I haven't commented at all on the recent events surrounding independent security contractor Blackwater - a good rundown on all the sordid details can be found in this piece by Steve Benen at Talking Points Memo - but I have had a persistent question as I followed this particular piece of black comedic farce: What happened to the Marine Corps?
One of the jobs Blackwater has contracted is security at the American Embassy in Baghdad. It was my impression that Embassy security, historically, was a task for the United States Marine Corps. Why is it that an Administration dedicated to the proposition that the military is sacrosanct (except for Democratic lawmakers who have distinguished military records, and generals who disagree with the President) contract out a vital function such as this to a bunch of unsupervised mercenaries?
I can understand, perhaps, in some kind of abstract way, the necessity of hiring a security consulting firm for some bit of research or other. Of course, with the Pentagon being the most bloated of federal bureaucracies, I wonder even at that, but still, in some abstract sense, I can accept this. Setting aside the whole question of a group of Blackwater employees wandering the streets of Baghdad killing civilians, and according to the Benen piece listed above running guns (can't get in the way of free enterprise, one supposes), I just wonder why in the world we are paying a private firm, at what is most likely much higher costs than would be incurred if we were to use the Marines to perform their traditional function, to do a job as dangerous, and official as embassy security.
With a bunch of mercenaries riding around, American mercenaries, killing indiscriminately, creating an even more volatile security situation for our troops already in a near-impossible situation, we have a recipe for even more disaster. Surely anyone with a modicum of intelligence and foresight could have seen this coming, and perhaps recommended that we not arm American civilians and tell them they have a job as important as protecting VIPs. Just one more example of how supremely stupid, dangerous, and ultimately counter-productive are the policies of the Bush Administration.
Outsourcing has reached a new level of idiocy.