Largely ignored in the ongoing debate of planned troop escalation is the role of US private security firms such as Blackwater. Since its founding in 1996, Blackwater has become the world’s most powerful mercenary army and its highly secretive activities are completely hidden from our lawmakers and the US public. No details are provided on their casualties. Its executives have close ties with the Bush administration and share the same fanatical religious and political ideologies. Its founder, Erik Prince is a major financial supporter of the Republican Party and has been granted lucrative contracts for his loyalty. This is another disturbing example of how the tentacles of the ‘military industry complex’ have penetrated deeply into our government further eroding our democracy and contributing significantly to our national debt. According to the General Accounting Office (GAO), a staggering 48,000 ‘hired guns’ are now part of Bush’s private army in Iraq operating under the radar of public scrutiny. With army recruitment in severe decline, the Pentagon is aggressively augmenting its private armies. What is extremely disturbing is the lack of oversight of these mercenaries who do not have to adhere to any form of rules of engagement. There has been extremely disturbing reports of gross human violations by these ‘hired guns’. There have further reports that Erik Prince, as board member of Christian Freedom International, is now directing his evangelical zeal in Sudan.