Spoiler alert: the following is a bit of blatant self promotion. That said I would like to pose the following question. Where do you go to find information on private military and security contracting (PMSC) issues? Well, of course, to some extent you are like most people. You talk to colleagues and friends and acquaintances. You do a lot of reading. Some of you may actually read books or periodical literature.
But if you're like most people you probably look online. And of course you'll find it very easy to find information. But what kind of information? It is far too easy to plug key words into a search engine like Google or myriad of others and get tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of results.
But the results are going to be all over the map, not necessarily of good quality, and certainly a search engine by itself does not have a mastery of the subject issue. It does not know the history of the players and cannot tell you the difference between Blackwater the company and Blackwater the river.
So you look for a website or blog that specializes in these issues and there are a lot of them. Some are better than others, some are blatantly partisan, some are very bland, and some are wildly sensationalistic.
In that regard I'd like to mention that I have just started up my own blog on the subject. It's called The PMSC Observer. In keeping with my own philosophy it is neither pro-contractor nor anti-contractor. It is just devoted to highlighting the current news on PMSC issues. So I cull major and minor news sources and specialized databases every day and post the links to the quality news, reports, studies, government documents, and information from all over the world.
Just to give you an idea of some of what I'm following; developments in the U.S. Congress to foster oversight and accountability, tracking issues of fraud, waste and abuse, new contracts being awarded, legal actions, contractors doing reconstruction work, the actions of PMSC in Iraq and Afghanistan, and using contractors to counter pirates, to name just a few areas.
You don't have to be at your PC to follow it. You can also follow it on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Feed Burner, or Google Reader. There is also video. For searching you have your choice of categories or, really cool, using key words in a floating cloud. Archives are searchable by day and by month so if you are off-line at a particular time you can always go back and see what was in the news that day. The site is also optimized for micro-blogging so you can follow it on your smart phone.
It is extremely searchable and already has a few hundred articles in it with far more to come. So drop on by and take a look. If you have in the comments or suggestions use the e-mail link on the site to let me know.
My feeling, as I have long stated, is that private contractors are here to stay. Whether you support or oppose their utilization it is our obligation as citizens to argue and debate on the basis of solid information, not clichés, not wild accusations, not mindless boosterism, and not shooting your mouth off in a fact free fashion. This blog was created to provide you access to the facts so you can intelligently debate.. So come on down and take a look. And if you like it please tell others you know you think might be interested in the subject as well.
Follow David Isenberg on Twitter: www.twitter.com/vanidan