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October 9, 2008 4:32 AM   Subscribe

Ain't this cute: The US State Dept. has outsourced a Private military contractor to investigate Blackwater. There are still some questions in the air for U.S. Investigations Services (USIS) regarding Ted Westhusing. There is Controversy In The Military; Will Anything Change? Remember that Military Rules Don't Apply when Outsourcing Fear. ( Related 1, 2, 3 ).
posted by adamvasco (41 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
Details from the second link:
According to a contract obtained by ABC News, the company was hired to supplement Diplomatic Security personnel. However, the eight USIS contractors hired for the team represent the majority of the full-time team, an apparent violation of federal regulations that prohibit such work by contractors.

According to Federal Acquisition Regulation part 7.5, it is not permissible to hire contractors for jobs "considered to be inherently governmental functions" including "the direct conduct of criminal investigations."
posted by pracowity at 5:02 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Following a link from the Controversy in the Military link:

Pat Tillman's Brother Breaks His Silence:
...

"Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started."

...

"In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don't be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation"
Wow. Props.
posted by clearly at 5:05 AM on October 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


The US State Dept. has outsourced a Private military contractor to investigate Blackwater.

Apparently the original poster didn't even bother to read the headline of the article posted. State used contractors to fill positions. Why would they do a horrible thing like that? Because Congress hasn't passed a budget yet and therefore there is a hiring freeze. Despite the freeze, State feels it is important enough to continue investigating these incidents, therefore they have to hire someone to fill the many, many empty support job slots.

If you don't like contractors doing jobs, then call your congressperson and tell them 1)pass a fucking budget and 2) give the State Department enough money to fill its thousands of empty positions so that they can do the work that keeps us from having to go to war!
posted by Pollomacho at 5:12 AM on October 9, 2008


From wikipedia:

"Since June 2004, Blackwater has been paid more than $320 million out of a $1 billion, five-year State Department budget for the Worldwide Personal Protective Service, which protects U.S. officials and some foreign officials in conflict zones."

The State Department is appointing the commission to investigate the operations of an organization who is responsible for a billion dollars worth of their protection in hostile areas.

Conflict of Fucking Interests.
posted by clearly at 5:15 AM on October 9, 2008


I'm sure the investigation will be just as productive as the search for the $2 trillion the pentagon is missing, as the work done by SaintCynr or

+++ATH0

NO CARRIER
posted by rough ashlar at 5:17 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Once we've socialized the banks and privitized the army the neocons' goofy plan will be complete!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:21 AM on October 9, 2008 [6 favorites]


Pollomacho: I don't have a congressman. Your country is fucking up my world firstly with your imperialism and now with your corporate thieves. I appreciate it when someone in your country tries just a little bit to unfuck it. Obviously that person is not you. My Lawn...off....get. Thank you. Concerned European and believer in Democracy and open government.
posted by adamvasco at 5:25 AM on October 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


Pollomacho, I do not know where to start.

1. "give the State Department enough money to fill its thousands of empty positions so that they can do the work that keeps us from having to go to war!" ... Do you honestly think that anyone in the State Department had any input whatsoever in our decision to invade Afghanistan of Iraq besides confirming faulty or fraudulent intelligence?

2. "State feels it is important enough to continue investigating these incidents" ... by contracting the job out to a group already under investigation for very similar wrongdoings. Do you think that USIS has any incentive whatsoever to dig up anything on Blackwater when any damning conclusions will inherently undermine future luctarive contracts for military contractors?

3. Passing the fucking budget is a feature, not a bug of our government. It subjects the whim of our Commander in Chief to monetary oversight by a separate branch of government.
posted by clearly at 5:37 AM on October 9, 2008


4. What adam said.
posted by clearly at 5:39 AM on October 9, 2008


I don't have a congressman.

That makes two of us, adamvasco, except I'm an American. Of all the agencies in the US government that you could choose to point to American imperialism and neocon excess you choose the State Department though, really? If there is any organization in Washington that will raise a collective sigh of releif on January 20th, it is most certainly the State Department.

I appreciate it when someone in your country tries just a little bit to unfuck it.

I don't think you understand what is going on. This investigative team has no staff. Let me repeat that, IT HAS NO STAFF. The reason they have no staff is because they have no money for Federal Employees. The way that the US government staffs important projects when they have a hiring freeze is they use money that they were allocated for program budgets. Because of personnel rules this money can't go towards more staff, with an exception. It can be used to hire contractors to fulfill support tasks. Yes, corporations should not be used to fill the gaps in government, we have Reaganomics to thank for that, but, we also shouldn't let important tasks, like investigating the use of excessive force, go without any work being done, should we?

My Lawn...off....get.

