To the Editor:

Re “Hired Gun Fetish,” by Paul Krugman (column, Sept. 28):

I am writing to express my grave concern with the use of private security contractors in Iraq. This Bush administration move to privatize the military is a grievous and immoral mistake. It has serious implications for the future of both foreign and domestic policy.

If the United States is pursuing legitimate national security goals in a foreign country, in actions in which people risk death and are being authorized to kill for the sake of our nation, our military must take responsibility for and be in complete charge of all the forces involved. The president must be the commander in chief, not the contractor in chief.

And Congress must step up to openly authorize payment and include the expenses in the budget, not defer the financial burden to the next generation through weak-willed acquiescence to an executive out of control.

Congress is abdicating its constitutional and moral authority in this matter. If the employees of organizations like Blackwater USA want to serve their country, let them sign on with the armed forces.

John Varner
Amherst, Mass., Sept. 28, 2007