Chapter 1 - Down The Rabbit-Hole
A few years ago, there was a commercial for broadband internet. It showed this guy browsing at incredible speed ‘til a window pops up saying “You have reached the end of the Internet.”
So, if you were unfortunate enough to end up here, we reckon it’s for one of two reasons. Either (a) you came here looking to find “Blackwater,” or (b) you’ve been surfing for way too long.
If it’s (b), let’s just be frank about it: You have reached the end of the Internet. Matter of fact, you have reached the low-rent, back-alley dead end of the Internet. There simply aren’t any more pages to surf, and you really need to think about getting out and doing something productive in the real world.
But if it’s (a) ... ah, if it’s (a), you are in the right place, my friend.
You see, given the trainwreck that is
While the U.S. military has used civilian contractors to provide it services pretty much since the first mule train pulled out behind a Revolutionary War column, that use has exploded since the days of (contractors) Layfayette, von Steuben, and the boys. Again, if you’re here, this probably isn’t news to you. And, much as some want it to be, it’s not solely due to the devil Bush. E.g., as Doug Brooks of IPOA notes, “the
Out of the herd of government contractors swarming over scenic
The Director of PSCAI estimated in March of 2006 that there were more than 180 PSC’s in country. And, when it comes to private security companies, there is one name that comes up over and over. It’s the 800lb gorilla in the room. Blackwater
Which is interesting, really. Although they are no doubt a big fish in the security field, there are other strong players that have bigger overall revenues or are more representative of given issues: Aegis Defence Services; ArmorGroup; Erinys International; Control Risks; Olive Group; Triple Canopy; DynCorp.
For example, if you want to talk about PSC support to DoD
But Blackwater ... they’re the ones that Scahill is building his book fortune on, they’re the ones that Congress wants to testify, the ones the media hounds, the bloggers attack, and even the jihadis write about. E.g., check out the Technorati numbers on Blackwater versus any other PSC names above.
Here in the States, We the People love to debate things. It’s wonderful. Vibrant public policy debate is a cornerstone of democracy. These big issues of accountability, cost, and control merit close inspection. But we also have a history of conducting that public debate based on facts, reasoned inquiry, and careful consideration.
A public debate on PSC’s is underway, and it will only become more fierce in the months ahead. Unfortunately, it is today a debate fueled by half-truths, misleading statements, urban myth, and outright lies. And, whether or not they are the best exemplar to be the foundation of the debate, Blackwater is at the heart of the storm.
They are as good a strawman as any other. And, if the steady drumbeat of more informed, more professional observers, e.g., Robert Y. Pelton or Peter Singer, can't manage to steer the discussion toward rational debate of the entire industry vice hysteria over one player, this little blog here in the seedy backwaters of the web sure won’t.
But, maybe there is something to be done. Maybe it can deflate some of the hysteria, and debunk a little of the crazy, half-baked nonsense that people on –both- the extremist left and the radical right spout about PSC’s via their assertions on Blackwater.
In the end, it’s your choice about PSC’s, and the national strawman, Blackwater.
Love ‘em or hate ‘em, we don’t much care. But what say the public policy debate be based on fact, not fantasy?
Next time: The Pool of Tears or, Jabberwocky in New Orleans.