"One of the most common criticisms about private security contractors is that there are insufficient rules governing their actions," writes David Isenberg of UPI. "But the truth is, there is and always has been a way to ensure that contractors act the way the client, as in the U.S. government or other private sector firms, wants. And that is to simply write it into the contract.
"And now, we have documentary evidence that this is what the U.S. government has been doing. Recently, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, I obtained a section of the Worldwide Personal Protective Services contract that the State Department issued for protection of its personnel and facilities. This is the contract that is split between Blackwater, Triple Canopy and DynCorp."
Isenberg obtained the 187-page specifications section of the WPPS contract, which "details what Blackwater is required to do." Despite big blackout areas imposed during declassificition, the document lays out many of the requirements.
The contract describes the speed in which Blackwater and the State Department must be able to contact one another, contractor training (done with State Department review and veto power), workplace issues, logistical support according to State Department standards, the type of handheld radios the contractors must have, personal requirements of each security contractor, details of each contractor to include health, financial and criminal background checks, psychiatric exams and more; plus details on "vehicles, load-bearing vests, utility belts, pepper spray and morale needs."
"Given that contractors are often shot at while transporting their clients, the contract requires the contractor to employ a 'factory-certified vehicle mechanic' to maintain the Protective Services detail vehicles."
There's strict accounting of weapons, including their maintenance, specifics on when and where weapons should be cleaned, and specs on cleaning logs for each weapon which is tracked by serial number; and requirements for on-site factory certified armorers to maintain and repair weapons.
There even specific requirements for the Odor Recognition Proficiency Test for explosives-detecting dogs to meet; and the conduct of guards, to include that they "will be polite and courteous in performance of their duties. They will not use abusive language."
The contractor spells out when a private guard can and cannot use his weapon, and how.
This is no surprise to anyone who has been under Blackwater's protection. Across the board, protectees praise Blackwater for its guards' professionalism and courtesy. Senator Barack Obama, on receiving Blackwater security service in Afghanistan, said that the company had been receiving a "bad rap."
NOTE (9/11/08): David Isenberg writes us to ask that we post the link to his archived United Press International pieces. Here it is: http://www.upi.com/topic/David_Isenberg/. We picked up his column from the Google News feed, which does not link directly to UPI's site.