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Sié Chéou-Kang CenterPrivate Security Monitor

U.S. Congressional Oversight

U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations

The Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and its subcommittees, together with the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, is empowered with legislative oversight of U.S. diplomatic service; foreign economic, military, technical, and humanitarian assistance; and international law as it relates to foreign policy. In the fulfillment of its responsibilities, the committees has held a number of hearings to explore the role of PMSCs in U.S. foreign operations.

Reports

Investigations and Analysis

Iraq Report: Political Fragmentation and Corruption Stymie Economic Growth and Political Progress (S. Prt. 112-34)

Author: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
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In response to media reports that contrary to its claims, Iraq was not open for foreign business investment, the Committee minority leader conducted an investigation into the business atmosphere in Iraq. The report found that Iraq was a challenging environment, and that the current government has done little to nothing to improve the ability of businesses to flourish in the country. In regards to contractors, the report discusses the number of contractors supporting U.S. Department of State operations in Iraq (pgs. 19-21) with the number an unsustainable 14000 contractors to 1800 U.S. Government employees.

Iraq: The Transition from a Military Mission to a Civilian-Led Effort (S. Prt. 112-3)

Author: Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
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This report by the majority staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee addresses the U.S. government’s transition from a military-led mission to a civilian-led effort in Iraq. Among other issues, the report discusses how the State Department might double the number of security contractors it employs in Iraq, and after the withdrawal may ask security contractors to take over highly specialized functions, such as explosive-ordnance disposal; counter rocket, artillery and mortar notification; and aerial surveillance. 

Hearings

113th Congress (2013-2014)

Testimony of Puneet Talwar: Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy

Author: Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy
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In his testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Puneet Talwar, the Assistant Secretary of the  Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, addresses how private contractors are used by the Department of State for operations in Africa. Talwar notes that some programs are handled entirely by contractors while others are "hybrids" that combine contractor support in equipment delivery and training on new equipment, while skills-based activities are implemented through the Department of Defense. For peacekeeping operations, the DoS relies on contractors to implement monitoring and evaluation activities such as tracking outputs and outcomes.

The Transition in Afghanistan

Author: Senate Foreign Relations Committee
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This Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing heard testimony from Donald L. Sampler, the Assistant to the Administrator and Director of the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, as well as from Ambassador James F. Dobbins, the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

US Policy In Afghanistan and the Regional Implications of the 2014 Transition

Author: Senate Foreign Relations Committee
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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from the Honorable James Dobbins, Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan from the Department of State, and Kelly E. Magsamen, the Acting Assistant Secretary Asian and Pacific Security Affairs from the Department of Defense, concerning the transition of power within Afghanistan and its potential consequences for the region.

A Transformation: Afghanistan Beyond 2014

Author: Senate Foreign Relations Committee
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This hearing on the trajectory of Afghanistan's transition in 2014 heard testimony from two panels.  Panel one consisted of Jarrett Blanc, Deputy Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Fatema Sumar, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, and Kathleen Campbell, the Acting Deputy Assistant to the Administrator of the Office of Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs.  Panel two included General John Allen, Retired, and Nazary Parnian, the Advocacy Manager of Women for Afghan Women.
112th Congress (2011-2012)

Evaluating Goals and Progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan (S. Hrg. 112-103)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman held a hearing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to assess U.S. policy and progress in Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the additional material submitted for the record, Secretary Clinton is asked to describe the steps the Department of State and USAID are taking to increase contractor oversight in Afghanistan.

111th Congress (2009-2010)

Confronting Piracy Off the Coast of Somalia (S. Hrg. 111-101)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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At this hearing, the Committee examined the threat of maritime piracy off the Horn of Africa, and the solutions available to the U.S., to other governments, and to shippers in confronting this growing challenge. The use of armed guards and private security aboard ships is discussed.

