

What happens to our “foreign” contractors …… like we care. We loved watching the “fireworks” of “shock & awe”. We cheered it on, and we didn’t care that thousands of innocents were being blown apart ……… after all we had “SMART BOMBS”.

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”

I’m agnostic but I read. And sometimes I feel like crying when I think of all the evil I’ve witnessed, yet the tears won’t come, such is the destiny of man.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 30, 2007 1:11 AM
Comment #231050

I was under the impression ( perhaps mistaken) that most everyone knew that Blackwater is (a group of)mercenaries. Even as such, they are “contracting” for their work, and just who is picking up the tab??????

Posted by: Sandra Davidson at August 30, 2007 1:14 AM
Comment #231051

“Don’t you just love sterile euphamisms?”

Not so much. Read the story of the A/C tech in that Rolling Stone article.

Posted by: KansasDem at August 30, 2007 1:16 AM
Comment #231053

Pentagon probes missing weapons and contract fraud

Posted by: womanmarine at August 30, 2007 1:35 AM
Comment #231084

Excellent and well written article, Rowan.
I absolutely agree. What we have is exactly what Eisenhower was warning us against in 1961.

But each proposal must be weighed in light of a broader consideration; the need to maintain balance in and among national programs – balance between the private and the public economy, balance between the cost and hoped for advantages – balance between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable; balance between our essential requirements as a nation and the duties imposed by the nation upon the individual; balance between the actions of the moment and the national welfare of the future. Good judgment seeks balance and progress; lack of it eventually finds imbalance and frustration.
This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.

Not only are we entirely out of balance, but this meshing of the private with our military is throwing us ever more out of balance, and we are now struggling under the weight of this combination, and the way it is endangering our country and foreign policy as never before.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 30, 2007 2:49 PM
Comment #231086

How soon before we out source the U.S. Army to a corporation.

Posted by: jlw at August 30, 2007 3:01 PM
Comment #231098

yes. I almost cried after reading slaughterhouse five.”“

Average US taxpayers. Not the rich or corporations who have money to waste. Who else would pay for things under the Bushies?

That depends on who becomes president next. Bush has taken us well down the road. Its the free market. There is a demand for guns in Iraq, there will be a supply. And Bush has never been one to tamper with the free market by say, replacing them with troops, telling them to leave and not replacing them, or best of all eliminating the market.

Posted by: Silima at August 30, 2007 5:43 PM
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