Scandal: Military Contractor Abuse

Since the 1990s, the U.S. military has increasingly  turned to private contractors. As  the Los Angeles Times reported, as of July 2007 there were more contractors on the ground in Iraq than soldiers. Many of these firms -- such as Dick Cheney's former company, KBR, which has raked in more than $24 billion since the war began -- are politically well-connected. Meanwhile, contractors have been connected to questionable payments, bribery and outright theft.

There are also concerns that private security firms have effectively become shadow armies, operating with little oversight. In September 2007, security company Blackwater fired on civilians in Baghdad, leaving 17 people dead. While there is a federal investigation, no Blackwater contractor has yet been indicted. Congress has responded to concerns about private contractors with a number of hearings and could pass legislation to improve accountability.

The Center for Public Intergrity has compiled a list of the top 100 private contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Latest Stories

Report Questions Conflict of Interest in Defense Contracts Washington Post, 2/1

Victim’s Father Claims Blackwater Shots Were Unjustified The Nation, 1/29

Iraqis Say They Were Forced to Take Blackwater Settlement Los Angeles Times, 1/11

Major Gets 17.5 Years in Iraq Contract Case Wall Steet Journal ($), 12/4

In Depth: Blackwater’s Role in the War on Terror Vanity Fair, 12/3

Fine and Inquiry Possible for Blackwater Successor New York Times, 11/19

Blackwater Said to Approve Bribes to Iraq After 17 Died New York Times, 11/11

Afghan Men Tricked into U.S., Detained as Witnesses Washington Post, 10/12

Oversight Lacking on War Costs AP, 10/7

Defense Contract Agency Called Out Again Over Mismanagement GovExec, 9/24

Business Unpaid After Job for Army Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 9/21

When Did U.S. Know about Kabul Embassy Problems? CBS News, 9/11

U.S. Still Using Security Firm It Broke With New York Times, 8/24

Tie Between Army Official and Contractor Raises $191M Question Washington Post, 8/7

Ex-Blackwater Employee, Ex-Marine Implicate Founder in Murder The Nation, 8/5

Coast Guard: Still in Deep Water? Mother Jones, 7/29

Top Pentagon Contractors Go Unnamed Aviation Week, 7/24

Report Faults Performance Bonuses for Contractors Washington Post, 7/6

Ex-Employee Says Lockheed F-22 Coatings Defective The Register, 7/1

Oversight of War Contractors Lacking Washington Post, 6/10

Pentagon Paid $2.7 Billion to Unnamed Contractors Aviation Week, 6/3

KBR Got Bonuses For Work That Killed Soldiers The Nation, 5/22

U.S. Soldiers in Iraq Cite Shortage of Drinking Water KHOU Houston, 5/13

Defense Contractor Cited Uncle Murtha to Boost Biz Washington Post, 5/11

Contractors Get Free Pass at Military Clinics Washington Post, 5/8

Informants: Blackwater Guards Tried to Dump Guns After Shooting AP, 5/7

Faulty Combat Helmets Came From PMA Group Client The Hill, 5/7

DoD Auditor: KBR Tied to ‘Vast Majority’ of Alleged Fraud Washington Post, 5/5

Senators Accuse Pentagon of Delay in Recovering Millions New York Times, 5/4

Florida Case Involves Firms Close to Murtha Roll Call ($), 5/1

Blackwater Out of Iraq? No, Not Yet AP, 4/21

Military Task Force Finds ‘Catastrophic’ Wiring in Iraq AP, 4/8

Ex-Blackwater Workers May Return to Iraq Jobs New York Times, 4/6

Northrop Agrees to Pay $325 Million to Settle Suit Wall Street Journal ($), 4/3

State Department Replaces Blackwater for Iraq Security Jobs AP, 4/2

Official Refused to Punish Blackwater Guards in ‘05 Shooting USA Today, 4/2

Quick Picks: Blackwater Shots and Workers’ Comp ProPublica, 4/2

U.S. Pays $322 Million, Still No Choppers Wired, 4/1

Quick Picks: Contractor Fraud Findings and Fuzzy Unemployment Stats ProPublica, 4/1

No Forensic Match for Ammo in Blackwater Shooting AP, 4/1

Fraud Cases Fell As DoD Contracts Surged Center for Public Integrity, 4/1

Inspections Turn Up Electrical Problems for Troops in Iraq AP, 3/26

Pentagon Official: KBR Work Presents ‘Security Risk’ Huffington Post/American News Project, 3/19

