BLACKWATER RUNS DEEP. The thing I find most interesting about yesterday's terrible news of the killing of civilians, allegedly by the hired guns of Blackwater USA, is that it actually made news. In fact, it seems that the matter of the military's outsourcing of tasks ranging from security to interrogation is finally finding its way into the public conscience, and the public is apparently not at ease with this state of affairs.
I've long wondered why the phenomenon was so taken for granted by media and ordinary citizens. While working for a labor union that represented federal employees, I got a glimpse at the extent of the government's outsourcing of security and procurement operations to for-profit corporations, but had a hard time finding a reporter or editor who found it as troubling as I did. Here's a brief and incomplete synopsis of contractor complicity in -- or instigation of -- torture and murder: Abu Ghraib prison (interrogations -- see Tara McKelvey's Monstering for more info), Afghanistan detention (killing of suspect who voluntarily surrendered), and an "extraordinary rendition" of a German citizen that resulted in his being tortured (by CIA contractors in this case).
In last night's pilot of K-ville, an extraordinary new cop show set in New Orleans (at TAP Online, Christine Cupaiuolo covers the bases), the evil security contracting company is named "Black River." Any resemblance to Blackwater, I presume, is purely coincidental.
--Adele M. Stan