Saturday, June 19, 2010
Use of military contractors continuing in Afghanistan
How quickly they forget! News from Washington that a subsidiary of the private security company formerly known as Blackwater Worldwide had been awarded a contract worth as much as $120 million to protect U.S. diplomats in two cities in Afghanistan should be a cause of alarm to people of principle everywhere. A U.S. State Department official confirmed Saturday that U.S. Training Center had won the 18-month contract, according to Cable News Network (CNN). It could very well be that, on some level, U.S. Training Center was the most qualified bidder, like the official said. But it doesn't take a genius to realize that hiring the former Blackwater to do anything else in U.S. war zones overseas raises the specter of the horrific 2007 shooting of 17 civilians by company guards in Baghdad. Military prosecutors are still pursuing criminal charges against five guards in connection with the shooting, which forced the military to reconsider the use of private contractors in Iraq. But, apparently, not seriously enough, if the military is using them in Afghanistan, too. Why the guards are even necessary has not adequately been explained, not with tens of thousands of U.S. soldiers on the ground, and soldiers of many other nations, in both countries for years. Americans who had hoped for more accountability from their government after the dangerously secretive Bush administration are surely disappointed by the new Obama administration's lack of candor about the continuing troop deployments. Employing another subsidiary of Blackwater, even though it changed its name to Xe Services. It's time for the U.S. government to come clean with the American people about how many contractors are operating in both countries and how much more money it is costing to use them instead of U.S. soldiers.