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Old 06-21-2005, 03:33 PM   #1
Neil Mick
Dojo: Aikido of Santa Cruz
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Private Contractors in Iraq

Saw an interesting news-program that answered some questions for me, about the role of private contractors in Iraq.

The 4 men who were dragged through the Fallujah streets and hung were contractors. Apparently, 100% of the interpretors, and 50% of the interrogators at Abu Ghraib were private contractors.

Quote:
PETER SINGER: I think one of the things that was particularly surprising about what happened at Abu Ghraib was the mass presence of contractors there. The U.S. army found that 100% of the interpreters and up to 50% of the interrogators that were onsite there during the abuse period were private contractors; the interpreters from a company called Titan, the interrogators from a company called Khaki. The army also found in one of its reports that the interrogators who were contractors were involved in 36% of the abuse incidents. And one of the things that was disturbing about this, there's two levels here. The first is that the army looking back found that as many as a third of those contractors who were interrogators didn't have formal military training as interrogators.
So, would it be a fair thing to suggest that abuse becomes more prevalent in the presence of private contractors? As was mentioned, they act within a quasi-legal state, above military tribunal proceedings.

And yet, they clearly are recognized as US forces. They represent us, in the Middle East, and yet there are no checks upon these forces. No one can even say how many private contractors there are.

Thoughts?

Gosh, I hope ppl who've served over there in some capacity (Mike Callendar and Gregory) would chime in, on this topic.

In any case, you might watch PBS's Frontline tonight at 9PM: "Private Warriors"
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Old 06-21-2005, 05:52 PM   #2
makuchg
 
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

Hey Neil,

I was at Abu with many contractors and then again at Camp Slayer. The major contractors Titan, KBR, Caci (not Khaki), etc provide a valuable service. Often services an overextended military cannot perform for themselves. The problem comes in oversight. For example, at AG, the main provisions of the laws governing contract interrogators were only applicable to Department of Defense contractors and many interrogators were contracted by the Department of Interior (don't ask me it had to do with federal funding). So many laws weren't applicable that's why there was so little consequences for civilians.

As for Fallujah, those were contractors from a company called Blackwater out of NC. All ex-special ops guys doing high-risk escort work. Many are protecting Iraqi oil infrastructure, significant personnel who the Iraqis can't protect, etc. These are jobs no one really thought about and they are not military missions but we have to provide protection for these individuals. I realize Neil you don't agree with us being there, but now we have to safeguard those who are trying to rebuild Iraq from within until their own security forces are stable enough to do it themselves.

Personally, as a HUMINT collector and CI agent leaving the military I have been smoozed by many contract companies, often for salaries that equal what I make every month per week. That's a 400% pay raise. My field is so short subject matter experts that the government want to contract the experience since they can't get it from within. I'm tempted, but I think I'll stay home for awhile.

Gregory Makuch
Wandering Ronin
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Old 06-23-2005, 07:08 PM   #3
Neil Mick
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

Quote:
Gregory Makuch wrote:
The problem comes in oversight.
Hey Gregory:

Yes, we are in total agreement, on the problem (putting aside my usual perspective on the invasion and occuaption, as everyone reading this probably knows my feelings on the subject). Worse, these individuals with hazy oversight are our representatives in Iraq!

Quote:
Defense contractors and many interrogators were contracted by the Department of Interior (don't ask me it had to do with federal funding).
This is very interesting. I would really like to know why the contractors were funded through Interior.

Quote:
I realize Neil you don't agree with us being there, but now we have to safeguard those who are trying to rebuild Iraq from within until their own security forces are stable enough to do it themselves.
Again, my feelings on the war aren't the point I was making. I think that much of the loss of US credibility in the world arises from using privatized firms with hazy oversight, who can commit abuses and get off a lot lighter than an enlisted man.

But, I think that it was a seriously poor strategic choice to commit to a long process of invasion and occupation when this action would certainly overextend our army, even further.

