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Unaccountable: Private Military Contractor Abuses

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Unaccountable: Private Military Contractor Abuses - by Stephen Lendman

PMC's operate unaccountably outside the law.

Wherever they're deployed, they're menacing and feared for good reason. Known historically by various names, they include mercenaries, soldiers of fortune, dogs of war, and Condottieri for wealthy city state leaders and the Papacy in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance Italy.

Ancient Greeks and Romans used them. So did Alexander the Great, feudal lords, Napoleon and George Washington against the British.

Article 47 of the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions calls them anyone:

  • specially recruited locally or abroad to fight in armed conflicts;

  • directly participating in hostilities:

  • doing so for greater private gain than conscripted or otherwise recruited combatants;

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  • acting unaffiliated to conflict parties and not a resident of territory where they're waged;

  • not an armed forces member of either side; and

  • not sent by a nation unrelated to hostilities as a member of its armed forces.

During the 1990s, America privatized military functions to let mercenaries serve in place of conventional forces. They're used tactically as combatants, for training, advice, personal security, technical expertise, intelligence gathering, weapons systems management, transportation, and other non-combatant functions.

In May 2011, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) said as of March 2011, the Defense Department (DOD) "had more contractor personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq (155,000) than uniformed personnel (145,000)."

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In 2010, an estimated 260,000 of all types were used globally, including by the State Department and USAID.

Some analysts call DOD figures understated. The General Accounting Office (GOA) says they're approximations at best and shouldn't be used for precise analysis. DOD acknowledges data shortcomings, including costs. Estimates exceed $300 billion annually. 

Given black budgets and enormous amounts of waste, fraud, and abuse, precise figures are hard to verify. A recent joint congressional investigation estimated around $60 billion. Misappropriations, corruption, and other forms of malfeasance may, in fact, be much greater.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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