I'm sorry, when did Iraq become your lawn? Why is it OK then for you to tell the US how to manage its affairs?
posted by Pollomacho at 5:49 AM on October 9, 2008


Do you honestly think that anyone in the State Department had any input whatsoever in our decision to invade Afghanistan of Iraq besides confirming faulty or fraudulent intelligence?

Yes, her name is Condoleeza Rice. She runs the place (for a few more weeks). But other than that, I do think that diplomats are working to keep us out of many conflicts that our dipshit of a President nearly gets us embroiled in.

Do you think that USIS has any incentive whatsoever to dig up anything on Blackwater when any damning conclusions will inherently undermine future luctarive contracts for military contractors?

Do you think Coke would like to be able to provide support staff for health inspections at Pepsi plants? Do I think this is the best way to run governmen business? Let me be clear, NO.

Passing the fucking budget is a feature, not a bug of our government. It subjects the whim of our Commander in Chief to monetary oversight by a separate branch of government.

Actually no. Funds are allocated or not by Congress to budget items specifie by executive agencies, not the reverse. Congress doesn't just give a lump sum to State and say, "OK now go be diplomatty. Here Defense, go get yourself something shiny." They provide funds line by line, including for personnel. When budgets don't get passed, projects don't happen, staff don't get hired. No matter how badly they need a new person, tough shit. What they can do is determine which roles can be filled by contracted labor and staff those with contractors.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:01 AM on October 9, 2008


"What they can do is determine which roles can be filled by contracted labor and staff those with contractors."

and from the abc article...

"According to Federal Acquisition Regulation part 7.5, it is not permissible to hire contractors for jobs "considered to be inherently governmental functions" including "the direct conduct of criminal investigations."

I am waaay past trying to justify the actions of the State Department with anything but malicious intent.

The same Condoleeza Rice who gave Blackwater a billion dollars worth of contracts to protect State Department officials using shoot first ask questions later tactics. The same Condoleeza Rice who not even a year ago expressed reservations about bringing these mercenary contractors under the military justice system after they failed to fall under any other jurisdiction. Now, with pressure coming from the families of dead Blackwater soldiers, not for justice, but for the release of the records regarding the deaths of their loved ones, Rice sees it fit to investigate a shady as fuck Blackwater with a no better USIS.

There is no need to defend these people, the contractors, or the administration who foots their bills.
posted by clearly at 6:30 AM on October 9, 2008


Given that we've started a war after already being in a war I'd say that pretty much puts the State Department on top as a shining beacon of neocon excess and American imperialism. (Sure, for pure neocon excess, the prize goes to the justice department....)

Also, we've been pretty aggressive about telling every other country how to manage their affairs and then throwing an embarrassing little tantrum when they didn't listen. Remember freedom fries? Remember also that the State Department has been real puzzled lately why NATO isn't exactly eager to help us out in Afghanistan. Maybe the State Department needs a dot connecting consultant.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:31 AM on October 9, 2008


Why is it OK then for you to tell the US how to manage its affairs?

No American has any right to say anything that sounds even vaguely like "Who are you to tell us how to manage our affairs?" The history of the last century is the United States telling the rest of the world how it's going to be and expecting to be obeyed.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:42 AM on October 9, 2008 [3 favorites]


I am waaay past trying to justify the actions of the State Department with anything but malicious intent... There is no need to defend these people, the contractors, or the administration who foots their bills.

I guess that's the difference between someone who is far removed from Washington and someone who lives here. I don't equate Condaleeza Rice and Bush with the State Department as a whole at all. I recall when a Foreign Service Officer accused Rice, to her face, at a public forum of sentencing him to a death sentence if she forced State employees to serve involuntarily in Iraq. I don't equate any Federal agency with Bush and pals when I see things like the DC electorate voting against him 9 to 1, the number one employer in this town being the Fed.

Remember freedom fries?

Yes, that was Congress, you know, the people that the rest of America sends to Washington to represent them.

Remember also that the State Department has been real puzzled lately why NATO isn't exactly eager to help us out in Afghanistan.

Who's puzzled? Everyone knows why this is, even Bush.

Also, we've been pretty aggressive about telling every other country how to manage their affairs and then throwing an embarrassing little tantrum when they didn't listen.

It's true, the US does like to meddle in others affairs. I won't argue with you there. I'm not sure which tantrums you are pointing to other than John Bolton, who was an embarrasing little tantrum in himself, but then again, he was an appointee.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:45 AM on October 9, 2008


No American has any right to say anything that sounds even vaguely like "Who are you to tell us how to manage our affairs?" The history of the last century is the United States telling the rest of the world how it's going to be and expecting to be obeyed.

