Kerry Probes Rice on Blackwater’s Future
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 at 12:31 pm
It’s no mystery that the Bush administration has molded the Iraq conflict to rely on the services of private contractors working outside of the realm — and often the rules — of the U.S. military. But in the wake of a shooting spree last September, during which 17 Iraqis were killed by employees of Blackwater Worldwide, a North Carolina-based protective services company, there was both surprise and outcry in April when the State Department reauthorized Blackwater’s contract for an additional year.
The news has moved well clear of the front pages since then, but at least one lawmaker hasn’t forgotten the controversy. Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) today is asking Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice for information, not only about the Blackwater contract, but also about how it came to be that the nation’s military can hardly function any longer without the services of private companies. From the June 10 letter to Rice:
Taken together, the apparent dearth of private sector security options and Under Secretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy’s recent statement that, “[i]f the contractors were removed, we would have to leave Iraq,” suggest that the U.S. government’s hands are effectively tied in Iraq. What, in your opinion, were the driving forces that resulted in the U.S. government needing to rely so heavily upon private security contractors?
In the future, does State intend to rely less, as much, or more on private security contractors in high-risk areas? If, in your view, State’s reliance is likely to decline, what steps does it plan to take to reduce its dependence on such contractors?
The answers, of course, likely hinge on which candidate occupies the White House next year.
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