Rogue Military Contractors Abetted By Broken System

The dedicated mercenaries of Blackwater or "Xe" or whatever they're calling themselves now sure seem to get up to the sort of war-zone antics that I doubt I could get away with at my workplace, such as drunkenly shooting people and stealing weapons under the guise of cartoon characters.

And yet, they persist and succeed in the government contracting racket, to the point that they are still in the running to get "a billion dollar contract to train the Afghan police".

All of this seems crazy, but as Spencer Ackerman details in the Washington Independent, the problem is "a confusing, unaccountable and systemic problem in how the government delivers security contracts".

Any action from Holder would represent perhaps the only chance to stop Blackwater from receiving any additional government contracts. Several CSTC-A officers and Pentagon officials said that good-government contract rules prevent them from banning Blackwater. Specifically, an obscure contracting rule known as Federal Acquisition Regulation 9.406-2 prevents an acquisition official for banning a company from being awarded a contract unless the company has been formally "debarred" from eligibility -- something that has never happened in Blackwater's case. However, several criteria for debarment appear to apply to Blackwater, including "commission of fraud," "theft," "falsification or destruction of records, making false statements," "a history of failure to perform, or of unsatisfactory performance of, one or more contracts," and "violations of the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988."

Of course, recent history suggests that if you want lawmakers to take swift action in scuttling a government contractor down to the bone, the trick is to catch them in the act of aiding and abetting prostitution, which is something that Blackwater has never been accused of -- oh, sorry, I forgot: they have.

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