Quote:
My field is so short subject matter experts that the government want to contract the experience since they can't get it from within. I'm tempted, but I think I'll stay home for awhile.
IMO (on purely practical, non-ideological grounds), you made a wise decision.
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Old 06-23-2005, 07:45 PM   #4
makuchg
 
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

I think one of the reasons contractors are in such demand is we are trying to do something we have never done before, rebuild while we're still at war. Despite Bush's claims, the War rages on. If you look at the rebuilding efforts in WWI and WWII, the happened after a cease in all hostilities. Then we dumped money into the country and let them rebuild themselves. Now we are rebuilding as we destroy. As a result, we have to have contractors to support this massive effort. Almost all logistical and support assets in Iraq are contractors, from the dining facilities to the plumbers, janitors, and electricians. Truck drivers are especially vulnerable. However the temptation of making in one year what they make in two or three is hard for many to resist. Lets face it a blue collar worker who is struggling to make ends meet can suddenly make $100K and take care of the mortgage and their children's college, it is tough to turn down.

Here is an interesting press statement from Caci about their funding: http://www.caci.com/about/news/news2..._20_04_NR.html

I do believe the government is being very short sighted in awarding contracts. The cost/benefit cannot be logical (but how often is governmental funding logical).

Here is another good article about why they'll escape prosecution: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/0524-08.htm

And here is the Act mentioned in the article: http://www.pubklaw.com/hi/pl106-523.pdf
You'll notice it only applies to DoD contractors, not DoI.

Pretty convenient planning?

Gregory Makuch
Wandering Ronin
Spring Hill, FL
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Old 06-25-2005, 05:24 PM   #5
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

Maybe if U.S. troops were being paid something closer to what these guys are being paid, there wouldn't be such a recruiting shortfall and there would be enough troops to handle some of the more sensitive things that are currently being handled by private contractors.

The gov't is paying these wages already, but indirectly... why not cut out the middle man (KBR, etc) and let the regular soldiers see some benefit from all of the money we're pouring into the big hole over there? Supposedly contractors are "more efficient," but most of the numbers I see make me thing Uncle Sam is drug through the sand by these guys.

-LK
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Old 06-25-2005, 05:26 PM   #6
Lorien Lowe
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

that's 'make me think.' I'm not congested, really.

-LK
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Old 06-29-2005, 05:51 PM   #7
Neil Mick
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

Quote:
Gregory Makuch wrote:
I think one of the reasons contractors are in such demand is we are trying to do something we have never done before, rebuild while we're still at war. Despite Bush's claims, the War rages on.
And this is where the folly comes in. You cannot rebuild on ground where a war is ongoing.

Quote:
I do believe the government is being very short sighted in awarding contracts. The cost/benefit cannot be logical (but how often is governmental funding logical).
Yeah, but why aren't more Iraqi companies being given the work? Why are the trade unions still under the same, Hussein-era ban?

Quote:
You'll notice it only applies to DoD contractors, not DoI.

Pretty convenient planning?
Touche.

While you were over there, how were the relations btw the enlisted men and the contractors? Did you notice any animosity?
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Old 07-03-2005, 08:32 PM   #8
makuchg
 
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

Quote:
Neil Mick wrote:
While you were over there, how were the relations btw the enlisted men and the contractors? Did you notice any animosity?
We didn't interact much with the contractors. At Abu Ghuraib, I had several friends, former soldiers I had served with, who left the military and were working with me at the Prison. Relations were good between soldiers and civilians, it was leadership who resented the contractors. Soldiers do what they are told (for the most part), civilians making $100K+ don't, and don't have to.

For the most part, civilians worked well with soldiers. I think they had a genuine concern for soldiers, for the most part. Most contractors I worked with really wanted to help the soldiers any way they could. Of course there were exceptions, but they were just that, exceptions.

As for the Iraqis, we did contract a lot of services to them. Construction, plumbing, electrical, maintenance are all being performed by Iraqi crews. There is still U.S. oversight for security, but Iraqis are very involved in the rebuilding (of course they are not making $100K per year).

Gregory Makuch
Wandering Ronin
Spring Hill, FL
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Old 07-03-2005, 08:39 PM   #9
makuchg
 
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

Sorry I'm tired. I sure typed "for the most part" a lot.

Gregory Makuch
Wandering Ronin
Spring Hill, FL
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Old 07-05-2005, 07:37 PM   #10
Neil Mick
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Re: Private Contractors in Iraq

Quote:
Gregory Makuch wrote:
Sorry I'm tired. I sure typed "for the most part" a lot.
Lol, no prob~ thanks for the response.
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