NEWS: Mercenaries hurt the war effort; State Dept. shields Blackwater; insurgents launch assassination campaign against Iraq’s Interior Ministry

New study: private security firms hurt U.S. mission in Iraq

A forthcoming study by private-military contractor expert P.W. Singer obtained by TPMmuckraker finds that Blackwater and other private security firms in Iraq are detrimental to U.S. counterinsurgency efforts.

Singer, author of the landmark book Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry, goes beyond the current Blackwater imbroglio to criticize the entire system for security contracting in Iraq. He finds that even though private military firms represent a hindrance to counterinsurgency objectives, the privatization boom beginning in the 1980s has left the U.S. military functionally dependent on the companies for numerous combat operations and logistics tasks. Private military companies have become “the ultimate enabler” for military commitments, Singer writes in “Can’t Win With ‘Em, Can’t Go To War Without ‘Em: Private Military Contractors and Counter-Insurgency,” allowing a politically cost-free way for the U.S. to go to war in Iraq without a massive call-up of reserve forces. [complete article]

Blackwater inquiry blocked by State Dept., official says

The Democratic chairman of a House committee complained Tuesday that the State Department was blocking his panel’s efforts to investigate the private security firm Blackwater USA and its operations in Iraq.

The department described the situation as a “misunderstanding.”

In a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Rep. Henry A. Waxman of California, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, wrote that the State Department had prevented Blackwater from cooperating.

“Blackwater has informed the committee that a State Department official directed Blackwater not to provide documents relevant to the committee’s investigation into the company’s activities in Iraq without the prior written approval of the State Department,” Mr. Waxman’s letter stated. The letter was made available to the news media on Tuesday. [complete article]

Sunni insurgents in new campaign to kill officials

Sunni Arab extremists have begun a systematic campaign to assassinate police chiefs, police officers, other Interior Ministry officials and tribal leaders throughout Iraq, staging at least 10 attacks in 48 hours.

Eight policemen have been killed, among them the police chief of Baquba, the largest city in Diyala Province. Two other police chiefs survived attacks, though one was left in critical condition, and about 30 police officers were wounded, according to reports from local security officers.

“We warned the government just a few days ago that there is a new plan by terrorist groups to target senior governmental officials, and particularly Interior Ministry officials,” said Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, the deputy interior minister for information and national investigations. The Interior Ministry is dominated by Shiites. [complete article]

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