Obama: Make Security Contractors Accountable under the Law; Enforce Law with Special FBI Unit
At a foreign policy town hall meeting, US Senator Barack Obama unveiled a plan to force Iraq War contractors to follow federal law and proposed creating a special Federal Bureau of Investigations unit to enforce it. Obama said law-breaking American contractors in Iraq aren't just wasting taxpayer money - they are impacting troop morale and making it harder to wage and win the war on terror.
"We cannot win a fight for hearts and minds when we outsource critical missions to unaccountable contractors," Obama said. "To add insult to injury, these contractors are charging taxpayers up to nine times more to do the same jobs as soldiers, a disparity that damages troop morale."
Obama also said Congress and President Bush should be doing more to hold contractors accountable. Last week, the Senate passed an Obama-authored amendment that would force the Bush administration to disclose the size and scope of the role of security contractors in Iraq.
"Last week, I pushed through a provision to improve transparency by requiring our federal government to inform the public about how many contractors they're using, what it's costing us, and what their functions are," Obama said. "I've also proposed tougher government reform than any other candidate in this race - reforms that would eliminate the kind of no-bid contracts that this administration has given to Blackwater."
Obama, who initially called for these accountability measures on security contractors last February, unveiled his latest initiative -- the Security Contractor Accountability Plan -- days after a Congressional report cited instances of American contractors in Iraq acting with reckless disregard for civilian casualties. Obama said a permanent, special unit of the FBI should be created to investigate contractors in Iraq and force them to follow US law.
"I'm proposing the creation of a special FBI unit devoted entirely to investigating abuses by contractors," Obama said. "This week, the FBI announced it was sending a team to Iraq to look into the incident with Blackwater earlier this month. I'm glad to see it. But this shouldn't be just a temporary job for the FBI - it should be one of their permanent responsibilities."