Stop Outsourcing Security

For Immediate Release

Senator Bernie Sanders and Rep. Jan Schakowsky
Contact: 

Michael Briggs (Sanders) 202 228-6492
Trevor Kincaid (Schakowsky) 202 226-6898

Stop Outsourcing Security

WASHINGTON - Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders
(I-Vt.) today introduced legislation that would phase out private security
contractors in war zones.

The
United States last year employed more than 22,000 hired guns in Iraq and
Afghanistan.  They protected diplomats, trained military and police officers,
repaired and maintained weapons systems. Contractors also were involved with
interrogations and intelligence gathering.

“The
American people have always prided themselves on the strength, conduct, and
honor of our United States military.  I therefore find it very disturbing
that now, in the midst of two wars and a global struggle against terrorism,
we are relying more and more on private security contractors – rather
than our own service members – to provide for our national
defense,” Sanders said.

“The
behavior of private contractors has endangered our military, hurt relationships
with foreign governments, and undermined our missions overseas,”
Schakowsky added.

The
Stop Outsourcing Security Act would restore the responsibility of the
American military to train troops and police, guard convoys, repair weapons,
administer military prisons, and perform military intelligence. The bill also
would require that all diplomatic security be undertaken by U.S. government personnel.
The White House could seek exceptions, but those contracts would be subject
to congressional oversight.

The
legislation also would subject contracts exceeding $5 million to
congressional oversight. Agencies with military contractors would have to
report the number of contractors employed, disclose the total cost of the
contracts, and make public any disciplinary actions against employees.

High
pay for contract workers in war zones both burdens taxpayers and saps
military morale, Schakowsky and Sanders said.  While some soldiers who risk
their lives for their country struggle to support their families, private
security company employees are paid two or three times as much, sometimes
pocketing as much as $1,000 a day. 

Military
officers in the field have said contractors operate like "cowboys,"
using unnecessary and excessive force uncharacteristic of enlisted soldiers. In
2007, guards working for a firm then known as Blackwater were accused of
killing 17 Iraqis, damaging the U.S. mission in Iraq and hurting our
reputation around the world. Later that year, a contractor employed by
DynCorp International allegedly shot and killed an unarmed taxi driver.

Late
last year, photos surfaced of lewd and drunken conduct by workers for ArmorGroup
North America, a firm the State Department hired to provide security at the
U.S. embassy in Kabul.

Some
private security contractors have a history of fleecing taxpayers. The House
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform investigated Blackwater’s
employment practices and found that the company classified security guards in
a way that may have allowed the firm to skirt paying Social Security,
Medicare, and Federal income taxes. A separate Small Business Administration
investigation found that Blackwater may have made misrepresentations in order
to qualify for $110 million in government contracts set aside specifically
for small businesses.

To
read the bill, click here.
To read a summary, click here.

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