Guns for hire: Secrecy, torture, religious zeal distinguish mercenaries

Paul J. Nyden

Iraq and Afghanistan dominated our news headlines. But our media continue to overlook the growing privatization of military operations — a major historical development.

George W. Bush vigorously backs privatization and frequently awards huge contracts to companies owned by political contributors, such as Halliburton and Blackwater.

During his years in the Oval Office, Bill Clinton also embraced the emerging military privatization.

Today, our government pays mercenaries billions of dollars to fight and kill “enemies,” protect government officials and deliver food.

American taxpayers pay the bill. But few know much about the growth of private military companies, or PMCs.

Two new books — Jeremy Scahill’s Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army and Robert Young Pelton’s Licensed to Kill: Hired Guns in the War on Terror — tell that story.

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