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US occupation authorities have assumed control of the reconstruction process and awarded lucrative contracts to US firms with direct links to the White House. Washington has also retaliated against countries opposing the war by excluding their firms from major reconstruction contracts. The occupiers have taken control of Iraq's oil revenues, including over $6 billion in the UN's oil-for-food account, placing the monies in a "Development Fund for Iraq." Critics have charged that billions have disappeared from this fund and governments have called it a "black hole." Though the UN Security Council mandated an International Advisory Monitoring Board to oversee these funds, transparency is limited, while corruption is apparently widespread. Scandals and investigations in Washington have revealed some of the sordid details.



 

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2010 |2009 |2008 | 2007 | Archive

Report of the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries (August 24, 2007)

According to this second report by the United Nations Working Group on the Use of Mercenaries, private security firms worldwide are engaging in new forms of mercenarism. The report concludes that while the use of private security guards by States in conflict zones is on the rise, their legal status is still unclear. States continue to grant immunity to these companies and their employees. The Group warns that States who employ private security services may therefore be responsible for human rights violations committed by the guards. Further, the Group is concerned that only 30 States have ratified the International Convention against the Recruitment, Use, Financing and Training of Mercenaries. This report comes as a number of security companies in Iraq are accused of killing numerous civilians in unprovoked attacks.

See GPF Report on Iraq: Corruption, Fraud and Gross Malfeasance (June 2007)

Under the control or influence of US authorities, public funds in Iraq have been drained by massive corruption and stolen oil, leaving the country unable to provide basic services and incapable of rebuilding. Billions of dollars have disappeared. To avoid accountability, the US and UK undercut the UN-mandated International Advisory and Monitoring Board. Iraq has suffered from stolen cash, padded contracts, cronyism, bribes and kickbacks, waste and incompetence, as well as shoddy and inadequate contract performance. Major contractors, mostly politically-connected US firms, have made billions in profits.

Crude Designs: the Rip-off of Iraq's Oil Wealth (November 22, 2005)

Greg Muttitt's bombshell paper confirms what many have long suspected -- the big US and UK companies have enormous interest in Iraq's giant untapped oilfields. He shows clearly how the companies have been angling to gain control of those fields and now, under the occupation, they are closing in on their goal. Production Sharing Agreements, the companies' favorite legal ploy, have already been negotiated with pliant Iraqi officials. Likely to be rushed-through after the December 2005 elections, these contracts may lock Iraq into decades-long arrangements that siphon as much as US$200 billion from the Iraqi government into company coffers. (Platform, Global Policy Forum and others)

Confidential Government Document on Iraq Oil Lobbying by Australian Firm (July 23, 2003)

This ministry cable provides a record of conversations in May 2003 between the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, several executives of Australia's biggest company and former UK Foreign Minister Sir Malcolm Rifkind. At issue was control of a large oilfield in Iraq. According to these minutes, the Anglo-Australian mining company was planning to "register an early bid"? with the US government to "secure the Halfayah field investment" in partnership with Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell. The cable refers to other negotiations by major oil companies for Iraq's biggest fields. The talks, which occurred in London, took place just two months after the Australians joined the UK and the US in the invasion of Iraq and shortly before the US president prematurely declared "victory". Though relatively brief, the document is very rich in evidence about the role of oil in the war and corporate and government maneuvers to line up the spoils. Participants clearly consider that the US will control the division of the oil, not any future Iraqi government. (Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

Bechtel: Profiting from Destruction (June 2003)

CorpWatch, Global Exchange, Public Citizen recommend that the US government suspend its contract with Bechtel to reconstruct Iraq. The company has violated human rights, environmental standards, and financial regulations.

Advisors of Influence: Nine Members of the Defense Policy Board Have Ties to Defense Contractors (March 28, 2003)

This special report by the Center for Public Integrity reveals that at least nine of the thirty members of the Defense Policy Board have ties to companies that have won more than $76 billion in defense contracts in 2001 and 2002. (Center for Public Integrity)

2010

Status of Forces Agreement and Investing in Iraq: Risky Business? (May 13, 2010)

Until recently, international companies operating in Iraq were protected under a set of privileges and immunities granted by the Coalitional Provisional Authority Order No. 17. However, the State of Forces Agreement enacted in January 2009 revokes some of these protections and opens up the possibility of legal liability for such companies under Iraqi law. Foreign companies are now required to register to do business, maintain a minimum level of domestic presence, file corporate income taxes and abide by more stringent visa and health regulations for their employees. Potential investors who fear arbitrary enforcement of such rules may view the change as detrimental to business; however it is a step towards real Iraqi sovereignty and the possibility of regulation of the foreign corporate sector in Iraq. (Eurasia Review)

With Eye on Exit, Military Awards Massive Iraq Contract (May 11, 2010)

The US Army has reversed a decision to have three companies compete for more than $500 million worth of work in Iraq as the military begins the withdrawal of troops. The $568 million contract for support work will go to contracting giant KBR under an existing sole-source contract raising issues of oversight and accountability. There is concern over the US Army's continued reliance on KBR in light of the Justice Departments decision to bring a fraud suit against KBR for improper billing. (CNN)

New Fraud Cases Point to Lapses in Iraq Projects (March 13, 2010)

The Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent US government oversight agency, has opened more than 50 new fraud cases in six months. Since 2003 there have been numerous convictions for corruption, but the new cases confirm that the "chaos, weak oversight and wide use of cash payments" in the $150 billion reconstruction program have contributed to ongoing fraud perpetrated by private contractors, military officers and civilian officials. (New York Times)

 

KBR Tells Court It Was Following Military Orders When Employees Burned Toxic Waste in Open Pits (February 12, 2010)

In what could become another Agent Orange, troops, contractors and civilians may have been exposed to "cancer-causing dioxide, poisons such as arsenic and carbon monoxide, and hazardous medical waste" through open air pit burns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military contractor KBR was paid millions to safely dispose of waste on bases but burned refuse in open air pits releasing hazardous toxins into the air. In defense of their actions KBR claims that it was "performing under the direction and control of military commanders in the field". (AlterNet)

2009

Blackwater Said to Pursue Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died (November 10, 2009)

In September 2007, Blackwater contractors opened fire on a crowd in Nisour Square, killing 17 Iraqi civilians and wounding many others. Following this attack, a US-Iraqi joint investigation was launched, focusing on the shootings themselves as well as on the wider use of Private Security Contractors in Iraq. In order to counter any repercussion from the shootings , Blackwater gave bribes - amounting to one million dollars - to Iraqi officials so as to buy their silence. (New York Times)

US 'Failing' to Oversee Contractors (June 11, 2009)

The Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan has presented a report to the US Congress showing that "the environment in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to be a place for waste, fraud and abuse." Although costing tens of billions of dollars, 240,000 private sector employees are under minimum government supervision. The US government keeps no central records of dealings with the private firms. Private company KBR provides housing, laundry, meals and mailing service to the military but is under the supervision of only 13 government employees. (Al Jazeera)

US Security Firm Mired in Iraq Controversy Changes Its Name (February 13, 2009)

In an ongoing rebranding effort, Blackwater has decided to change its name to "XE." The company, whose reputation suffered after the 2007 shooting of civilians in Iraq, is trying to rebuild its reputation by changing its name. A Blackwater spokeswoman said "the company made the name change largely because of changes in its focus, but acknowledged the need for the company to shake its past in Iraq." Iraqi leaders refused to renew Blackwater's license to operate inside the country after the shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square. (CommonDreams)

 

A 'Fraud' Bigger Than Madoff (February 16, 2009)

US authorities are investigating the misuse of US$125bn dedicated to the reconstruction of Iraq. Since 2003, the US has expended vast amounts of money on rebuilding the country, but according to this Independent article "there have been no cranes visible on the Baghdad skyline except those at work building a new US embassy." Instead, US officials are allegedly involved in bribing Iraqi officials, theft of unrecorded money paid in cash and awarding influential jobs to "well- connected Republicans" to secure arms deals.

Blackwater: We Will Leave Iraq if US Orders it (January 30, 2009)

Blackwater, which has been operating in Iraq without formal license since 2006, states that it is willing to leave Iraq if ordered, but that such a move "would far more hurt the reconstruction team and the diplomats trying to rebuild the country than it would hurt us as a business." Blackwater's contract with the State Department accounts for about one-third of the company's overall revenue. Following a shooting in 2007 with 17 civilian deaths, the contractor has a reputation for "operating aggressively and with excessive force." (International Herald Tribune)

2008

State Department: Drop Blackwater in Iraq (December 17, 2008)

A report by the US State Department's Inspector General may recommend that Blackwater should lose its license in Iraq after the trial of six Blackwater officials for the killing of 17 civilians in Baghdad in 2007. US investigators say Blackwater guards were involved in 70 shooting incidents involving civilians before the 2007 shooting. (Huffington Post)

A Whitewash for Blackwater? (December 9, 2008)

Eugene Robinson argues the US Justice Department should investigate Blackwater executives for their part in the killing of 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in 2007. The Justice Department should consider whether the security firm provided adequate training for its guards and whether Blackwater promotes a culture of violence. (Washington Post)

Blackwater Operatives Indicted for Slaughter of Iraqi Civilians (December 9, 2008)

The US Justice Department is charging five Blackwater operatives with manslaughter for the killing of seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad in September 2007. The employees will be prosecuted under the Military Extraterritorial Act of 2000 and charged under provisions in an anti drug law, despite the fact that no drugs were involved. The Blackwater company will be exempt from any of the charges. (The Nation)

Military Contractor in Iraq Holds Foreign Workers in Warehouses (December 2, 2008)

Employees of the Kuwaiti firm Najlaa International, who are subcontracted by the US firm KBR, are protesting against their ill treatment. Najlaa keeps around 1000 of its workers in cramped windowless warehouses for months at a time without pay. (McClatchy)

Blackwater Busted? Six Guards May Be Charged in Iraq Massacre (November 15, 2008)

Six Blackwater operatives face indictments from the US Justice Department for the killing of seventeen Iraqi civilians in Baghdads Nisour Square on September 16, 2007. The US Defense Department will also investigate the private security firm for illegally smuggling 900 automatic weapons into Iraq. US Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky says Blackwater operates recklessly with immunity and must be banned from operating in Iraq. (The Nation)

US to Fund Pro-American Publicity in Iraqi Media (October 3, 2008)

The US Department of Defense will pay private contractors in Iraq, such as SOSI and Lincoln Group, US$300 million to produce news stories, entertainment and public service advertisements for the Iraqi media. The US hopes by funding pro-US media that Iraqis will accept a prolonged US presence. (Washington Post)

One Fifth of Iraq Funding Paid to Contractors (August 14, 2008)

A report by the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) forecasts that private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan will cost US taxpayers more than US$100 million dollars by the end of 2008. The CBO report revealed that about 20 percent of funding for operations in Iraq has gone to contractors. At least 190,000 contractors operate in Iraq, creating a ratio of about one contractor per US soldier. According to Inter Press Service, the report scrutinizes groups such as Blackwater, who shot seven Iraqi civilians last year with no legal ramifications.

 

Report: Contractor's Support of US Operations in Iraq (August 2008)

This report by the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows the influential role private contractors play in military and reconstruction operations in Iraq. The CBO estimates that the US spent between US$6 billion and US$10 billion per year between 2003 and 2007 on private security services in Iraq. In 2008 these private contractors employed an estimated 190,000 personnel, which is just below number of US military personnel deployed in Iraq.(Congress of the United States)

Parsons, Military Wasted Millions in Iraq, Inspector Bowen Says (July 28, 2008)

The US government's weak oversight of the contractors in Iraq has created an environment conducive to waste and inefficiency. Parsons Corporation, one of the largest construction contractors working in Iraq, has only completed about one-third of its 53 planned projects that US taxpayers pay for. Appointed by the US Congress, Auditor Stuart Bowen, accuses Parsons of sloppy construction and poor management of its Iraqi subcontractors. (Bloomberg)

Iraq Case Sheds Light on Secret Contractors (July 17, 2008)

US contractor MVM Inc. is responsible for the personal security of US intelligence agencies in Iraq. A former MVM employee accused the firm of covering up a 2004 incident in which MVM employees opened fired on Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi parliament remains adamant that contractors like MVM and Blackwater must be held accountable for crimes committed against Iraqi citizens. (Wall Street Journal)

Bush-Cheney Crony Got Iraq Oil Deal (July 13, 2008)