Actually, I have the right to say whatever I want, but beside that I'm not arguing that the US hasn't fucked around with every government on earth in te last 50 or 60 years. We are big bullies, sure, I agree totally, but that is a distraction from the point of this thread which is to attack the actions of a government agency based upon an incorrect interpritation of an action.
posted by Pollomacho at 6:52 AM on October 9, 2008


And thus begins the Mercenary Wars.
posted by quin at 7:46 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do you think Coke would like to be able to provide support staff for health inspections at Pepsi plants?

I think a better analogy might be do you think Coke would like to investigate the health effects of drinking Pepsi?
posted by finite at 8:02 AM on October 9, 2008


Left hand: "Right hand, you need to let me know what all your fingers are doing."

Right hand: "Sure, I'll get right on that." ::raises middle finger to entire country::
posted by FatherDagon at 8:19 AM on October 9, 2008


I wish the Republicans would stop calling for less government. If anything what America needs the most at the moment is oversight of it's oversight.

The amount of corruption that's essentially common knowledge and yet nothing is done about just appalls me. And the lies politicians tell and that the news media doesn't take them to task for. Saying no to a bridge after the cash is handed over for instance... And I know it's just as bad over here, but we're polite, so it's far less brazen.

I'm trying my hardest not to explode with rage at American politics in the run up to an election I thought might change things, but instead we have McCain who has lied to us for years, Little Miss (Batshit) Bush, and Obama who just pisses me off now for not having some fucking balls.
posted by opsin at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2008


a dot connecting consultant.

c'est moi, cheap @ 2K euros / day

oh wait, that's dotbuster... oops RTFT
posted by infini at 9:13 AM on October 9, 2008


Intelligence study finds chaos in Afghanistan: report
posted by infini at 9:22 AM on October 9, 2008


up next, grants available for researching frequency of snarks on MeFi
posted by infini at 9:23 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


And thus begins the Mercenary Wars.

You know all those old Westerns, where there were some rival gangs of thug cowboys fighting for control of the town, the gulch, the supply lines, and so on? Carving up the assets, doing whatever they liked, destroying the saloon on an average drunken weekend?

Remember how there was always the technical presence of law enforcement, and the vague threat of official government troops that might, in theory, someday come to swat them down and restore order?

Of course, the government was so poor, understaffed and overextended that it couldn't possibly control the outlaw gangs who really ran the West, so the thug cowboys would sit around and say "Oooooh, the cavalry might come, ha-ha-ha!" and chomp on their cigars while they plotted to kill off the rival thug-cowboys, drink more, and smash more saloons. They knew they could just disregard and ignore the government, which could never afford to interfere, anyway.

So... yeah, that. I'm thinking a remake set in about 2018 could work.
posted by rokusan at 9:42 AM on October 9, 2008 [4 favorites]


If anything what America needs the most at the moment is oversight.

Based on the debates so far, and whatever seems to happen when McCain talks like he's still in 1983, connecting "less government" with "less oversight" has been one of the most effective leitmotifs of the Obama campaign so far, I think.

They've successfully neutered the "big bad government" argument in this way, I think, and all they had to was nudge their chins toward New Orleans, HMOs, Iraq and Wall Street a few times.

"Smaller government" has always been a codeword for "less regulation", and I think a lot of people are finally connecting the dots, there.
posted by rokusan at 9:46 AM on October 9, 2008


Despite the freeze, State feels it is important enough to continue investigating these incidents, therefore they have to hire someone to fill the many, many empty support job slots.

And the real reason "State feels it's important enough to continue investigating these incidents" with such truly desperate haste is that they only have a few months left to cobble together a whitewash of Blackwater in an attempt to forestall the strong probability of a real investigation by a new administration-- a real investigation which could very well expose a pattern of corruption, murder and treason originating among the mercenaries and reaching into the highest levels of the Bush administration.
posted by jamjam at 9:54 AM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


Pollomacho writes "go be diplomatty"

Lord knows I try ...
posted by krinklyfig at 10:04 AM on October 9, 2008


Pollomacho writes "I'm sorry, when did Iraq become your lawn? Why is it OK then for you to tell the US how to manage its affairs?"

When did it become OK for the US to tell Iraq how to manage its affairs? It certainly expected the world to help it in doing so. How has it affected fuel prices worldwide? How has it affected the world economy?
posted by krinklyfig at 10:06 AM on October 9, 2008


I tend to agree with jamjam on the real impetus behind this decision, but I want to thank Pollomacho for saving the thread from all the hand-wavy hairpulling generalities it was drowning in.

