Hillary Clinton said that if she wins the White House, she will pull Blackwater Worldwide and other armed private contractors from Iraq as well as U.S. troops.
The Pentagon has more than 135,000 contract workers in Iraq, and about 7,300 of them work in security. Blackwater of Moyock, N.C., has come under scrutiny by Congress and the courts after a number of violent episodes involving its employees, including a 2007 incident that left at least 17 Iraqis dead.
In a speech at George Washington University in Washington,, D.C., Clinton sought to distance herself from Democratic presidential rival Barack Obama on the issue of private contractors in Iraq, Bloomberg.com reported.
“Senator Obama and I have a substantive disagreement here. He won’t rule out using armed private military contractors in Iraq to do jobs that historically have been done by the U.S. military or government personnel.”
But at a campaign stop in Pennsylvania, Obama said Hillary was a latecomer on the contractor issue.
“I actually introduced legislation in the Senate before Senator Clinton even mentioned this that said we have to crack down on private contractors like Blackwater, because I don’t believe they should be able to run amok and put our own troops in danger and get paid three or four times or 10 times what our soldiers are getting paid,” Obama told the gathering.
Clinton also said she would put a stop to no-bid contracts, citing those won by Halliburton Co. where Vice President Dick Cheney served as chief executive officer.
“It’s also a time we put an end, once and for all, to the no-bid contracts that squander taxpayer money while lining the pockets of the president’s cronies,” Hillary declared.
“Companies like Halliburton are enjoying record profits thanks to a 700 percent increase in taxpayer funds awarded to them.”
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