Feeds

US mercenary outfit shoots 11 Iraqis - and self in foot

Is outsourcing military force the wave of the future?

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

The Cheney administration's lust for outsourcing work formerly performed by the government - and for favored contractors to profit handsomely thereby - is well-known and insatiable.

But one of those pampered contracting firms is now in a bit of hot water, the AP reports.

Lust, of course, can be blinding. Those favored contractors have operated till now in a legal twilight - never truly accountable under either American or Iraqi law. That twilight might soon see a bit more sunshine, however, as the government of Iraq has threatened to strip controversial American security contractor Blackwater of its right to operate in the troubled country.

The American government is now scrambling to undo this unexpected assertion of Iraqi sovereignty.

The use of mercenaries is not necessarily evil. It is without a doubt one of the oldest professions - not that that makes it a respectable one. The outsourcing of military affairs in Iraq, however, raises awkward ethical issues due to its breadth and sheer scope. There are currently about as many contractors as there are American soldiers, and they are frequently performing roles that in past wars were filled by regular military.

However, the Sunday killing of 11 Iraqis by Blackwater security contractors appears to be the final straw for the Iraqi government, as it seeks to establish some kind of control over contractors who have grown accustomed to behaving with impunity. In one noteworthy incident last Christmas Eve, a drunk Blackwater contractor gunned down a bodyguard of an Iraqi Vice President, and then found refuge from Iraqi justice in the warm confines of the American Embassy.

Many are bothered by the use of mercenaries, viewing the use of the military force as inherently intertwined with national sovereignty, and therefore not for sale. Setting that argument aside, however, the outsourcing of government functions to private contractors removes virtually any accountability to the public, and provides increased opportunity for graft, fraud and corruption, rather than less, as the reports of epic corruption associated with the Iraq occupation reveal.

Others are troubled by the fact that private military security personnel make ten times what a ground-pounding GI makes, and therefore question whether or not it's any more efficient to outsource at all - if outsourcing is only a means of funneling tax dollars to politically well-connected corporations, why would it be? The Cheney administration beats the free-market drum whenever it can be useful as propaganda, but the use of private contractors in Iraq has been neither efficient nor competitive, nor do the contractors involved want it to be.

If the Iraqis truly show some spine and tell Blackwater to get lost, well, good for them.®

Burke Hansen, attorney at large, heads a San Francisco law office

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
Hello, police, El Reg here. Are we a bunch of terrorists now?
Do Brits risk arrest for watching beheading video nasty? We asked the fuzz
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.