Tuesday, February 23, 2010

This Won’t Pass, But…

At least it’s good to know that someone in government cares about our nation’s best interests.

Blackwater Two congressional lawmakers have announced legislation that would effectively remove military contractors from war zones.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) introduced the "Stop Outsourcing Security Act" on Tuesday. If passed, the act would force the United States to phase out its controversial use of private security contractors in war zones like Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The legislation would restore the responsibility of the American military to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons, administer military prisons, and perform military intelligence," the lawmakers' offices said.

"The bill also would require that all diplomatic security be undertaken by US government personnel," they added.

While the bill is likely to meet stiff opposition from the Pentagon and the defense industry, it's certain to be well received among progressives and peace activists, who have watched with alarm as the use of private contractors in war zones has skyrocketed in recent years.

Last month, a report (PDF) from the Congressional Research Service found that one-fifth of the US armed forces in Iraq consists of private contractors, while in Afghanistan that number reached one-third by September of 2009.

The report found that there were some 22,000 "armed private security contractors" in the two war zones, and that the number in Afghanistan is likely to keep growing.

While "[m]any analysts and government officials believe that DOD would be unable to execute its mission without PSCs," the report stated that the "use of armed contractors has raised a number of issues for Congress, including concerns over transparency and accountability."

"It is inexcusable that as much as one-third of our military’s armed force in Afghanistan may be contractors," Schakowsky wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, following the report's release. "These men and women are not part of the US military or government. They do not wear the uniform of the United States, though their behavior has, on numerous occasions, severely damaged the credibility and security of our military and harmed our relationship with other governments."

This is not the first time that Schakowsky has attempted to end the growing tradition of private contractors fighting public wars. In 2007, she introduced a bill, with the same name as the new one, which would have phased out the use of contractors over a number of years. The bill never made it out of committee...

Inserted from <Raw Story>

Our fine military personnel are the best suited to do these jobs.  They perform far better.  They are accountable.  They cost far less than mercenary thugs accountable only to corporate criminals.  While this bill will never see the light of day, I thank Senator Sanders and Representative Schakowsky for introducing it.


the walking man said...

have to agree that we do not need to be sponsoring mercenary forces in battle zones (or any where else for that matter) but the downside to this is if we increase the need for more military personnel it could lead to mandatory service for two years after high school.

I wouldn't consider that a necessarily bad thing but, I would also make it non exempt for anyone other than the very ill. Them that can not fight can serve in the public sector at home rebuilding literacy, national parks, whatever as their talents allow.

TomCat said...

I agree Mark. I'd set it up so that the youth of the richest families were the first called to front line service. War would seem less appealing to the power brokers then.

Lisa G. said...

I'm with you on this one TC - Jan's been doing some excellent work lately and there isn't much of that around.

TomCat said...

Thanks Lisa and Amen