Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Administration misses deadline; jeopardizes private contractors

Despite President Bush's personal support for the private companies that provide security and military support in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Bush Administration has missed a deadine to provide a federal court with information that would be helpful Blackwater. Trial lawyers are suing the company for a fatal accident that occurred while supporting US troops in Afghanistan.

That failure could be a victory for the trial lawyers and spell defeat for US military forces and diplomats who need private sector support for their wartime operations and safety.

"After the President has said that, as Commander-in-Chief, he is ultimately responsible for contractors on the battlefield it is disappointing that his administration has been unwilling to make that interest clear before the courts," Blackwater CEO Erik Prince tells Time magazine after the administration missed a November 7 deadline. "And this is happening even as our professionals risk their lives every day in support of vital US priorities, while Congress and several federal agencies publicly discuss the issues at stake in this particular lawsuit."

A trial lawyer win would spell doom for the industry and the US government's dependence on it. According to Time, "Blackwater and other contractors say that if the Florida damages case is allowed to proceed, it will expose them to potentially large liabilities that could cripple their ability to play the role for which they're hired by the U.S. government. Blackwater has argued that because [a Blackwater operation in Afghanistan] was under the command and control of the U.S. military, the company should be covered by the same 'sovereign immunity' that protects the U.S. military from lawsuits."

No comments: