The United States is relying heavily on private firms to supply a wide variety of services in Iraq, including security. From the information available in published sources, this apparently is the first time that the United States has depended on contractors to provide such extensive security in a hostile environment, although it has previously contracted for more limited security services in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and elsewhere. In Iraq, private firms known as Private Security Companies (PSC) are currently providing security services such as the protection of individuals, non-military transport convoys, buildings and other economic infrastructure, as well as the training of Iraqi police and military personnel. The use of armed contractors raises several concerns for many Members, including transparency and accountability. Transparency issues include the lack of public information on the terms of their contracts, including their costs and the standards governing their hiring and performance, as well as the background and training of those hired under contract. The apparent lack of a practical means to hold contractors accountable under U.S. law for abuses and other transgressions, and the possibility that they could be prosecuted by foreign courts, is also a source of concern. Contractors working with the U.S. military (or with any of the coalition forces) in Iraq are non-combatants who have no combat immunity under international law if they engage in hostilities, and whose conduct may be attributable to the United States. Section 522 of the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for FY2007 (P.L. 109-364) makes military contractors supporting the Armed Forces in Iraq subject to court-martial, but until the Department of Defense publishes implementing regulations, it is more likely that contractors who commit crimes in Iraq would be prosecuted under criminal statutes that apply extraterritorially or within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, or by means of the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA). Iraqi courts do not have jurisdiction to prosecute contractors without the permission of the relevant member country of the Multi-National Forces in Iraq. It is possible that some contractors may remain outside the jurisdiction of U.S. courts, civil or military, for improper conduct in Iraq. This report summarizes what is currently known about companies that provide personnel for security missions in Iraq and some sources of controversy surrounding them. A treatment of legal status and authorities follows, including an overview of relevant international law as well as Iraqi law, which currently consists primarily of Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) orders that remain in effect until superseded. The various possible means for prosecuting contractors under U.S. law in civilian or military courts are detailed, followed by a discussion of possible issues for Congress.
"Updated July 11, 2007." Title from PDF title screen (viewed April 6, 2011).
Bibliography, etc. Note
Includes bibliographical references.
Digital File Characteristics
text file PDF
System Details Note
Mode of access: World Wide Web. System requirements: Adobe Acrobat Reader.