Ray Hunt, CEO of Hunt Oil and a close friend of Vice President Dick Cheney and the Bush family, landed a major oil deal in 2007 with Iraq's Kurdistan regional government. Despite the fact that Hunt donated more than US$1.5 million to the Republican Party, the Bush administration denies any knowledge of the agreement. According to Congressman Henry Waxman, the Hunt-Kurdish contract raises questions about the Bush administration's role in other deals between Iraq and Western firms like Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP and Chevron. (al-Jazeera)

Iraq Hints at Delay in US Security Deal (July 3, 2008)

Neither US officials, nor Iraq's foreign minister, believe that the two countries will reach a full security agreement this year. The negotiations are deadlocked over issues like Iraqi control over US military operations and the right of US soldiers to detain Iraqi suspects. But the two countries have agreed to lift immunity for security companies, like Blackwater USA, subjecting them to prosecution under Iraqi law. The security companies have a history of using excessive force when protecting foreign clients, which became a political issue in 2007, as Blackwater shot 17 Iraqi civilians in Bagdad. (New York Times)

Oil Sell-Off by Stealth (June 26, 2008)

Iraq may lose huge amounts of its national revenue to five Western oil corporations with direct access to the country's largest oilfields. The lucrative deal is made by the corporations themselves, who drafted the contracts without input from the Iraqi government. This way, the businesses have ensured their right to match any competing bid once the two year-contracts runs out and they receive a potential claim to long-term control over at least one third of Iraq's known oil reserves. (Niqash.org)

Deals with Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back (June 19, 2008)

After a 36 year absence, four Western oil companies are returning to Iraq. Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP lost their oil concession as Saddam Hussein rose to power, however, under US supervision they have negotiated new contracts with Iraq's Oil Ministry. Due to Iraq's vast resources, these oil companies expect to profit immensely from the renewed deals yet claim their investments will also help rebuild the country's decrepit industry. In addition, an increase in Middle Eastern oil production helps the US battle soaring prices. (New York Times)

Invitation to Steal: War Profiteering in Iraq (May 28, 2008)

Large US corporations use the invasion and occupation of Iraq to reap huge profits with no positive impact for the people of Iraq, according to Foreign Policy in Focus. Halliburton received US$8 billion for services such as running Iraq's oil infrastructure, transferring military fuel, and providing laundry for US troops. The Parsons Corporation failed to complete a multi-million US dollar contract to provide health clinics, schools, prisons and fire stations. The author concludes that film footage of two employees of Custer Battles - a company contracted to provide airport security - playing football with shrink-wrapped US$100 bills from the US government "provides one of the most enduring images of greed and corruption generated by the Iraq occupation."

"Information Confirms Secret Iraqi-US Deals to Control Wealth..." (May 19, 2008)

The US and Iraqi government signed a series of secret economic agreements in 2005 without ratification from the Iraqi Parliament, according to Al-Watan. US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick signed the bilateral deals with Iraq's finance minister, Ali Abdul Amir Alawi in Jordan outlining US-Iraq "investment opportunities." The agreements exempted US individuals and companies from taxes in Iraq, granted US citizens immunity from prosecution, and outlined a transitory plan to dismantle and privatize the Iraqi public sector in favor of US companies.

US Lawmakers Invested in Iraq, Afghanistan Wars (April 7, 2008)

According to this Inter Press Service article, over 25 percent of US Congress delegates have vested financial interests in the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. US lawmakers received anywhere from 15.8 million to 62 million dollars by investing in corporations granted contracts to work in the occupied countries. "However, not all the firms deal in arms or military equipment; corporations like Pepsico and Johnson & Johnson make soft drinks or medical supplies."

Blackwater's Employment Investigated (March 11, 2008)

Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Justice Department are reexamining the murder of seventeen civilians in Baghdad by the private security firm, Blackwater. Security personnel outnumber US troops in Iraq and remain immune from Iraqi law. House oversight committee Chairman Henry A. Waxman is calling for increased scrutiny of Blackwater, which violates domestic law by classifying their contractors as independents and thereby skirting millions of dollars in taxes. (Washington Post)

Top Iraq Contractor Skirts US Taxes Offshore (March 6, 2008)

"With an estimated $16 billion in contracts, Kellogg Brown & Root is by far the largest contractor in Iraq, with eight times the work of its nearest competitor." In 2002, KBR, a former subsidiary of Halliburton Corporation, signed a lucrative secret contract to rebuild the Iraqi oil industry with the Department of Defense, one year before the Iraq war even started and only two years after Vice President Dick Cheney resigned as the chief executive of Halliburton. (Boston Globe)

