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A Blog on Understanding, Informing, Empowering, and Influencing Global Publics, published by Matt Armstrong

WaPo: Warnings Unheeded On Guards In Iraq

There’s a decent article by Steve Fainaru in the Washington Post on the troubles of private security in Iraq:

The U.S. government disregarded numerous warnings over the past two years about the risks of using Blackwater Worldwide and other private security firms in Iraq, expanding their presence even after a series of shooting incidents showed that the firms were operating with little regulation or oversight, according to government officials, private security firms and documents.

There nothing new in the article I haven’t written about before, but Fainaru’s article has a change in tone and perspective on the issue of privatization we’re likely to see more of. It seems we may be finally getting to the point where people realize private security companies themselves aren’t bad (note the quotes from Chris Beese of AEGIS), but their unchecked and irresponsible use that did more than permit but encouraged operations that violated basic requirements for successful counterinsurgency, perception management, and reconstruction and stabilization operations.

Fundamentally, private security companies are tools of American foreign policy, security policy, and public diplomacy, all deeply intertwined and interdependent practices, and thus must be under more than haphazard oversight by middle managers and few others. The mainstream media must start to investigate and discuss the blind eye of the principal (the U.S.) and spend less time on the "reckless" agent, the companies, who are paid and contracted and explicitly (or at worse implicitly) managed by USG or its own agents. With Fairnaru’s article, we should see the previously academic discussion over problems posed by bypassing Constitutional and Congressional oversight, in terms of both checks and balances and management, move into the mainstream in the new year.

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