The matter of Private Military Contractors (PMC), currently placed before the chamber is a difficult case, with far-reaching implications, irrespective of the outcome that will be adopted (Congress of the United States, 2008). Blackwater (currently Xe) is one of these companies which had a heavy presence in Iraq during the American-led invasion. This company was contracted to provide security in addition, to other services during the process. Several cases of improper behavior have been filed against them after their reckless behavior caused harm and death to several civilians.
In light of this, the house committee is required to carry out an in-depth assessment of the situation, to determine if a penance should be meted out on the group. This will require the house to divide itself into groups, one tasked with finding fault in their operations, while the other works to absolve them of any wrongdoing. After extensive research based on several documents, they are to present their case before a special committee, with the defense presenting their case first. The committee will listen to both arguments and deliberate before pronouncing a verdict (Congress of the United States, 2008).
It should be noted that all Blackwater operatives boast of prior military experience, having served in the American forces or any other force of America’s allies. This guarantees the existence of an experienced and well-skilled workforce, hence a higher success rate in the tasks they undertake. As a result, statistics show that none of the persons under Blackwater surveillance has lost a life. This is a testament to their dedication and competence in the field and in the tasks they perform. It should be remembered that Blackwater is a private security firm, hence does not engage in military offense. This is a feat they have achieved so far by sticking to the provision of defense services as is stated in their mandate.
It goes without question that these constructors play a pivotal role, and are at the heart of American operations in Iraq. They provide invaluable assistance in the restructuring of systems by military operatives, in addition, to protecting top American diplomats. On several occasions, their services have been extended to cover high-profile officials of different nationalities, and global institutions, for example, the United Nations. As a testament to the importance attached to their services, they have been offered contracts to provide security during high-profile meetings in known hot spots and other areas known to be high-risk zones (Scahill, 2007). Lastly, Blackwater operatives have been involved in training local security forces in anticipation of the military withdrawal.
Terminating Blackwater operations would constitute illegality. This is because their contract was reduced by the government, and allowed to run until 2011. Any action contrary to this will result in lawsuits that will cost the taxpayer millions of dollars. It should be remembered that since their operations are financed by the taxpayer (to the tune of $6 million to $10 million), this move would cost citizens more money, which could be put to better use (Congress of the United States, 2008).
As a result of the nature of their work, these persons have to be armed. Official statistics reveal that the vast majority of these persons are armed while on duty. The fact that not all these contractors are hired by the United States government makes coordination efforts difficult (Constantine, 2009). As a result of this, the possibilities of indiscipline cases increase tenfold. For example, several incidents have been reported where an exchange of fire was reported between the operatives and local forces or criminals. In extreme circumstances, Blackwater operatives are reported to have taken the lives of several Iraqi civilians in the course of their operations.
Most perturbing is the fact that a majority of these people were unarmed at the time of these happenings (The New York Times, 2010). Their attempts to rationalize these happenings are unconvincing since they attempt to hide under the pretext of self-defense. Photographic evidence has also been compiled by the Iraqi government showing indiscriminate killing without provocation or prior confrontation.
Most of the contracts executed by this firm originated from the American government, with a large percentage being issued exclusively. These happenings contravene laws on equality of opportunities and resources as specified in the constitution. Had these contracts been advertised publicly, more offers would have been evaluated hence giving the best value for money. This preference by the government creates an unfair monopoly, thereby locking a majority of interested service providers out of business (Scahill, 2007). Since provisions for such actions are non-existent in the constitution, it is evident that the government is perpetrating acts of impunity by violating the same law that put it in office.
The company has been under fire for fiscal malpractices. It is well known that employers should pay insurance premiums for their employees, including medical cover, and social security among many more. It is a pity that Blackwater has repeatedly evaded this responsibility due to its employee structure. They are believed to treat all their agents as individual contractors, effectively passing on the tax burden to them. This implies that after paying their corporate taxes, they pocket supernormal profits while their employees continue spending more than they should (Scahill, 2007).
These PMC operatives operate under a different set of rules and regulations from the military. It should also be noted, that they receive commands from a different hierarchical setup. This makes it difficult to employ their services in the same field as military officers since coordinating their operations with respect to mission objectives and parameters will be difficult. As a result of this, the commander has a difficult time in discharging his duties, which may include restricting movements of persons, in addition, to altering personnel routines with respect to the prevailing circumstances. To counter this, most operatives are posted to field missions under commanders, albeit with little success (The New York Times, 2010).
Drawing from the points highlighted above, it is evident that terminating their services would be the best option for all parties involved. Despite the cost implications, compensations resulting from lawsuits by affected parties may cost the exchequer more. It should be noted that laws governing such operatives are located in international treaties, as opposed to constitutions of individual states. As a result, jurisdiction is difficult, since nations subscribe to these conventions at will. This creates an unfair playing ground, for example, while America and its allies have opted to conform, Iraq has opted not to conform. As a result of this, relating with each other and achieving consensus on basic issues is hard.
By taking the lives of innocent civilians, these organizations engage in crimes against humanity. Combat and general military operation guidelines prohibit armed personnel from opening fire on unarmed civilians. Several regulations, which argue against indiscriminate shooting also, exist. It is perturbing, that despite all these measures existing, reports of civilians losing their lives still surface. This implies a degree of incompetence and insubordination, which may be harmful in the long run (Scahill, 2007).
Most importantly, these companies endanger the lives of their operatives. The complexities in their employment structure effectively serve to deter them from bearing liability for any harm that may befall their employees (Constantine, 2009). Hiring people as private contractors effectively absolves the employer from shouldering any responsibility pertaining to the employees. They do not provide any insurance cover for their employees despite having deployed them to high-risk zones.
Constantine, A. (2009). Veteran’s Today Web Site: “American Gangsters: Jsoc, Blackwater and Phony Everything”. Anti-Fascist Encyclopedia. Web.
Congress of the United States. (2008). Contractors’ Support of U.S. Operations in Iraq. Congressional budget office.
Scahill, J. (2007). Iraqis Sue Blackwater for Baghdad Killings. The Nation. Web.
Scahill, J. (2007). Jeremy Scahill on Blackwater. Bill Moyers Journal. Web.
The New York Times. (2010). Blackwater Worldwide. Business Day. Web.