Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Evanston and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont have introduced legislation that would phase out private security contractors in conflict zones.

Schakowsky says the bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting found that since 2001 armed private contractors have become the “default option” in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She says the hired guns are employed by the United States for sensitive missions including training military and police officers and providing security for foreign dignitaries. Her legislation, called the “Stop Outsourcing Security Act” would outlaw the practice and restore the responsibility of the U.S. military and government to perform such functions.

“Our continued reliance on private security contractors endangers our military, damages our relationships with foreign governments, and undermines our global priorities,” Schakowsky said in a news release.

“Though we have the finest military in the world, we continue to outsource our security to private mercenaries, who answer to a corporation rather than a uniformed commander,” she added.

She said the number of such contractors has grown from 22,000 to over 28,000 in just the last year.

Schakowsky and Sanders introduced similar legislation last year which failed to win adoption.

The bill would prohibit the use of private contractors for military, security, law enforcement, intelligence, and armed rescue functions in conflict zones. It would also increase transparency over any remaining contracts by increasing reporting requirements and Congressional oversight.

Agencies with military contractors would have to report the number of contractors employed, disclose the total cost of the contracts, and make public any disciplinary actions against employees.

Military officers in the field have said contractors operate like “cowboys,” using unnecessary and excessive force uncharacteristic of enlisted soldiers.

In 2007, guards working for a firm then known as Blackwater were accused of killing 17 Iraqis, damaging the U.S. mission in Iraq and hurting our reputation around the world. Later that year, a contractor employed by DynCorp International allegedly shot and killed an unarmed taxi driver.

“The American people have always prided themselves on the strength, conduct, and honor of our United States military.  I therefore find it very disturbing that now, in the midst of two wars and a global struggle against terrorism, we are relying more and more on private security contractors – rather than our own military – to provide for our national defense,” Sanders said.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Schakowsky is posturing again

    This is political posturing by Jan Schakowsky, a member of the Democrat Socialists of America, who is running for another term next year.

    Military generals and most goverment officials understand private contractors are needed in these two conflicts that depend mostly on intelligence gathering and adequate protection of key Iraqi and Afghanistan officials against the Taliban and other radical Muslim fundamentalist – duties that are more geared to specialized training and equipment. The Arab spring began in part because of the freedoms in Iraq and probably through the covert actions of  U.S. military and private contractors.

    Schakowsky, the most liberal politician in Washington, began the Out of Iraq caucus years ago to drum up opposition to the Iraq war and more importantly against Republicans. Yet, Schakowsky voted to FUND the Iraq war in 2007 after Democrats took control of the House and she became deputy whip.

    From 2009-to 2011, the Democrats had a supermajority of the House, Congress and a liberal president. The Democrats could do ANYTHING they wanted so why didn't Schakowsky get our troops out of Iraq? That's right, Schakowsky is just posturing to appease her radical base because she is running for re-election.

    Remember, Schakowsky was one of several Democrats including Obama that said Gen. Petraus' surge in Iraq would fail and that the troops needed to come home, now. Well, the surge worked.

    Schakowsky criticized an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force raid last September on 23 anti-war activists in Chicago and Minnesota who allegedly had ties to Hamas and other terrorist organizations. Shakowsky went to bat for these radical activists, including Andy Thayer who called for a socialist revolution in Chicago.

    It's necessary to question authority and the war effort. But it's unconscionable to use it for political gain at the expense of our troops and the safety of American citizens.  



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