Sure, Blackwater Is Bad, But What About DynCorp?

According to The New York Times , a Xe (formerly Blackwater) contract for aviation services in Iraq was supposed to expire today. Xe was to “be replaced by DynCorp International,” but DynDorps is not ready to take on the work. The decision to switch companies has been delayed, and questions could be raised about DynCorp in the meantime.

More than a decade ago, DynCorp was a Texas-based company with a small government contract to fight the drug trade in Latin America. Today, it is one of the leading military contractors in the world. Like the employees of Blackwater, DynCorp workers have been accused of a variety of misdeeds over the years, including: the sex trafficking of children in the Balkans; drug-eradication programs in Latin America that apparently caused severe environmental damage; and, three years ago, the shooting death of an unarmed taxi driver in Baghdad, which outraged Iraqi officials and led to an investigation.

The DynCorp workers were also known for hanging out in safe areas of Baghdad and not ever getting around to doing the work they had been assigned (one former employee says they just hung out in a hotel and drank). And a 2007 report by Stuart Bowen Jr., the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, showed that the paperwork for hundreds of millions of dollars in DynCorp work in Iraq was in “disarray.” State Department officials, who issued the contracts to DynCorp, could not say “specifically” what had been done with most of the $1.4 billion provided to the company for their work in Iraq.

This was perhaps not surprising, considering only one contracting officer in the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs had been in charge of overseeing the DynCorp contracts. Blackwater has been demonized in the media, but between the inadequate oversight of the government of its contracts, and the not-always-stellar performance of its employees, DynCorp has had more than its share of problems.

--Tara McKelvey