Though I suspect that this is one of those moments when I fail to identify the otherwise well-known political slant of a MeFi member and agree that everything they say must be wrong.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2008


rokusan: "So... yeah, that. I'm thinking a remake set in about 2018 could work.

So HBO confirmed season 4 of Deadwood for 2018? That sucks. 10 year wait. Crap.
posted by cjorgensen at 10:28 AM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Will the remake be called Deadwater?

::rimshot::

posted by quin at 10:41 AM on October 9, 2008


"Smaller government" has always been a codeword for "less regulation", and I think a lot of people are finally connecting the dots, there.

Smaller government is a codeword for more contractors. Republicans have never actually done anything to shrink the size of the government, they just reduce the number of notoriously lefty Federal workers and replace them with sweetheart deals for contractors with "veterans preferences", aka defense contractor subsidiaries that offer "government services" under the nominative leadership of retired Pentago brass. In this way they avoid having to hire workers for more than bare minimum wages, with Fed tenure track and Fed benefits and give the money instead directly to their friends who are more likely to spend it on their political campaigns. It's called graft, but Republicans generally prefer to call it by the more populist sounding name, "Privitization."
posted by Pollomacho at 10:49 AM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]


To be fair, I blame the Republicans for this, but I haven't seen any Democrats doing anything to stop it so I suppose they deserve at least some of the blame.
posted by Pollomacho at 10:51 AM on October 9, 2008


I want to thank Pollomacho...

Agree totally, Durn Bronzefist, Pollomacho's comments have made this a much better thread than it would have been without them.
posted by jamjam at 12:52 PM on October 9, 2008


My Lawn...off....get
Two words from my Hometown
Extraordinary and Rendition.
posted by adamvasco at 2:01 PM on October 9, 2008


I'd love to see a day when a US President will try to cut heavy in the Defense Budget, because then we'll see the true face of this huge army who already took control over the country.
posted by zouhair at 2:46 PM on October 9, 2008


Sometimes when I have only profanity in my mind after reading a post, I try not to comment.
...Of course sometimes profanity is so perfectly applicable to a situation...


“And thus begins the Mercenary Wars.”

I’d have fun. I mean, talk about a target rich environment. Mercs are shy only of Nazis, hitmen and murderous pedophiles in terms of being socially acceptable to kill them. Oh, I know some folks who do that work. I respect their professionalism. Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t kill them if they coughed too loudly too near my wife or kid or something.
*cough*
*Bam bam bam bam!*
Oh, sorry man. You have a head cold. Sorry. Meh. Whatever, I’ll call you an ambulance or a cab or something.
posted by Smedleyman at 3:43 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]


Private Wars: The Renaissance of Western Mercenary Warfare
posted by infini at 12:42 AM on October 10, 2008


I'd love to see a day when a US President will try to cut heavy in the Defense Budget, because then we'll see the true face of this huge army who already took control over the country.

No, you don't, because then you'd see the true face of the huge army that....

Seriously, I think you're using the word 'army' badly here. Every genuine military person I know has as much disgust for Blackwater et al as the rest of us, since they are sullying the nobler parts of their profession. At best, they consider Blackwater types their own 'fallen', and there is a lot of friction, there.

As a second data point, I recall a rumbling, almost ominous discontent in the Military two years ago, when the idea that "the Generals" would be blamed for Iraq was floating around. I found that a very interesting time. Note that today "the Generals" are given the highest possible kid-gloves respect in political speeches about Iraq.

My point is that the Military, should serious push come to nightmare shove, could conceivably save the country from any looming privately-run death squads and for-profit prison camps. The Military may have its share of crazy nutjob killers who follow orders without question, but it is also, I am sure, home to some of the nation's best and most genuine patriots.

There are situations where even the highest-ranking officers may disregard orders. They're unusual and extreme, but they're not unprecedented, and their edges were being nibbled very recently. I get the strong sense that there are lines that have been drawn, very recently: orders which this President knows he may not issue.
posted by rokusan at 2:04 PM on October 10, 2008 [1 favorite]


This paper was presented at the Alexandre de Gusmão Foundation and the International Relations Research Institute's (IPRI) "Seminar on the United States" hosted by the Itamaraty Palace (Brazilian Foreign Ministry) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on September 29, 2008.

Introduction

The United States appears to be embarking on a transition on two major fronts: its own economy, both financial and real; and its relations with the rest of the world. There is some relation between these two transitions. Some of these changes will depend on the outcome of the U.S. national election in November, and some will not. This paper will present a brief overview of current trends, with some attention given to U.S. foreign policy in Latin America, as well as other areas.

posted by infini at 7:01 AM on October 11, 2008


Personnel Shortfall Slows State Department
posted by Pollomacho at 1:02 PM on October 14, 2008


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