Private security firms are already eying earthquake-stricken Haiti as a potential source of lucrative contracts. Author Jeremy Scahill believes, however, that "the last thing Haitians need [is] yet more unaccountable people with guns in their country."

Scahill, the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, told MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday that many of the companies trying to peddle their services in Haiti are "nobodies [who] saw a moment to make a buck ... but some of the kingpins of the mercenary industry, like Dyncorp and Triple Canopy, are hiring right now, guys for deployment in Haiti."

"A month from now, when reconstruction starts happening, we're going to see more of these companies coming into Haiti," Scahill cautioned. "And there's going to be serious questions about who oversees them, what law do they fall under."

"We have to look at the whole disaster profiteering industry," continued Scahill. "There has to be some rule of law, and if there's one thing these companies are known for around the world, it's operating in a lawless environment."

The private security companies have deep roots in Haiti. In an article in this week's Nation, Scahill writes, "In 1994, private US forces, such as DynCorp, became a staple of US operations in the country following the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide by CIA-backed death squads. When President Bush invaded Iraq, his administration radically expanded that program and turned it into the privatized paramilitary force it is today."

When Maddow asked "what's the alternative," however, Scahill's only suggestion was that "Haiti should call the shots on who comes into the country. If Haiti says, we don't want mercenaries here, there shouldn't be mercenaries there."

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Jan. 20, 2010.

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