Ultra-Rich Lobby Group With Influence at Number Ten (February 12, 2008)

The UK government released documents exposing the details of meetings between Tony Blair and a lobbying group of the UK's wealthiest businessmen after a two year struggle to keep the information hidden from the public. The group consists of the "the heads of Britain's most powerful corporations," including influential international oil firms such as British Petroleum and Shell. The executive heads of BP and Shell pushed for less corporate regulation as an additional incentive for their continued support of the Iraq war. (Guardian)

2007

The Top 100 Private Contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan (November 20, 2007)

The Center for Public Integrity says US contracts with private security companies and construction firms has increased by 50 percent annually from US$11 billion in 2004 to US$25 billion in 2006. According to the Center, the recipients of contracts worth up to US$20 billion have only been identified by the US Defense and State Departments as "foreign contractors." Commentators suggest this signals the lack of accountability and oversight of government contracts. Number one on the list, construction firm, KBR won over US$16 billion in contracts from 2004 and 2006, nine times greater than that awarded to number two, private security firm, DynCorp International. Click here for the Top 100 List.

Iraqi Police Academy Remains Largely Unusable (November 6, 2007)

 

A US contractor, Parsons Corporation, testified before Congress that it would reconstruct the dilapidated Baghdad police academy. A year later in 2007 the academy still represents the failure of the Bush administration's US$45 billion reconstruction program. Witnesses say the plumbing does not work, there are deep cracks in the walls and ceilings are stained with sewerage. Inspectors blame the contractor for using poor quality concrete and pipes and the case has been referred to the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction to investigate possible fraud. Commentators criticize the reconstruction as it shows "wasteful spending and incompetent oversight." (New York Times)

Blackwater Bodyguards Promised Immunity (October 29, 2007)

During a US State Department investigation into the deaths of numerous Iraqi civilians, Blackwater guards were granted immunity from criminal prosecution. Legal commentators suggest the "Garrity immunity" is usually reserved for police or law enforcement officers. News of the immunity angers the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki demands that Iraq be allowed to prosecute the contractors. (Associated Press)

State Department Suspends Iraq Audit of DynCorp (October 23, 2007)

An audit of a US$1.2 billion contract with DynCorp International for the training of Iraqi police reveals that the State Department failed to oversee the contract and as a result its records and invoices do not account for most payments. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction suggests the US State Department suffers from "serious contract management issues" and is "vulnerable to waste and fraud." Despite these problems, DynCorp is the rumored replacement of Blackwater USA as the security service for diplomats in Iraq. (Common Dreams)

Making a Killing (October 15, 2007)

Jeremy Scahill argues that the September 16, 2007 shooting in Baghdad by Blackwater follows a long line of incidents in which the private security company has indiscriminately killed Iraqis. According to Scahill, in the last four years Iraqi officials tried unsuccessfully to contact the US government with their concerns about the impunity of the firm. However, despite evidence of widespread abuse, Blackwater continues to operate in Iraq and secure million dollar contracts for "diplomatic security services." (The Nation)

America's Own Unlawful Combatants? (October 15, 2007)

In the aftermath of the September 2007 Blackwater shootings, lawyers for the US State, Justice and Defense departments debate whether private security contractors fall under the same broad definition of "unlawful combatants" which the Bush administration uses to justify detentions in Guantanamo Bay. Legal commentators criticize the Bush administration for failing to clarify the legal status of contractors before putting them into military roles. (Los Angeles Times)

Guards Kill Two Women in Iraq (October 10, 2007)

Guards working for an Australian run private security company, Unity Resources Group, are accused of shooting and killing two women in Baghdad who were driving behind the company's convoy. The shooting comes less than a month after the deaths of numerous Iraqi civilians by the US security firm, Blackwater. In both cases, the Iraqi government argues that the contractors should be subject "œto justice, law and accountability." (Washington Post)

House OKs Bill to Prosecute Contractors (October 4, 2007)

The US House of Representatives passed a bill in which all private contractors working in Iraq and other "combat zones" will be subject to prosecution by US courts. In a statement, the White House criticizes the bill as having "intolerable consequences for crucial and necessary national security activities and operations." Despite opposition from the White House, the legislation signals a shift away from the immunity enjoyed by US contractors for crimes committed in Iraq. (Associated Press)

