Victims of an Outsourced War

They were killed in Iraq fighting not for their country but for their company. Now the families of four slain employees of a private security firm are seeking answers

Karim Sahib / AFP / Getty

An Iraqi boy holds a leaflet in broken English that reads "Fallujah, the cemetery of the Americans," as people celebrate near a burning car in the flashpoint town of Fallujah, 50 kms west of Baghdad, March 31, 2004. Angry residents armed with shovels mutilated the charred bodies of American contractors after ambushing their convoy.

In many ways, Katy Helvenston is like any mother who has lost a son in Iraq. She talks to others who have survived their kids. She wonders whether she could have done more to keep him out of harm's way. She breaks down in tears at random intervals.

But Helvenston has problems that military mothers do not have. Her son Scott, who was killed in 2004 at the age of 38, was neither a soldier nor, really, a civilian. He was an ex--Navy seal who worked for a private security firm called Blackwater. Instead of a headstone at Arlington, he has...

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