Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Wartime Contracting and Private Security Firms

Diplomatic Security's Charlene Lamb did well at yesterday's hearing of the Commission on Wartime Contracting, which grilled her about State's use of private security contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan. USAID's David Blackshaw, the sacrificial lamb offered up by the Agency for International Development in place of his agency's senior leadership, did ... less well. In fact, he got lambasted.

David was having a real bad day. Not only did his agency leadership send him - a middle manager - to answer the questions that they didn't want to answer themselves, but one of his superiors, USAID's Director of Security, actually sat in the audience behind him to watch! At one point David was evidently getting coaching over his Blackberry, which led to a rebuke from one of the Commissioners.

On a personal note, as someone who has known David professionally for many years, I must say I have never seen him calmer or more self-contained than he was under the provocative needling of some of the more obnoxious blowhard Commissioners. I suspect USAID put him on Valium for a week, and then shot him with Thorazine just before he sat down to testify.

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