Desperate times call for desperate measures. This is most likely the culprit in the situation now unfolding in Hardin, Montana. All across America, small towns are struggling to survive. Many rural areas have discovered the correctional industry as an easy fix for hard economic times. However, a look behind the scenes reveals that this small country town may have got more than it bargained for.
Private security firms like Wackenhut have been around for years and although they may have raised an eyebrow, no one thought too much of a private company overseeing the containment of prison inmates. After all, it provided jobs and nobody seems to be getting hurt.
Suspicion was aroused in Hardin when a number of Mercedes were spotted with an unfamiliar decal and the words "Hardin Police" prominently displayed. This along with the fact that the new correctional facility was abuzz with fresh activity prompted some questions. Problems began to arise when questions were asked and answers were not provided.
The facility had been under controversy since it had been built as a detention facility but did not meet the requirements for a correctional facility. Once the building was completed, Hardin officials were unable to secure a contract for the facility. Enter APF. Details remain sketchy about "American Police Force"; however, in an article in the Helenair newspaper, a source from APF revealed that his boss was retired U.S. Army colonel Richard Culver. Thanks to some investigative snooping by Ron Paul supporters from the DailyPaul.com, particularly "Liberty_Belle", on the connection between the American Police Force and Richard Culver, he is an executive with the security firm International SOS out of Trevose, PA. Culver is profiled in Portfolio.com's "Job of the Week" spotlight which states that in this particular job one could expect to earn between $100,000 to $350,000 annually. Not only does ISOS provide security services it touts itself as the world's largest "medical and security assistance company". In fact, it is keeping tabs on the swine flu pandemic and has its own "pandemic preparedness" page. Two items of note on this page under the topic "International SOS Capability" are "Medical Evacuation" and "RMR Capability".
Whether or not APF's duties were to extend beyond the detention facility is unclear. It is also unclear as to the relationship between APF and International SOS, other than sharing a security director. However, one disturbing fact regarding International SOS is that it is listed as a member of the International Peace Operations Association, which at one time provided an umbrella for Blackwater, and currently resides over Dyncorp as well as numerous other security and medical agencies. The IPOA's Wikipedia page defines the group as "created to support the burgeoning private military industry." For one, I am uncomfortable with the "burgeoning" of this particular industry, but maybe I have watched too many superhero movies lately.
What is disturbing in all of this is the growing trend which the government displays in "outsourcing" the fundamental responsibilities it has under the Constitution; namely, "to promote the general welfare, and to provide for the common defense". In a recent report, Moshe Schwartz, Specialist in Defense Acquisition, reported that the U.S. Department of Defense had 200,000 contractors and 194,000 military troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He further states that,
DOD officials have stated that the military’s experience in Iraq and Afghanistan, coupled with Congressional attention and legislation, has focused DOD’s attention on the importance of contractors to operational success.
In other words, Congress is well aware that contractors now outnumber U.S. militiary forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The use of civilian personnel during war raises numerous concerns. Not only the obvious concerns regarding logistics, discipline, safety and protocol, but concerns regarding the reporting of
Overseas activities are not the only areas of concern regarding these para-military organizations. During Katrina, Blackwater troops were used extensively and were placed in positions of having to disarm American citizens. What are the ramifications of a private, civilian army violating the first and second amendment rights of American citizens for the purpose of financial gain? Numerous officers during the recent protests at the G 20 summit in Pittsburgh were unable to be identified by insignia. Undoubtedly, they were contracted by a private agency such as International SOS.
Ron Paul has stated that government does provide a function which is defined by the Constitution. It is for this purpose that we collectively authorize the government. We do not give authorization with the understanding that these essential functions will be "outsourced", whether by a Democrat or Republican administration.
Update: Justin Elliott of TPMMuckraker reports that APF contracted the facility for purposes of training for law enforcement sniper operations and DNA testing. Update II: AP reporter Matthew Brown reports APF "Captain" has checkered past, contract elaborate scam.