Tonight, October 19, at 9:00pm (EST) on PBS, Bill Moyers will interview Nation Institute Fellow Jeremy Scahill, author of the national bestseller Blackwater (Nation Books) on the implications of the use of private contractors to fight alongside the US military in Iraq, Afghanistan and beyond. Scahill will also discuss the media’s response to the recent charm offensive by Erik Prince, the Founder and CEO of Blackwater, who has been accorded extremely generous TV coverage of late, especially on the Charlie Rose Show and Sixty Minutes.

The show will be re-broadcast on Sunday, October 21 at 7PM (EST). Check the website for Bill Moyer’s Journal for more info. Scahill, more any one other individual, has been responsible for raising awareness of the dramatic role of private security contractors in Iraq and beyond. So read Scahill’s reporting on Blackwater for The Nation and check out Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army for the back-story of the Bush Administration’s Praetorian Guard for the war on terror.

One of the major issues relating to contractors like Blackwater is that their employees remain currently out of the reach of both Iraqi and US law. So they truly operate with impunity. In response to this absurd immunity and the recent violent outbursts by Blackwater contractors in Iraq, the House has overwhelmingly passed a bill that would put contractors hired for overseas missions under the jurisdiction of US law. Now the Senate will vote on the bill. The new progressive social-networking site,, has put out an alert urging people to implore their Senators to vote in favor of accountability for contractors.

Passage of the bill would improve the situation but at a possibly dangerous cost–that of institutionalizing the use of private military contractors in US conflicts. But I view the bill as a useful band-aid, a first step, and one that may help underscore the dangers of privatizing war.

Click here if you want to contact your Senator on this issue and use the comments fields below to let us know how you feel about these Congressional efforts to impose accountability on private military contractors.