The Common Good
February 2007

Mercenaries on the Rise

by Rose Marie Berger, Jonathan Mendez | February 2007

Private military contractors have reportedly fired indiscriminately on Iraqi civilians hundreds of times throughout the U.S.

Private military contractors have reportedly fired indiscriminately on Iraqi civilians hundreds of times throughout the U.S. occupation, yet none have been prosecuted, according to "Corporate Mercenaries," a report released in October by the U.K.-based organization War on Want. "Corporate Mercenaries" states that lack of government accountability has led employees of private military contractors-the second largest occupying force in Iraq-to ignore human rights. "We encourage people in America to press U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice toward legislation against human rights abuses by its private security contractors in Iraq," War on Want spokesperson Paul Collins told Sojourners.

  • 20,000: Estimated number of private military personnel in Iraq. At least 428 have been killed as of May 2006.

  • $48 million: Value of U.S. contract with Vinnell Corporation, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, to train the nucleus of a new Iraqi army.

  • $320 million: Amount the Bush administration has paid U.S.-based Blackwater USA for diplomatic security overseas since June 2004.

  • $32 million: Combined 2001 lobbying dollars of 10 U.S. private military firms.

  • $3.4 billion: Revenue for British private military companies in 2004.

  • 0: The number of provisions requiring private contractors to abide by human rights or corruption norms found in a review of 60 military contracts in Iraq.

  • Source: War on Want's "Corporate Mercenaries" report (October 2006).

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