As of mid-2009, the United States employed over 22,000 hired guns in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that number keeps going up. Our reliance on private, for-profit companies for the business of waging war is extremely dangerous. It's time we move to eliminate the use of these unaccountable and controversial mercenaries, and I ask you to join me as a citizen co-sponsor of legislation that I have just re-introduced, the Stop Outsourcing Our Security Act.
The Stop Outsourcing Security Act, which will be introduced in the Senate by Vermont's Bernie Sanders, recognizes that the U.S. needs to end its reliance on private security contractors, and it would prohibit the use of private contractors for military, security, law enforcement, intelligence, and armed rescue functions. It would also increase transparency over any remaining contracts by increasing reporting requirements and Congressional oversight.
I'm launching an online campaign to gather citizen-co-sponsors for this legislation that has just been introduced on Capitol Hill. I need your help to restore those functions traditionally performed by the military, back to the military where they belong.
Join me in sending a message that the we need to stop with the privatization of our Armed forces.
The following is a letter sent to my colleagues urging them to sign on to this legislation.
January 07, 2010
I invite you to join me in cosponsoring a bill which would responsibly phase out the use of private security contractors for functions that should be reserved for U.S. military forces and government personnel.
In 2009, the U.S. government employed well over 20,000 armed private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there is every indication that these figures will continue to rise in 2010. These men and women are not part of the U.S. military or government. They do not wear the uniform of the United States, though their behavior has, on numerous occasions, severely damaged the credibility and security of our military and harmed our relationship with other governments.
In addition, legal jurisdiction over civilian contractors remains murky, leaving the very real possibility that we cannot punish contractors who commit serious crimes while serving the United States government overseas. As illustrated by the recent dismissal of the case against the Blackwater guards accused of killing 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad’s Nisour Square in 2007, prosecution of private security contractors who commit severe abuses remains exceedingly difficult.
It has been recently reported that at least two of the men killed by the New Year’s Eve suicide attack on a CIA base in Afghanistan was a contractor employed by Xe Services, the company formerly known as Blackwater. If true, this confirms the extent to which private companies have become integrated into not just our military and State Department, but also our intelligence services.
My bill recognizes that our armed forces and security personnel have been so overtaxed that it is not possible to immediately eliminate the use of private contractors for functions that should be reserved for U.S. military personnel. However, it puts us on the path of restoring military functions to the military. The legislation would prohibit the use of private contractors for military, security, law enforcement, intelligence, and armed rescue functions unless the President tells Congress why the military is unable to perform those functions. It would also increase transparency over any remaining security contracts by increasing reporting requirements and giving Congress access to details about large contracts.
To join me as an original cosponsor or for more information, please contact my staff.