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Friday, October 5, 2007

The Hitmen's Hitman

Michael McConnell, the director of the secretive National Intelligence, may have gained infamy for his repeated threat that any discussion or debate about the NSA's domestic surveillance program that spies on it's own citizens would kill Americans, "Americans are going to die,"
But it gets juicier...

He also happens to be one of the "principal architect[s] of the system that led to the Blackwater USA disaster"
He is the former senior vice president of a 10,000-strong private army, Booz Allen Hamilton. Then he chaired the private security industry's lobby group, the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. He argues for privatization: government should outsource soldiering to private firms in the same spirit as it outsources weapons development. Is it still any surprise why the US government signs these lucrative no-bid contracts with private firms at the expense of the American tax-payer?

The mercenary firm Blackwater has been getting its share of heat recently for taking advantage of their unchallenged license to kill. Or maybe it's because American tax-payers fully subsidize that license, first by training most of the contractors in the US military, then by paying their hefty salaries in the private market afterwards.

Even Defense Secretary Gates laments that "sometimes the salaries (private firms) are able to pay in fact lure some of our soldiers out of the service to go to work for them."
As journalist Frank Viviano notes,

Blackwater USA charges an astronomical $1,222 per day for each of the security workers it provides to the State Department. By contrast, the pay, housing and support costs of a veteran U.S. Army sergeant in Iraq is around $150 per day, according to the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

It's about time Congress does more to prevent such egregious, costly atrocities that have been sanctioned at the highest levels to this point.

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