There's finally a bill to stop private, for-profit companies like Blackwater from waging war in our name with little regard for anything beyond their bottom line.
More than 22,000 mercenaries are operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, and these unaccountable hired guns have shot civilians and participated in torture at Abu Ghraib and other detention facilities.
The Stop Outsourcing Security Act, just introduced by Rep. Jan Schakowsky, would prohibit hiring private mercenaries like Blackwater to perform tasks traditionally done by the military.
Recent Congressional hearings have painted a dismal picture of Blackwater's operations. Employees stole hundreds of weapons meant for Afghan national police. They billed the U.S. government for a prostitute. They created a shell company called "Paravant" so they could keep getting government contracts after they trashed the Blackwater name.
But Blackwater is just the poster child for all that's wrong with hiring mercenaries for our military tasks. Contractors waste billions of taxpayer dollars while engaging in legally and ethically questionable activities. And when they commit morally repugnant acts like the killing civilians, they're doing so on our dime and in our name.
The Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act would ban private security contractors from performing military, security, law enforcement, intelligence, and armed rescue functions. The bill also imposes better transparency requirements on existing contracts, so firms like Blackwater that still have contracts would be forced to report their activities more frequently and would be under better Congressional oversight.
Such oversight is desperately needed for economic as well as human rights reasons. As the most contracted-out war in U.S. history, the conflict in Afghanistan is a model of fiscal irresponsibility. The Congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting called the billions of wasted taxpayer dollars "fiscal hemorrhaging."
And worst of all, the number of private military contractors operating in Iraq and Afghanistan just keeps growing. In fact, private mercenaries far outnumber U.S. military personnel. It's hard to tell the difference between a security contractor and a U.S. service person -- and when these hired guns shoot civilians, the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are rightly outraged at the United States.
It's past time we stopped wasting money and destroying lives with our reliance on mercenary contractors.
Sign the petition to ask your representative to co-sponsor the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act and put an end to private contractors performing duties our military should.