by Jeremy Scahill
If you think the U.S. has only 160,000 troops in Iraq, think again.
With almost no congressional oversight and even less public awareness, the
Bush administration has more than doubled the size of the U.S. occupation
through the use of private war companies.
There are now almost 200,000 private "contractors" deployed in Iraq by
Washington. This means that U.S. military forces in Iraq are now outsized
by a coalition of billing corporations whose actions go largely unmonitored
and whose crimes are virtually unpunished.
In essence, the Bush administration has created a shadow army that can be
used to wage wars unpopular with the American public but extremely
profitable for a few unaccountable private companies.
Since the launch of the "global war on terror," the administration has
systematically funneled billions of dollars in public money to corporations
like Blackwater USA, DynCorp, Triple Canopy, Erinys and ArmorGroup. They
have in turn used their lucrative government pay-outs to build up the
infrastructure and reach of private armies so powerful that they rival or
outgun some nation's militaries.
"I think it's extraordinarily dangerous when a nation begins to outsource
its monopoly on the use of force and the use of violence in support of its
foreign policy or national security objectives," says veteran U.S. Diplomat
Joe Wilson, who served as the last U.S. ambassador to Iraq before the 1991
The billions of dollars being doled out to these companies, Wilson argues,
"makes of them a very powerful interest group within the American body
politic and an interest group that is in fact armed. And the question will
arise at some time: to whom do they owe their loyalty?" . . .
Jeremy Scahill is author of The New York Times-bestseller "Blackwater:
The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army". He
is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.
Smedley Darlington Butler, "War is a
Enver Masud, "A Clash Between Justice
and Greed, Not Islam and the West," The Wisdom Fund, September 2,
Richard T. Cooper, "General Casts
War in Religious Terms," Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2003
Ian Traynor, "The
Privatization of War," Guardian, December 10, 2003
[The US government is on a 'burning platform' of unsustainable policies and
practices with fiscal deficits, chronic healthcare underfunding, immigration
and overseas military commitments threatening a crisis if action is not
taken soon, the country's top government inspector has warned.--Jeremy
Grant, "Learn from the fall of Rome, US warned," Financial Times,
August 14, 2007]
[Baghdad's "Bloody Sunday" has become a test of sovereignty between the
powers of the Iraqi government and the US.--Kim Sengupta, "The
real story of Baghdad's Bloody Sunday," Independent, September 21, 2007]
Tom Griffin, "From Bengal
to Baghdad: Three Centuries of Corporate Warriors," antiwar.com, October
Frank Rich, "Suicide Is Not
Painless," New York Times, October 21, 2007
[Mr Prince, aside from his work in Iraq, set up America's closest forward
operating base to the Pakistani border in Afghanistan, and helped to train a
CIA assassination team that hunted an alleged senior al-Qaeda financier in
Germany, and included A. Q. Khan, a Pakistani nuclear scientist, on its list
of targets--"Erik Prince, head of US security firm Blackwater, 'was
CIA operative'," Times, December 5, 2009]
[Mr. Prince, who resettled here last year after his security business faced
mounting legal problems in the United States, was hired by the crown prince
of Abu Dhabi to put together an 800-member battalion of foreign troops for
the U.A.E. . . .
The former employees said that in recruiting the Colombians and others from
halfway around the world, Mr. Prince's subordinates were following his
strict rule: hire no Muslims.--Mark Mazzetti and Emily B. Hager, "Secret Desert Force Set Up by Blackwater's Founder," nytimes.com,
May 14, 2011]