Report Says Firm Sought to Cover Up Iraq Shootings (October 2, 2007)

A report from Congress affirms long held concerns by Iraqi officials and civilians that the private security firm Blackwater "have repeatedly acted with reckless disregard for Iraqi life." The State Department has paid over US$832 million to Blackwater for diplomatic security services, but according to the report, the Department has done little to supervise the 861 employees working in Iraq. The report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform comes after the shooting of numerous Iraqi civilians by Blackwater employees. See report here. (New York Times)

It All Makes Sense Now - Blackwater and the ICC (October 1, 2007)

In this article, the author speculates whether the US opposition to the International Criminal Court (ICC) was part of a long term plan to provide immunity to contractors working for or on behalf of the US in Iraq. The Hague Invasion Act was passed by the US Congress in 2002, prior to the invasion of Iraq, and prohibits US courts from extraditing any person to the ICC. The author cites numerous atrocities committed by private security contractors working in Iraq including Blackwater USA, to demonstrate how these firms operate without any accountability to the ICC. (Tonic Blotter)

Iraq to End Contractor 'Immunity' (September 25, 2007)

The Iraqi interior ministry drafts legislation responding to the shooting of 11 Iraqis by employees of the private security firm Blackwater. Commentators suggest the legislation includes provisions which will remove the immunity granted to contractors under the Coalition Provisional Authority laws. Under the draft, contractors will be monitored by Iraq's interior ministry, they will be required to adhere to set guidelines and they will be subject to Iraqi law. The draft legislation signals the intention of the Iraq government to control contractors, who many Iraqis believe are "private armies acting with impunity on their soil." (BBC)

Security Firm Faces Criminal Charges in Iraq (September 23, 2007)

The Iraqi interior ministry is investigating a total of seven incidents involving the actions of private security firm Blackwater USA. Both the Iraqi and US governments are investigating the shooting of numerous Iraqi civilians in the Nisour area of Baghdad. The other six episodes being investigated involve the deaths of 10 Iraqis and 15 wounded in incidents during 2007. Iraqi officials say they will consider all seven incidents to determine the practical and legal consequences for Blackwater and other security firms operating in Iraq. (New York Times)

Those Who Blow Whistle on Contractor Fraud in Iraq Face Penalties (August 24, 2007)

The reconstruction of Iraq has been plagued with fraud, inflated contract costs, corruption and the disappearance of US$8.8 billion in Congressional funds. Despite the lack of accountability, many military officers, contractors and employees who have attempted to disclose cases of corruption have been fired or demoted. One senior adviser to the National Security Whistleblowers Coalition says there are no happy outcomes for those who have blown the whistle. (Santa Barbara News Press)

Iraqi Premier Says Blackwater Shootings Challenge His Nation’s Sovereignty (September 24, 2007)

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says the shootings of Iraqi civilians by the private security firm Blackwater presents a "serious challenge to the sovereignty of Iraq." According to Iraqi authorities, the September 16, 2007 shooting of 11 civilians in Baghdad is one of seven incidents involving Blackwater. Despite initial calls by the Iraqi government for the removal of Blackwater, Maliki has since said he will allow the firm to stay until an investigation is completed and in order to avoid a "security vacuum in the capital." (New York Times)

Iraq's Hired Hands Under Fire as the Pot of Gold Starts to Run Low (September 22, 2007)

The invasion of Iraq in 2003 saw an unprecedented hiring of private security contractors into positions once dominated by the military. According to the Guardian the boom for private security firms is coming to an end due to incidents with US firm, Blackwater, the "aggressive end of the market," and the tightening of US funding into Iraqi reconstruction projects. The annual global value of contracts with private military companies is estimated at 44.5 billion British pounds. Commentators believe that while US funding will not match previous amounts, there are still profits in Iraq for security companies. Aegis, a British firm secured a two year US$475 million contract for "reconstruction security support services" - the largest single deal in Iraq.

