Tuesday's accusations by ex-employees of Custer Battles, an upstart Virginia company hired to do "security" work in Iraq, have been getting some media play, but not enough. From MSNBC news:
There are new allegations that heavily armed private security contractors in Iraq are brutalizing Iraqi civilians. In an exclusive interview, four former security contractors told NBC News that they watched as innocent Iraqi civilians were fired upon, and one crushed by a truck ... They were so upset by what they saw, three quit after only one or two missions. "What we saw, I know the American population wouldn't stand for," says [ex-Custer Battles employee Capt. Bill] Craun.
The public would be outraged -- if they heard about it. Here are some of the stories:
[The whistle-blowers] claim heavily armed security operators on Custer Battles' missions - among them poorly trained young Kurds, who have historical resentments against other Iraqis - terrorized civilians, shooting indiscriminately as they ran for cover, smashing into and shooting up cars ...
In another traffic jam, they claim a Ford 350 pickup truck smashed into, then rolled up and over the back of a small sedan full of Iraqis. "The front of the truck came down," says Craun. "I could see two children sitting in the back seat of that car with their eyes looking up at the axle as it came down and pulverized the back."
As the story notes, the ill-named Custer Battles doesn't exactly have a pristine record:
This is not the firm's first brush with controversy ... The company is already under criminal investigation for allegations of fraud centering on the way it billed the government. Those allegations are also at the heart of a lawsuit by former associates. In September, the military banned the firm and its associates from obtaining new federal contracts or subcontracts.
But why were they allowed to keep operating in Iraq at all? Last November, NPR reported on whistle-blowers Bob Isakson and Pete Baldwin and their revelations about Custer Battle's scams to defraud taxpayers of millions of dollars:
ISAKSON: They would take and open a company in Lebanon and buy the materials through the Lebanese company which they would own, and then the Lebanese company would sell it to their American company at a highly inflated rate, and then they would charge their profit on top of the highly inflated rate. In other words, they would make a profit plus another profit.

BALDWIN: They confiscated old Iraqi Airways green and white fork-lifts and transported them out of the airport facility, which Custer Battles had control over, and painted them blue and then sold them back to the government on a lease. That's a blatant example where something was actually acquired free and sold back to the government."
When Isakson said he wouldn't go along with the schemes, "Custer Battles security guards cornered him in a hallway at gunpoint. They said, `You're terminated and you're under arrest, and don't move or we'll shoot you.'"

What is the Bush Administration doing to ensure the $82 billion it's now requesting for war-related expenses in Iraq and Afghanistan won't be (ab)used the same way?