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Blackwater about to be awarded a new contract in Afghanistan – who’s going to stop them?

It seems Blackwater is on the verge of winning a huge new contract to provide "police training and logistics" in Afghanistan:

Controversial defense contractor Blackwater, now known as Xe, is being told that it is likely to win a major contract to do police training and logistics in Afghanistan, a source tells POLITICO.

According to the well-informed source, U.S. authorities in Iraq including Gen. Stan McChrystal and US Ambasador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry had urged the Defense Department to issue the police training contract through DoD as opposed to through State/International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. DoD decided to use existing contract vehicles, where there are only five primes to use: Lockheed, Raytheon, Northrup, Arinc (owned by the Carlyle Group), and Blackwater.

Of those five, two decided not to bid, including Raytheon. Arinc’s parent company, Carlyle, got cold feet, was fearful that the contract could hurt the company’s reputation if people got killed. Lockheed was close to making a deal with DynCorp to do the police training, but decided against it. Instead it bid on the logistics part of the contract. (The contract has two parts– police training (TORP 150), and logistics (TORP 166). Northrup decided to bid on the police training contract with MPRI.

The only company to bid on both parts of the contract — police training and logistics — was Blackwater, the source said.

The contract is valued at $1 billion.

Meanwhile, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday, Senators critisized Blackwater’s conduct in Afghanistan:

Levin, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said that if the United States is going to win the war in Afghanistan, "we need to know that our contractor personnel are adequately screened, supervised, and held accountable — because in the end the Afghan people will hold us responsible for their actions."

He also warned that "if we don’t fix the problems of oversight and make sure contractors like Blackwater play by the rules and live up to their commitments — we’ll be doing a disservice to our troops by making their already difficult and dangerous job even more so."

Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Missouri, said the U.S. mission is experiencing setbacks because of the lack of oversight of military contractors.

"We have two sets of rules and one image," she said. Until that changes, "we’re going to continue to be stalled on progress in terms of accomplishing this mission."

This comes with an investigation by the Committee that shows Blackwater had little regard for policies and rules, doing such things as signing over 200 AK-47s to one "Eric Cartman."

What can be done?

Let’s put two and two together. Blackwater breaks the rules. Senators say Blackwater breaks the rules. Senators say something needs to change, that more "oversight" is needed. And Blackwater is up for a new, $1 billion contract.

Seems like these Senators have a ton of leverage and are in an excellent position to do something about the Blackwater situation.

How about they start with blocking that contract? To go further, they could join with Senator Sanders and Representative Schakowsky and co-sponsor the "Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act" which phases out these mercenaries in favor of real, honest-to-god military members doing our national security work.

Whatever they do, they’ve got the power right now to make sure Blackwater plays by the rules, or ideally never works for the U.S. government again. So, will they do something about it?

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Jason Rosenbaum

Jason Rosenbaum

Writer, musician, activist. Currently consulting for Bill Halter for U.S. Senate and a fellow at the New Organizing Institute.