US Rushes to Smooth Iraq's Anger Over Blackwater (September 18, 2007)

Iraq's Interior Ministry has cancelled the license of the controversial US private security firm Blackwater after eight Iraqis were killed by employees of the firm. According to one US diplomat, the incident calls to attention the lack of control over security forces in Iraq who are operating unsupervised with "diplomatic immunity." The unprecedented ban caused concern in Washington as the US relies heavily on Blackwater, and other private firms, to provide security for diplomats and convoys. While no US security contractor has been prosecuted in US or Iraqi courts for any crime, legal commentators believe this ban may signal an opportunity for the Iraqi government to review Paul Bremers 2003 laws granting immunity to US contractors. (Los Angeles Times)

Iraq Weapons Are a Focus of Criminal Investigations (August 28, 2007)

The Army Criminal Investigation Command, the Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating discrepancies in military records and missing arms destined for Iraq. The inquiry has uncovered a wider ring of fraud and kickbacks relating to contracts worth billions of dollars. Several civilian and military personnel are being investigated, including a senior US officer close to General David Petraeus, for fraud in the "purchase and delivery of billions of dollars in weapons, supplies and other material to US and Iraqi forces." As of August 2007 as many as 73 criminal investigations are under way for contract fraud in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, indicating widespread accountability problems in the US military. (New York Times)

Iraqi Insurgents Taking Cut of US Rebuilding Money (August 27, 2007)

McClatchy Newspapers reveals that insurgents have extorted a large amount of US reconstruction funds through bribes and kickbacks to allow the safe passage of supplies through the roads they control. In order to cover such "insurgent taxes," Iraqi contractors inflate their price "up to four times" higher than what the actual reconstruction costs. As a result, reconstruction projects have been delayed and left unfinished. While the US government insists it puts measures in place to ensure the accountability of its reconstruction projects in Iraq, Fawzi Hariri, a member of the Iraqi cabinet, says the US rarely consults its Iraqi contractors to investigate how much money is spent on the reconstruction project, and where the money is going.

US Pays Millions In Cost Overruns For Security in Iraq (August 12, 2007)

The US military is spending large sums outsourcing military and intelligence work to private security contractors. Contracts signed between the US Defense Department and two private security companies, Aegis Defence Services and Erinys Iraq, have cost the US Army US$548 million in the last three years, US$200 million in excess of the budget. The size of these and other contracts contrasts with minimal spending on humanitarian relief for millions of displaced Iraqis. (Washington Post)

A Very Private War (August 1, 2007)

"What happens here today, stays here today" describes the attitude of some 48,000 employees of private military or mercenary firms working in Iraq. While private military firms take advantage of the billions of dollars in contracts offered by the US government, crimes committed in Iraq by employees of these firms have gone unpunished. Recent reports of civilian killings and violent incidents involving contractors of a US based mercenary firm Blackwater, highlight the lack of democratic control in the privatization of war. (Guardian)

Bechtel Meets Goals on Fewer Than Half of Its Iraq Rebuilding Projects, Study Finds (July 26, 2007)

The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq created profitable opportunities for US corporations. The US government awarded billions of dollars to contractors working in Iraq, yet most of the country's infrastructure remains dilapidated - due mainly to corporate misspending, corruption and a lack of oversight. According to an audit by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, only ten of the 24 job orders procured by US construction giant Bechtel "met their original objectives." (New York Times)

Silent Surge in Contractor "Armies" (July 18, 2007)

The number of civilian contractors providing key services for US forces in Iraq has risen "faster than the Pentagon's ability to track them."? According to some estimates, as many as 180,000 private contractors operate in Iraq - often with little oversight. In light of the rapid privatization of the Iraq war, some observers warn of a sinister new dimension of the "military-industrial complex." (Christian Science Monitor)

 

Private Security Contractors in Iraq: Background, Legal Status, and Other Issues (July 11, 2007)

The US uses private security contractors in Iraq to provide security services for individuals, nonmilitary convoys and to train Iraqi police and the military. Information on the costs of the contracts and the background and training of the contractors is not made public by the US military. In this report, the Congressional Research Service analyzes concerns in Congress about the accountability and transparency of security contracts. The report stresses the need for clarification on the legal status of private companies and their employees as a number of contractors are implicated in violent incidents in Iraq.

