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Explosion in Olso

State Department war lords

Time to watch out folks, the State Department is getting into the Army business in Iraq. Since we have agreed to move all of our combat forces out of the country the remaining folks need some kind of security and State is taking the lead with a force of some 5,000 private security guards. We have built a gargantuan embassy there and while it is no longer the most dangerous place on Earth, it is hardly a shangri la. I have reservations about the idea of that many armed folks under the command and control of a non-military agency, but is this really a major problem? The Attackerman thinks so over at Wired. Now I will cut him some slack as I don't know if he had input on the hyperbolic headline.

Exclusive: U.S. Blocks Oversight of Its Mercenary Army in Iraq

Well let's read what he has to say:

By January 2012, the State Department will do something it’s never done before: command a mercenary army the size of a heavy combat brigade. That’s the plan to provide security for its diplomats in Iraq once the U.S. military withdraws. And no one outside State knows anything more, as the department has gone to war with its independent government watchdog to keep its plan a secret.

Ooops I guess he is down with the whole calling security guards a mercenary army idea. As I said there is room to question whether this is a good idea, but characterizing like this is hardly fair and he goes on to blame the shootings in Nisoour Square, where 17 Iraqis were killed, on poor oversight.

The State Department has hired private security for its diplomats in war zones for the better part of a decade. Poor control of them caused one of the biggest debacles of the Iraq war: the September 2007 shooting incident in Nisour Square, where Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians.

Well...No. This incident, while tragic, was a case of mistaken intention not poor control as I wrote about extensively based on information from a State Department employee with direct knowledge of the case. His main concern is that the State Department IG with responsibility for Iraq has not been given the access he feels he needs to the process of fielding this force. OK that may be a problem, but all of the over kill calling them a combat brigade and hired guns and a mercenary army is a tad bit excessive eh?