Congress Seeks Military Control Over Private Contractors

Congress is prepared to take new action ensuring the United States military exerts control over the actions of private contractors in Iraq and elsewhere. Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Service Committee, said Congress will insert such provisions in the 2008 defense spending bill. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already moved to implement new rules for private guards which will specify how and when they can use force in carrying out their duties. However, so far, she has not accepted the desire of many members of Congress that private contractors should be placed under control of the United States military. Levin was firm in insisting new language will be inserted into the defense spending bill, “whether she likes it or not.”

The entire matter of allowing private contractors to conduct their own war activities is a first in American history. The emergence of private war activities stems from the nation’s failure to implement a draft system if it desires engaging in wars. The private contractors today do work that was performed by members of the armed forces in World War II or Korea or Vietnam. No one ever heard any tales of erratic behavior on the part of Seabees in World War II. For some reason, they didn’t go around shooting civilians.