US Is Fighting a Contractor War (June 21, 2007)

The outsourcing of services that the US Army would normally undertake has considerably hiked up the cost of the war in Iraq. Billions of dollars in contracts have gone to underperforming private firms driven by "profits and personal safety considerations." As contractors seek to gain from the devastation in Iraq and at the expense of civilian wellbeing, the privatization of the Iraq conflict continues to grow "exponentially" and with little accountability. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

In Struggle to Rebuild, Iraq Fights Texas Firm (May 14, 2007)

This Wall Street Journal article points out that while most Iraqis have no access to electricity, the Iraqi government and a US private contractor are fighting over construction problems at a giant power plant in Musayyib. The Iraqi government has spent US$300 million, but the project has stalled and the company refuses to continue the construction, citing security concerns and payment delays. Iraqi officials have said there was corruption in the bidding process. The company had no previous experience in building large-scale power plants or working outside the US.

Four Hired Guns in an Armored Truck, Bullets Flying, and a Pickup and a Taxi Brought to a Halt. Who Did the Shooting and Why? (April 15, 2007)

This Washington Post article describes three shooting incidents involving Jacob Washbourne, a private security contractor working for a US company in Iraq who, prior to the shootings, told his colleagues about his desire to "kill somebody today." While reports differ, witnesses agree that Washbourne warned other contractors not to report the incidents. Although Washbourne was fired and there was a brief company investigation, no military investigation or prosecution for the alleged crimes has occurred.

Making a Killing: America's Private Army and the Business of War (March 25, 2007)

The US is privatizing the Iraq War and private military contractors constitute the second largest forces in the country. According to the Government Accountability Project, 48,000 of these contractors work as mercenaries, approximately six times the number of British troops in Iraq. Yet, they operate with no legal constraints as they have immunity under Iraqi law and, further, neither US nor international law applies to them. The private soldiers serve US political interests as their deaths are not included in the death toll. (Fault Lines)

Mystery of Missing Meters: Accounting for Iraq's Oil Revenue (March 22, 2007)

After four years of occupation, the US has not fixed the oil meters in Iraq, allowing between 200,000 and 500,000 barrels a day to disappear. Although the two companies hired to fix the oil fields, Halliburton and Parsons, have millions of dollars to spend and substantial experience with oil infrastructure in Iraq, they have not made the necessary repairs citing security reasons. The lack of oil meters allows smugglers to divert billions of dollars in oil. Neither the US, nor private contractors have provided good explanations for failing to fix the problem, suggesting that there are vested interests benefiting from the absence of oil meters. (CorpWatch)

US Expects Iraq Prison Growth (March 14, 2007)

This Washington Post article reveals that the US government is enlarging its two major prisons in Iraq, Camp Bucca and Camp Cropper, expecting that the new Baghdad Security Plan will add thousands of prisoners to the 17,000 detainees already held by US forces. Further, the US is privatizing the penitentiary system, importing the food served and outsourcing almost all the services in prisons to private companies, instead of hiring local staff and creating more jobs in Iraq.

'Mercenaries' to Fill Iraq Troop Gap (February 25, 2007)

This Scotsman article reveals that the UK government is privatizing the Iraq War, replacing the soldiers who have been withdrawing with "mercenaries." Since the beginning of the occupation, the British government has already paid 160million pounds sterling to private security companies and these firms could expect more lucrative work during the "post-occupation phase." Pressure groups have continually warned that the British government has failed to control the activities of these companies, allowing mercenaries to operate completely outside the law.

Our Mercenaries in Iraq (January 25, 2007)

Private military companies constitute the second largest forces in Iraq after US troops, with about 48,000 private soldiers. Yet, they are working with almost no oversight or effective legal constraints. This Los Angeles Times article discusses the meaning of privatizing the national war machine and warns of the risk of the rising power of the "military-industrial complex" for democracy.

Why the US Is Not Leaving Iraq: The Booming Business of War Profiteers (January 12, 2007)

This Global Research article argues that the US is not withdrawing from Iraq because of the unwillingness of the war profiteers to give up "further fortunes and spoils of war." The lucrative business of deconstruction and reconstruction has sent over 100,000 service contractors and sub-contractors to Iraq, a number approaching the size of the US military contingent in the country. Reports show that despite billions of dollars being spent, key pieces of Iraq's infrastructure either remain damaged or have been so poorly repaired that they do not function. Further, this piece shows that several contractors have connections with the White House and they have acquired not only the power to benefit from war, but also to promote war.