David Isenberg at Dogs of War writes:
When it comes to issues of accountability, oversight and transparency in the private military and security industry . . . there is actually a fair degree of consensus that, yes, there should actually be such a thing: not just in words, but deeds as well.
The companies themselves, industry trade associations, and even various governments, are working together to try and hammer out standards that would apply to the industry globally.
. . .
But there is one government that should be in the lead on this issue, considering it is both the largest user of such firms and the country where the majority of them are based. Guess who it is. That’s right, the United States.
. . .
The dollar value of Army contracts quadrupled from $23.3 billion in 1992 to $100.6 billion in 2006, according to a recent report by a Pentagon panel. But the number of Army contract supervisors was cut from 10,000 in 1990 to 5,500 currently.
And one can bet that the contract supervisors who are left vividly remember the case of Bunnatine H. “Bunny” Greenhouse. (story here) She was the senior contracting officer for the Army Corps of Engineers who objected — first, internally, and then publicly — to a multibillion-dollar, no-bid contract with Halliburton for work in Iraq. She was then removed from the senior executive service, the top rank of civilian government employees, allegedly because of poor performance reviews.
. . .
Not having provided the oversight that any half-wit would know is necessary when dealing with tens of billions of dollars in contracts is bad enough.
But turning a blind eye to possible criminal behavior is far worse. And yet that is what the Bush administration is doing.
. . .
Finally, as recently reported in the National Journal there was this head-scratching revelation. When President Bush signed the 2008 National Defense Authorization in January his approval support came with a catch: a signing statement in which he wrote that various provisions of the act, including language that would create a commission to examine “waste, fraud, and abuse” in wartime contracting in Iraq and elsewhere, “impose requirements that could inhibit” his “ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and execute his authority as Commander in Chief.”
Only in Bush-World can protecting the American taxpayer against graft and fraud be seen as endangering national security.
I doubt the IPOA is as interested in accountability as it claims. I suspect it may be more analagous to the steps the baseball players union took to prevent drug abuse, minimal, insincere, and ineffective. Although PMC, mercenary, accountability is becoming an issue around the world.
The definition of mercenaries is key. As of now, the definition excludes most of the people employed as PMCs. Step one needs to be an inclusive definition.