The Lesson of Blackwater

It is time to rethink the privatization of the United States military. In Iraq alone, there are roughly 180,000 private contractors working for American government agencies, including about 30,000 heavily-armed guards. The most notorious contractor, Blackwater USA, has been embroiled in controversy over the deaths last month of 17 Iraqis. A State Department contract with the private security firm, which escorts U.S. diplomats traveling outside the heavily protected Green Zone in Baghdad, expire

It is time to rethink the privatization of the United States military. In Iraq alone, there are roughly 180,000 private contractors working for American government agencies, including about 30,000 heavily-armed guards. The most notorious contractor, Blackwater USA, has been embroiled in controversy over the deaths last month of 17 Iraqis. A State Department contract with the private security firm, which escorts U.S. diplomats traveling outside the heavily protected Green Zone in Baghdad, expires in May. The contract should not be renewed, Senator Bernie Sanders said.

Sanders said he would work with other members of the Senate and House in taking a hard look at the role of private contractors in the military.

"The Bush administration has made radical and dangerous changes in the structure of our military, and Congress needs to take a very hard look at that.

"To my mind, it is wrong and unacceptable for companies like Blackwater to operate outside of the chain of command of the United States military and United States government in Iraq.

"I also find it troubling when personnel employed by a company like Blackwater who are paid far more than soldiers in the U.S. military who are putting their lives on the line every day."

Click here to listen to the Senators' comments.