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How to Prove Afghan Police Aren’t Corrupt? Hire Blackwater!

The Washington Post’s Greg Jaffe has a good story about a concerted push by Gen. William Caldwell and Interior Minister Hanif Atmar, the two highest-level officials directly responsible for the training and performance of Afghan police, to rid the police force of the incompetence and corruption that remain their calling cards. Caldwell and Atmar tell Jaffe all the right things, even if the promises are familiar. “If we don’t get the police fixed, we’ll never change the dynamics in the country,” Caldwell said. “For a long time, corruption was considered a taboo subject,” Atmar told Jaffe. “It is no longer the case. We have to fight this curse.”

Fine as far as it goes. But now consider that the security company poised to win a potential billion dollar contract for this allegedly crucial task is Blackwater, a company last seen in Afghanistan performing such squeaky-clean tasks as stealing hundreds of weapons intended for the Afghan police and signing for them using the name of a ‘South Park’ character. That’s after Blackwater got its contract through contract fraud by creating a shell company to obscure its corporate involvement, according to former top Blackwater contracting officials. Why would Blackwater need to obscure its corporate involvement in the first place? Because it’s best known for shooting fleeing civilians in Iraq.

It is hard to think of a worse example to set for a police force trying to shed the stigma of corruption and incompetence than to allow Blackwater to conduct their training. To give Blackwater that contract will be to tell the police that they have to follow the law and then immediately wink an eye, jab an elbow in the cops’ ribs and giggle. Unsurprisingly, when you call around to the Pentagon and to Caldwell’s command about how Blackwater can possibly be eligible for this contract after everything it’s done, every single official you talk to denies responsibility for the possible contract award — and that Blackwater’s right to bid is protected by* good-government* legislation. And the U.S. is going to lecture the Afghans about anti-corruption?

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