Thursday, February 28, 2008

Obama Gives Thumbs-Up for Blackwater

Presidential candidate Barack Obama gave a qualified show of support to private security contractor Blackwater Worldwide, The Nation reports.

Jeremy Scahill, one of the most vitriolic opponents of the company, has written that:

A senior foreign policy adviser to leading Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has told The Nation that if elected Obama will not "rule out" using private security companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq.

The same unnamed advisor explains that,

Obama does not plan to sign on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of these forces in US war zones by January 2009, when a new President will be sworn in.

No doubt Scahill is upset about the matter - he goes on to criticize the position in the rest of the article. But the fact remains that even someone of Obama's political persuasion can see that Blackwater does important, even critical, work for the US government, and they do it well. Obama has been a strong critic of the company, which has a facility in the senator's home state of Illinois.

Even Scahill concedes:

If Obama maintains [the US] embassy [in Iraq] and its army of diplomats and US personnel going in and out of the Green Zone, which his advisers say he will, a significant armed force will be required for protection. The force that now plays that role is composed almost exclusively of contractors from Blackwater, DynCorp and Triple Canopy.

Why? Because the US government is not able to provide this security. So the private sector has boldly stepped into the gap. Props to Senator Obama and his staff for recognizing that.

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