Wading in Blackwater

Data reviewed by the Congres­sional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform weighed the financial pros and cons of relying on private contractors or paramilitaries, such as Blackwater USA, rather than the U.S. military. “Blackwater CEO Erik Prince and his defenders seem to think the only thing that matters is the safe escort of Americans in Iraq, regardless of what happens to innocent bystanders,” Erik Gustafson, of the Education for Peace in Iraq Center, told Sojourners. “Every time they fail to safeguard Iraqi civilians along the way, they foster an environment that prolongs the war and further endangers Americans down the road.” Proponents of private security contractors argue that they save the government money by eliminating the need to train, equip, and support troops. Here’s a closer look at the costs:

$594 million: Approximate value of contracts between Blackwater USA and the U.S. State Department.

$200,000: Amount Erik Prince has donated to Republican causes.

$140 to $190: Daily pay range for one U.S. Army sergeant in Iraq.

$1,222: Daily pay for one Blackwater Protective Security Specialist.

$1,000: Approximate number of Blackwater guards employed in Iraq.

$50,000: Approximate number of U.S.-sanctioned private contractors making money in Iraq.

Sources: Memorandum to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; Inst­itute of Southern Studies; and USA Today.

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