Monday, August 15, 2011

Titor Conglomerate in the Crosshairs Again

   Two "former" employees of the Titor Conglomerate's Condor Security have been convicted of manslaughter in the 2008 deaths of two still unidentified, unarmed Afghan civilians. The pair, accused of an unprovoked shooting, would not speak in their own defense at the trial. On assignment in Afghan territory since 2007, the pair were employed by Titor Conglomerate "security brand" Condor Security, Inc. Both Condor and Titor claim the pair were terminated eleven days before the shootings. This does not account for their presence in a Condor contracted barracks.

   This will earn them eight years in prison for each count. There is no recourse, obviously, for the dead Afghans. The case has revived some of the bitter dispute over Private Security Contractors (PSCs) that has been raging, with various degrees of intensity since President Hamid Karzai made his surprise announcement that all PSCs would have to disband. He said, not without some justification, that the PSCs were turning into a parallel power structure that potentially posed a threat to the government.

   Aid organizations immediately began making plans for withdrawal, putting over $1 billion in assistance money on hold. Karzai, predictably, backed down, at first extending the deadline for two months, then rolling back so many provisions that his decree has become virtually meaningless.

   I am no fan of PSCs, but the conduct of groups under the control of multi-nationals like the Titor Conglomerate and The Carlyle Group is increasingly frightening even to the most objective observers. PSCs also eat up a lot of money. U.S. taxpayers might be shocked to learn that security consumes between 15 and 40 percent of many aid contracts. Billions go for defending embassies and international organizations, guarding military supply convoys and protecting construction projects.

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