Blackwater Back in U.S. Employ Washington Times, 3/17

State Dept. Moves to Replace Blackwater Washington Post, 3/17

Fear of Lost Jobs Is Hurdle to Reining In Defense Contracts New York Times, 3/9

Presidential Copter Cost in Rapid Climb Washington Post, 3/6

Contractor Gets 6 Years for Pentagon Fraud Bloomberg, 3/4

Lockheed Lobbies Hard for Fighter Plane USA Today, 2/26

Bill Targets How U.S. Buys Weapons Wall Street Journal ($), 2/25

Judge Refuses to Drop Charges Against Blackwater Guards Washington Post, 2/18

Blackwater Dumps Tarnished Brand Name AP, 2/17

Inquiry on Graft in Iraq Focuses on U.S. Officers New York Times, 2/17

GAO Again Calls for DoD to Examine Reliance on Contractors Federal Times, 2/13

Halliburton, KBR Settle Bribery Allegations Washington Post, 2/12

Ore. Nat’l Guard Tells of Possible Chemical Exposure in Iraq AP, 2/12

Defense Contractors Spent $340K on Events Honoring Gates CQ Politics, 2/10

KBR Gets Pentagon Contract Despite Death Inquiries AP, 2/9

Navy Officer Electrocuted in Iraq AP, 2/3

Pentagon Letter Complicates Blackwater Case AP, 2/3

Iraq Auditor Warns of Waste, Fraud in Afghanistan Washington Post, 2/2

DoD IG: Marines May Have Overpaid For MRAPs Defense News, 1/30

Iraq Won’t Grant Blackwater a License New York Times, 1/29

Defense Industry Lobbies for Piece of a Smaller Pie Wall Street Journal ($), 1/28

Big Game Ranch in Crosshairs of Pa. Defense Firm Probe Tribune Democrat, 1/26

Feds Raid Pa. Defense Firm Linked to Rep. Murtha Politico, 1/23

Army: KBR’s Negligence Caused GI’s Death AP, 1/22

IG Report Details Iraq Oil Contract Failures Washington Post, 1/14

State Dept IG Faults Oversight of Security in Iraq Washington Post, 1/12

Former Blackwater Guards Plead Not Guilty Washington Post, 1/7

Feds to Charge Ex-Blackwater Contractor in Iraq Death AP, 1/6

Blackwater Guards Face Arraignment in Iraqi Deaths Los Angeles Times, 1/6

This Year in Scandals: Contractors Behaving Badly ProPublica, 1/5

Study Criticizes Bush Approach to War Funding Washington Post, 12/29

IG Report: Blackwater May Lose License in Iraq AP,

Will Hillary Keep Pledge to Ban ‘Private Mercenaries’? TPMMuckraker, 12/16

This Week’s Scandals: Blago’s Bribes, Blackwater And More ProPublica, 12/12

Law’s Unclear If U.S. Can Prosecute Blackwater Guards McClatchy, 12/9

U.S. Details Case Against Blackwater Guards Los Angeles Times, 12/9

5 Blackwater Security Guards Charged With Manslaughter Washington Post, 12/8

Attorneys for Blackwater Guards Lash Out at DoJ Washington Post, 12/8

U.S. May Try Blackwater Guards Under Drug Law AP, 12/5

This Week in Scandals ProPublica, 12/5

Suit Claims Halliburton, KBR Sickened Iraq Base Army Times, 12/4

KBR Under Fire—Again (and Again) ProPublica, 12/4

Guardsmen Sue KBR over Chemical Exposure CNN, 12/4

Defense Contractors Give Big to Rep’s Pet Charities Seattle Times, 12/3

Contractor in Iraq Holds Foreign Workers in Warehouses McClatchy, 12/3

A Retired General’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex New York Times, 12/1

End of Immunity Worries U.S. Contractors in Iraq New York Times, 12/1

No Retroactive Immunity for Iraq Contractors McClatchy, 11/21

This Week in Scandals ProPublica, 11/21

Cancelled Iraq Contracts Cost U.S. $600 Million USA Today, 11/18

Banned Firms Got New U.S. Contracts in Iraq USA Today, 11/18

Company That Bungled Iraq Embassy Repeats in Gabon McClatchy, 11/18

Ex-Employees: Blackwater Smuggled Weapons to Iraq ABC News, 11/14

Indictment Drafted in Blackwater Shooting AP, 11/14

Boeing Sees Pentagon Budget Scrutiny by Obama Wall Street Journal ($), 11/13

Obama Advisor Tied to Defense Contractor Politico, 11/12

Blackwater May Face Sanctions for Arms Shipments CongressDaily , 11/11

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