News & Politics

A 'Perfect Storm for Disaster' Brewing With Washington's 'Unprecedented' Shadow Army

As troops and private contractors surge in Afghanistan, a new report reveals a system rife with abuse.

I’ve been reading through the hot-off-the-presses, exciting 100+ page report from the Commission on Wartime Contracting: “At What Cost? Contingency Contracting In Iraq and Afghanistan.” There have been several good pieces that covered the Congressional hearings related to this report, so I thought I would just post some of the more important excerpts from the report. One general note: The Commission, which was created due to the diligent efforts of Senators Jim Webb and Claire McCaskill, has been doing some incredibly important work digging deep into the corruption, waste, abuse, fraud, etc of the U.S. war contracting system. The statute that created the commission “requires the Commission to assess a number of factors related to wartime contracting, including the extent of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement of wartime contracts. The Commission has the authority to hold hearings and to refer to the Attorney General any violation or potential violation of law it identifies in carrying out its duties.”
While the new report reveals some critical details about issues of waste and abuse, the general tone is very pro-contractor, which is not surprising. However, I find it disturbing that one of the members of the Commission, Dov Zakheim, is, according to his Commission bio, a current vice-president of Booz Allen Hamilton, a major defense, homeland security and intelligence contractor with a direct stake in US policy on contractors.

Booze is now majority owned by The Carlyle Group, which has deep political connections. In an Op-ed in The Washington Post last year, Zakheim campaigned against “more regulations and bureaucratic restrictions on contractors” and advocated for “a larger, more diversified base of prime contractors and suppliers.” Zakheim, who was a foreign policy advisor to Bush and part of the circle of the Vulcans, is now a key member of the primary body that is responsible for investigating the industry and making formal recommendations on U.S. policy. While the Commission is made up of appointees from both political parties, (Zakheim was appointed by President Bush) Zakheim’s corporate stake on these matters should be cause for a review of his position on the Commission.


One fact that jumped out at me in the report is that, at present, according to the Commission, “contracting oversight” in Afghanistan is being done remotely from Iraq. And remember, there are 70,000 contractors (and growing) in Afghanistan.

Here are some excerpts from the report, which I have categorized and in some cases highlighted or analyzed:

Jeremy Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army.
Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018