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  • Dr. Hillhouse has run Cuban rum between East and West Berlin, smuggled jewels from the Soviet Union and slipped through some of the world’s tightest borders. From Uzbekistan to Romania, she's been followed, held at gunpoint and interrogated. Foreign governments and others have pitched her for recruitment as a spy. (They failed.)

    A former professor and Fulbright fellow, Dr. Hillhouse earned her Ph.D. in political science at the University of Michigan. Her latest novel, OUTSOURCED (Forge Books) is about the turf wars between the Pentagon and the CIA and the privatization of national security.

    Dr. Hillhouse is an expert on national security outsourcing. Her controversial work has twice elicited a formal response by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence--the only times that office has ever publicly responded to the writings of a private citizen.

    She is a regular media guest and available for interviews.

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« Blackwater Enters the Campaign: Hillary calls for a ban | Main | Three Claps for Clapper: CIFA in the Crosshairs »

March 28, 2008



Since Blackwater works for DOS, this policy would seem not to cover their actions correct?

Peter McHugh

There is a pretty broad misunderstanding about contractors and their relationship to either DoD and/or DoS.

DoD has always had "authority" over contractors in its employ...and extending UCMJ or other "Military" legal prescriptions to security contractors may or may not be the right solution.

In the case of contractors employed by DoS, specifically Blackwater, State has authority over them, and is responsible for their performance in the battlespace. The authority is inherent in the contract if not spelled out in detail. By the way, all Departments and Agencies of the US Governemnt, and their contractors come under perview of the Chief of Mission (Ambassador) including the military, with some specific exemptions...the Ambassador represents the President, and is charged with that authority in his letter of assignment, signed by the President. That is the way it should be....and the security contractors providing protection to the Ambassador and diplomats of the Mission should not be subject to local law...but IS subject to U.S. civil and criminal code.

The reason contractors folks are immediately rejected from the country is not to avoid prosecution, but to remove them from doing further harm, and to make them available for prosecution in the United States.

It is interesting to me to note that so biased a view of the essential work being accomplished by folks like Blackwater is written by one who holds credentials that include "running Cuban rum between East and West Berlin, smuggling jewels from the Soviet Union and slipping through some of the world’s tightest borders". The author should make the case that these activities are more akin claimed problems with contractors in Iraq, than the spring board for criticising men and women who daily risk their lives to protect bureaucrats in dangerous places. In fairness the author should acknowledge that most Blackwater employees in Baghdad are former Seals, SOF, or Task Force 160 folks, who continue to serve their Nation in a very high risk environment. They are a capability in the war zone, not a liability.

And I have first hand knowledge...having been the principal, and beneficiary of their protection during a tour in the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.


Actually, Peter, you need to read further down in this blog's history. You will find many of the points that you make concerning Blackwater's value and the nature and honor of its personnel have repeatedly been subjects of this blog in the past. Check it out.

Tony Foresta

First, there are several issues I am frankly disturbed that the right honorable Dr. Hillhouse has not addressed which conflicts with the idea that "...contractor news has been rather slow". Quite to the Contrary, - this horrorshow story, and this follow up which majikally disappeared off the radar in one newscycle, deserve much deeper research and analysis, because some is obvious rotten.

That said, whatever good Blackwater may provide is NULLIFIED by the grim fact that this company, it's assets, and it's operations are untouchable, and unaccountable, and are responsible for numerous instances of fraudulant activities, financial malfeasance and perfidy, and murder.

If there truly is some "memorandum" RIGHTFULLY and "clearly giving authority of military commanders over the civilian contractors in their areas of operation" - then it is an issue of enforcement of these new socalled authorities that is woefully lacking.

Companies like BW, and Halliburton, and Dyncorp are only three threads of a monstrous web of wanton profiteering with deep tentacles connected to, and interpenetrating with the fascists in the Bush government EXCLUSIVELY!

These and many more like QuinetiQ and AEY Inc linked above come quickly to mind, (there are hundreds more) are beholden and pathologically loyal to the fascists in the Bush government EXCLUSIVELY, - and - their loyalties and services to the American people, and America are suspect at best.

Ignoring, defending, dismissing, or refusing to investigate the wanton profiteering and grotesque abuses of these and many more companies, and these and many more companies incestuous intertwining relations with the fascists in the Bush government is proof to this American, that the socalled MSM are complict parrots, the fascist ruling class are bent on commandeering America, and harbor absolutely zero concern for, loyalty to, or any interest in America, the Constitution, or the American people.

