Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rep. Price's legislation will help Blackwater

Congressman David Price (D-NC) gave Blackwater a helping hand when he introduced a bill to make American companies working on US government contracts abroad liable under federal law.

Blackwater and other private contractors have been in a legal netherworld in many ways, because Congress decided to rely on them after having slashed the military, yet never bothered to update the law. People have been taking it out on Blackwater because Congress didn't create new accountability laws.

So Congressman Price (pictured) has stepped up to the plate. And Blackwater CEO Erik Prince says he's "happy" with Price's legislation, HR 2740, to fill those holes in the law.

In his October 2 testimony, Prince challenged lawmakers several times to get a handle on government spending on contractors, and to do real studies about whether contractors or federal employees would be more cost-effective for the taxpayer. Though few on the panel expressed interest in taking him up on the idea, Prince repeatedly said he welcomed federal scrutiny of his company and the private contractor industry.

Prince also chided congressmen who seemed to expect him to break the law by physically detaining Blackwater personnel suspected of committing crimes. It is against the law for his company to detain anyone, he told them patiently, and it's Congress's responsibility to ensure the existence of adequate laws. Until Congress does, Blackwater will do as best as it can.

For an interesting argument about the issue of legal accountability and the October 2 Waxman hearing, see Mark Hemingway's piece in National Review.

1 comment:

Christian Stalberg said...

My comparison of Price's Blackwater bills HR 369 (old) and HR 2740 (new) shows that Jeremy Scahill's criticism of the legislation (below) remains relevant to the current bill, i.e. the bill is wholely inadequate.

Price’s bill HR 2740 is much the same as the one discussed in this exchange with Jeremy Scahill reported in the Nation (