Private Security Puts Diplomats, Military at Odds
Contractors in Iraq Fuel Debate
By Sudarsan Raghavan and Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, September 26, 2007; A01
BAGHDAD, Sept. 25 — A confrontation between the U.S. military and the State Department is unfolding over the involvement of Blackwater USA in the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians in a Baghdad square Sept. 16, bringing to the surface long-simmering tensions between the military and private security companies in Iraq, according to U.S. military and government officials.
In high-level meetings over the past several days, U.S. military officials have pressed State Department officials to assert more control over Blackwater, which operates under the department’s authority, said a U.S. government official with knowledge of the discussions. “The military is very sensitive to its relationship that they’ve built with the Iraqis being altered or even severely degraded by actions such as this event,” the official said.
Ah yes, there’s that old asserting more control CYA again. There was a time, and that time was not so long ago, when the military actually protected our State Department. A Marine Corps job as I recall. The military is spectacularly insensitive to the relationship they’ve abandoned with the State Department.
One can imagine Rummy pounding his desk after a meeting with Colin Powell and raging, “screw ’em, let ’em protect themselves.”
We still have those polished and fiercely dedicated (as well as assertively controlled by the chain-of-command) young men as the public face of embassy duty. Not, apparently guarding anyone in and out of the fabled Green Zone, though.
A State Department official asked why the military is shifting the question to State “since the DOD has more Blackwater contractors than we do, including people doing PSD [personal security detail] for them. . . . They’ve [Blackwater] basically got contracts with DOD that are larger than the contracts with State.”
Good question for our increasingly feeble military command. Just another log on the pile of nostalgia for the old days, the days when we knew what the hell we were doing.