PMC's, and PIC's may have their place and necessity in America's future warfighting efforts, - but NOT without review, recourse, remedy for abuse, and accountability to the American people.


Dr. Hillhouse posts something on her blog--finally.

Peter McHugh

To "Retired": Absolutely, I will do that...and I'll be pleased to find balanced coverage. The previous response (with its typos) targetted only the immediate piece by Dr Hillhouse, who in any case, has exceptional credentials on which to base her perspectives and comments.


Dr. Hillhouse,

I'm not sure if you're aware, but a new bill expanding MEJA has passed the house by a wide margin but has not yet been taken up by the Senate. A key provision expands UCMJ authority to any contractor of any agency in or near an area that is part of a DoD contingency operation. This would appear to cast a very wide net. Here's a link to the legislation.


I doubt that any court-martial of a contractor will hold up to a federal court appeal.


While Mr. Forresta's quoted articles may hold some merit in that obvious wrongdoings have occurred that should be dealt with, his sources, like he himself, are biased and opinionated. Who, in their right mind would trust anything written in the New York Times (with some exceptions) or the Arabist blog? The constant referrals to "fascists" in the Bush government simply reflect his personal hatred. I'm rather surprised there were not some quotes included form Air America or Move
Truth be told, there most probably are shysters and thieves within all rungs of the bureaucratic ladder of supply and requisition. It is as old as time itself and doesn't infer that the system or government itself is to blame, but rather the pinheads in it. Yes, something should be done to stop corruption in all cases.

FYI, I am not a supporter of Bush or his war (Frontline - March 28), but cannot abide the rantings presented as dialogue.

Tony Foresta

I hear you JSG. I hold the same low opinions of Newsmax and the gospel according to Fox. My point is that these stories like countless others are never given oxygen in the socalled MSM.

But ignoring, or excusing, or dismissing the unprecedented and massive increases in PMC and PIC contracting, the wanton profiteering, and the rank cronyism, abuses, and financial malfeasance of many PMC's and PIC's under the Bush government for any reason is cold comfort.

Hundreds of billions of the peoples dollars are at stake, not to mention our shared security interests, and there is an astronomical accountability gap.

Finally, look up the word fascist, compare with the ideologies, policies, and practices of the Bush government, sans the hollow promises and partisan parables,- and get back to me. There is no hate in me, but there is dread concern over the tattered and tarnished America my daughter will be forced to inherit. We bequeath our children an America, and a Constitution that has been ruthlessly mangled, dismembered, reengineered, and betrayed by the fascists and wanton profiteers in the Bush government. You may not like the word fascist, - but it is an entirely accurate term for defining the ideologies, policies, and practices of the Bush government. Until you present any argument to the contrary other than simply not abiding the rant, I'll stand on the term, as accurate and correct.


Strangely, the most recent comment by Foresta reminds me of the NIE on the "imminence" of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, circa 2002. The administration was so sure that Saddam was just a month or two away, six at most, from mating a renegade Paki nuke to a for-profit Chinese long range ICBM and strike CONUS.

Of course, once we seized Iraq and started looking for nukes and missiles, we learned how far off our "analysis" really was.

I wonder what Obama or Clinton will find out about outsourcing if they are elected president? A clear and present strategic danger to our national security? Or a somewhat flawed system where the rules just need to be enforced? We'll find out in 2009.

e.c. herrick

A clear disinterest in contract monitoring is evident. In other words, not much administation interest in using existing law. Gosh, back in 2006 the Custer Battles case illustrates this. Roughly $10 million in damages awarded on 37 counts of fraud thrown out because "technically" the contracts were with the Provisional Authority, not the US.

This seemed to sponsor some Congressional activity in 2007 (H.R. 400 and, less directly, H.R. 2740) but of the 70+ investigations little cas developed by way of convictions.

Jeepers, a few years back a rider to an energy bill tried to gut war profiteering law. To date, virtually no effort has been made to give extra-territorial teeth to profiteering law.

Curiously - Halliburton moved to Dubai during the passage process of the above mentioned Congressional action;-)

Be interesting to see whether an administration change in 2009 will increase government interests in prosecution.

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  • A tip of the hat to investigative journalist Tim Shorrock who inspired the name of this blog with his path-breaking 2005 article, "The Spy Who Billed Me."

    Shorrock has a dedicated web page on outsourcing in intel. It links to many of his articles which are must-reads for anyone interested in the privatization of intelligence.