Editor's note: In 2007, the private intelligence gathering firm Aegis, founded by a former British officer whose military service included quelling a rebellion in Papua New Guinea, found its $293 million security contract awarded in 2004 was up for renewal. The new contract would be worth $475 million and would include 1,000 security officers to protect the Army Corps of Engineers conducting infrastructure projects — the largest for private security in Iraq. The following excerpt is about that congressional debate.
The following is an excerpt from INVISIBLE SOLDIERS by Ann Hagedorn. Copyright © 2014 by Ann Hagedorn. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
In the spring of 2007, as the deadline for the contract renewal was drawing near, seven U.S. senators, all Democrats, had signed on as Aegis critics: Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Charles Schumer, Chris Dodd, Ted Kennedy, Russ Feingold, and Barack Obama. ..(..).. [T]he watchdogs of Congress and the Pentagon were beginning to claim that the probes, audits, studies, and reports were accomplishing little toward addressing the impact of the growing numbers of “mercenaries” working for America. No one was taking a stand, stressed Jeremy Scahill, a journalist who at the time was writing a book about Blackwater. Both Republicans and Democrats, with a few exceptions, were “selling out,” he wrote. Even shutting down the wars would not stop the PMSCs, he observed. “Until Congress reins in these massive corporate forces and the whopping federal funding that goes into their coffers, partially withdrawing U.S. troops may only set the stage for the increased use of private military companies (and their rent-a-guns) which stand to profit from any kind of privatized future ‘surge’ in Iraq. . . . It’s making them unstoppable, if they are not already.”
Read More →