Mark of Trouble

The U.S. relies on private contractors in Iraq--but at what price?

The latest casualty of the Iraq war is Erik Prince, the brash young CEO of the military contractor Blackwater USA. His firm guards dignitaries in Iraq, and on Oct. 2 he got to explain to some of those dignitaries why Blackwater security forces have been known to flee the scene after shooting Iraqis. "Our job is to get them off the X--the preplanned ambush site," Prince said.

It was odd to see Prince on the X, sitting in Washington, taking fire from a hostile House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. During the Bush Administration's first six years, the Republican Congress provided little oversight...

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