Policing The Wild West of Private Contracting in Iraq

We all know about the tens of billions of dollars in contract overruns that Halliburton's Kellogg, Brown, and Root unit has deferred to the American taxpayer in Iraq.

But few know about the fly-by night startup firm, Custer Battles, who somehow managed to win a $13 million contract to provide security at Baghdad airport, despite having no security industry experience at all. This firm was so corrupt, that when contracted to provide trucks to the military, Custer Battles scrounged up any and every truck they could - even if most of them weren't operable. One Army general called it the worst case of fraud he'd seen in thirty years.

So it is of little surprise to anyone here, that neither the Coalition Provisional Authority nor the Pentagon, nor the State Department nor U.S. AID, which all rely heavily on these firms, have any idea what these security firms are actually doing in Iraq.

In this wild, wild West atmosphere, millions of dollars worth of security related contracts are awarded overnight, many of them without competition or cost controls. There simply needs to be greater transparency and accountability over private military contractors.