“From this war’s very beginning, this administration has permitted thousands of heavily-armed military contractors to march through Iraq without any law or court to rein them in or hold them accountable. These private security contractors have been reckless and have compromised our mission in Iraq. The time to show these contractors the door is long past due. We need to stop filling the coffers of contractors in Iraq, and make sure that armed personnel in Iraq are fully accountable to the U.S. government and follow the chain of command.” – Senator Hillary Clinton, circa 2008
This is really embarrassing for the State Department, but especially for Sect. Clinton. The above statement makes a mockery of what just happened under her watch. After all of Clinton’s protestations as a senator, but also presidential candidate, awarding a whopping contract to the notoriously unpredictable Blackwater, now doing business under another name, is reprehensible hypocrisy. This is the same crew who allegedly got drunk before going on a shooting spree.
From Spencer Ackerman:
Blackwater and the State Department tried their best to obscure their renewed relationship. As Danger Room reported Wednesday, Blackwater did not appear on the vendors’ list for Worldwide Protective Services. And the State Department confirms that the company, renamed Xe Services, didn’t actually submit its own independent bid.
Instead, they used a blandly named cut-out, “International Development Solutions,” to retain a toehold into State’s lucrative security business. No one who looks at the official announcement of the contract award would have any idea that firm is connected to Blackwater.
Blackwater’s “affiliate U.S. Training Center is part of International Development Solutions (IDS), a joint venture with Kaseman,” according to an official State Department statement to Danger Room. “This joint venture was determined by the Department’s source-selection authority to be eligible for award.”
Last year, a Blackwater subdivision, the Blackwater Lodge and Training Center, changed its name to U.S. Training Center. Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin (D-Michigan) blasted Blackwater in February for setting up shell companies in order to keep winning government security contracts despite its infamy. [..]
It’s very hard to believe that due diligence wasn’t done to check each contracting outfit, look at their background, as well as the lineage of the company. It’s not like we don’t know Blackwater is setting up shell companies to hide their identity.
Oh, but maybe the outfit has changed, or maybe there are new regulations making everything hunky dory.
The other task order issued under Worldwide Protective Services is to protect the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. That contract’s gone to EOD Technology, a global firm which has in the past guarded the British and Canadian embassies in the Afghan capital. And that means ArmorGroup North America – last seen with its guards taking tequila shots out of each others’ butts and engaging in extracurricular sex trafficking – has lost a contract worth nearly $274 million over five years.
According to a different statement from the Department of State, the new Worldwide Protective Services contract comes with new safeguards to prevent abuse. Those include mandatory cultural awareness training, the addition of interpreters on all protection missions, financial penalties for poor performance, and a formal ban on alcohol. (Yes – after years of alcohol-related contractor incidents.) Despite these new protections, the department still sees fit to continue business with the most infamous member of the private-security world.
It’s inexcusable to award Blackwater, under whatever name, a mercenary contract given their track record. These are the types of guys who give our country a very bad name, but also hurt the U.S. mission.