Nomination of Christopher R. Hill to be Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq (S. Hrg. 111-929)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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This was a nomination hearing to appoint Christopher Hill as the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq. Hill was asked to comment on instances of contractor abuse in Iraq, and how he would seek to minimize this without compromising the security needs of the State Department. In the supplemental responses for the record, Hill was asked about whether he would continue to use civilian contracted security details, and if so how the bidding process for contractors would be conducted.

Foreign Policy Priorities in the FY11 International Affairs Budget (S. Hrg. 111-778)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the sole witness at this hearing to explore the fiscal year 2011 foreign affairs budget, a request of $58.5 billion, which represented a 2.8-percent increase over fiscal year 2010 amounts. She was questioned about training foreign police forces through the use of security contractors, and whether the State Department’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) could effectively oversee and implement police training worldwide.

Nomination of Harold H. Koh to be Legal Adviser to the Department of State (S. Hrg. 111-931)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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This was a nomination hearing to appoint Harold Koh as the Legal Adviser to the Department of State. Koh was asked whether he believed foreign governments have legal jurisdiction over contractors that operate in those countries. In the supplemental questions, he was asked how he would draw the distinctions between functions that private security contractors can serve and those reserved for U.S. federal employees under the ‘‘inherently governmental’’ restrictions, and whether U.S. laws are sufficient to hold contractors liable for acts committed overseas. 

110th Congress (2007-2008)

Iraq After the Surge (S. Hrg. 110-757)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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This multi-day hearing involved witnesses that testified on the state of affairs in Iraq after the drawdown of the “surge” of U.S. troops sent to stabilize the country. Ryan Crocker, the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, was questioned about his decision to renew the contract with Blackwater, Inc. for private security services for the State Department, after and in spite of the Nisoor Square incident. Ambassador Crocker also submitted answers to supplemental questions posed by the Committee about the State Department’s contract with Blackwater, and the legal status of private security contractors operating in Iraq. 

Closing Legal Loopholes: Prosecuting Sexual Assaults and Other Violent Crimes Committed Overseas by American Civilians in Combat Environment (S. Hrg. 110-744)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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At this hearing, witnesses from the Department of Justice, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and former employees from private security companies testified about the problem of sexual assaults against American women working in Iraq and Afghanistan and the ability of these women to find justice.

109th Congress (2005-2006)

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108th Congress (2003-2004)

Iraq’s Transition - The Way Ahead [Part I] (S. Hrg. 108-645)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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This hearing was part of the Committee’s ongoing oversight of American policy toward Iraq. Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense was questioned about the legal status of the U.S. contractors operating in Iraq and whether the U.S. military has the responsibility for the conduct of the private contractors operating in Iraq. Wolfowitz and Richard Armitage, Deputy Secretary of State, were also asked their opinions on a possible prohibition against contractors being directly involved in the interrogation of detainees.

Iraq: Status and Prospects for Reconstruction - Next Steps (S. Hrg. 108-219)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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It was acknowledged at this hearing that the lack of public safety in Iraq was a huge problem and concern. In prepared statements to the Committee, some witnesses suggested that the U.S. use contract private security forces to help rapidly expand security at low-risk installations, freeing up some coalition troops for other security tasks. 

The Iraq Transition: Obstacles and Opportunities [Part III] (S. Hrg. 108-645)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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At this hearing about U.S. operations in Iraq, witness Peter Rodman, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, was questioned about the U.S. use and policy towards private security service providers. He stated that the DOD was developing policy guidance to make sure that private security personnel were accountable to the military and do not engage in military operations.

107th Congress (2001-2002)

Monitoring and Combating Trafficking in Persons: How are We Doing? (S. Hrg. 107-576)

Author: Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
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In this hearing, the Committee asks witnesses to discuss the U.S. contract with DynCorp, and the alleged involvement of DynCorp private security personnel in human trafficking while working for the U.S. government in Bosnia. In the supplemental questions for the record, the State Department is asked whether it conducted any investigations into this, and if so to report the results. The response details the investigatory efforts undertaken by the U.S. in conjunction with the UN.