The Alan Grayson Page

The Anthony Weiner Page

Guest Contributors


  • BN-Politics' administrators respect, but do not necessarily endorse, views expressed by our contributors. Our goal is to get the ideas out there. After that, they're on their own.
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 05/2007

Blog Catalog

  • Liberalism Political Blogs - Blog Catalog Blog Directory



« Turkey Withdraws Troops from Iraq | Main | Jeremy Paxman Takes on Ralph Nader »

March 01, 2008



I'm not sure the whole mercenary issue is as black and white as it seems. Mercenaries do not necessarily mean "private armies". In fact, private military companies perform a variety of roles in Iraq and Afghanistan--often merely providing logistical and support services for troops (we're talking supply routes, food services, and maintaining communication links for the troops).

Interestingly enough, and perhaps Hillary knows this, limiting the involvement of PMCs could in effect drastically shorten the war. This is just another way of limiting the Pentagon's options, because without private "soldiers" providing the support role, the armed services will have to muster more troops to take over the non-combat positions filled by PMCs.

So in short: PMCs--not necessarily armies and shortening them may actually really shorten the war effort. A step in the right direction for pulling out of Iraq.

D. Cupples


You make some good distinctions. I didn't get the impression that Clinton wants to get rid of all contractors -- just to make security guards come under the government's umbrella and to monitor contractors more diligently. I could have that wrong, though.

My concern with excessive reliance on contractors (not just defense contractors) is largely the costs.

Even contractors that don't defraud us taxpayers (and plenty of them do because they've been poorly monitored) tend to cost more money, because they charge what it really costs to do a job then mark up their fees to cover profits.

Intelligence contractors' employees, according to a congressional conference report from a couple months ago, cost us about twice in annual salary what government employees would cost to do the same jobs ($250K to $126k).

That's no big deal for a time-limited project, but when the contracting goes on for years, we taxpayers may not be getting our money's worth.

Admittedly, some contractors make reasonable profits, and we taxpayers save in the long run by hiring contractors short term. These days, it's looking like we'll be hiring contractors for the long term.

My other concern, specifically relating to defense contracting, mirrors what President Eisenhower said just before he left office about the military industrial complex. Given powerful (politically connected) companies a financial incentive to prolong wars could pose problems for our nation.

Last year, I listed examples from the Doj re: health-care -contractor fraud:

And here's a link to other contractor-related posts in 2007:


The key issue with NON-MILITARY contractors is transparency, compartmentalization, and open bidding.

By transparency, I mean that government contractors need to be required to open up the books on all expenses related to the government contract.

By compartmentalization, I mean that contracts should be broken into as small of pieces as is manageable. If you make a contract for providing a huge range of services for a massive number of troops in Iraq, then only a few companies have the resources to make a bid. If you break that contract up into a bunch of smaller contracts (e.g. providing food service in a given army base) then a lot more companies can bid.

By open bidding, I mean that contracts should be announced publicly, a reasonable amount of time for accepting bids should be given, bids should be published as well, and no no-bid contracts (which are basically legalized corruption).

If those guidelines were followed than I don't think there's any problem with using contractors in stead of government employees.

Military contractors are a whole 'nother ball of wax. I'm not convinced that they should be illegal, but there needs to be a lot more oversight.

D. Cupples


That and staff lawyers should draft contracts in a way that protects the taxpayers. The GAO has been nagging DoD lawyers for years about this.

D. Cupples


That and staff lawyers should draft contracts in a way that protects the taxpayers. The GAO has been nagging DoD lawyers for years about this.

The comments to this entry are closed.