Monday, October 04, 2010

Senate Has No Clue What's Happening on the Battlefield

Mystery Merc Group Is Blackwater’s 34th Front Company; Wired

A months-long investigation by the Senate Armed Services Committee earlier this year found that the Army and Raytheon awarded a multi-million dollar sub-contract to a firm called Paravant for the training of Afghan troops. Paravant claimed to have “years” of experience performing such work. As it turned out, Paravant didn’t really exist. “Paravant had never performed any services and was simply a shell company established to avoid what one former Blackwater executive called the ‘baggage’ associated with the Blackwater name as the company pursued government business,” committee chairman Carl Levin said in March.

If you like Paravant, you’ll love International Development Solutions. Very few people seem to be familiar with it. Hill sources didn’t know what it was. Both critics of and advocates for the private-security industry were just as baffled. “I’ve never heard of IDS,” confesses Nick Schwellenbach, director of investigations for the Project on Government Oversight, in a typical comment.

All of a sudden, though, International Development Solutions is a major player in the private-security field. Last week, Danger Room broke the story of the State Department including it in an eight-company consortium of merc firms, including industry giants like DynCorp, that will hold its elite contract for protecting diplomats and embassies: the Worldwide Protective Services contract. The official announcement of the award gives absolutely no indication that International Development Solutions is tied to Blackwater; State only disclosed that fact after Danger Room pressed it.

Diligent work by the Senate Armed Services Committee determined a web of names under which Blackwater — renamed Xe last year — did business to avoid such baggage. Among them (deep breath): Total Intelligence Solutions; Technical Defense Inc.; Apex Management Solutions LLC; Aviation Worldwide Services LLC; Air Quest Inc.; Presidential Airways Inc.; EP Aviation LLC; Backup Training LLC; Terrorism Research Center, Inc. All in all, the committee found 33 aliases. International Development Solutions appears to be number 34.

Read the rest of the Wired story here.

Comment: There's little doubt in my mind that Congress, let alone these jokers in the Senate Armed Services Committee, even have a clue as what is going on inside Afghanistan. But luckily for those of us here, the Senate made sure that the volume of the commercials aired over television has been wrangled.

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