State Department rebuked over lack of Oversight in Use of Mercenary Contractors

In the last four years the United States government contracts for mercenaries has risen from $1 billion to over $4 billion dollars. With little or no oversight or new employees hired to oversee the expenditures which has followed the massive increase in the use of private contractors the reports are starting to be released to the public at large and they point to a profoundly disturbing trend within the Bush administration.

The bulk of the government contracts have gone to such companies as Blackwater and DynCorp International to meet the USA’s security needs in Iraq for so-called diplomatic operations. These companies have also been tasked with the training of foreign police agencies as well as their diplomatic missions.

This massive amount of funding is overseen by a minuscule and vastly overwhelmed State Department force of only 17 employees. Imagine spending over $4 billion dollars and only having 17 employees managing the compliance with and the management of this massive budget. No corporation in any industrialized nation would allow such mismanagement. That is unless maybe they didn’t want to know what their contractors were doing so they might invoke plausible deniability.

To date their costs have spiraled contractual agreements have not been met and quite possibly unwarranted violence has gone unpunished.

This latest report from the State Department shows willful mismanagement which has allowed the various contractors to in effect write their own ticket with the obligatory billing not being considered a factor, write your own ticket is the governments normal state of affairs. With no oversight in place and the current system allowing vast cost over-runs what criminal would not salivate at such a program if they were given the opportunity.

As for Iraq the report found there were far fewer American officials present to enforce the contractual rules in regards to security forces in the region including Blackwater. The report also found that the private security contractors hired by the State Department were undermining the mission in Iraq in regards to the establishment of a democratic Iraqi government as well as they were exacerbating the problems caused by the insurgency.

The Secretary of State did approve a few obligatory recommendations supplied by the panel investigating the current mismanagement by her department. The recommendations include the necessary oversight and revising the rules on the use of deadly force, this however is a little too late for those already killed by our emissaries.

Interviews with administration officials, auditors and outside experts show that the use of contractors has grown far beyond what department officials imagined when they first outsourced critical security functions in 1994 and hired private security guards to protect American diplomats in Haiti, which was thrown into turmoil by civil strife.

In all fairness to the employees of the State Department how could any intelligent human being expect 17 people to oversee over 2,500 contractors and $4 billion dollars in disbursements, this is out of the realm of sanity.

There was also another report released on the failure of oversight of DynCorp that found that hundreds of millions of dollars were in and I quote, “disarray”. Or in other words hundreds of millions of dollars that will never be seen or heard from again as they are lost just as the conflict in Iraq.

It was found during the investigation that since the inception of the program started in 1994 when outsourcing these contracts became standard operating procedure for the State Department. That the program had grown into a behemoth that has overwhelmed the department’s employees who are responsible for supervising and managing the contracting budgets. It is also widely believed that the original mission and vision on the use of private contractors and their numbers has exploded beyond what was originally envisioned by those knowledgeable at the State Department.

Peter Singer, an expert on security contactors at the Brookings Institution was quoted as saying, “They simply didn’t have enough eyes and ears watching what was going on, secondly, they seemed to show no interest in using the sanctions they had.”

There are also expenditures by another department called the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Their contracts worth more than $2.2 billion have gone to training police and the war on drugs. These funds have primarily gone to Iraq, Latin America and Afghanistan (Afghanistan supplies 90% of the world’s heroin production and their production has mushroomed beyond expectations since the US invasion). Approximately 94% of the funds dispersed by the bureau have gone to DynCorp.

This exponential growth has been placed squarely on the shoulders of the Bush administration which has doubled funding for private contractors to the tune of $400 billion dollars. While the funding for private contractors has doubled the government employees tasked with overseeing them has barely seen any increases in their ranks.

As for the quality of the contractors hired by the State Department and in this example DynCorp’s, their work has been called into question. It has been reported that the local police officials in Afghanistan and Irag have stated that their so called trainers were poorly qualified and costly. Most of the contractors are said to be retired police officers from the USA and that they are being paid $118,000 in Afghanistan and an astounding $134,000 dollars in Iraq for a one year service contract.

What began as a well intentioned program to hire private contractors to protect various diplomatic missions in 1994 across the globe has grown into a money grabbing monster with little or no oversight. This monster will continue to grow unless someone steps in and takes a stand. As the character of the United States is further diminished by questionable deaths and destruction and our tax dollars are swept up to pay for these companies with no end in sight, who will do the right thing?

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

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