State’s Security Chief Out Over Blackwater Shooting


blackwater_bremer250x200.jpg Yesterday, Richard J. Griffin, head of the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security, became the first senior official to lose his job over Blackwater’s September 16 shooting in Baghdad’s Nisour Square. As head of State’s law enforcement arm, Griffin, a former deputy director of the Secret Service, was charged with overseeing security for diplomats and dignitaries. In Iraq, where much of this function has been outsourced to private military contractors, this amounted to providing oversight of the more than 1,000 armed security operators attached to firms such as Blackwater, Triple Canopy, and DynCorp. Until recently, according to the Washington Post, these private contractors have been supervised by a mere 36 diplomatic security agents. A review panel convened to examine the State Department’s security practices in Iraq, whose conclusions were released on Tuesday, found “there are an insufficient number of Diplomatic Security Service Special Agents assigned to the Embassy to provide the appropriate level of oversight to ensure adherence to the rules and procedures currently in place.” The report also determined that “the licensing process for PSD contractors, both as to fees and procedures, is insufficiently clear and expeditious, increasing the risk that armed contractors will carry out their functions with an inadequate legal basis.” As we speak, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is seated in 2154 Rayburn, preparing to testify before Henry Waxman’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, where she will no doubt face some tough questions about her agency’s performance in Iraq and its oversight of PMCs.

Update: Well, Rice is indeed facing tough questions at the Waxman hearing. She’s just not answering them.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate