More security headaches

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First it was Blackwater USA. Now it is DynCorp International. The State Department continues to stumble in its effort to control security contractors in Iraq.

The agency now says it doesn't exactly know what it received from a $1.2 billion contract to DynCorp to train Iraqi police officers.

Auditors from the Office of the Special Inspector for Iraq Reconstruction say some of the money went towards VIP living quarters and an Olympic-sized swimming pool, but they can't tell how much, if any, went into police training. In its initial review, State Department officials say they don't know where the money went, but that they have identified $29 million in overcharges in the past year from DynCorp. Financial records show the company's 2007 net income was up nearly $20 million over 2006.

This continues to be a major embarrassment for President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice - especially now that Bush has asked for an additional $42.3 billion for the war, including $1 billion for training Iraqi police.

Rice is reviewing what is said to be a very negative report on security practices in Iraq prompted by the recent incident where security guards for the now-renamed Blackwater Worldwide killed Iraqi civilians. DynCorp is the leading candidate to replace Blackwater when its contract is up next year.

It's a case of going from bad to worse.

Rice has made moves recently to put controls on the problem by adding people to oversee the firms, but it appears to be too little too late - another level of bureaucracy only complicates the matter. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is trying to get these security contractors under military control. Let's hope he is successful.

It's obvious that the State Department needs to concentrate more on diplomacy, not security.

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