Stung by lawsuits, protests, government audits, criminal charges and negative media attention, executives from the mercenary firm Blackwater Worldwide say providing security in Iraq and elsewhere has become a drain on the company’s future and will be gradually all but phased out. However, while Defense Secretary Robert Gates released a letter Monday questioning the extensive use of private contractors by the military, there are no immediate plans to end Blackwater’s Iraq contract, renewed last year despite a deadly Baghdad shooting spree by the company’s agents.


Associated Press:

That decision to scale back future security business reflects not only the difficult year Blackwater has had but also the fact that there’s probably not as much growth opportunity.

The growth in Backwater’s aviation and international training sectors could also buffer the company against other changes in military policy. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is looking into the use of contractors for combat and security training.

“Why have we come to rely on private contractors to provide combat or combat-related security training for our forces?” Gates wrote in a July 10 memo to the Pentagon’s top military officer, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen.

The memo was released Monday to The Associated Press by the office of Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va. Webb raised concerns about the role of private contractors and specifically Blackwater, which opened a new counterterrorism training center in San Diego last month over the opposition of city officials.

Webb had been blocking Senate consideration of four civilian Defense Department nominees while waiting for answers. On Monday, Webb told Gates he was lifting his opposition to the nominees.

Read more

Wait, before you go…

If you're reading this, you probably already know that non-profit, independent journalism is under threat worldwide. Independent news sites are overshadowed by larger heavily funded mainstream media that inundate us with hype and noise that barely scratch the surface.  We believe that our readers deserve to know the full story. Truthdig writers bravely dig beneath the headlines to give you thought-provoking, investigative reporting and analysis that tells you what’s really happening and who’s rolling up their sleeves to do something about it.

Like you, we believe a well-informed public that doesn’t have blind faith in the status quo can help change the world. Your contribution of as little as $5 monthly or $35 annually will make you a groundbreaking member and lays the foundation of our work.

Support Truthdig