Secrecy News

New Light on Private Security Contractors in Iraq

The use of thousands of private security contractors in Iraq represents a quantitatively new feature of U.S. military operations, but relatively little has been publicly disclosed about the contractual arrangements involved.

The war in Iraq “is apparently the first time that the United States has depended so extensively on contractors to provide security in a hostile environment,” according to a recently updated Congressional Research Service report (pdf).

But “the use of armed contractors raises several concerns, including transparency and accountability,” the CRS report said.

“The lack of public information on the terms of the contracts, including their costs and the standards governing hiring and performance, make evaluating their efficiency difficult. The apparent lack of a practical means to hold contractors accountable under U.S. law for abuses and other transgressions, and the possibility that they could be prosecuted by foreign courts, is also a source of concern,” the CRS report said.

Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by David Isenberg of United Press International, new information is now available on the U.S. State Department’s Worldwide Personal Protective Services (WPPS) contract, which provides security services throughout Iraq (as well as Afghanistan, Bosnia and Israel).

UPI obtained the WPPS contract specifications from the State Department and reported on the material in “Dogs of War: WPPS World” by David Isenberg, September 19. The newly disclosed contract material itself was posted by UPI here (pdf).

Extensive background information on the issue is available from the Congressional Research Service in “Private Security Contractors in Iraq: Background, Legal Status, and Other Issues,” updated August 25, 2008.

0 thoughts on “New Light on Private Security Contractors in Iraq

  1. In Iraq, much of our budget/expense is spent on paying US contractors to rebuild their public utilities and oil infrastructure. US contractors rebuilding their country, while we neglect ours. Our economy and debt is alarming, yet in Iraq they have a large surplus and are more than able to fund this in house. I understand it’s our duty to help them with our military prowess, however Iraq should pay and use their own non-military related contractors. They need to be more engage in the rebuilding of our country, I don’t feel it’s our duty to pay millions to rebuild their country, and think they should step up and rebuild their own.

  2. The security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan are all really good men and women. Most have served in the military and are proud to again be able to serve their country (BUT THIS TIME GET PAID FOR IT!!!!) The rest are prior law enforcement and the same reasoning applies. The notion of a rogue band of road warriors roaming the streets of Iraq shooting people indiscriminately is simply the media’s way of trying to pull in readers/watchers.

    Most security contracts will not even accept you unless you have served in the special forces in some branch of the military. Our country used to be proud of its men and women who serve overseas and put their lives in danger for the American way. Right, wrong, or indifferent, getting behind the president and praising our heroes that come home (either under or in coach). Yet every pouge out there who has never been there or done that wants to put their stamp on something they know absolutely nothing about.

    The reasons why people are not told the details of contracts with the Gov’t is called OPSEC (if you are reading this you are on the internet so LOOK IT UP). Also when you have orders to protect the principle at all costs and all other means of avoidance to potentially hazardous and deadly situations arise. You do what every red blooded American has done since the creation of our great nation. You eliminate the threat!!!!

    My advice is this. Until you have walked a mile in my shoes, keep your nonsense to yourself.

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