Clinton vs. Obama: Who's Better on Blackwater? [VIDEO]
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During her major policy address Monday, Hillary Clinton came out publicly in favor of banning Blackwater and other armed private security contractors from operating in Iraq. "When I am president I will ask the Joint Chiefs for their help in reducing reliance on armed private military contractors with the goal of ultimately implementing a ban on such contractors," she declared. In her speech, she slammed Barack Obama on this issue, saying, "Senator Obama and I have a substantive disagreement here. He won't rule out continuing to use armed private military contractors in Iraq to do jobs that historically have been done by the U.S. military or government personnel."
Clinton was referring to comments the Obama campaign made in a February 2008 article I wrote for The Nation called "Obama's Mercenary Position." A senior foreign policy advisor to Obama told the magazine, "I can't rule out, I won't rule out, private security contractors" in Iraq if Obama becomes president and said that Obama does not intend to sign onto legislation introduced by Illinois Democrat Jan Schakowsky and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. The day after the article came out, after refusing to provide a comment to The Nation on the issue for over a week, Clinton's staff released a statement, saying Clinton would endorse the Stop Outsourcing Security Act to "ban the use of Blackwater and other private mercenary firms in Iraq," with Clinton declaring, "The time to show these contractors the door is long past due."
On Monday, Obama struck back at Clinton. "Now, let me be clear: I actually introduced legislation in the Senate before Senator Clinton even mentioned this that said we had to crack down on private contractors like Blackwater because I don't believe that they should be able to run amok and put our own troops in danger, get paid three or four times or ten times what our soldiers are getting paid. I am the one who has been opposed to those operators. Senator Clinton is a late comer to that. But you know this is what happens during political season and I understand it."
The video to your right is an interview I did with The Real News about what the candidates' positions are on Blackwater and the use of private forces in post-Bush Iraq.
Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army .