Wednesday, September 19, 2007

On the outsource

So, let's review. Armed private security guards operating in Iraq under contract to the U.S. government kill as many as 20 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad. Iraqi government is outraged, claims contractor's personnel were not reacting to a car bomb but instead shot indiscriminately at civilians. Iraqi government revokes contractor's authorization to operate in the country. U.S. diplomats in Iraq are barred from traveling outside the green zone, because BlackwaterUSA is the contractor who protects them. Today, the New York Times reports, Iraq begins to back away from its revoc ation claim and agrees to develop new rules to hold such contractors accountable. So, what happened? It looks to me that what happened is precisely the kind of thing that is sure to happen in the kind of armed chaos that is post-invasion Iraq. Hopefully, a promised investigation will be able to determine exactly what happened. But that's kind of doubtful. What will hopefully happen now is the U.S. will start to reconsider the whole private contractor thing in a war zone. How could it have come to this anyway? Private security companies guarding our diplomats? Don't we have 160,000 soldiers in Iraq? How many more do we need? When the president withdraws the 30,000 surge troops this year, will he authorize 30,000 more private soldiers to take their places? What's going on?

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