Pakistan Case Highlights US Reliance on Intelligence Contractors
Gary Thomas |VOANews
The case of an American arrested in Pakistan for shooting two men dead has sparked anger in Pakistan and soured relations between Washington and Islamabad. It turns out that Raymond Davis, who said he opened fire to ward off an attempted robbery, was a security contractor for the CIA. American agencies have become reliant on security contractors to fill personnel gaps.
Analysts say U.S. intelligence agencies, the State Department, and the military have become increasingly dependent on contractors in places like Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, doing everything from guarding people and convoys to collecting and analyzing intelligence.
Scott Stewart, vice president for tactical intelligence at the private intelligence firm Stratfor, says using contractors gives the U.S. government flexibility during surges in trouble spots. “You look at the security budgets of organizations like the State Department, and you look at the CIA’s budget and the cycles that it runs in over time, there are booms and busts. And when they run into that bust period of time, it’s very difficult to start cutting staff. And so it’s just easier to cut contractors. It’s far less painful,” he said.
But while providing flexibility, the increased use of security contractors is controversial and has irked some host governments. Some contractors have been accused of offensive behavior, including killing civilians. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has tried to get security contractors out of his country. Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence directorate has demanded an accounting of all security contractors operating in Pakistan. Some contractors also have been accused of stealing millions of dollars.